I'll arriving by train in Avignon for 4 nights so I will have 3 full days to explore. I will be arriving on a Friday evening so I will have Sat, Sun and Monday to explore. plan to use only trains. I love food, wine, art, history.... I'm thinking I would like to visit Marseille one day but I'm not sure about the other 2 days. Maybe Arles, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue on Sunday morning for the market and then the remainder of the day in Avignon. Help! Anyone has any ideas on what would be best at the end of November on a Sat, Sun and Monday? I thinking Christmas market might be open too. I really appreciate your advice! Anne
Well, if you are looking for villages and towns with the provencal feeling that would leave out Marseille. I have been there and while I had a good time there it really does not compare to the other towns. I can't advise you on trains as I am sure others can, as I always have a car there, but I am sure there are far more charming areas you can reach by train or bus. I am also looking into the Christmas markets and there is a site called christmasmarkets.com that will give you details. Isle-sur-la-Sourge has a wonderful summer market, so I would imagine they might outdo themselves at Christmas. Lovley town as well.
There are great Roman sites on the rail lines in Arles, Nimes, and Orange. You may also be able to figure out a way to the Pont du Gard, which is near Nimes and could be combined to make a day trip. There's a bus to the Pont from Avignon and Nimes but I do not know if it runs that late in the year.
Marseille would not be high on my list of places to visit. Was there several years ago...congested with traffic, somewhat dirty everywhere. Glad that I went, but not somewhere to return. Follow the advice of the other posters before me!
Anne - There are two nice small art museums in Avignon that you might enjoy, Fondation Angladon-Dubrujeaud and Musee Calvet. Arles has a large outdoor market on Saturdays.
Thank you for all your suggestions. I think I have a plan. Friday - Arrive in Avignon around 5:00 pm, dinner & sleep Saturday - Arles, morning market & sightseeing Sunday - Isle-sur-la-Sorgue - market & sightseeing Monday - Avignon, full day or half day in Aix-en-Provence Tuesday - Train to Lyon for 2 nights Thursday - Train to Paris for balance of trip From what I see online I should find Christmas Markets in all these areas so that will be an added bonus.
I have to disagree with others about Marsielle - it's fascinating and real, although yes, it's also crowded and dirty. The plainer quarter makes for a lovely walk with great views, and the two big cathedrals in town are fantastic. There's some small Greek/Roman ruins in the center of the city by the Vieux Port although the museum was closed when I was there so I can't speak to the quality. One option if you want to mix the big-city feel of Marsielle with a beautiful seaside villiage would be to do Marsielle in the morning, getting there early to see the fish market and walk around the sites I mentioned earlier, have lunch at a fantastic Moroccan restaurant La Kahena, then get on the regional train for a 30 minute ride to Cassis, a stunning seaside town. Another option would be Aix-en-Provence instead of Marsielle/Cassis. It's beautiful and so worth visiting.