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3-week trip - 3 bases

Hi, I'm planning a 3-week trip to France in April 2014. I'd like to limit myself to perhaps 3 bases. I was thinking of 1 week in Paris, 1 week in Rhone Alps region and 1 week in Provence. For Rhone Alps region, I chose Lyon. I'm stuck b/w Avignon and Marseilles for Provence. I read that Marseilles is not easy for day trips. My plan is to base myself in cities that will allow for easy day trips. I will NOT be driving. I love culture, history, museums, concerts... Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
Thanks!

Posted by
11292 posts

Avignon would be easier than Marseille for many daytrips in Provence (depending, of course, on what you want to see). But do check what is accessible in Provence without a car, and what will be difficult/impossible to see without your own wheels, to avoid disappointment. If "Provence" means rural areas and small villages, you need a car. But by train or bus from Avignon, you can see Arles, Nimes (my favorite), Uzes, Pont du Gard, Marseille, and Aix-en-Provence without difficulty. From Avignon to Aix, the bus is better, because the trains use the TGV stations outside the city centers. By the time you take the bus to the fast train to the bus, you haven't saved any time over just taking a direct bus. Rick's Provence And The French Riviera book has MUCH more information about this area than his general France book, including public transportation tips.

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks Harold! I've got some research to do with the info you've given me :)

Posted by
123 posts

Totally agree with Howard. Stay in Avignon and you may have to rent a car for some of your journey. We did not find it to difficult to drive.

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks Maureen, I think I've settled on Avignon but not so sure about the driving part.

Posted by
4125 posts

I wasn't going to say this, given the strong statement ("I will NOT be driving," original emphasis). But if you are considering a car after all, let me say that it would be a very good idea for a week in Provence. You can spend a few days taking the train to visit Arles, Avignon, Nimes, Orange, and Marseilles. And buses will get you a little further, though those can be infrequent. But car will let you get into the countryside and will let you visit multiple destinations in a day. It would also let you stay outside of Avignon, in a smaller city such as Arles (where a car will also be more manageable) or a town.

Posted by
3936 posts

If you drive around Montreal, the little towns in Provence shouldn't be an issue. Last year, for the first time, hubby and I rented a car for 2 days, driving out of Paris up to Caen area and over to Mont St Michel. We loved the freedom. We were very nervous (well, hubby more so, as he did all the driving) but once we got the GPS to stop talking German after 20 min and got on the road, we loved the freedom of having a car - not being tied to bus or train schedules, being able to stay in a small village called Amblie that most likely had no bus service as only a few hundred people live there, without a car we wouldn't have been able to stay. I'm even thinking about doing a whole tour of France by car some year. We stayed in Avignon for 2 nights (no car here). We used a tour company to go to Pont du Gard, Nimes and Uzes, but had so little time at each stop it was a bit of a disappointment - car would've been better. We just got back from Cali and rented a car for 2 weeks there. Thought the rate was pretty good, and now I figure if hubby can drive thru LA and San Diego, then France really shouldn't be an issue. If you don't have a copilot, then have a GPS, and a paper map for backup.

Posted by
25 posts

Hi Adam, hi Nicole I've been told by others as well that driving gave them freedom to cover a lot more of the country and with no public transportation schedules to follow. I do drive in Montreal and I love it; however, I'm so nervous about driving in Europe. I've driven to the the States, I've gotten lost and it has never been a big deal. I really don't know why I have such a mental block when it comes to Europe. I hope I can convince myself to just go for it!

Posted by
123 posts

Go for it. You are going shoulder season , we went in June and did not have a problem. You can get a GPS in the car for a little extra.

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks for the encouragement, Maureen :)

Posted by
963 posts

Hilda, you can drive in Provence & you really will see much more than by public transport. A GPS is vital and will save you much frustration, especially if you have to keep driving past your point of interest for a parking spot. I vote for Avignon also, tho have been to Aix this summer which i liked. Stayed in the country near Arles several years ago, pleasant. Marseilles is just not as 'nice'.

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks Melissa! I was thinking about parking problems as well. Also, I've never used a GPS, I never needed to. Is parking a big feat?