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Winter in Provence

Hello fellow travellers,

We'll be spending about five days in Provence the week after Christmas. We're thinking about basing out of Arles, using about a car for a few days, train and bus the rest of the time. I know the bigger cities (Arles, Avignon, Nimes) would certainly be open for business during the winter months, but some of the smaller villages may be pretty well rolled up. While it would be great to look at lavender fields and sunny beaches, given Mistral and December, that's just not going to happen!

What are your ideas about those places in the middle of winter? Mind you, we live in Alaska, so this is going to be fabulous for us - if a bit chilly for others!

We'd really like to find the best place to see around Arles in winter - there are tons of places that would be great to see, but what's on your list of the out-of-the-way places that would be at the top of your list to visit? And it doesn't have to be Arles, perhaps for you it is St-Remy or Les Baux or up in the Luberon? We'll certainly spend a day or so in the big cities, but would rather explore that perfect village.

Where would you stay or base if not in Arles?

Thanks in advance for all your great thoughts!

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I am just booking my trip to France (have been before but spent all my time in Western France) We are now going to tour Southwest (Bordeaux) and the South. At first, we too were going to stay in Arles but my sister went there this past spring and said that Avignon was way better. More character and more to see. With this advice we have decided to spend only a day in Arles and more time in Avignon

Have fun


Posted by
251 posts

You may also want to consider Aix. As a student town it stays very active all year around and especially in the winter.

Couple of things, it is pretty rainy and cold in provence in the winter (maybe not so bad as Alaska, but maybe more rain, bring a coat)

I love Provence in the winter because that is when the villages are real villages and not just tourist places, but I live in France and it depends on why you are going. That is a pretty tough week to do anything. Many schools will be on break so people will go out of town, and it is a very family time so everyone is really involved in that kind of stuff also alot of places will be closed as France just considers most if not all days leading to 2 days after New Year to be a holiday, and that means, no groceries, no bank, no bakery, some closed hotels. Check a french calender and expect the locals to be "making the bridge" that specific week.

Posted by
251 posts

One more thought, if you are locked into winter but not specifically that week you might try to go later in January, more things will be open but also you could hit up the soldes, that would be the yearly sales all over France. Good way to pick up some things at a good price.

Posted by
10344 posts

Peter Mayle wrote about winter in the Luberon hill country in A Year in Provence. Won't give you accomodations but may be of general interest for your winter trip. Happy travels!