We're going to be in Provence with a car from Oct. 8 through 12 mostly to see the sights in western Provence (Arles, Aix, Avignon, Orange, Pont du Gard, etc). Any thoughts on the question of whether we should stay in one hotel for the five nights and take day trips from there, or spend a night in a hotel in each city? I'm guessing a single central location would be best? If we were going to be spending much time in eastern Provence, it would be different. OK, I've just answered my own question. I think.
I think you have answered your own question. There's no need to stay in more than one place when things are grouped together as you've planned.
Yes, the sights you have listed are all easy to see from one base. They are also accessible without a car, and depending on where you want to stay and what else you want to see, you may not even want or need a car. Of course, if you are also seeing rural areas and smaller villages, you will need a car.
Favorite town as home base for all these locations... St. Remy... I would park myself there and make day trips to all the other sights and return for a beautiful evening in a great town with lots of great restaurants and shopping. Beautiful markets as well.
Thank you! I guess I've been thinking it has to be either Arles or Avignon, but......why? St. Remy might be perfect.
we (two couples) just took a villa out in the countryside a bit east of Avignon. Great location, reasonable cost. There are several sites mentioned in Rick Steves' Provence book.
If you have a car, I would specifically avoid staying in Arles or Avignon. Their centers are not easy to drive in. Without a car, they were nice (particularly Arles) and very convenient; with a car, I'd definitely stay in a smaller place with easier driving.
Thanks for all these suggestions. Very useful to know that Arles and Avignon are not the easiest to navigate by car. I'm actually slightly uneasy about the idea of having a car but I need to consider that we're going to be there in October when I would imagine that some of the bus and train service to tourist sites and smaller hill towns might be running less frequently? I assume some of that service is to cater to tourists, who will be a bit more sparse in October? Maybe in October a car in Provence is more important than during peak season?
I agree with Terry kathryn. St. Remy is wonderful. You might want to skip Aix this trip as it is the outlier.
I stayed at the Hotel Regence in Arles. They have free parking and are just inside the wall so it's easy to drive in and out. Provence is best done by car in my opinion.
What are people's thoughts of doing both eastern and western Provence in the same five-day trip? Even though we're arriving in Nice (late morning) for some reason I've been focusing on all the western Provence sights. Maybe we should stay in Nice for two nights to explore that area first. Then on the third day we can take a train to Avignon and get a car and see the western Provence sights. (btw, I notice that Rick doesn't give any space to Marseilles at all in his France 2013 guidebook. Wonder why. Or am I looking in the wrong place?)
Rick - I think you should list the sights you want to see in Provence then make your decision based on what you want to see. If there are sights near the top of your list in the Nice area, you can easily split up your trip. Set your priorities, then plan your trip around them.
Rick's book Provence And The French Riviera has MUCH more information about this region than his general France book, including info about Marseille. He especially has great information about the logistics of connecting his recommended places. Looking at this, you'll be better able to come up with a touring plan. Train service will not be reduced in October. Bus service may be, but most of the buses are not just for tourists. Of course, you have to double-check, but I don't think it's a problem. (Sundays are more of an issue than seasons). On the other hand, many places in Provence are hard or impossible to get to without a car, even in high season. If you want to see the "Provence" that the term conjures up (rural areas, charming tiny villages, etc.) you'll need a car.
Harold, thanks for telling/reminding me about Rick's book Provence And The French Riviera -- I'll get a copy of it. For some reason I've been hearing and reading mostly about the great sites and towns in the western part of the region and didn't understand why. Are most of the Roman ruins in western Provence and not so much in the east? Maybe it's also in part because in the France book, eastern Provence is described in the French Riviera section and not in the Provence section, and my mind went to "ah, I don't want to spend time on the glitzy Riviera" so I didn't even look at it. I really appreciate this community forum; it's just what this first-time-in-France traveler needs.
Rick... driving is easy, but as stated it is busier in Arles, Avignon and even Aix. I would opt for the country village if you are at all nervous about the drives. You will be used to it in no time. The road leading to St. Remy is one of the most beautiful in Provence... but maybe that is because it leads to one of my favorite places. Marsailles is a port town and while I like it, I would never choose over the villages in Provence. If you really want to get a feel for Provence and its countryside I would spend all 5 days in the west. There is so much to see and do and just enjoy French life. I agree to skip Aix... it's more of a city and a bit further away.