Arles, Avignon, Aix

Hi, my two daughters age 25 and 21 will be passing through this area for 2 and a half days (3 nights) on their way to Neice then Cinque Terre. They do not have a car. Which of the 3 towns would you suggest they use as their base town, Arles, Avignon, or Aix? And once they arrive in Cinque Terre, woujld you suggest they stay in Monerosso or Vernazza, or does it not really matter? Any reasonable hotel suggestions? Thanks! :)

Posted by Ken
Spring, Texas
599 posts

It depends on what they want to see and do. They need to get out a few guidebooks and decide which is most central. Arles is busier and more a real city. It's also a university town. Avignon is not small but it is smaller. I think it's more touristy with the Popes' Palace a very interesting sight but it may not be that exciting to twenty year olds. I've never been to Aix.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

You've two threads going on the same subect with answers in each. You might want to hive out want you want from one of them and then squish it. In replying to your other thread, I considered college/university populations since college kids in Europe tend to be a bit older than those in the United States. Arles has one school, Aix at least a dozen and two are huge. I don't argue with anybody opionions, but the population of Avignon is twice that of Arles and both are communal capitals. In my mind, that makes both real cities. Aix is a bit unique in that is one of the few city-communes. It's population is probably three times that of Arles.

Posted by Adam
2923 posts

Logistically Aix is an outlier. Avignon and Arles are better located, connected to many sights (and each other) by rail or bus. By the way: Avignon-Nice 3h22min, Arles-Nice 4h, Aix-Nice 3:23. I like Arles better than Avignon, even with the extra 37 minutes on the train, but what would your daughters like? Give them a guidebook and let them decide.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3117 posts

Aix is interesting, but not close enough to other sites to be used as a home-base. I prefer Avignon; I didn't care much for Arles. Daytrips to surrounding towns are available from either city, either by train or coach.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4763 posts

I preferred Arles to Avignon, and didn't care for Aix. And yes, even if I loved Aix, it's not as convenient for visiting other places like Nimes (my favorite place in the region) and Orange (not a nice town, but the Roman Theater is spectacular). But with only two and a half days, they should pick the one that has the most things they want to see.

Posted by Ken
Spring, Texas
599 posts

Ed, Thanks for correcting my error on the size of the cities. When I was in Arles, it seemed like it went on forever. I chased around all over the city. In Avignon I stayed pretty close to "Vatican North" and the river. It just seemed so much smaller in my faded memory.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3254 posts

I have been to all three and while none is my favorite place in Provence, of the three I prefer Arles. However, if it were my college age daughters I would think they might prefer Aix. I must have been in the college area, but it had a bit more of a young vibe to me. However, what other towns do they want to see? Without a car and only 2 1/2 days they won't have time to see a ton on public transportation. But, without knowing what they want to see from their base, it's hard to say.
Avignon was my least favorite of the three.

Posted by Kim
Virginia Beach, VA, USA
1 posts

Was just in these places back in May and I recommend Aix. Safe, lots of shopping, eating, places to stay, and a University town. Arles was not impressive and Avignon was a great, but a bit limited. I think as young women that Aix would be best. Also, tell them to go to Chez Laurette (I think Laurette) behind the clock tower to eat. Best meal in France.

Posted by Bets
2853 posts

Not only is Aix a college town with a lot of US exchange programs and students from all over Europe, but it also has several thousand years history to explore.