Hello, I had a question based on a response to a different post on this board. My friend and I will be going to Arles, Avignon, and Aix-en-Provence over a 4 day/4 night period via train. Someone mentioned that transferring hotels & hostels is time-consuming. Is it possible to have a good home base city or cities for this trip, or should I spent a night in each? It does not matter which city I arrive into or leave from. In addition to the time considerations here, I would also need to consider the cost of a roundtrip train ticket to these cities for a day trip from a home base city, as opposed to one ways with an overnight in each. Additionally, do you have suggestions how I should plan my time in this short time frame, including what cities to overnight in? Besides the city highlights, Les Baux and Pont du Gard sound interesting but can be a hassle and time-consuming to get to without a car. To summarize, suggestions for smart ways of planning this trip would be appreciated.
Oh I should add, we were hoping for a trip that had some laid-back time, not one where we were running all over the place and constantly on the go (particularly given the temperatures at the end of July in France!)
I think the best way to tour that area is by car. We took a small tour a couple of years ago, and we were based in a little town called Barbentane, where we shared a house big enough for 8. It was within an hour's drive of most of the places you mention.
I know the TGV goes to Avignon, but I don't know what kind of local service there is among those cities.
If you have a car, St Remy would be an excellent base. And don't miss the market on Wednesday.
It is smart, and freeing of time, to consolidate your nights to a single home base. Arles is charming. though if you have a car you can stay most anywhere--there are many charming small towns. I can personally recommend St. Remy. My advice would be for you and your friend to think carefully about what sort of place you'd like to stay in--a city like Arles, or a village--and plan accordingly.
There are many wonderful destinations in Provence. The Roman antiquities in Arles, St. Remy, and Orange are great (more in Nimes) and the hill towns of the Luberon are worth a visit. I also enjoyed Fontaine de Vaucluse very much, but that might not be to everyone's taste. Really it depends on what you like, and there is no substitute for spending some time with a few good guidebooks before you go. Have a great trip!