We are flying into Paris, spending 6 days, and then want to do some exploring. We would like a day or two (1 night?) in the Loire Valley to check out a castle or two. Then we would like to spend the remaining week in Provence - definitely Gordes and Roussillon; perhaps St. Remy, Les Baux, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Arles. Getting around and where to stay are the big questions. When & where is it best to travel by train, and when & where is it best to have a car? We are not overly comfortable with the idea of driving but I do understand that is the best way to explore all the beautiful little villages. And would it be best to rent an apartment for the week in Provence and do day trips? We don't want to stay in any of the really big places but we don't want to be anywhere too small that would limit our food choices. Would it be better stay in hotels/B&B's for a few nights in each of a few towns? We are interested in exploring villages, people-watching, markets, some easy cycling, and getting a feel for life in France. Thank you.
Absolute favorite place to stay in Provence is St. Remy. Have been a number of times and I am always happy to be there. It is a great home base for all the towns you mention, as well as it has great shopping, restaurants, markets and a wonderful ambience. I have a car in most places in Europe and could not imagine seeing Provence without a car. I love to just take off in the car and drive around all the beautiful roads and find towns and villages and lavender fields, etc. It's such a great way to be spontaneous.