We are planning to fly to Paris in late October for 17 nights, and are thinking of taking the TVG to Nice for a few days, then picking up a car in Nice and traveling to Provence for the bulk of the time, then back to Paris by train from Avignon. Would you recommend staying a few days in different cities, and if so, which ones? Or staying a week in a villa and traveling back and forth? How easy is it to drive in France? I have driven extensively in Italy and it can be very tricky with road signs.
The two regions of Provence and the Cote d'Azure are so big, together, that I don't think it is practical to try to see both from a single base.
Renting a car for a trip like the one you describe is worth the effort because it will greatly extend your reach into the beautiful countryside.
October is a great time to see the South of France--have a great trip!
Thank you for your response. I am thinking of staying just 1 night in Paris since we are flying into Charles Degaulle, then taking the express train to Nice, staying 3 nights, then renting a car in Nice upon departure, driving to Aix-in-Provence area. This looks like about a 4 hour drive from Nice. We are looking for a nice place to stay in the Aix-in-Provence area for about 4 to 5 days, then we will drive on to the Avignon area for another 4 to 5 days, then drop off the car in Avignon, take the express train to Paris and stay 3 more nights in Paris, then home. I have located good places to stay around Nice, Avignon, and Paris, but not so sure about the Aix-in-Provence area. Can you suggest anything?
I sent you a private message but sometimes I am not sure if people are getting them or not.
We are doing this area as well. One thing I have realized is you can spend a month here and not see everything, I wish we had more time ourselves.
That being said you need to decided on the top things you want to do.
For Provence we have decided to stay in Arles as it is a good home base for day trips and seeing places around it such as Aix, Avignon, Nimes, Pont Du Gard, Les Beau, St. Remy ect....
Arles is indeed a great base from which to see Provence, both for its location and its own native sights to see. But if you have a car there are many other possibilities as well, including small towns like St. Remy.
You might want to look into staying at a gite (in Italy they are called agritourismos). These are mostly small private old farms and the farmers have been encouraged by the government to convert some of their buildings into tourist apartments. You rent them by the week. Check out http://www.gites-de-france.com/gites/uk/rural_gites
I would recommend that you think about what kind of experience you want. We are going to Provence in May and will stay in a couple of strategically located places, because we do not want to spend a lot of time going back and forth. We are spending 2 nights in Avignon after training in from CDG, 3 nights in St. Remy, three nights in the Luberon, and 3 in Vaison la Romaine, before returning to Paris for 2 nights.
It is quite possible to pick one spot and drive from there each day. But the Luberon is slow driving. We will stay at Le Mas Perreal, a small place in St. Saturnin d'Apt. It has gotten rave reviews at TripAdvisor and SlowTravel.