Provence--how much time required?

Hello, We will be in Provence for 4 nights. That's about 3.5 days. Need to know how long it takes to tour each of the areas we want to visit, so we know how much time to allocate to each. These are what we want to see: Arles Les Baux Avignon Pont du Gard Cotes du Rhone villages Luberon villages I know 3.5 days may not be enough, but we are trying our best to budget our time. Questions: 1. Should I devote one whole day to Cotes du Rhone and another whole day to the Luberon, or can they be combined in one day? 2. Can I combine Arles and Les Baux in one day, or does Arles require a whole day to itself?
3. Can I combine Avignon and Pont du Gard in one day, or does Avignon require a whole day? We don't want to tire outselves out with a hectic, whirlwind trip, but we want to see as much as we can as well. Thank you for your input. Annie

Posted by Nancy
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
159 posts

Hi Annie, You've planned too much for the time you have available. The distance (by car) between the Cotes Du Rhone and the Luberon is roughly 3 1/2 hours - and this is assuming you don't miss a turn somewhere along the way. Since most of your interests are around Avignon, I would eliminate the Cotes du Rhone area - save that for another trip.
With the time you have, I would base yourself in Avignon and make day trips to Les Baux, Arles and perhaps 1 or 2 villages in the Luberon.

Posted by Adam
2923 posts

Parts of the Cotes du Rhone are close to the Luberon, but you still have too much on your plate. You can see a lot--and have a wonderful trip--in 3-1/2 days. A lot will depend on when you are traveling. Summer will be crowded but you will have lots of daylight hours. It's impossible to answer your questions because the "right" answers depend on your own priorities. For instance, you could have a fun day visiting a few Cote du Rhone towns and a Luberon village or two, with dinner in the Luberon. (With an early start etc.) Would this be enough for you to be satisfying? Really only you and yours can say. Personally I'd give Avignon short shrift and combine it with the CdR. I'd stay in Arles and see a little of it each day. But the other combinations you suggest could work too.

Posted by Mike
Columbia, MO, USA
249 posts

We spent 5 days in Lourmarin, in Luberon, 3 days in Vaison-la-Romaine. One day trip to Pont du Gard; otherwise we didn't go to Arles, Les Baux, Avignon-we were more interested in wine than ruins, smaller villages than bigger cities. We'd stay in Gigondas if in Cotes du Rhone again rather than Vaison.

Posted by Rhonda
Bellevue, WA
17 posts

Annie, My sister and I spent five days in Avignon (at wonderful Petit Paradis)last May and day-tripped by train from there. One day each in Orange, Arles, Isle sur-la Sorgue (on market day). We enjoyed wandering and exploring Avignon the other two days and each evening. You'll probably enjoy the Roman sites more with a less hurried schedule. Have fun.

Posted by Cyn
Wheat Ridge, CO, USA
1240 posts

Hi Annie,
I would not try to do all the places on your list in 3 or 4 days. You can certainly see some of Arles in less than a day if you are ive about sights. It would be a good combination with Les Baux and I would go to Les Baux early in the morning because it is often very crowded no matter what time of year you go. I fell in love with Avignon on my first trip there and have returned many times. Les Halles is the enclosed food market in the center of town and is definitely worth a few minutes to gather a picnic or a snack. Avignon is magical at night so I would certainly stay there. Pont du Gard makes a great day trip from Avignon because it is so close. Maybe choose just 1-2 villages right outside Avignon to give yourself a sense of the villages whether they be in the Cote du Rhone or the Luberon. St Remy is a beautiful village but very crowded on market day. I personally love Gordes and the Abbaye de Senaque especially when the lavender is in bloom. I think those decisions depends on your particular interests. Have a wonderful trip and soak in the atmosphere. Always assume you will return!

Posted by Annie
Somewhere in California
79 posts

Thank you, everyone, for your input. I know we won't be able to see everything. And not having gone to Provence, I wouldn't know what to focus on. We're not wine people, but we love charming little villages. However, Arles and Avignons are must-sees, it seems. I think we will play it by ear, but have a general plan. And if we don't see everything this time, hopefully there will be a next time. Here's the general plan: Day 1--Arrive at Marseille airport in the morning, rent car, check-in by noon. Explore Pont Du Gard and Avignon. Day 2--Les Baux and Arles Day 3--Luberon (maybe just a few villages) Day 4--Cotes du Rhone (maybe just a few villages) Day 5--check-out, lunch at Avignon, then train to Paris.

Posted by Rob
Seattle, WA, USA
2 posts

If you stay in Arles (which, you should!) I would recommend driving to the Camargue to experience the one-of-a-kind white stallions and possibly glimpse the thousands of pink flamingoes that roost there. You'd only need a couple hours round-trip. Pont du Garde is very doable from Arles, as well.