Provence itinerary/ home base ?

Hi,
I Just found this site. After reading ricks Provence book I scheduled the following itinerary for June 2008. Am I making a mistake basing in Arles and Avignon or would I be better staying at a different city each night?
am I missing any sights I should see? The two thing that I think I'm missing is St Remey and the sunday market at L'Isle -Sur-La-Sorge

any help is greatly appreciated.

13-Fri- TGV Paris to Avignon, 8:04-9:56-
rent car-

drive to Arles
Arena, forum square in afternoon
Hotel- L'Hôtel Particulier- Arles

14-Sat- Arles market in am,
afternoon- Aix-en-Provence (or hang in Arles if more to see)
Hotel- L'Hôtel Particulier- Arles

15-Sun- Nimes- Arena, Maison Carree, Castellum
Hotel- L'Hôtel Particulier- Arles

16- Mon- Wine tour- CDP
Hotel les florets- Gigondas
Dinner – Les Florets

17- Tue- Vaison la Romaine- am- Market
Mont Ventoux ?
Hotel- Hotel d'Europe - Avignon

18- Wed – see Avignon
Eat at 2 pas du Potagen-
Hotel- Hotel d'Europe - Avignon

19-Thurs- Pont du Gard,
Uzes
Hotel- Hotel d'Europe - Avignon

20-Fri- travel to London
Baglioni Hotel

21-Sat- flight home

thanks:)

Posted by Colette
Montréal, Canada
36 posts

Mark we are doing a 9 day Provence trip this fall and after a whole lot of reading and forum searching,I<ve decided to base at one b & b only and travel to the various places from there. You might waste some precious time checking in & out of 3 hotels...You might try basing somewhere central to all you want to see...all I can say is read, read & read to see what it is you really want to see & what can be eliminated. My itinerary has changed a zillion times since the first rough one. Also for one week, have you considered at all a b & b instead of a hotel?

Posted by Colette
Montréal, Canada
36 posts

oops I must have pressed the post button too quickly. What I was saying was that after a lot of internet surfing & reading, our itinerary for our fall Provence trip has changed completely. You might want to start by staying at one hotel instead of 3- this will save you a bit of time; decide on a central base & travel to where you want to go each day from there.

Posted by Doug
Portlandia
3313 posts

As long as you have a rental car, I'd stay in one place for the duration. Frankly, I'd stay in St. Remy because it's handy to everything and you have a smaller town to get in and out of. It's about 15 minutes to the Autoroute that will take you to Avignon.

If you want to see L'Isle sur la Sorgue, I'd skip Aix. I found Aix a long ways to travel to see another cute city with the same chain stores you see everywhere else. If you do do the Sorgue, make sure you go to Fontaine de Vaucluse.

Posted by karen
oregon
131 posts

We based in Arles for 5 nights last summer, in mid- July, and then I stayed an additional three in Avignon as part of the theater festival package. I didn't have a rental car. I see that wine and food are an important feature of your visit, priority- wise- and so therefore are the markets :) !!!

That said, you might be able to swap your Tues and Thursday somewhat, to take advantage of the market in Isle sur la Sorgue. I don't have my notes handy, but if memory serves there is an Arles market Wed and Isle sur la Sorgue's Thursday (no antiques)- the RS book will say. If you get to the weekday market, and go early, you would still have lots of time for your afternoon car touring.

If you are at all an art enthusiast, Arles could take a full day- at the very least, to get out to the museum.

Posted by Adam
Boston
2923 posts

Mark, this looks like a great trip.

On hotels, I think there is not much advantage shifting between Arles, Avignon, and Uzes. They are so close.

I couldn't help noticing that much of your itinerary does not require a car. You can get to Arles, Avignon, Nimes, even Aix by rail. But since you have a car, you are not confined to the cities--you could base yourself in St. Remy, for instance.

I think you have put together a satisfying taste of Provence. I also liked Les Baux, which is not on your itinerary, but would not call it a must-see.

Posted by Doug
Portlandia
3313 posts

I woouldn't say Les Baux is a must see, but I've never been to a place like it. For me, standing on top of the ruins, looking over the valley below, brings to life midieval perspective.

Posted by karen
oregon
131 posts

Karen, here, chiming in once more to say that you have received excellent advice! I agree that if you keep the car basing (for the whole stay, except perhaps the last night in Avignon) outside the cities of Avignon or Arles would be wise. St. Remy would be lovely and even Isle sur la Sorgue at one of the RS recommended places with the car. Our hotel in Arles was across from the colisseum (is that what you mean by the Arena?)and there was limited parking- the roads are narrow. It is only about a ten minute walk from the bus/train station. Same with Avignon...

Also, if you are taking the TGV back to Paris/London (?are you?) keep in mind that the TGV station is outside the city center- at least 20 minutes on the bus- and you might want to stay somewhere closer to that your last night.

Fontaine de Vaucluse was amazing and so was Les Baux and the lavender should be underway to tour (via Sault) on one of your afternoon excursions.

Posted by Mark
scottsdale, Arizona, USA
10 posts

First of all I want to comment on what a wonderful forum this is. Very few of these communities provide such friendly and helpful advise.

Second, because of said advise, I am changing my plans around immensely.

The staying in one hotel is a very sound, logical move. but I don't think I can do it.

I have found three very different sounding and intriguing places, and can not decide which one to drop.

L'Hotel Particulier in arles sound great, but not practical for driving. (#1 luxury)

As karen said,I am VERY into wine and may actually spend two days tasting at vineyards. Instead of staying at Les Florets (have heard mixed reviews about both the hotel and restaurant) I'm thinking of staying at Chateau Fines Roches in CNDP. (#2 castle)

then to avoid the bigger city , maybe staying in st. Remy at Le Mas Des Carassins Hotel. (#3 Provincial farm house)

Posted by Mark
scottsdale, Arizona, USA
10 posts

Ops, too long!

a few more??

Is it too much to see Nimes, Pont du Gard, and uzes in one day?

Is the thurs market less crowded than sun @ L'isle sur la sorge?

Les Baux is in probably on monday as I drive from Arles to Chateauneuf du Pape. as is St. Remy.
Aix is out.

Posted by Mark
scottsdale, Arizona, USA
10 posts

Kent,
Thanks for the heads up. I'm certainly not trying to reinvent the wheel, so any sage advise from personal experience is taken very seriously.

as for unforscene mishaps, a few years ago we were driving up to northern Italy (alba), and my wife (who is fluent in Italian, and is re-learning french) was asleep. I filled up most of the car, by the time the service guy ran out yelling "no, no!!" -I had put diesel in my petrol car. after 6 hours and finally getting a new (much less exotic) car we had to drive some very curvy, hilltop roads at night in the rain, only to pull up to a Ma and Pop B&B around midnight to wake them up.
oops!!

Posted by Chris
Anchorage
157 posts

As some previous posters have noted, having a car inside old Arles can be a challenge, but there is a great municpal parking garage just outside the ring. It makes it a bit easier.

I would tend to just base in Arles for your time in Provence, rather than moving. You could eliminate a day or two of rental car time by just taking the regional train up to Avignon to sightee. A car in Avignon is kind of a pain.

On your first day you are driving to Aix, a long drive, for me not worthwhile. I would much rather spend time in the Luberon and hill towns - e.g. Rousillon, etc.

And one final suggestion - just three letters - GPS. We purchased a Garmin nuvi 370 (with euro maps preloaded) and makes driving and navigating a breeze. The small investment (about $320) paid off in marital bliss, lack of stress, concentrating on driving and the roads rather than navigation, etc. Renting a GPS in Europe is hit or miss, plus it may be giving somewhat complicated directions in French.

Posted by Chris
Anchorage
157 posts

A bit more -

If you stay in Arles at Le Calendal, the garage is just a few steps away. If you stay over towards the train station (Hotel Acacias or Hôtel Regence) there is easier access and free parking.

Nimes, Uzes and Pont du Gard all doable in a day, but each worth some time. Pont du Gard is a bit challenging without a car, but can be done, Uzes is okay with a car, and as Kent notes, Nimes is a bit bigger.

Again, you might consider seeing some of these places via train or bus, then renting a car for just half of your journey to get to the places where you must use a car.

Posted by Kay
Annandale, VA, USA
18 posts

I would highly recommend staying for at least one night in wine country amongst the Cotes du Rhone villages...Vaison la Romaine is dreamy.

Posted by suzie
Bowral, nsw, Australia
1 posts

Mark,
You may already be in Provence (where I am currently). I have just spent time in Lyon, Avignon, Arles and Aix. I found Avignon a great base for seeing the many sights in and around the region. Day trips are so easy by bus or rail from Avignon, particularly enjoyable were trips to Uzes and Isle sur la Sorgue. Hotel d'Europe and Hotel Particulier in Arles are both wonderful but different, so worth spending at least a night in Arles. Also consider just catching the train to Arles as the streets are SO tiny that even the experienced drivers that I saw were bumping gutters and marking car doors!! Definately don't rush to Isle sur la Sorgue on the Thursday if you are interested in antiques (which I am). The market is mainly food and new clothing based and there are maybe only one or two (if that!) antique shops open on the THursday (a zillion on the weekend days).THey open Sat-Monday. Whist it's a very picturesque place to visit generally, I'd certainly plan to be there over the weekend (and don't drive!).
Bon Voyage!