My wife, myself and our 23 year old niece have been staying in Toulouse for 3 weeks.On January 15th we begin 2 nights in Nice, then on to cities in Italy until we return to Canada on the 25th. Our big question now is where to from here; We want to do a series of 2 night stays between here and Nice; we are not into driving and will be limited to using our France:Italy Eurail passes;special interests are art and castles, historic monuments, and are ready to ease off on the Roman ruins , etc; Would welcome recommendations from others who have made such choices and especially in terms of the accommodation you chose in places like Arles and Aix-en-Provence ( unfortunately we only have Rick Steves' France guide book and not the specific one he has on Provence)Whatever you can contribute to helping us avoid jumping on trains taking us in different directions such as north to Beaune and other places that tempt us will be much appreciated.
Given your interests and proximity to the Perigord it is a shame you won't have a car for even part of your trip. Those castles are fabulous; moreover the cave art is amazing.
One obvious rail stop is Carcasonne, at least for a night, to walk the ramparts and tour the castle. Then you might head to one of the Provencal destination that Kent suggests.
Medieval Provence to me is not as fascinating as Roman Provence, but if you can get out to Les Baux you should. Maybe hire a driver? The Palace du Papes in Avignon often hosts art exhibits.
It is handy that you can get easily between Nimes, Arles & Avignon by rail. And not to tempt you too far north but you could certainly visit Lyon as a day trip from Provence.
Have a wonderful trip!
Before you leave Toulouse, have you been to Albi? The Toulouse Lautrec museum is interesting as is the cathedral - especially its carved choir screen. Also, Cordes sur Ciel is a beautiful hill town but you might need to take a bus.
Carcassonne is on your way to Provence. The best castle in France. In Provence without a car you'll be somewhat constrained. If you can find transportation, I'dd add a suggestion for Uzes (near Pont du Gard).
Thanks so much for all your recommendations. We've now been to Albi, Sarlat, and Carcassone and they were all wonderful visits and most memorable; and in a few days we head--having booked accommodation spots picked up from this Travelers' Helpline-- to Arles, Aix-en-Provence, Nice, and then south into Italy andMilan, Bergamo, Venice, Florence, and Rome. WIsh we could go to more places in Italy, ie; Cinque Terra, some hill tozns, etc; but they will have to wait. . . and for some future summer time, not winter;
As you train from Nice into Italy, your first station will be Ventemiglia. From there, you can go 4hrs. north to Torino (Turin) and then to Milan. Or, you can go 3hrs NE to Genoa. From Genoa, you can also go North to Milan or you can go 1hr SE and you are in the Cinque Terre. From either Milan or the CT, you have options for the remainder of Italy.