Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (https://www.fodors.com/community/)
-   Europe (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/)
-   -   ~10 Days in France: Paris & Provence (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/10-days-in-france-paris-and-provence-1702622/)

arielleneal Oct 20th, 2021 09:55 AM

~10 Days in France: Paris & Provence
 
First, thanks to all the posters in this forum, I've gotten so much great info and ideas from previous threads!

My wife and I planning our first trip to France, 10-11 days in mid-late March 2022 and would love input on nailing down where to stay, transportation, and timing. I havenít booked flights or anything else yet (so can rethink if suggested, potentially add 1 more night), but hoping to do that ASAP. Weíre starting in Paris (4 nights), making St. Remy our base for Provence (4 nights; unless other suggestions), and flying out of Nice (2 nights).

Iím trying not to fall into the trap of cramming too much in, but itís hard with so much to choose from! We do plan to visit France again, so in some sense are also hoping to get enough of a taste to make decisions about future trips.

About us: We love wandering around charming areas, taking in local culture (markets, shopping), food, art, and walking/hiking amidst beautiful scenery. We arenít big history buffs, so unless the setting is also stunning (which I hear it is!), wouldnít necessarily prioritize on its own.

Proposed Itinerary
Days 1-4: Paris
Day 5: Take morning TGV from Paris to Avignon
  • Rent car in Avignon (tentatively, nervous about driving in France but realize a car is necessary to explore this area)
  • Stay in St. Remy as our base (3-4 nights)
Day 6 & 7: Uzes, Pont du Gard, Arles, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (flexible on which villages & how many so we arenít making a mad dash, these are just the ones that caught my eye to consider)
Day 8: Luberon area
  • Should we continue to stay in St. Remy before heading to Nice, or stay a night in Luberon/Aix?
Day 9: Stop in Aix en route to Nice
  • Drop off rental car in Aix (explore a bit) and take train to Nice (so we can enjoy views of Mediterranean)
  • Would love to stop in Cassis to see the Calanques, but may be too ambitious to fit this trip
  • Stay the night in Nice
Day 10: Nice
Day 11: Fly out of Nice

Questions
  • St. Remy- recommended BNBs? Would love the experience of local hosts, but if thatís not possible (seems things are already getting booked up) hotel suggestions w/ similar feel?
  • Driving in Provence- should we be nervous? How much of an inconvenience/extra cost would it be if we didnít rent a car and did day tours to a few villages instead?
  • Timing/Weather- weíll be there at the end of shoulder season and know it may be chilly (mid to late March), should we make any seasonal/weather related adjustments to our plans?
  • Nice/ last 2 days- should we just stay one night in Nice before we fly out, instead of trying to get a tiny taste of the CŰte d'Azur and then spend Day 9 in Aix or Cassis?
  • Iíll do my best to align the days with market days, but if thereís one that should NOT be missed (I hear St. Remy, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Aix?), Iíll prioritize!
Thank you!

StuDudley Oct 20th, 2021 10:15 AM

2 Attachment(s)
""Iím trying not to fall into the trap of cramming too much in""

You have failed!!! You are cramming too much stuff in.

Because of Sunday & Monday morning store closings, lunch closings, museums sometimes closed once a week, time lost in getting from Paris to Avignon to Nice - you can't "cram" as much in as you can in the US (if that's where you are from) . I would skip either Provence or Nice so that you have a reasonable chance to go at a leisurely pace. My wife & I have vacationed for 43 weeks in Provence & the Cote d'Azur. Attached are my recommendations.

Stu Dudley

arielleneal Oct 20th, 2021 12:26 PM

Stu Dudley, I feel like you're an Internet legend on all things Southern France, I will be using your attachment heavily for specific recommendations once the locations are nailed down. : ) Luckily I haven't booked anything, so hopefully can still avoid failure yet!

I'm thinking we skip trying to see Nice so we can spend more time in Provence (including Aix, which I read is a favorite of yours, and see the Calanques). If we do that, would it still be worth flying out of Nice instead of Paris, if just to see the landscape from the TGV (Aix to Nice) and stay the night before our AM flight? Either way we'd have to stay a night in Paris or Nice before flying back out.

Revised:
Days 1-4: Paris
Days 5-10: Provence (3-4 nights in St. Remy, 2-3 nights in Luberon/Aix?)
Day 11: Train to Nice/ Paris (*if Paris, maybe reduce to 3 nights on the front end)
Day 12: Fly out of Nice/Paris

Judy Oct 20th, 2021 12:35 PM

You can easily fly out of Marseilles from Aix

billandcindy Oct 20th, 2021 01:50 PM

Arielleneal, enjoyed reading your post. It brought back many good memories. My thoughts: The first two times my wife and I visited France, we first spent one week in Paris (March 2010) and then one week in Paris and one week in St. Remy (May 2011). Since then, we've both retired and have spent more than 12 months travelling throughout France usually in the Spring and Fall. If I were you, I'd probably spend the entire time in Paris, taking a few day trips by train from there. If you've decided to split your time between Paris and Provence, as we did on our second trip, I would choose St. Remy as my single base in Provence. In 2011, we took the TGV to the Avignon TGV station, rented a car there, and then drove the short distance to St. Remy. By the way, I recommend reserving an automatic with GPS, especially if you're not used to driving with a manual transmission. From St. Remy we took day trips, driving to the Lourmarin region (still have a photo of Gardes as my laptop screen-saver), Pont du Gard and Nimes, Les Baux and Arles, and Aix (among others). But we had a week, and it was late May, when the days were already fairly long (the days you will be In France will still be relatively short and probably considerably cooler). You can visit the village of St. Remy in a morning (and at night when you return from your travels). I would leave Nice for another trip. (We ended up spending a month near there in April 2014, so I understand the urge to see it). On our last trip to France in 2019 (unfortunately, because of Covid, too long ago now), we spent time in Marseille and, of course, visited Cassis and took a boat tour of the Calanques. Although both are well worth seeing, I would not try to see either on your first trip, when you only have 10 days. In 2011, we took the TGV back to Paris, spent the night at a hotel near CDG before our flight home. Since then, we've made it a regular practice to stay the night before our flight home near the airport. So, if you decide to leave from Nice, I would indeed spend the night before in Nice (or nearby). Have fun planning!! We're right behind you, flying to France again in early April. Counting the days!!

StuDudley Oct 20th, 2021 02:01 PM

I've taken the TGV as far as Aix & didn't see any coast. However, I've explored most of the coast between Marseille & Nice many times by car. It isn't very scenic because of the huge highrises & other development. The places that are scenic, are not near any train tracks.. I suspect there isn't a peek of the coast to be seen. However, I've always enjoyed the scenery between Paris & Avignon - especially as the TGV crosses the Rhone at Avignon.

After about 50-60 trans Atlantic flights, we go out of our way to take direct flights between San Francisco & Paris. United has 1 daily flight to Paris & Delta/Air France has two (second one in the summer). When we go to France outside of Paris, we like to return to Paris, stay 1 night, then fly home non-stop. We've done that from Brittany twice in the past 5 years, and Provence once. All have short train trips back to Paris. From the Dordogne, Pays Basque, and even Nice - getting back to Paris is a little more difficult, so we depart from Toulouse, Bordeaux, & Nice and have to suffer through a plane change somewhere. We've twice re-scheduled a trip to non-Paris locations due to Covid. We were scheduled to fly into Paris, stay 2 nights at a hotel in an area we have not explored much, then TGV to Strasbourg/Alsace, rent a car, end in Burgundy, and then TGV back to Paris & stay the night before the flight home.

The TGV to Paris from Provence (and Dijon) terminates at the Gare de Lyon - and we have a final French dinner at Train Bleu.
https://www.le-train-bleu.com/en/

Stu Dudley



mjs Oct 20th, 2021 02:26 PM

Is day one your arrival date in Paris? If so this only gives you 3 full days+ for Paris. I might advise a slightly different route. Fly into Paris than take the train to Avignon the same day. Stay in Avignon that night and explore Avignon the next day. Rent a car later in the day at the TGV station to go to St Remy. Itís about a 30 min drive and driving in Provence is easy especially with GPS and a partner navigator. Be sure you rent an automatic unless you can drive a stick. We tend to stay in houses or condos or apartments but did once a few years ago stay at Le Vallons de Valrugues in St Remy. Nice hotel about a 15 min walk into town. Enjoyed a nice dinner at Restaurant de Tourrel in St Remy last month. Itís a Michelin one star. The markets we liked best have been Arles, Aix and St Remy. Isle Sur la sorgue Sunday market if you are into antiques. Visit Chateauneuf du Papes or Cotes du Rhone if you are into wine. I would skip the Cote for this trip and TGV back to Paris for four full days before returning home

StuDudley Oct 20th, 2021 02:52 PM

I agree with MJS about landing and then immediately taking the TGV to Provence. We've done that dozens of times. However, the last few times I investigated schedules, they haven't been so great. But that might have been due to Covid. Currently, there are direct trains on March 23 to Avignon at 15:03 arrive 18:08, and 16:59 arrive 20:28. Not so great!!! There are other schedules with a train change in Lyon.

Stu Dudley

arielleneal Oct 20th, 2021 06:29 PM

Thanks to all the replies! You've convinced me to skip Nice completely and I'm seriously considering MJS and Stu's advice to flip the trip going straight to Provence after landing in Paris, and do the Paris days at the end before flying back out.

That seems much smarter use of time & cuts down on having additional 1-night accommodation in Paris after Provence.

To try to time our arrival into CDG so that we don't cut it too close to catching the TGV to Avignon, how much buffer time would you recommend? As Stu said it looks like there's only a few direct trains listed currently, but I'm guessing doing a train change isn't so complicated if we had to?

Billandcindy- thank you so much for sharing about your experiences in France-- I will definitely be using your input and enjoy your trip in April-- counting down the days indeed!

KarenWoo Oct 20th, 2021 06:43 PM

Because our daughter lives in Provence, we have been to France many times, although not as many times as Stu!

Based on our trips to France, I personally think you are wasting time by flying in and out of Paris. I wouldn't do it. I would fly into Paris, and then fly home from Marseilles (open jaw ticket). I also would not go to Nice. Why go to Nice for one night? It doesn't make sense. It looks like you have a maximum of 10 or 11 nights for this trip, right? Also, count your trip by nights, not days. Generally, two nights gives you one full day; three nights gives you 2 full days, and so on and so on.

I suggest dividing your time between Paris and Provence. Paris is a huge beautiful city. You say you like art. Well, Paris has amazing art museums. Besides the Louvre, there is the Musee D'Orsay (my favorite), L'Orangerie, the Rodin, the Cluny (known for its unicorn tapestries and Roman baths), and many more. And Paris, as I am sure you know, is a beautiful city for wandering and enjoying the ambience. I think you fill find 3 or 4 nights very frustrating. Consider 5 nights in Paris and 5 nights in Provence.

So, first go to Paris for 5 nights, then take the train from Paris to Avignon, pick up your rental car in Avignon, and fly home from Marseilles.

There is so much to see and do in Provence. So many lovely cities and villages. There is St. Remy, which I love, and I think is a good base. Or you could divide your time in Provence between Avignon or Aix and St. Remy. Then there are the Luberon villages, Aix, Pont du Gard, etc. It looks like you have done your research so you know what is there.

My husband drives when we are in foreign countries. So he has done all the driving in Provence, and I can say it is easy driving. Nothing to worry about.

Regarding weather, we did visit our daughter once in late February/early March. I remember I did bring a winter coat and a lightweight coat. I think I alternated between the two. Mid to late March should be a bit warmer, but you have to be prepared for the mistral winds.

KarenWoo Oct 20th, 2021 06:52 PM

Also want to add that I would go to the market in Isle Sur La Sorgue on Thursday, not on Sunday. And there is more to the market than antiques. I remember purchasing some beautiful pottery. Sundays are more crowded than Thursdays, and it is next to impossible to find parking on Sundays. We were there once on a Sunday and it was horrible! My husband drove around and around to find parking. We almost gave up, and then he found a spot. We went on a Thursday another time, and it was much less crowded and much more enjoyable and easy to find parking.

There is a poster on this forum, "Michael_Caine77398" who is currently posting his recent trip report for Marseilles, Arles, and Nimes that you might be interested in reading.

mjs Oct 20th, 2021 11:39 PM

There is no wasted time in flying out of Paris instead of Marseille. The train from Avignon TGV to Paris is about three hours whereas the train from Avignon to MRS is about an hour and a half or by car probably an hour. You cannot however fly directly from MRS to anywhere in the US so you will lose at least a few hours connecting somewhere in Europe. The benefit of going directly to Avignon on your arrival date is because your first day is not a great day for exploring. Best use that day while you are tired to travel to your furthest destination. Stu is right that there are less trains recently from CDG to Avignon. There are a lot more trains going to Avignon from the Gare de Lyon as an alternative to changing at Lyon. You could take a taxi to the Gare de Lyon (30-60 min depending on day and time) and have drinks or a meal at Train Bleu while you are waiting for your train. (main entrance to Train Bleu outside and not so obvious) May want to take the InQui trains instead of the QuiGo trains if you have significant baggage. (I still have problems remembering which is which) I like a 2 1/2-3 hour buffer at CDG. Check the conditions on your train tickets as some you can change times without charge on the same day. On another topic every car I have rented with an automatic over the last 5-6 years in Europe has had GPS already installed so you don't have to pay for it. You can use Apple or Google maps or a separate device like Garmin if you wish. You can drive in a reasonable length of time to most places you will want to go around St Remy so I would just stay in one place for your entire time. You will get to Avignon TGV probably sometime in the afternoon and take another train to Avignon Centre which only takes a very short time. Several decent hotels including I believe a Novotel next to the station and you can check in, clean up and walk out into the city for a while. Take an early dinner and sleep early so you can awake the next morning refreshed and ready to go.

StuDudley Oct 21st, 2021 09:52 AM

I see many cities mentioned in your itinerary. Just remember that most non-food shops close in cities on Sundays & on Monday mornings (some in Paris too). Read my itinerary for a detailed review of those closed in Aix & I think Avignon too. We save Sundays for museums. L'Isle sur la Sorgue market, and scenic drives in the countryside. So don't visit Aix, Avignon, or Marseille on Sundays or Monday mornings. St Remy and some of the very touristy villages in the Luberon (Gordes, Roussillon) have shops open. But Bonnieux was not open when we were there once on a Sunday. Same with Pernes.

We've never visited Provence in late March. But we have visited Tuscany for several 2-week trips in late March & early April (same latitude as Provence). And both are farther north than Milwaukee WI. Trees won't be leafing or even budding if Provence is anything like Tuscany. There was snow for about an hour in Tuscany. So be prepared!!!

Stu Dudley

KarenWoo Oct 21st, 2021 12:10 PM

Obviously people have different opinions, and they are all valid, and people have different travel styles. Where are you coming from? How long is your flight to get to Paris? Will you have the energy to push on and continue to Provence in the same day? That does not appeal to me, but everyone is different. Personally, I think it's very easy to get to the Marseilles airport from Aix, as lilliescott mentions, and easy to get to from St. Remy. When our daughter got married, we flew into Paris because the wedding was an hour north. Then we took the train to Aix because that was where our daughter was living at the time. Spent some time in Provence, and then flew home from Marseilles. It didn't make sense to backtrack to Paris. Mjs is correct that there aren't any non-stop flights from Marseilles to the US, so you do have to change planes somewhere in Europe. But we never found that to be a problem.

The first time we flew to France we spent a week in Paris. On our arrival day, we walked around our neighborhood to get acclimated and as a way to stay awake and not take a nap upon arrival which can then mess up your sleep. We had a drink at a cafe and then had dinner, and then returned to our hotel to sleep and get a good night's rest. We didn't consider it a wasted day.

Sassafrass Oct 21st, 2021 12:59 PM

Totally agree with mjs about going directly on to Avignon and putting all time in Paris together at the end of the trip. Even if it is a bit more that first day, it is better to reduce the number of hotels stays and not have two in Paris. If you are departing from Paris, you have to be there the last night anyway. You can then already be in Paris and enjoy another night in the city, rather than an airport hotel.

Personally, I enjoy being outside to eat and to have longer days and warmer weather, and flowers hanging from window boxes, etc. so much so that it is worth spending more money to have that lovely experience. I figure we are already spending a few thousand for plane fare, car rental, hotels, etc. so a couple hundred more to give a richer experience is worth it. If those things would enhance your trip experience, consider moving your trip into late April or early May.

Stu’s advice and opinions were very helpful on our trip (He is certainly an expert on Provence) and St Cirq’s suggestions were highlights of our experiences. You have so little time, you will have to choose carefully. At the same time, anything you choose will be great, so it is a win, win.

Against the general advice to rent a car, and knowing we would miss some opportunities, we did not rent a car, so we were forced by that choice to learn about and use local transportation. Actually, the train (and bus) between Avignon, Arles, Les Baux, etc. was super cheap, fast and easy with no parking issues, but a different experience, sometimes better, sometimes not. Think about how to fit things together so the travel time is enjoyable and you do not have to spend hours parking,

Arles was on my bucket list, but seemed gray, while Aix is beautiful, one of my favorite places. It is bright with flowers and fabulous Moroccan food. We liked it so much, we returned and added another day and night at the end of the trip.

Our other favorite place was Aigues Mortes, where we also extended to three nights. I think it is only really wonderful if you stay though for romantic evenings, not good for just a sightseeing day.


KarenWoo Oct 21st, 2021 02:03 PM

If the OP visits Paris at the beginning of their trip, I am not suggesting that they return to Paris at the end of the trip. That would be a waste of time. It is certainly not enjoyable to spend the last night at a hotel near the airport. What I am suggesting is an open-jaw ticket (also called multi-city) where they would fly into Paris, visit Paris first for however many nights they wish, then take the train to Avignon (or Aix). They would pick up their rental car in Avignon or Aix, and return the rental car to Marseilles Airport, and fly home from Marseilles. Personally, I would find having to push on to Provence that first day, and then take a train back to Paris, stressful. But everyone is different, and has their own travel preferences. I would certainly not want to do that if I have to change trains in Lyon. That's extra work and lots of carrying luggage around.

Sassafrass Oct 21st, 2021 04:31 PM

KarenWoo, agree with all you say. Multi-city would certainly be best option if they can do that. They will have to look at the current flight availability.

arielleneal Oct 29th, 2021 08:35 AM

Revised Itinerary, more questions (and thanks to all!)
 
Thank you all for your input and debate on the best options for my itinerary! As many have said, ďbestĒ is often subjective when it comes to travel plans, and hearing your differing opinions helped me consider what that means for me on this trip. We are traveling from Nashville, TN, so flying out of Marseille adds more extra stops and time than if we were out of a major US city, so weíre going to test our travel stamina and go straight from CDG to Avignon TGV.

KarenWoo, Iím taking your advice to split the trip equally, 5 nights in both Paris and Provence!

My latest plan was 4 nights in St. Remy (I booked Chateau Des Alpilles as an anniversary splurge, and b/c hotel splurges seem to stretch further in Provence than Paris), and 1 in Aix (Friday night, to wake up Sat for the market before returning rental car & taking Aix TGV back to Paris). But as Iíve continued to my village research Iím finding Iím more pulled to the Luberon villages than to the roman ruins and wondering if Iíve made a mistake!

Itinerary (* denote being in the town on its market day)
Day 1 (Mon): Arrive Avignon TVG in afternoon, rent car & head to St. Remy (4 nights)
Day 2 (Tues): Gordes, Roussillon, Lourmarin (photos of Lourmarin grabbed me & the only Michelin star gluten-free restaurant is there, I've had celiac disease since 2004)
Day 3 (Wed): St. Remy* (AM market), Pont du Gard
Day 4 (Thurs): L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue* & Fontaine de Vaucluse
Day 5 (Fri): Les Baux (LumiŤres), check out of St. Remy hotel ó> relocate to Aix hotel (1 night)
Day 6 (Sat): Aix* AM market, TGV to Paris in afternoon
Day 6-11: Paris [Sat -Thurs]

+ As I review it, I think this itinerary may be the best option to give us a taste of the 3 areas and help us decide where to explore more on our next trip. Relocating to the Luberon for a single night doesnít have the same trade offs as Aix, and with St. Remy as our base we can still explore it
+ In terms of # of villages, Iíve listed the groupings geographically by what could make sense in a day, but rather than rush weíll decide at the time what we feel like and if a particular town grabs us have no problem skipping the rest on that day. Feel free to suggest different pairings based on how long you might spend in each : )

Questions:
  • Should I switch the last night in Aix to Luberon, and maybe even reduce St. Remy to 3 nights to do the last 2 in Luberon?
  • Taking the TGV back to Paris Saturday afternoon- aside from deciding where to spend our last night(s), any pros/cons to departing from Avignon vs. Aix? Weíll already be familiar w/ Avignon station
  • Should we plan to eat in St. Remy each night we are based there, or stay in any of our day trip locations for dinner?
  • If spending last night in Aix, do you agree we should stay in the town center rather than outside? (I've read of harrowingly narrow parking garages/spots in town, but we'd be parking upon arrival & not using car again until leaving to the TGV). Looking at Hotel Cezanne in town, or Hotel Le Pigonnet outside of it.

Apologies in advance for taking you along the play-by-play in my brain, hopefully this long post will be helpful to someone else in the future making similar decisions. I appreciate you!

arielleneal Oct 29th, 2021 09:08 AM

Revised Itinerary, more questions (and thanks to all!)
 
Sorry for the double post-- I thought it hadn't gone through but I guess it was waiting for approval!

gooster Oct 29th, 2021 02:29 PM

I didn't see anyone note it, but you may find some accommodations and tourism dependent businesses in the smaller villages closed in March. Some use Easter as the opening weekend. And dress for the Mistral winds.

StuDudley Oct 29th, 2021 03:20 PM

Note gooster's comment.

Eat in St Remy. An early dinner in France is about 7:30 if you dine at mid-range to upper quality restaurants. So if you dine at 7:30, you'll "hang out" in the dark after your day trip, and driving back to St Remy in the dark also. Plenty of restaurants in St Remy. It will be early in your trip, and you won't be familiar with driving and signage in France.

Stu Dudley

AJPeabody Oct 29th, 2021 05:25 PM

Just outside St Remy is the ancient city of Glanum, now a ruin of course, but quite interesting if you are into Roman ruins. It's worth an hour. It's on the way to les Baux.

HappyTrvlr Oct 29th, 2021 05:41 PM

Driving is not a problem in France. Learn the European road signs such as one way, no parking, etc. I print them out and stick them on the dashboard.

SalB Oct 30th, 2021 01:08 PM

  • Should I switch the last night in Aix to Luberon, and maybe even reduce St. Remy to 3 nights to do the last 2 in Luberon?
I'm not a great fan of Aix so I'd say stay in St. Remy. We've rented gites near there a few times and found plenty to see and do in the area. St. Remy is a busy, fun place and central to an amazing number of sights. You have chosen a great central location.
  • Taking the TGV back to Paris Saturday afternoon- aside from deciding where to spend our last night(s), any pros/cons to departing from Avignon vs. Aix? We’ll already be familiar w/ Avignon station
Again, I much prefer Avignon to Aix so would opt for spending a last night in Avignon. Check the train schedules and see which one would be to your benefit. BTW, someone above suggested you rent an automatic transmission which is an excellent suggestion if you don't drive a stick at home. It's usually safer to request an automatic ahead of time because they are not always on the lot. Stick is much more common (and cheaper) in Europe.
  • Should we plan to eat in St. Remy each night we are based there, or stay in any of our day trip locations for dinner?
If you're eating your main meal in the evening, St. Remy would be a good idea. We usually eat our main meal at noon when we're out sightseeing and in the evening have a baguette, fruit, cheese and wine. However, we usually rent a gite so we have a dining room and kitchen. If you are staying in a hotel, that might not be the easiest choice.
  • If spending last night in Aix, do you agree we should stay in the town center rather than outside? (I've read of harrowingly narrow parking garages/spots in town, but we'd be parking upon arrival & not using car again until leaving to the TGV). Looking at Hotel Cezanne in town, or Hotel Le Pigonnet outside of it.
We've parked in Aix and while the parking slots are narrow, they are everyplace else too so I wouldn't worry about it. Get the smallest car you can and you won't have any trouble. Stay in the town center if you want to walk around the town while there. Stay outside of town if you want an easy getaway in the morning. Another thing you could consider is dropping your car when you arrive in Aix and using public transportation. We do that in Paris, Nice and Toulouse but have never stayed in Aix so I'm not familiar with getting to the TGV station there.

Paqngo Oct 30th, 2021 03:50 PM

Regarding Aix. The TGV station is out of town. We returned our rental car to the train station. There is a bus from the train station. (downstairs) that will take you to the main bus terminal in Aix. The cost per person is about 3 euro and you pay on the bus. I myself would not park in Aix center but we loved exploring it with on foot. ¬ We had a taxi take us from our hotel to the bus station and then took the bus to the train station (20 minutes). The cost for taxi to train station is about Ä30-40

vegzet Oct 30th, 2021 06:12 PM

FWIW----both times we went to Aix, we rented at the TGV station, drove into town (easy peasy), stayed at the Best Western hotel (sort of the NE side of Aix, I think) for two nights (really cheap, and a large, fenced-in parking lot with lots of room), took a bus from in front of hotel, and got off perhaps 2-3 minutes later (maybe 1,000 feet?) at the famous square/street (names escapes me). The buffet breakfast at the hotel was great (now, this was pre-Covid), similar to what you'd find at an upper class US hotel. We could have easily walked from/to hotel (, but we're old. Economical, accessible, close to town center......what's to dislike?

Didn't spend much time at hotel, even though I think it had a pool. Could have booked a B&B for maybe 50 euro more, but why pay 50 euro more to brush your teeth (and not much more, because other than breakfast, we were in town until 8 PM) in a more ._______ B&B?

mjs Oct 31st, 2021 06:32 PM

I dislike changing hotels so I would just stay in St Remy. It is only a 40 minute drive to Gordes and another 10 minutes to Rousillion. I would eat in St Remy. Can recommend Restaurant Hotel de Tourrel. I do not like driving in the dark in foreign lands although I do so from time to time. GPS is quite helpful but the roads tend to be narrow

vegzet Nov 1st, 2021 12:40 PM

I didn't find the drivers in Provence anywhere near as aggressive as those in Toronto, or Detroit, or Chicago.

The only place I felt anxious driving in Provence was in the mountains around the Gorge du Verdon. Driving about 30 mph with no one in sight was OK, but then you'd encounter bikes coming down or going up, on a curve. I didn't dare pass. Plus the occasional speedster-car, who knew the limit at which he/she could take the curves, and did. I, for one, was very mindful of the edge. (did I mention no guardrails?)

But on the flat plains? or the little hills as in the Luberon? No problem.

mjs Nov 1st, 2021 09:30 PM

Driving the Gorge is not hard. Would not want to do it at night. Would be nice though to see the lights to let you know a car is coming

billandcindy Nov 4th, 2021 12:00 PM

As for meals in St. Remy, I recommend the restaurant where you're planning to stay, the Ch‚teau des Alpilles. We've stayed there 3 times and eaten there one other time when we rented a house nearby. Maybe not every night (the restaurant is closed on Wednesdays, I think), but at least once or twice. And, as I alluded to earlier, I would not spend a night in Aix (or Avignon). Just plan to eat lunch there, especially given that the days will still be relatively short (and probably cool).

stricky Nov 12th, 2021 09:29 PM

StuDudley is the expert here, but if you decide to go to St. Remy, I highly recommend Mas des Carassins, a hotel that's walking distance to the center of town and has nice gardens and a pool. St. Remy is a wonderful place to situate yourself - it's an easy drive to Arles, Les Baux, Avignon & Nimes. It offers a large, wonderful market, shops and good restaurants too. I've been twice and hope to return again.

Dee_Dee Nov 14th, 2021 03:38 AM

I like your revised itinerary going straight to Avignon TGV to rent your car on your day of arrival. That is what I always do. I personally would not spend one night in Aix. I'd add that to St. Remy. You can absolutely visit the Luberon from St. Remy. Aix didn't speak to me (just my opinion). I find much more of interest in the St. Remy/Luberon area.

As far as driving in Provence, I was so nervous my first time (and I was solo with only a paper map!) By day two, I was comfortable behind the wheel, by day 3, I was zipping around those round-abouts! With Google Maps now it's easy, peasy!

TDudette Nov 14th, 2021 04:43 AM

We sandwiched some days in Aix and loved it:

https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/trip-report-a-provence-sandwich-446896/

As others have noted, you can see a lot in the area without needing to change bases. Looking forward to your trip report!


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:41 PM.