~10 Days in France: Paris & Provence

Old Oct 29th, 2021, 04:20 PM
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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
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Old Oct 29th, 2021, 06:25 PM
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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.
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Old Oct 29th, 2021, 06:41 PM
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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.
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Old Oct 30th, 2021, 02:08 PM
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  • 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.
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Old Oct 30th, 2021, 04:50 PM
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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. Â 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 €30-40
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Old Oct 30th, 2021, 07:12 PM
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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?
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Old Oct 31st, 2021, 07:32 PM
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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
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Old Nov 1st, 2021, 01:40 PM
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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.
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Old Nov 1st, 2021, 10:30 PM
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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
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Old Nov 4th, 2021, 01:00 PM
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As for meals in St. Remy, I recommend the restaurant where you're planning to stay, the Château 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).
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Old Nov 12th, 2021, 10:29 PM
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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.
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Old Nov 14th, 2021, 04:38 AM
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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!
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Old Nov 14th, 2021, 05:43 AM
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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!

Last edited by TDudette; Nov 14th, 2021 at 05:49 AM.
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