Arles, Avignon or Aix?

Old Jul 9th, 2006, 06:53 PM
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Arles, Avignon or Aix?

I am planning to stay for a few days in the Luberon region in Feb 2007 and have resolved to base in a major town as presumably most amenities will remain open during the winter months.

Can someone advise the suitability and/or recommend between Arles, Avignon or Aix-en-Provence? Hotel recommendations will also be welcomed, will pay up to 200E per room per night.

Your advice will be much appreciated.

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Old Jul 9th, 2006, 08:03 PM
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Of the three towns you name I find Arles much the most interesting--and most Provençal, too. It's also fairly central; from Arles you can visit the Pont du Gard, St-Rémy, Les Baux, and Avignon.

However, none of the three is in the Luberon, which begins east of Avignon. There you find the villages of Gordes, Ménerbes, Oppède-le-Vieux, and Rousillon. If you want to spend time visiting those villages, then staying in Avignon would be best.
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Old Jul 9th, 2006, 08:21 PM
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I just returned from all but Avignon. I'd vote for Aix because of the great cultural choices, but it's not in the Luberon.
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Old Jul 9th, 2006, 08:40 PM
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Arles is a favorite of ours. As Underhill noted it is an excellent base for the places noted. We stayed at a favorite hotel, Le Calendal, and unless prices have greatly increased you won't be paying $200---considerably less.

Several restaurants nearby, one very good one, l'escaladou. Stones throw from both the Roman theater and arena.

If you are a nature lover, be sure to visit the Camargue and take a nature hike.
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Old Jul 9th, 2006, 09:46 PM
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Thank you all for your feedback.

My intention is to base in one of these larger towns in order to visit the smaller towns in Luberon mentioned earlier. From there, I would also like to visit La Grande Motte and perhaps Marseilles and surrounding areas.

Has anyone one stayed in these towns in winter months? What are they like?

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Old Jul 9th, 2006, 09:54 PM
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Was in Aix (1 night only) and Arles (3 nights) in January 2005. Aix will probably offer more to do, but I preferred Arles--very quiet, almost ghostly when I was there. Really got my imagination going! I would say about half of the restaurants in Arles were closed; that means about half were open. If you'll have a car, I don't imagine the traffic will be like what people say it is during the warmer months.

It's very possible I would have enjoyed Aix more if I had stayed longer. I just "got to know" Arles and thus really liked it. By the way, I stayed at Le Calendal and it was lovely. They keep the fire going in the winter. I was traveling solo and it was nice to have a nip by the fire before venturing out into that--mmm, how shall I put this?--bracing wind.

In terms of weather, I had sunny days, blue skies...and did I mention the wind?

Have a lovely time. Even if you stay in Aix, visit the Cloitre de St. Trophime (my spelling's probably off there) in Arles.
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Old Jul 10th, 2006, 02:56 AM
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Here are the population statistics:

Arles 50,000

Avignon 88,000

Aix-en-Provence 137,000

You can be sure that towns/cities of this size don't close down in the winter. While winter isn't tourist season, plenty of restaurants, shops, grocery stores, and the rest will be open. It's actually nice to see these places when there aren't so many tourists.
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Old Jul 10th, 2006, 07:18 AM
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A dissenting opinion--we visited Arles in May/June a few years ago and it was a huge disappointment. In fact, I vowed not to return. More than any other French city we've been to, there was more dog poo per square inch. Yuck!

We visited both Arles and Avignon (but not Aix, although I hear it's lovely), but we actually stayed in some of the smaller towns--a couple nights in Orange and a couple of nights in Les Baux--which I liked much better.

If you have a car, which I think is the best way to get around, then I'd suggest considering a smaller town for a base.
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