Arles or St. Remy as a base town?

Aug 13th, 2006, 11:57 AM
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bump for future reference
flsd is offline  
Aug 13th, 2006, 12:04 PM
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PB--what a great resource sheet! Many thanks.
Underhill is offline  
Aug 13th, 2006, 12:23 PM
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I also have found this thread invaluable. I'm wondering, though, if Patricia would like to comment (or update) the restaurant list. We will be staying outside of St. Remy in the small town of Mallaine at the end of September. Any changes or additions since last year to your list?? Much appreciated!!

Also, I'm sure I start a new thread for this but.... any tips on 1 day cooking classes in the area?

abqdeb is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 01:43 PM
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ttt re: updated restaurant list
jenniel6 is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 03:20 AM
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Just returned from St. Remy..stayed at Hotel Mas des was fantastic, beautiful setting, rooms were lovely...and they were able to fit 4 of us (2 adults and 2 children, ages 10 and 13) comfortably in one room. Had dinner there one evening and it was delicious. To add to restaurant list, we loved Les Bistrot des Alpilles, on main ring road in town. The leg of lamb melted in my mouth...service was very friendly and fun. Their menu enfant of ravioli (or chicken wings) was heartily enjoyed by my children. Warning...don't order the rum cake unless you are walking...fortunately, we had walked (and yes, it is walking distance into town from hotel, but it is a bit rocky).
swissgirl is offline  
Dec 19th, 2006, 05:54 PM
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em_axo is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 07:21 AM
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bookmarking as well.
katzen is offline  
Jan 28th, 2007, 04:29 AM
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Thank you PB! I'm bookmarking as well.
Dee_Dee is offline  
Jan 28th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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Just a note for those who have bookmarked...

La Source (restaurant) has closed permanently. However there's a nice restaurant almost next door called La Forge that is reasonably priced and the food is pretty good.

L'Apostrophe has also changed hands and is called L'Olivier. Haven't had a chance to eat there yet and haven't had any feedback on it either.

La Chassagnette is off my list...friends ate their recently and said it was way overpriced and mediocre.
The former chef of la Chassagnette is now at his own place in Arles - L'atelier de Jean Luc Rabanel.
Word is it will get at least one star this year in Michelin.

I'm happy to hear that Swissgirl enjoyed the Bistrot des Alpilles. I quit eating there not long after the new owners took over - I find it way overpriced.


PBProvence is offline  
Jan 28th, 2007, 09:03 AM
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Has anyone stayed at one of the St.-Remy area inns affiliated with Logis-de-France? Specifically, perusing the Logis-de-France website, I found HOSTELLERIE LE CHALET FLEURI, which looked pretty good. (Another in St.-Remy is AUBERGE DE LA REINE JEANNE). Any feedback on either of these places?
flsd is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2007, 07:46 PM
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Wow - I'm so glad I stumbled onto this thread...Just booked a room in St-Rémy at Villa Glanum...anyone stayed there? Seems nice and so reasonably priced and well situated. I'm mostly curious about things to do in Provence area and on what days...My husband and I will be there during the 2nd week in July. What/where are the best markets/festivals, etc. Thanks in advance...
Corkee is offline  
Jun 24th, 2007, 04:16 AM
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Villa Glanum is quite a nice small hotel about a ten minute walk from town...right on the doorstep of Glanum itself. The two monuments just behind the hotel are presently "under wraps" - scaffolding and netting - while undergoing a complete restoration.

A few nearby markets are : St. Rémy & Arles- Wednesday
Maussane-les-Alpilles - Thursday
Tarascon - Tuesday
St. Martin de Crau - Friday
Arles - (huge) Saturday

The 14th of July you'll find festivals in almost every village... if the weather isn't too dry and risk of fire too high, many will have fireworks.

Some day trips (I've posted this elsewhere)

Day One:
Drive to the Pont du Gard in the morning. This is about a 45 minute drive from St Rémy. Afterwards, drive another 15 minutes to Uzès. This is a charming town with a wonderful pedestrian center and many interesting shops, especially for pottery.
There is also a beautiful medieval garden which is open for visits.
Market day is Saturday - all day.
Restaurant recommendation for lunch:

Les Fontaines
Charming small restaurant in the center of town. Tiny indoor patio area among the ruined walls. Good eclectic mix of food... sometimes a Moroccan tahjine, sometimes provençal.
6, rue Entre les Tours Tel: 04 66 22 41 20

After lunch return to St Rémy via Tarascon - you might wish to visit the castle on the Rhône.
If you haven't dallied too long, the end of the day is the perfect time to visit Les Baux, just on the south side of the Alpilles from St.Rémy. The tour buses have left and it's a delightful time to wander the cobblestone streets and visit.

Day Two:

Make a circuit of the Lubéron villages. From St. Rémy drive to Gordes (about 45 minutes), and then visit the Abbaye de Senanque. If you're planning to be here the end of June or July, the Abbaye will be surrounded by blooming lavender fields.
I don't really recommend spending long in Gordes - for one you have to pay to park and the village is much more spectacular viewed from afar.

From Gordes or l'Abbaye, drive to Roussillon (about 20 minutes). Roussillon is built on red and yellow ochre cliffs and is home to many artists and galleries. It's a beautiful small village and the climb to the top is very interesting. There's a great pottery shop at the top that also sells packaged ochres, if you are an artist or have the urge to begin painting.

Near the clock tower there's a charming small outdoor restaurant called La Treille, which has good food at a reasonable price.

From Roussillon drive to Bonnieux through the vineyards. This is another perched village and the climb to the top is steep. If you've had enough climbing, I suggest going on Lacoste, home of the Marquis de Sade's château. It was purchased a couple of years ago by Pierre Cardin, but I think parts of it are still open to the public.

From Lacoste you can drive to Menerbes (you can park at the top of the village) where there are some charming shops and views. Or you can continue along to Oppede le Vieux, one of my favorites Not completely "redone" it's a small village with a ruined church and château (now closed) that is charming.

This is a full day.

Day Three:
If you're interested in the Camargue (the natural wildlife preserve - famous for the wild Camarguais horses, bulls and rice fields) I highly suggest a visit to Aigues Mortes.
South of Arles, it's a little over an hour's drive from St Remy.

A walled city, departure point for the crusades, it's one of my favorite places in the area. It hasn't really caught on with foreign tourists yet, although do I see more and more every year.

Famous for salt, you can see the mountains of it from the ramparts.

Returning from Aigues Mortes, you might want to visit Arles. The Roman coliseum and theater in town are well preserved and used today. There is also a Roman necropolis just on the edge of town and within walking distance from the center.
It's also a place that Van Gogh painted extensively, and the Tourist Office has a booklet (in English ) that gives various walking tours that are very interesting.

It's about a 30 minute drive back to St Rémy from Arles.

Day Four:

If you're interested in seeing some of the coast, I highly recommend a drive of about an hour and half to Cassis. A small fishing village right on the Med, it's got a great beach and you can take a boat ride to visit the "calanques"... inlets with small beaches at the foot of the cliffs not accessible by car.

Recommendation for lunch - overlooking the water:

Le Grand Large

Just off the port, with a large terrace overlooking the beach and the sea. Excellent seafood during the season. In summer bouillabaisse is often on the menu (without having to request it in advance) Off season, call the evening before if you would like this specialty. The fried calamari is excellent, as is the fresh fish.
Tel: 04 42 01 81 00

If you're not interested in driving that far I could suggest, especially if it's a Sunday, driving to l'Isle sur la Sorgue which has a fabulous market and antiques market that day. The village is spread out along the banks of the Sorgue river and there are big water wheels dotted along the town. Little shops and winding streets make it a more relaxing day.

And, of course, visit St. Rémy, home of Nostradamus. The St Paul de Mausole just outside of town, is the institution where Van Gogh spent time and painted a lot. There is a walk that has panels showing the paintings he did while there - and some of the views are basically unchanged today. Just next door is Glanum - the ruins of a Roman town built on the ruins of a Phoenician village. It's quite fascinating to visit.
Market day in St Rémy is Wednesday and the town is very busy that day.


PBProvence is offline  
Jul 19th, 2007, 05:02 PM
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Thank you all so much for this very valuable information! We are just starting to plan our March '08 trip. We will be in France for a month!

I cannot express my gratitude enough for all your generosity in these postings!
kopp is offline  
Jul 19th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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Loved St Remy & plan to go back so bookmarking this for the Hotels & Restaurants. Many thanks
trumps is offline  
Jul 19th, 2007, 08:16 PM
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Thanks for this great information!
Cameron is offline  
Jul 20th, 2007, 04:38 AM
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One more vote for St. Remy and le Mas des Carassins - the best part of a magical three-week vacation we took in the area in 2005. Breakfast by the pool, bees buzzing in the lavender, cigalles singing, les Alpilles on the horizon...paradis!
msm4 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2007, 05:28 AM
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After a recent 17 day stay in Provence, I'd like to add my 2 cents...

- We stayed 5 nights in le Paradou and visited St-Rémy 3 times (including market day) and failed to find its appeal.
- We spent almost an entire day (and a couple of evenings) at Les Baux; it was one of the highlights of our trip. The same for the Pont du Gard.
- The Camargue was a disappointment; Aigues Mortes was not. It compared favorably IMO to Carcassonne.
- We spent 6 nights in pretty Venasque and 5 nights near Buisson. Each was an ideal location to get to see the sights of the Luberon, Vaucluse and the lower Drôme. We got to see some very beautiful scenery on these daytrips.
- Of the many villages we visited (and there were many!) our favorites were Venasque, Joucas, Lacoste, Saignon, Seguret, Le Crestet and Brantes.
- The OP (in 2005) asks "We will be driving around Western Provence for 3-4 days. Which one is better as a base town - Arles or St. Remy?" I would answer "Neither" and suggest an area further to the north and east, say near l'Isle sur la Sorgue - closer to more of the attractions...
TuckH is offline  
Jul 20th, 2007, 09:20 AM
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>>- The OP (in 2005) asks "We will be driving around Western Provence for 3-4 days. Which one is better as a base town - Arles or St. Remy?" I would answer "Neither" and suggest an area further to the north and east, say near l'Isle sur la Sorgue - closer to more of the attractions<<

That's my opinion also - the farther away we get from St Remy & Arles, the more we enjoy Provence. St Remy & Arles are enjoyable towns where you can walk to dinner, sit at cafes with (mostly) other Americans, and do lots of shopping (Wife didn't find many shops that attracted her in Arles, plenty in St Remy) - but if you prefer expansive lavender fields, lots of vineyards, pretty rolling countryside, picturesque gorges, views all the way to the Alps, cliffside roads (a bit scary) unspoiled small villages, less touristy markets, beautiful mountains, less traffic - especially truck traffic - head north & east like TuckH suggests. For first timers, I suggest the Luberon - for 5th & beyond timers, we like the region just south of Mt Ventoux.

Stu Dudley
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Jul 24th, 2007, 01:08 PM
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My husband and I were thinking of a home base at Le Clos du Bois in Bonnieux or Villa Velleron, is that far enough North to see all the beautiful sights you mention and the unspoiled village. Do you have a better suggestion for a hotel?
suze1 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 01:53 PM
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Bonnieux is fine. We stay in Gites (houses), so I can't recommend any hotels

Stu Dudley
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