Avignon as a Base

Jan 28th, 2010, 04:48 AM
  #1  
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Avignon as a Base

We will be in this area for three days in June. We plan on taking the train from Paris to Avignon and renting a car in Avignon. Would Avignon be a good base to explore the area in the short time that we have?
We are thinking of staying at Hotel L'Europe which gets great reviews on TA and from what I have read has parking and a good location not far from the city walls.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
glsebs is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 05:04 AM
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A wonderful base IMO and i have used it - great short excursions by car:

Les Baux and St Remy-de-Provence

Pont du Gard

Arles (also a short train ride)

The Camargue - park at a 'Mas' and hop ponies into the fabled wild camargue to see the wild horses

Nimes and its fantastic Roman ruins

Uzes

Aigues Mortes

Just for starters
Palenque is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 05:21 AM
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The only issue with using Avignon as a base is that for 10-15km in almost any direction, you'll be driving through some pretty interesting (ugly) stuff - lots of commercial centers, strip malls, etc. And if you do decide to stick with Avignon, make sure your accommodations are within the walls and well placed so that you can take advantage of being able to comfortably walk around in the evenings. The Pope's Palace lit up at night is something special.

-Kevin
kevin_widrow is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 06:31 AM
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Avignon is in a good central location as Palenque indicates. There's also Isle-sur-Sorgue and the Luberon to the southeast, Vaison la Romaine and the wine-growing area around it to the north.

But I for one, didn't particularly like Avignon and wouldn't like, for every excursion, wending my way out of and into town though that 10-15km that kevin mentions. We stayed in St. Remy and found that an excellent base as do many others on this forum. It's a smaller town but with a supply of restaurants.
Mimar is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 06:54 AM
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I stayed at Hotel L'Europe and thought it was a wonderful hotel. You can walk from the hotel to all sights within the city. I did not have a car but took some day trips by train and bus.

I agree though that staying in a smaller village like St. Remy would be easier for exploring the region by car.
zoecat is online now  
Jan 28th, 2010, 08:26 AM
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Arles is also a favorite base for many - smaller than Avignon but still a city and its many offerings in restaurants, etc - It also has some fine Roman ruins and associations with Van Gogh and other Impressionsists who haunted its envrions to find neat things to transfer to their canvases.

But for a more sleepy smaller town than St Remy IMO would be delightful - and here is the asylum in a convent that Van Gogh voluntarily put himself in after cutting off his ear in Arles - he painted many scenes in and around the asylum and now you have reproductions of those paintings posted right where they were executed. Van Gogh left St Remy for Auvers-sur-Oise where he killed himself not long later.
Palenque is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 09:00 AM
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Ditto Kevin.

Starting and ending your day-trips with drives through this ugly sprawl may not be the "image" of Provence that you want to experience. I'de rathar be driving through vineyards, Lavender fields, or Sunflower fields.

St Remy would be a good choice. I actually prefer the Luberon - try Kevin's B&B - his place is surrounded by vineyards.
http://www.masperreal.com/index.html

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 10:14 AM
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I've stayed at the L'Europe and liked it very much. I stayed over two weeks in Avignon one year, wonderful markets and restaurants and shopping. But-I don't drive and at that time there were wonderful excursions that drove me to places from Orange to the Camargue. I also used the train to go places.
The station(not TGV)is just outside the wall by the L'Europe
as are the buses.
cigalechanta is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 10:24 AM
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Smaller towns vs Avignon

Well besides the relatively small amount of roadside blight, endemic in driving into and out of any sizeable French town, to motor thru each day the lure of Avignon to me is to return to a vibrant city at night

Now many seek a tranquil retreat and sleepy town but i rather like the ambience of a town fairly crowded with strollers at night - concerts perhaps in front of the Palace of the Popes - as well as loads of restaurants, cafes, etc.

Indeed i just love sitting in the wide plaza fronting the Palace of the Popesand watching the human comedy of tourist from all ports milling about
Palenque is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 11:21 AM
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Hi,

Way back in 2004 I stayed across the river in Villeneuve-les-Avignon and stayed here:
http://www.ecuries-des-chartreux.com...ex_anglais.htm

The town had all the amenities (restaurants, atm, internet cafe) and had great views of Avignon!

We did day trips to most every place on your list and found it an easy town to get in and out of. You can also take the bus across the river to Avignon.

If you're so inclined you can click on my name and find the trip report, called something like Provence and Paris Trip Report.

Patti
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Jan 28th, 2010, 11:49 AM
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Hi Patti, I stayed there one year at Le Prieure.
Did you get to see the famous Provencal garden there/
Saturday mornings'flea markets are good pickings.
cigalechanta is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 12:01 PM
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HI Cigalechanta,

I didn't see the garden--was there in March so I missed a lot of that in Provence. I did enjoy the flea market though.

Patti
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Jan 28th, 2010, 12:27 PM
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Which towns do you wish to visit? That will help pin it down with the short time you have to tour.
TPAYT is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 12:48 PM
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Wow!
Thanks for all replies and great suggestions.

We have only three days in the area. One of the days we are going to Lacoste to visit friends who live there. They plan on spending the day with them and I imagine they will drive us around to some of their favorite places. That leaves really one full day to explore on our own.

Our schedule is this:
Sunday, June 3 take morning train Paris to Avignon and rent car. Check into Hotel D'Europe and see Avignon.
Monday, June 4 visit to Lacoste
Tuesday, June 5 explore on our own.
Wednesday, June 6 early train from Avignon to CDG to catch a 12:55 pm flight to Prague.

Since we are taking an early train from Avignon, I thought it made sense to stay in Avignon the night before and drop the car in the evening. That way we can just take the early train and not worry about dropping the car off before the agencies open.

Since we are only there three nights, I thought it would be easier to just spend them in Avignon, although I first thought it would be fun to stay at an inn in one of the smaller, more charming towns for two nights and Avignon for the last night.

Is my reasoning good???
glsebs is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 01:41 PM
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http://90plan.ovh.net/~aubergedmo/uk...sentation.html

Auberge de Cassagne is in Le Pontet about 15 min. outside of Avignon. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in a pool room. The restaurant is absolutely fabulous. The gardens a real joy. Take a look. It's in a residential area near a school.

The breakfast was just like grandma made----that is if she ran a 5 star restaurant. And the dinner was so great that we ate there 2 of our 3 night stay.

We also took the TGV from Paris to Avignon, very easy.
TPAYT is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 04:11 PM
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Shops in Avignon will be closed on Sunday. Museums & Palais will be open. Shops will be closed Monday morning also.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 28th, 2010, 04:48 PM
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"Shops in Avignon will be closed on Sunday."

This is not exclusive to Avignon. Also, there are at least 3 public markets in Avignon on Sunday.

Avignon is a great base for the area and Hotel d'Europe provides excellent rooms, services, and location (about 3 blocks off the city center's main loop w/ valet garaged parking). We stayed there for 5 nights in 2009 and saw many towns between the Luberon and Uzes. The city offered many dining, drinking, and shopping options every night.

Nearly every town of certain size includes non-touristy outskirts, and Avignon is no exception. But, there are reasons why it's one of the region's most popular destinations and why Hotel d'Europe is one of the region's highest rated hotels. As I was watching my toddlers race each other through the Place du Palais des Papes I completely forgot about the supermarches and car dealerships outside the wall.
Josh is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 05:47 PM
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The flower market is delightful and the children on the carrousel.
cigalechanta is offline  
Jan 29th, 2010, 07:28 AM
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>>>"Shops in Avignon will be closed on Sunday."<<<

>This is not exclusive to Avignon.<

That's correct - it is French law that shops have to close on Sundays. There are exceptions:

1. Some small food oriented shops - but they close at noon. Most large groceries close, exceptions are ones located in towns that have Sunday markets - l'Isle sur la Sorgue in Provence, St Cyprien in the Dordogne. Most shops are open in these towns on Sunday.

2. Cultural places like museums.

3. Villages that derive almost 100% of their income from tourism - Gordes, Roussillon, les Baux.

4. The Marais in Paris, which was mostly Jewish & their Sabbath is Saturday.

There is a 'bill" going thru French government to change this - but I would be surprised to see major changes. Doubt if Galleries Lafayette would open on Sunday (except for Obama).

If the OP is going to spend a major part of the day in Avignon, why not do it when shops are open ???

Stu Dudley
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Jan 29th, 2010, 12:34 PM
  #20  
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Zoecat and Cigalechanta,

Do you have any advice as to rooms at the Hotel D'Europe. The classic room at 175 Euros has a "double bed" which the hotel described to me as a standard bed....I would think that is what we call a "full" bed here. Then the superior category jumps up to twice that amount at 340 Euros for a "queen" bed. The prestige rooms have a king bed but they are out of my price range. I would love to spend 175 Euros, but can't sleep in such a small bed with my husband who thrashes around when he sleeps!!
Any reviews of the rooms and the bed situation would be appreciated.
glsebs is offline  

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