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Cheeky_Monkey Jan 13th, 2004 06:56 PM

Avignon or Aix en Provence
If you had two or three days in late June, which town would choose to stay in and explore? I will have a car. I appreciate any thoughts.

SalB Jan 13th, 2004 07:14 PM

They are both delightful. Avignon is my husband's favorite of the two. I'm not sure I could choose. Parking is easier in Avignon because there is a free city parking lot across the river in les Angles. You can park there and take their shuttle bus into town. Certainly is easier on the driver.

Avignon is a little closer to some interesting sights too. You might want to take a day trip to Orange, Nimes, the Pont du Gard or some of the many many interesting places nearby.

Tough decision. Good luck. Whichever you choose, you will enjoy it.

WanderingTexan Jan 13th, 2004 07:58 PM

I much preferred Aix... a charming place, but you won't be needing your car there unless you take a day trip out of town.

babette Jan 13th, 2004 10:05 PM

I think both towns are charming, close to interesting sites, and parking nightmares! (FYI -- You can park outside of Aix and take a shuttle bus into town also.)

Since I know Aix better than Avignon, I'll add a counterpoint, that it is closer to some interesting sites too: the Luberon, Cezanne's famous Mont St. Victoire, the Marseille seaport. It's more convenient the TGV station and (Marseilles)airport (15 minutes into town) and the Cote d'Azur. It is a very lively college town with lots of shops and galleries and restaurants.

Now, are you REALLY undecided? Let me know if you have any specific Aix questions, as I'm living here for the moment.

Cheeky_Monkey Jan 14th, 2004 06:44 AM


Thanks for your response. I am definitely leaning toward Aix. My specific questions for you are: Pigonnet or Villa Gallaci -- which of the two would you stay at? Also, if I want to go to the Sunday antique fair in Isle Sur la Sorgue from Aix, how long will that take me? (I'll have a car) and finally any suggestions about must see sights within close proximity or your favorite restaurant would be most appreciated. Thanks!

cigalechanta Jan 14th, 2004 08:07 AM

Pigonnet is outside of town, The Villa is intown.
I don't drive but if you look at your map, you'll see, Lísle is near Avignon.

cigalechanta Jan 14th, 2004 08:15 AM

Babette answered you on your other post. She lives next door to the Pigonnet and says it's only a ten minute walk to the famous Deux Garçons cafe.

Powell Jan 14th, 2004 08:32 AM

It's about an hour from Aix to Ile sur Sorgue. Parking is difficult in Ile sur Sorgue. You will probaly have to hoof a bit to get to the sales area.

sandi Jan 14th, 2004 12:51 PM

The Pigonnet is (according to Babette) is a 10-min walk south of the Cours, while the Villa Gallici (which we walked) is about a 15-20 min walk north of the Cours up into the hills (buy coming from the VG south towards the Cours, only about 13-min, if no stops along the way).

As you drive into AIX from the MRS airport, practically the first hotel sign you see is to the Pigonnet to your right. It's not till you're half-way along the road around Aix center, that you see the sign for the VG.

babette Jan 15th, 2004 11:42 PM

Cigalechanta, time for you to get back to Provence -- you're forgetting the lay of the land! ;)

And now, for the Aix geography lesson ...Aix is big and in the center of Aix is "Centre Ville". That is where Cours Mirabeau and shops and restaurants are. You really don't want to drive inside of Centre Ville. The streets are very narrow and wind around going different directions. There are no four-star hotels inside Centre Ville and it is noisy at night.

Surrounding Centre Ville is the rest of Aix. Both Villa Gallici and Le Pigonnet are in Aix, but outside of the periphery that encircles Centre Ville. But, that's okay. Both are within easy walking distance to all of the joys of Centre Ville.

Personally, I would choose Le Pigonnet because it is actually closer to the center of all the action (2 blocks) and a straight shot, without hills and curves. They also have a gorgeous garden (where Cezanne used to paint and paint Mont Saint Victoire!) which will be perfect in late June. You can dine on their patio right in the garden. And the food and service are excellent.

And as Sandi mentioned, Le Pigonnet is convenient to the freeway, whereas you do have to cross the entire town from Villa Gallici to get to it. (The freeways border Aix to the South and the West. Le Pigonnet is on the south side of town. Villa Gallici is on the north side.)

So, L'Isle Sur La Sorgue is about an hour away - a bit more if you're going from Villa Gallici. My secret (well, not anymore!) parking spot is right behind the little grocery as you come into town -- right next to where the big antiques mall is. It's a few bucks but well worth it, as you can easily go back to your car and drop things off. There's a couple of good lunch spots in each of those side-by-side (well, I guess it's across the street from each other) antique malls.

There are so many good restaurants in Aix, you'll have to tell me how you like to dine and then I'll give you some ideas.

Hope this helps!

sandi Jan 16th, 2004 05:08 AM

babette -

A whole lot of us are waiting for your trip report to The Seychelles. I posted a message to you shortly after your return, but we didn't hear anything. Hope we can hear from you on the Africa/Middle East board. Please. Thanks.

Patrick Jan 16th, 2004 06:09 AM

I've stayed in both and far preferred Aix. Avignon was interesting, but even more crowded and "touristy", expecially in the day. I suspect that many of those who complain of the traffic in Aix, stayed out somewhere and had to search for a parking place when they came into town. Our in town hotel (Augustines) had parking provided in a nearby garage. Access to and from it and in and out of the city was very easy, so we never had that traffic problem in our full week there. The main street was also under construction for the last couple of years, adding to that confusion, but it is all finished now.
We loved Aix as a base to go out and explore different towns every day, yet a great place to return every night, stroll the cafes and pick out good restaurants and enjoy the ambiance in the evenings.

cigalechanta Jan 16th, 2004 12:01 PM

We were at the Manor in town, they too had their own parking.

Cheeky_Monkey Jan 16th, 2004 09:47 PM


Thanks so much for your reply. Based on your recommendation, Le Pigonnet it is. I will contact them straight away.

As far as dining, I'm thinking we'll probably do one night at the hotel. Center Ville and the boulevard sound terrific. I like to dine outdoors and watch the world go by, and as far as cuisine, more casual is probably preferred. If you have any local finds you can recommend that are off the tourist track or someplace in the heart of it all that can help me separate the mundane from something special, I would very much appreciate it. I am big on ambience -- something more romantic, although I can do austere and hip as well. Food type is not important as long as its great -- sushi to Italian to Indian to whatever. Let me know what you think!

babette Jan 16th, 2004 09:54 PM

sandi, how did you find me all the way over here? I thought if I hid out on the Europe board for a while, you would forget about my trip and I wouldn't have to do a report! Just kidding. Two weeks after Seychelles, we departed on a "tour" of the US for my mother-in-law who had never left France. The logistics were crazy (7 cities in two weeks) and I'm still reeling from my stupidity for that undertaking. Those relaxing days of Seychelles are a distant memory now! (But I'll try)

sandi Jan 17th, 2004 05:56 AM

babette -

Unless there was another one of you, figured "it had to be you" - I posted directly on Africa/MidEast for a report, and a few others in private emails offline asked whether you had posted. So here I am asking for a report, which lots of us Africaphiles would love to hear about.

Since you were departing from Europe and only doing the Seychelles, as opposed to others from the States who mostly do SEZ as an extension from Africa - it's up to you.

So when time allows, "your public is waiting" My best!

babette Jan 19th, 2004 12:10 AM

Sandi, if you're priority is ambiance, you will love dinner (or lunch) in the garden at Le Pigonnet.

It seems to me that most of the places on Cours Mirabeau take the tourist trade for granted and that you'll find better food and atmosphere on other streets. If you want to watch people go by, stop for a hot chocolate at Les Deux Garcons (an Aix institution) and eat a bit more off the beaten path.

One of my favorite casual places is Chez Jo for good pizza and pasta and a more local crowd.

Antoine Cote Cours (in a courtyard off of Cours Mirabeau) also has great pasta and a more stylish clientele -- it's always packed.

Le Formel is a great french restaurant in a basement in Centre Ville. I believe their specialty is foie gras and it's great!

La Rotunde is a modern, hip brasserie at the foot of Cours Mirabeau with great decor and food.

Since you have a car, I would drive out toward Vauvenargues one evening, walk around and see Picasso's house (he's buried there) then play boules and dine by candlelight at the very atmospheric ... (CANNOT THINK OF THE NAME! WHO KNOWS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT?). It's on the tip of my tongue. I'll come up with it later. But well worth a trip!

That should give you some ideas to start with.

babette Jan 19th, 2004 11:41 PM

LE GARD!!! is the name of the little place outside of town. (You know I shouted it the minute it finally came to me!)

Cheeky_Monkey Jan 20th, 2004 04:43 PM

To everyone -- particularly Babette -- thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I am most grateful!

babette Jan 20th, 2004 11:04 PM

You are very welcome. Please enjoy your trip and let me know if you have any other questions!

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