Base for exploring Provence

Sep 28th, 2008, 11:38 AM
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Base for exploring Provence

I would like to find a base to spend at least 3 weeks or more in, to relax and explore one part of Provence. I am not looking for a city, but more a town if that sounds right. I would probably stay in some sort of apt, as opposed to a hotel for that length of time.

We have been all thru the SouthEast, as well as Aix, and AVignon, Marseilles, liked Aix the most, but want to explore more areas to get that "quintessential" Provence experienec, if that is possible in a sort stay. I understand and dont expect to see all of Provence, but maybe one part.

Any and all suggestions greatly appreciated.
Intex is offline  
Sep 28th, 2008, 12:03 PM
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How about Maussane-les-Alpilles?
StCirq is online now  
Sep 28th, 2008, 12:09 PM
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We thought that Isle sur Sorgue was a charming town and perfect location.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Sep 28th, 2008, 12:24 PM
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In general I am not a fan of the French, but we found the people of Orange to be among the nicest we met in all Europe. It's not a prime attraction town (although the amphitheater and Roman ruins are quite impressive), but that means hotels and restaurants are a bit cheaper. It sits pretty well in the middle of all the places you want to see: Avignon, Arles, Nimes and Pont du Gard. Be sure you can speak French however. It was difficult to find any English speakers anywhere in town.
Otzi is offline  
Sep 28th, 2008, 12:52 PM
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I would say Aix, or somewhere close. There are such quaint villages all around.
Libby_Nash is offline  
Sep 28th, 2008, 01:25 PM
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Another vote for Maussane. My last trip I was there for two weeks. many good restaurants and shops for food
cigalechanta is offline  
Sep 28th, 2008, 01:30 PM
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...and a lovely Thursday market, and a real village feel...
StCirq is online now  
Sep 28th, 2008, 02:15 PM
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If you are looking for a quaint village, I would suggest Bonnieux. We stayed there in 2003 for 5 days and found it to be a perfect location for exploring surrounding villages such as Isle sur la Sorgue, Gordes and Lourmarin. There are a few small hotels/B&Bs in Bonnieux. Enjoy your trip!
lq_ma is offline  
Sep 28th, 2008, 02:37 PM
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Yet a third vote for Maussane-les-Alpilles. We spent 15 days just outside of town (off the road to St. Remy) at a winery-estate and found the location to be perfect for exploring "quintessential" Provence.

Our location out of Maussane allowed us to explore parts of the Gard (Nîmes, Uzès) as well as most everything we wanted to explore in Provence, including day trips to the Luberon.
Maribel is online now  
Sep 29th, 2008, 12:29 AM
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Thank you for the suggestion of Maussane-les-Alpilles, I will investigate it now. If I were to stay for several weeks, any suggestions on a place to stay? Apt. Hotel, some type of rental?

Also which towns should I be planning on visiting and not missing in the surrounding area. I will have a car.
Intex is offline  
Sep 29th, 2008, 05:01 AM
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We just returned from Provence Verte where we rented a gite. has hundreds of gites to choose from, for very resonable prices. I just finished my trip report this past weekend, it's posted here!
Images2 is offline  
Sep 29th, 2008, 06:50 AM
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Maussane is nice but tiny and also not close to the hub of the "quintessential" Provence that I think you'd like to see. (That'd be the Luberon + Vaucluse area and L' Isle-sur-la-Sorgue would be a good choice.)

OTOH, for a three-week stay, I'd suggest 3 one-week stays.

TuckH is offline  
Sep 29th, 2008, 07:46 AM
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Well, when I think of the "quintessential Provence," I think of the Bouche-du-Rhône and les alpilles, which IMO are prettier and more interesting than the Lubéron. But à chacun son gout.

From Maussane you can tool around to St-Rémy, Les Baux, Arles, the Camargue (Aigues-Mortes), Salon, Ile-sur-la-Sorgue, Uzès, Pont du Gard, Nîmes.....many, many places quite easily.Not to mention take overnight or day trips to Vaison-la-Romaine, Séguret, Mont Ventoux and that area...or the Lubéron.

I don't think of Maussane as "tiny," though I guess that's relative. It's certainly lively.
StCirq is online now  
Sep 29th, 2008, 10:25 AM
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In addition to all the wonderful places mentioned by St. Cirq, from our rental outside Maussane we also ventured to Orange for the Roman ruins and did wine tasting in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas.

I did miss doing an overnight in the Lubéron, though, and when I return, I'll spend more time there.

Although the town is small, our group found plenty of services in Maussane to fulfill our needs for two weeks. We made frequent trips to the pharmacy, the (exp.) butcher, Charles & fils (for lamb), to the 8 à Huit for basics, the boulangerie, the tabac, to a moulin for olive oil. We had our favorite spot for coffee on the square, even made a couple of visits to the English-speaking physician in Paradou, next door. For a larger supermarket (and better prices) we drove to the Intermarché in St. Rémy. And we visited the twice weekly market there as well as the Thurs. market in Maussane and famed Sun. market in l'Isle-sur-la Sorgue.

More info at
Maribel is online now  
Oct 18th, 2008, 03:07 AM
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"Quintessential" Provence for me would be the small vintage villages snuggled in the hills and in the vineyards. Since you've already visited Avignon, Aix and Marseille, you could tour the north and east ie: Vaison-la Romaine, Entrechaux, Bedoin, Sault, Apt and the Luberon. Check with ; for self-catering lodgings. Bonnieux, Oppede-le-vieux, Roussillon, Isle sur Sorgue, Saumane, Venasque would make a good base. Enjoy your stay!
chinoiserie is offline  
Nov 5th, 2010, 10:18 AM
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If you happen to see this, Maribel, could you please tell me the name of the wine estate where you stayed and provide a link if you have it. Thanks in advance.
alohatoall is offline  
Nov 5th, 2010, 12:55 PM
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We rented a home in Roussillon for a week this past June and loved it there. They have a small independent apartment on the first level of the home as well. It was located at the base of town so easy to walk to town if didn't feel like cooking. We did day trips to a lot of the Luberon villages (Gordes, Bonnieux, Lourmarin, Apt, Venasque) as well as Isle sur Sorgue and Vaison-la-Romaine. We also spent 4 days in St Remy visiting the towns near there. I agree, spend a week in each area of Provence. Our trip report is also posted here. Have a great time.
winnick is offline  
Nov 7th, 2010, 04:03 AM
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If you are staying three weeks, I would suggest renting a vacation home. You can find beautiful homes in the area, especially converted farmhouses.

Although I agree that the Alpilles are the perfect location for exploring Provence, I would say there is a rather large area where you can base yourself. IMO, everywhere within the area marked by the towns of Nimes, Aix, Manosque, Carpentras, Avignon would be convenient. You find hundreds of beautiful villages within this region.

When we are travelling to Provence we start searching for a vacation home which appeals us, using search machines like

Then we pick the one that suits our needs best and which has a good location. The process of searching a house is much part of the fun of travelling.
Echnaton is offline  

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