Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   does this make sense? Provence help please. (

sharbear84 Dec 2nd, 2010 01:04 PM

does this make sense? Provence help please.
Hi everyone -
FInally might have a plan for our week in Provence (after week in Paris) in May 2011. Am thinking of train from Paris to Avignon on Saturday, 3 nights in St. Remy (sat/sun/mon), 3 nights outside of St. Saturnin les apt (tues/wed/thurs) (seems to be a good base for the area and there is a B and B that interests me there), and then one night in Aix (fri night). Then take train from Aix back to Paris on saturday for night before our flight (that is non-negotiable as we are leaving out of Orly and most of you advised me to do this on a different thread). Hadn't thought about the one night in Aix until now but really did want to spend a little time in Aix and its not super close to the other places we are staying, and then we could hit up the Saturday market there.

Is it worth it to change locations for one night, considering we will then be spending only one night the next night as well in Paris? Will we be able to go to the Saturday market and take the train back to Paris in time to eat dinner (in the train station) that night?

sharbear84 Dec 2nd, 2010 01:05 PM

We will also have a rental car that I suppose we'd pick up in Avignon and drop off in Aix, if that changes anything..

FrenchMystiqueTours Dec 2nd, 2010 01:39 PM

I think Aix is worth a night if the market Saturday morning is high on your "to do" list. It's a lively and pleasant place great for an evening stroll with loads of restaurants and cafés. Plus if you are dropping off your car and taking the train from here it seems like a good logistical fit.

You didn't say what time your train arrives in Paris on Sat. but since you'll be arriving at Gare de Lyon if the place in the train station you want to eat is Le Train Bleu their website says they will seat people until shortly before 11:00 at night.

StuDudley Dec 2nd, 2010 02:31 PM

Nice itinerary.

We spent 1 night in Aix this year as a "overnighter" from our Gite near Carpentras where we stayed for 2 weeks (17th & 18th week in Provence). Fabulous.

Are you staying at Kevin's B&B near St Saturnin les Apt???

Be aware that many shops will be closed in St Remy on Monday (most open on Sunday, however).

We had dinner at Train Bleu this year - 5th time dining there & probably 50 pictures taken of the interior.

Stu Dudley

amer_can Dec 2nd, 2010 04:41 PM

You must include some/several "plus beau villages". Gordes, Meneres etc. Google "plus beau villages" in Provence/Luberon as you will have a car and they are so charming..The traffic is awful in Aix, especially mid to late afternoon..Avignon is awesome with the papal palace.. Can't say enough about this area. Would go back in a NY minute!!!

sharbear84 Dec 2nd, 2010 07:01 PM

Thanks for the helpful comments so far. Stu - I am definitely leaning towards staying at Kevin's can I resist a fellow Fodorite? Haven't contacted them yet though, so here's hoping they have availability. Good point about the shops. My husband wants to be very relaxed during this week so he certainly won't mind. He's already announced we're going to see one town or sight per day and that's it after the running around in Paris. This will be hard for me as I like to squeeze in as much as possible!

I don't know what time our train will arrive on sat, but good point that if we are eating in the train station it should be fine! We will book a hotel very nearby and just drop our luggage off there. HOw long is the train from Paris to Avignon and then back from Aix to Paris? (i have tried to look this up but had some difficulty actually figuring it out)

InMiami Dec 2nd, 2010 07:18 PM

We visited Provence for 8 nights in May 2009. We stayed for 4 nights in St Remy and 4 nights in Bonnieux. We loved Bonnieux and the towns of the Luberon.

I did not love St Remy, the center of town is a paved parking lot. Yes there is a very nice historic area but it just does not measure up to the other towns in Provence. If we did it all over again we would stay the entire time in L'Isle sur la Sorgue. It is very centrally located to ALL of Provence, not too large and not too small. The weekly market is probably the best in Provence.

Aix, Avignon, Le baux,Uzea, Arles, Venasque, Brantes and Seguret are some of our favorites. All can be visited from L'Isle sur la Sorgue in a day.

cigalechanta Dec 2nd, 2010 07:24 PM

I envy your trip. Kevin is a ery nice man, you will be happy there.One year we dropped our car off in Avignon at the airport and flew to CDG from there.

sharbear84 Dec 2nd, 2010 07:29 PM

Ah yes - the St. Remy debate. I do know there are a lot of conflicting opinions on St. Remy on this board. I did want to stay in two different areas, even though nothing is THAT far apart, it just seemed like a good idea - I like to try different B and Bs/hotels, and wanted one mid-sized town and one smaller one ideally. I was attracted to St. Remy also because there seem to be a lot of good restaurants there. We like to be able ideally to walk to dinners. Although I'm sure there are a lot of good restaurants in L'isle sur la sorgue too. I've been dithering around on the decision of where to stay for several months hard to sort through all the conflicting comments, but I do need to decide.

FrenchMystiqueTours Dec 3rd, 2010 01:58 AM

The train times from Paris to Avignon/Aix can vary depending on the number of stops but the fastest time from Paris to Avignon is 2 hours 40 minutes+-. The fastest time from Aix to Paris is just over 3 hours.

Another great town to consider as a base instead of St. Remy would be Uzès. While people often differ on their opinion of St. Remy, Uzès is fairly well loved by all. It's less centrally located than St. Remy but I personally find it more charming and it has lots of restaurants, cafés, stores etc. and is very lively.

sharbear84 Dec 3rd, 2010 05:42 AM

Every time I think I've made a decision then I can't commit again...what a good problem to have though. It seems from other threads that people choose St. remy for its location...which is important but since we are also staying at another location in Luberon maybe we won't need to travel as far. I hadn't thought about Uzes. (We also want to be able to take a day trip to cote du rhone wineries) Does anyone else want to defend St. Remy? (this is our first time to provence)

Also - if we do settle on st. Remy, should we reverse the order of things so we are there for the market on Wed?

StuDudley Dec 3rd, 2010 06:38 AM

Uzes is fine - a little more out of the way than St Remy, however. As a town, I actually prefer Uzes over St Remy. It is a little less touristy & has a colorful Saturday market. We stayed in a Gite close to Uzes for 2 weeks a couple of years ago. If you stayed in Uzes, you would be closer to the northern stuff in Provence, than you would be from St Remy. You could visit the southern sites in Provence easily from St Saturnin.

Stu Dudley

Stu Dudley

sharbear84 Dec 3rd, 2010 06:54 AM

Interesting, thanks. We would miss the Sat. market because we wouldn't get in until the afternoon.

What exactly are the bad things about St. Remy? Just that it's crowded/touristy? I am a tourist after all. I know that's sort of a heretical thing to say...but how crowded are we talking about? We will have just come from Paris so I imagine still quite a contrast!

sharbear84 Dec 3rd, 2010 06:56 AM

And are there other towns I should be considering that would make a good pair with St. Saturnin??

AlessandraZoe Dec 3rd, 2010 07:19 AM

I'm reading these opinions here with interest.

I thought there was something wrong with me that I really hated St. Remy. I was on foot and on bike, so I did a lot of exploring in the town and just didn't "get it". As one poster said above--a heck of a lot of cement. Did enjoy visiting the asylum because of Van Gogh interest, and I had a lovely lunch. Other than that...

To answer your question, sharbear84...There are a lot of places that are touristy where you still say, "Wow, I understand why all these people are here." Actuallly, I didn't even feel particularly crowded (middle of July) but I sure didn't understand any appeal.

sharbear84 Dec 3rd, 2010 07:36 AM

Thanks AlessandraZoe - that helps. I understand it's hard to be specific about a personal reaction to a place, but I appreciate everyone's effort to try to explain it to me.

AlessandraZoe Dec 3rd, 2010 07:59 AM

You are more than welcome. I didn't even bike through St. Saturnin, so I am no help to you there.

I must say I liked the Luberon side of Provence much more than St. Remy side. We stayed just south of Les Baux on that side. On the Luberon side, we stayed in Saignon for a couple of nights--nothing going on in town but still enjoyed immensely; good access to Apt for services. We were using that location to bike Roussilon, Gordes,Bonnieux, Menerbes, etc. Given some of the comments above, I find it ironic that when I biked through L'Isle de la Sorgue on way up to Mazan (Mazan was OK, but...) and said to myself, "Next time, I'm coming back here"

So that's all I have to offer!

Oh--And I liked the Hotel d'Europe in Avigon.

StuDudley Dec 3rd, 2010 08:03 AM

If I put on my first-timer hat, St Remy is quite appealing to me. Easy to get in & out by car, lots of shops that appeal to tourist, lots of restaurants & cafes that appeal to tourist, lots of tourists like me, many places to stay, many people speak English in the shops, hotels, & restaurants, and it is close to les Baux, Arles, Nimes, & Avignon.

If I put on my 50th timer hat - the crowds, tourists shops, and English are much less appealing. Les Baux, Arles, Nimes, and Avignon are too close. There is too much not-so-scenic commerce north, east, & west of St Remy (south is fine). Also, many villages of similar size in France have put attractive cobblestones in the streets what carry a lot of pedestrians. Last time we were in St Remy ('07) there were no cobblestones - mostly asphalt.

Sharbear - of the smaller cities/towns in the Provence region where you can walk to several restaurants & cafes, I think Uzes is my favorite. It would be an excellent complement to St Saturnin. Vaison is closer to the Cote du Rhone winegrowing region, but it is not as appealing as Uzes, IMO.

Stu Dudley

sharbear84 Dec 3rd, 2010 08:50 AM

Thanks Stu. I feel it would be a shame to stay in Uzes and miss the market. Is there any way you think we could get there in time if we are not leaving Paris till that morning? (Our apt is sat - sat rental in Paris)
Also, in terms of market days or any other considerations, what would be the best order to do - Uzes and then St. Saturnin or the other way around?

DaveMM Dec 3rd, 2010 09:14 AM

Hello sharbear84,

We went through the same experience as you. 12 months ago I only knew that Provence was somewhere in France. It took a lot of research and reading to finally decide to stay in the Luberon at Le Mas Perreal (Kevin’s place - Staying there will allow us to get in the car and leisurely drive to some of the picturesque little towns people have discussed in this and many other threads. The people on Fodor’s and Stu’s itinerary are invaluable.

Our pace is slow and we don’t have to see everything. Finishing off our last 4 days in France will be relaxing and easy going. We will be there early next May so I can’t give you any concrete feedback yet except to say we have attempted to match our vacation style with the location/region. I am sure we will come home very satisfied.

Enjoy the planning.


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:40 PM.