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jennytogo Mar 4th, 2004 01:18 PM

Help with Provence Birthday Bash
Hi All!
My husband and I are going to celebrate our respective 40th BDays in Provence. It's been our dream vacation for years and now we are going to do it!! After a lot of reading in guides and posts here, I think we have narrowed it down to Nimes and someplace in the Luberon (Gordes or Saignon). We'll have 2 weeks in total coming in mid-may.

So my question is: where do you recommend staying? We love staying in B&Bs in the states and would love to find something really special....

All help much appreciated.

Gayle Mar 4th, 2004 02:06 PM

Congratulations on your upcoming milestones!

We were in Provence for 16 days in June 2003. Our home base was a fabulous house just 5 minutes from the village of Saignon, called Les Lavandins. We really loved it. The owners, were fantastic to deal with. You can see it at
We found Saignon to be a good base and we drove everyday and visited (not in this order) Lourmarin, Gordes, Menerbes, Bonnieux, Buoux, Les Baux, Rousillion, Isle sur la Sorgue, Arles, Aix-en-Provemce, St. Remy, Cavaillon, Apt, Vaison-la-Romaine and others. We initally weren't prepared for how much there was to see or the driving distances but quickly became aclimatized and learned to follow the markets.

I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have if you email me [email protected]. We are in the process of finishing our very large Provence website and hope to have it "up" in a month or so.

jennytogo Mar 4th, 2004 03:01 PM


Thanks for the suggestion. You've confirmed my thoughts about staying nearby Apt and Saigon looks superb. I checked out the Les Lavandins and it seems very nice, but we really wanted a B&B, as opposed to renting a house to ourselves. Any ideas?

Also, you said from Saigon, you visited Arles and St. Remy. On the map, it seems like a long drive. We were thinking about splitting are stay to try to cut down a bit on the driving...

jennytogo Mar 4th, 2004 03:08 PM

p.s.: i'd love to see your provence site. hope it will be ready before we leave!

ediemay Mar 4th, 2004 05:03 PM

We have been to Provence twice and on our last trip we discovered the Gites. These are small b&b's located in the country. The ones we stayed in were great,with breakfast outdoors and two with brand new inground pools. Wonderful hosts and CLEAN.Don't miss.

Underhill Mar 4th, 2004 08:27 PM

Gites aren't actually the same thing as B&B's; gites are self-contained units rented out for people who want something more than just a room. They're normally rented for a one-week minimum and are ideal for saving money by doing some of your own cooking. Gites come in many different sizes, from those suitable for a couple up to some that can house 8 or more. You can get information on them at various web sites, and it helps if you write and/or speak some French; not all owners speak English.

True French B&Bs are called "chambre d'hôtes." They tend to be a little less elaborate than those we're used to in the U.S.

Patricia Mar 5th, 2004 01:34 AM

We have stayed in Saignon several times and were in the next villa to Gayle at the same time last June so Hi Gayle from Pat & Owen in New Zealand.
Saignon and Gordes are both special villages, I recommend looking at for B & B, we have booked a couple of places from their site in the past and they have been great. Some of the site is in French but if you click where it says 'owners website' the vast majority are in English. There are over 50 B & B's just in the Vaucluse, Chateau Saint Quentin in Saignon looks fabulous. Good luck.

Patricia Mar 5th, 2004 02:00 AM

Hi me again,
We missed out on our lovely cottage in Saignon this year so I have booked a villa I found on Just realised that they have a big list of Bed and Breakfast as well and the website is all in English. Hope this helps.

provencejim Mar 5th, 2004 07:14 AM


My wife and I just got back from a week's stay at LE Mas Perreal, a fantastic B&B near St. Saturnin, which is just on the other side of Apt from Saignon - heading towards Roussillon and Gordes. IThe rooms were perfect and hospitality outstanding. The only problem was the breakfasts, which left us too full to properly enjoy lunch!!!
The URL is -

Can't help you out with Nimes, however, as we have only ever visited there on day trips. You may want to consider instead Arles or better yet Beaucaire - which is a truly beautiful town and just a bit off the beaten track....

Bon voyage et bon anniversaire!

ediemay Mar 5th, 2004 01:26 PM

The definition of a gite may be different from what we stayed in but they were listed as gites and we stayed in each for one night and left after breakfast which constitutes a b and for me. I will give you the names of the great places we stayed in.

jennytogo Mar 5th, 2004 02:57 PM


I'm not too concerned about the label as long as the places are nice. Would love further details.

jennytogo Mar 6th, 2004 11:18 AM

Thanks so far for all your help. Both the St. Quentin and the Mas Perreal looked great. I went with the latter as it seems just a bit better located.

Now I just need help with Nimes. So far, I haven't come up with anything really special. Am willing to splurge if someone has a great idea......

jennytogo Mar 7th, 2004 10:38 AM

No ideas on where to stay in Nimes?
Would we be better off in Arles, then?

Help most appreciated.

Underhill Mar 7th, 2004 03:49 PM

What about St.-Rémy instead? Both Nimes and Arles are big cities (which means having to wend your way out of and into to go anywhere else), whereas St.-Rémy is a small town with easy access to roads in all directions.

There have been recent suggestions for B&Bs in St.-Rémy that might come up in a search.

m_kingdom Mar 7th, 2004 03:52 PM

How Elton John.

jennytogo Mar 8th, 2004 11:50 AM

Thanks for the suggestion Underhill. But as we are spending the first part of our trip in a small village, we'd like to spend the rest of our time in a spot with a bit more activity, especially at night. Is Arles really that difficult to drive in and out of? Someone else suggested Beaucaire. Any opinion? And in Arles, the consensus seems to be the Hotel Calendal. We'd prefer something maybe smaller, more romantic. Any ideas of B&B's in Arles itself? Thanks for all your help.

Underhill Mar 8th, 2004 11:56 AM

Driving around Arles isn't difficult, but it takes a while to navigate into and out of the central area (winding little streets) to get to main roads. While I love both Tarascon and Beaucaire, I wouldn't imagine that either is big on night life or activities in general, once you've seen the two castles. Tarascon, however, has the Souleiado fabric museum; I think you need to reserve in advance to visit.

I'm afraid I don't know of any B&Bs in Arles, as we stay around St.-Rémy when we're in this area. I'm sure you will get suggestions from others, though.

Lesli Mar 8th, 2004 01:17 PM

In Arles, I can personally recommend the charming and well-priced Hotel le Calendal.

If you park in the municipal garage (the hotel can arrange this for you), which is about 2 blocks away, just outside the walled part of the town, it is quite easy to get in and out for daytrips.

SFDink Mar 8th, 2004 03:20 PM

Hi jennytogo,

I'll be in Arles at the end of May and was looking at B&Bs as well. One that looks promising is
It's a cooking school that just opened up a B&B as well. The price is right and the owner has been very quick and helpful in responding to my questions. Has anyone stayed here or has any experience with this place?

ediemay Mar 8th, 2004 04:26 PM

Sorry I did not get back to you sooner about the B and B's we stayed at. They were located in small towns(Carpentras and St.Didier).Iwould suggest that you go on to and choose a b&b in Arles or Nimes. look for at least 2 ears of corn(rating),pref 3or 4.You will be more than pleased although you usually cannot preview them.Also,Karen brown has

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