Trying to Understand Provence

Old Jan 21st, 2007, 11:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 59
Trying to Understand Provence

I love these message boards - they have helped make so many of my vacations just wonderful.
We are heading to France in June and I am a bit confused about how to travel Provence. Is it similar to say, Napa Valley, in that you stay in one hotel or b&B and travel via car to other villages/area? Or do you split your time in two different areas, such as staying in both Napa and Sonoma and explore both in a more concentrated manner? I hope this makes sense. I'd love some advice, and then I'll work on a trip itinerary and share. If you have any special places to stay/see/etc. in Provence, I'd love to know.
madamepetunia is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2007, 11:20 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 3,227
I've never been to the States..I have been in Provence...I think it's probably smaller But probably there are more things to see. I think with one base and travel via car or public transport you will do fine. I like specially Avignon (history) and Aix-en-Provence.(landscape).
kenderina is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2007, 11:21 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,228
This subject comes up pretty regularly. Hit Destinations on the orange tool bar above to get Fodor's official advice. Then come back tot he message boards and type "Provence" or "Provence itinerary" in the search box. Typing StuDudley will get you info too as he is a regular contributer who spends many many weeks in Provence.

Not having been yet but doing the same type of research as you are beginning I decided to stay in the old part of Avignon for 3 days, traveling to Isle sur la Sorgue on market day for one of those days, then renting a car from the Avignon TGV station, staying in St. Remy 4 days and driving through the Luberon hill towns on two of those days. Much luck!
amwosu is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2007, 11:41 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 34
Arles was a good base for us. Driving was very easy except maybe in Avignon. We also drove down to the coast-Cassis area. This did seem a bit of a drive but Arles was great for the drive to smaller Provencal villages.
okctraveler is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2007, 11:56 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 415
I am a firm believer in having a single, or limited, number of places to stay, and seeing the surrounding areas from there. The time spent travelling is more than compensated for by the ability to unpack and settle in one or two places, getting to know a 'local' area, and not travelling with your luggage in the car. If you are planning to visit the Cote d'Azur from Provence, it would be better to hve at least a second base.
GregY2 is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2007, 12:03 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 9
Yes, I understand your dilemna and asked some of the same questions prior to our trip in June 2006. In our case, we were travelling with children who felt that any car trip over an hour was TOO LONG.
After spending a week in Paris, we took the TGV to Avignon and picked up a rental car. We stayed in Gordes (Mas des Romarins) for 3 nights, and explored the Luberon area. Note: we were there during the 3rd week of June and the lavender was just starting to show its color -- not in full bloom, but still lovely.
We then moved to St Remy (Mas des Carassins) for 4 nights and explored the Alpilles area + Pont du Gard.
Looking back at the trip, splitting the time between the 2 locations was a good choice for us. After a busy week in Paris, we were ready to slow down and enjoy a more leisurely week in Provence. Another couple/family may have a different agenda and energy level.
Saratoga_CA is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2007, 12:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 41,963
St Remy is the perfect place to stay to visit Uzes, Arles, Nimes, the Camargue, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Avignon, Les Baux, Gordes but to visit the coast and the lavender route I would stay in a second place, somewhere around Aix.
cigalechanta is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2007, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 203
Can I horn in on this line? Living in No. California & very versed in taking the visiting family from Germany to the usual places: Napa, Yosemite, San Francisco, etc., I guess I have a skewed perception of distance - anything under 150 Km seems reachable from a single base for me ;-)

We've been working on a 2007 trip to Provence with a couple of weeks in a base "near" Arles. We'd love to end the trip with the gitanes pilgrimage to Sts-Maries-de-la-Mer, but I'm thinking that accomodations in town will be impossible during the gathering. Could we reach the coast easily by train/car from one of the usual-suspect home bases?

Thanks again to the great traveling community here - the best discussion boards anywhere!
ronin is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2007, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 118
We had a week in Paris then 6 days in Provence. We took the TGV to Avignon rented a car there and stayed also in Gordes at Mas des Romarins, a very charming hotel. From this town we travelled to a new area everyday then returned happily for an evening meal in Gordes, at the Mas or restaurants nearby. We found this very satisfying as it limited the number of days packing and unpacking and more days to explore.
rosieg is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2007, 12:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 41,963
ronin(one of my favorite films) if you do go, make reservations now. Parking will be impossible. So many will arrive my caravan, that makes for less parking spaces and the pickpockets will be having a grand time.
cigalechanta is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 03:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 203
one of my fav movies, too! and oops... I meant 2008 - it'd almost be too late to wing it for this year. And I'll be troubling the experts as our plans firm up a bit.
ronin is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 04:29 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 21,158
Ronin...also a centaur in the Harry Potter books and movies.

You might consider staying in one of the nice ranches down in the Camargue and just going into Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer on a day trip.
Underhill is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 04:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 41,963
ronin, it was on again a few nights ago.
This is where we stayed in the Camargue:
cigalechanta is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:54 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,160
Strictly speaking, Provence includes the Riviera. But even without the Riviera, it feels bigger than Napa-Sonoma. There's Vaison-Le-Romaine, Avignon/St Remy/Les Baux, the Luberon, Nimes/Uzes/Pont du Gard, the Camargue, Arles, Aix-en-Provence. Look at guidebooks to help pick destinations and plot driving times and distances on one of the mapping sites, like or
Mimar is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 01:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,319

I toured Sonoma (and other places) from Pacifica.

Problem with Provence is that the best bits are often remote and the roads in summer are quite slow.


mpprh is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2007, 08:31 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 359
I was in Provence for 3 days this past September. I used the village of Tavel (which is actually in Languedoc-Roussillon), across the Rhone river about 8 miles NW of Avignon as a base. My friends and I did day trips to the Pont du Gard aqueduct, Arles, and a whole day and a half in Avignon. We found time to do some wine tasting in Tavel, famous for it's wonderful rose, take in some Roman history in Arles and the Pont du Gard, and some medieval/papal history in Avignon.

Regardless of where you go, the region is so delightfully serendipitous you will have a splendid time no matter which town or village you end of visiting.
Langcraft is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2007, 08:35 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 359
oops.. I meant to conclude with... no matter which town or village you end up visiting.
Langcraft is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2007, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 221
"Strictly speaking, Provence includes the Riviera".

An historic note, at the risk of sounding pedantic : Provence, historically, does not include the Riviera east of the Var river. Therefore, if Cannes, Grasse, Antibes are in the former province of Provence, Nice, its hinterland and the rest of the eastern riviera to the Italian border are not.

This comes from the fact that the County of Nice, which was part of the former kingdom of Piemont-Sardinia, before Italian unity, did not become French until 1860.

In 1947, following a local referendum, France even gained some territory over Italy in the Alps north of Nice (around Tende) as part of the post-war settlement between the two countries.

Everything west of the Rhône river is not Provence, but the Languedoc.

With these small corrections, it is still a lot of territory...
Trudaine is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Mar 15th, 2019 10:36 AM
Mar 14th, 2010 11:59 AM
Apr 6th, 2003 08:56 PM
Jun 28th, 2002 12:33 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information