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We still need help choosing a base in Provence in October....

We still need help choosing a base in Provence in October....

Aug 16th, 2005, 04:25 PM
Posts: n/a
We still need help choosing a base in Provence in October....

We still can't decide where to stay. We lean towards St. Remy for its "centralness" but are intrigued by Aigues-Mortes and Tarascon for their medieval qualities. We like Vaison-la-Romaine, too. Should we stay two days in one place and three days in another? We like ruins, medieval, history. I'm having trouble figuring location because distances on map don't seem extreme yet some suggested drive times seem very long.

DH is looking for a relatively quiet spot but maybe with a town center to walk to from the B&B so we don't have to keep driving everywhere for dinner, shops, etc.

Can anyone take pity on us and send out more suggestions? There have been many, many good ones so far, and thanks to all, but we can't seem to decide. Everything looks so interesting. DH is concerned about being in too remote an area. (Yet we don't want to stay in middle of city.)
If I can at least get a base chosen, maybe I can then choose lodging.

Au secours, s'il vous plait!!
Aug 16th, 2005, 05:04 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,510
I personally recommend St. Rémy as an ideal base- I would stay there for the whole time and take day trips from there. You can drive to so many great places from there, and then there are all sorts of restaurants in the area and the fabulous market.

I absolutely do NOT recommend staying in Aigues Mortes. It's fine for a day-trip, but it's not convenient to anywhere, and the atmosphere isn't remotely as charming as St. Rémy's.

I don't really know Tarascon or Vaison-la-Romaine, so hopefully someone else can give you advice about them.
marcy_ is offline  
Aug 16th, 2005, 05:56 PM
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Thanks, marcy. I did pull up some old threads and St Remy keeps coming up as the choice.

The information on Aigues-Mortes was exactly what I was looking for.
Aug 16th, 2005, 06:44 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,341
Tarascon is an interesting small town but certainly not an ideal spot in which to base. But you could do very nicely by spending a few days in St-Rémy and the balance in Vaison-la-Romaine, both of which have the qualities you say are important. In Vaison you could stay up at Le Beffroi, a hotel in the medieval village high up on the central hill but still close to everything to see down below.
Underhill is offline  
Aug 16th, 2005, 06:52 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,451
First: Nix to Aigues.

Others adore St Remy, I do not.

I seek remoteness; that delta of the Rhone is just too built up for my taste. (Though the Alpilles are amazing)

Where I would go: One option is Vaison, Carpentras, Dentelles de Montmirail, Gigondas...

Or the Luberon, which never disappoints.

Absolute favourite, where we go every year or so: Drome provencale, just east of Montelimar. Ruins and history, as you request; easy driving, great restaurants, etc...
tedgale is offline  
Aug 16th, 2005, 06:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I haven't been to Tarascon so can't comment on that. I did enjoy Vaison-la-Romaine for its ruins, and generally a pleasant town. However, it's not really what I would pick as central for touring, say, lower Provence and the Luberon area. Even though I have seen its official population as only around 6,000, for some reason it felt like a larger city to me. I would have guessed it at least 25K, if not 50K. It's in the Vaucluse department, and would be a good base for that area.

It's hard to say without knowing what your itinerary and general plans are. I could see basing in St Remy for a few days and then moving up to Vaison for that area, if you then wanted to go back to Paris or something. I like staying in one place for a while, but I recently moved within Provence to different areas after a few days in each, and was glad I did. It's nice to be in different area, and you don't have to really unpack that much if you are in a hotel just a couple days.

I don't know how walkable it would be from some points in Vaison to the town center, but that depends where you stay. As I said, it felt like a larger town or city to me, not a small village.
Christina is offline  
Aug 17th, 2005, 04:16 AM
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Under, Ted, Chris - again, my continued thanks. You answered many questions.

I see that the Drome is recommended again (underhill, I think it was your recommendation, too?). Would it be possible to tour Vaison from there if we were to stay in that area for a couple days?

Also, I can't seem to find Drome Provencale in my guide books - I have Fodor's France and Cadogan's South of France. I was going to get another book today, possibly a Michelin green. I guess the Drome is not included in the Provence area?

Merci a tous!
Aug 17th, 2005, 08:34 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,341
The Drôme Provençale is just the region slightly north of Orange. And yes, you could easily visit Vaison--the region includes Montélimar, Dieulefit, Nyons, Grignan, among other places of interest, and the driving time is only about an hour an a half from top to bottom. We've often stayed at Le Poët-Laval and gone as far south as Orange in half a day.

You'll find the some of the Drôme Provençale in the Michelin Green Guide to the Rhône Valley. The area abuts the top of the Provence guide.

Do I have your e-mail address? If so I'll send you my article "Just North of Provence."
Underhill is offline  
Aug 17th, 2005, 08:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 801
My wife and I are in our 60's. We have traveled to St. Remy in each of the last 13 years. It is an ideal spot because:

1. It is centrally located-near Pont du Gard.
2. Has nice shops and restaurants
3. has Roman ruins including the largest, best preserved Roman arch outside of Italy with Agrippa's name on it.
4. Near Avignon from which you could take day trips by TGV (one hour or less on the train) to Marseilles, Lyon, Aix-en-Provence - active towns with cultural and historical possibilities for you.

Remember restaurants in St. Remy will start to close in late October but that would be true no matter where you go in rural Provence.

"DH is looking for a relatively quiet spot but maybe with a town center to walk to from the B&B so we don't have to keep driving everywhere for dinner, shops, etc." St. Remy should be his cup of tea. I would base there.

Avoid Aigues Mortes. Tarascon is a nice little town but IMO does not compare to St. Remy.

Too bad you could not visit when the lavender and sunflowers abound, late June, July.

If you post your e-mail I can send you more information.

Powell is offline  
Aug 17th, 2005, 10:06 AM
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Underhill - I do have the articles you are talking about. I printed them and filed them in my "Genealogy" folder instead of my "France 2005" folder. Ooops.. Thank you!

Anthony, I would love to have more information - [email protected].

I bought a couple of Michelin maps today - #528 Provence and Cote d'Azur and one for Paris. I'll also try www.viamichelin.com that I have seen posted.

Thanks again,
Aug 17th, 2005, 11:09 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,846
We've vacationed 16 weeks in several areas of Provence, plus 2 weeks in the Ardeche - just across the Rhone from the Drome Dept.

The areas we return to the most are the Luberon and the Dentelles/Mt Ventoux region - close to Vaison. I like St Remy, but I don't think the area around there is not as scenic as the Luberon or Dentelles. The Alpilles (St Remy) is a little more arid than the other regions, and there's perhaps a little too much commerce to the west and north.

If this is your first visit to Provence, and you will only be there for 5 days, however, I would suggest that you split your time with 2 full days in/near St Remy, and 3 days in the Luberon near Gordes/Gault, etc, or 3 days near Vaison. In the Dentelles, there are several nice hotels with restaurnats set in the vineyards - near Sablet. It's an easy jaunt to Orange, the market in Carpentras, Vaison medieval section and Roman section, drive around Mt Ventoux, etc.

I believe I sent you my 20+ page itinerary, which describes my favorite things to do in Provence & the Cote. E-mail me soon at [email protected] if you do not have a copy & would like one.

Like others have mentioned, skip Aigues Mortes and Tarascon. The former is a little over-rated, IMO, and the latter is nothing special, except for the chateau.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Aug 17th, 2005, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,341

When are you going? If it's not too far off the decision may be made for you by lack of availability for lodgings in some areas.
Underhill is offline  
Aug 17th, 2005, 12:55 PM
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Underhill - our plans may have changed due to work constraints for DH (damn that working for a living!!).

Right now we're scheduled to leave Oct 17 and return on Oct 26. It may be changed to the first week in November. So far, I've emailed about 10 places and all have had vacancies. I'm trying to push DH to committing to a date and hopefully we will do that in the next day or so.
Aug 17th, 2005, 01:27 PM
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Thanks for the reply Stu. Yes, I did receive your lovely itinerary. We just want to see everything - that's our problem! The more we read, the more we want to see.

Based on the information I've received on this question, I'm aiming at two days in Vaison and three days in St. Remy. Then it's on to Paris for three days (already have our hotel).

Hopefully, we can wrap this up in a couple days.


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