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Where to base in Provence with husband and mom?

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Jun 26th, 2014, 02:05 PM
  #1
wj1
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Where to base in Provence with husband and mom?

Hi everyone. My husband and I returned from Portugal on Friday which means I need to start planning next year's trip. Either that or I need to find a support group for lost souls with no purpose in life if they aren't planning a vacation.

Here's the plan. My husband suggested that our next trip be to France and that we take my mother. (Yes, ladies--he is a saint.). We seem to be zeroing in on Provence but need suggestions where we should base ourselves. My husband and I have rented apartments elsewhere in Europe and have found it fairly simple to find rentals that meet our requirements. However, renting a place that will make the three of us happy is proving to be a little more difficult given our criteria. I have found some possible rentals in Aix en Provence and Avignon but wonder whether these cities are really the best places to base ourselves. However, I recognize that there is probably a direct correlation between size of city and large inventory of rentals.

Here is the base that we are looking for:
-Ability for Mom to walk out the door and there is an immediate feel that she is in France. (She's an experienced traveler and has been to France a number of times. France is one of her favorite destinations.)
-She can't walk miles so it would be nice for her if she could walk to nearby shops, go to a café etc. (No country villas for us.)
-We will have a car so we would like it to be based somewhere where there are interesting day trips within 60-90 minutes drive.
--It would be nice to have some restaurants within walking or taxi distance so my husband, who will be doing the driving, can enjoy his wine with dinner.
-Fairly easy in and out of town.

At this point, I am not asking for rental suggestions but thought I'd let you know what we are looking for in case you have a suggestion for us:

Our rental criteria:
-2 bedrooms
-2 wc's
-2 tubs or showers
-1 flight of stairs only
-available parking
-no more that $300 per night (hopefully)

Travel time will be May/June or September/October.

I know it seems backwards to pick the base without knowing what we want to do while there, but I'm confident that I can come up with a good and interesting itinerary given almost any base (with your help of course). This just happens to be an instance where I think the right accommodations will be an integral factor in how much we enjoy our trip together.

Thanks in advance!


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thosedeas for a place to base ourselves. (We will have a car and intend to take day trips.) The plan is to rent an apartment/house and the key is find a place that will work for all of us and I'm finding that it is much more difficult to find a satisfactory rental to meet our criteria than it is with
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Jun 26th, 2014, 02:14 PM
  #2
 
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Just on the base - I would say the average tourist would be most happy in Provence basing in the Avignon/Arles area as there is so so much to see and do in a short distance from those two ancient but pleasant cities.

Throw St-Remy-de-Provence in the mix or any town in that area if you have a car.

Aix is a nice town but for the classic Provence - Avignon is much better situated.

From Avginon/Arles area you can easily day trip by car to the Pont du Gard - the famous Roman aqueduct that is arguably, the finest Roman relic outside of Italy - and Les Baux - fantastic Les Baux - the 'dead city' in ruins dramatically perched atop a high rocky table top with view for miles around and St-Remy-de-Provence - where Van Gogh committed himself after slicing his ear off in a manic fit in Arles - committed himself to the asylum that still stands and where he painted so many now famous canvases

The town has set up reproductions of his major works executed here right at the place he did them.

Avignon itself is fantastic - the Palace of Popes is one of the most historic and awesome edifices in France. (Avignon and Arles are also flat for the physically challenged!)

And also the Camargue - the fabled Camargue is a short drive away - with its famous wild horses and stark desolate terrain. Uzes is another neat old town.

And on and on and on.

Aix has a few nice day trips but nothing so close as the plethora of great ones from the Avignon/Arles area.
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Jun 26th, 2014, 02:15 PM
  #3
 
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kwren's trip report with her 80 yr old mother recently was topped. They stayed in this apartment http://www.theluberon.com/rentals/ls...4/menerbes-two
which looks like it meets your needs
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Jun 26th, 2014, 02:17 PM
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a town like St-Remy may be better for your Mom - easy to find a place where you can park right by it - not so easy in a bigger city like Arles or Avignon. St-Remy though not a village is sleepy and tiny compared to those other two - many folks have raved about it here.
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Jun 26th, 2014, 02:23 PM
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I'm sure people will tell you to stay in St Remy, and that might work. But your demands are fairly high in terms of wanting to walk to restaurants and shops from your rental. That will severely limit where you can stay to only places in the center of towns. Avignon and Aix would give you more choices in that regard, for sure, as they are larger. But if you are renting a place in the center, it will be more difficult to keep a car.

I don't think the one flight will be a problem, but finding parking in the city and 2 br and 2 bathrooms probably will be, at your rate. Some of the more modern places I know in St Remy for example (buildings with apts) on the outskirts are not really within walking distance of cute shops and restaurants easily. They are in theory, but I'm talking about a walk of maybe 1-2 miles.

Sorry I can't think of anything, I see this kind of request on here a lot and it is just difficult that people want country living but want to walk out their door to a restaurant and shops. MOst people want the villas with pools in PRovence.

I did find one place that seems to suit your criteria in St Remy (the 2 bathrooms may be tough): http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p278709vb

They claim it's 300 meters from town center but it isn't quite that close by my terms of town center, but it's not bad. It's 1580 euro per week in peak season, which you want. That's about right at your limit. It has one bedroom downstairs, also.
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Jun 26th, 2014, 04:30 PM
  #6
 
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I think Avignon would be a great choice. Admittedly I don't know what the parking situation is as all of my time there has been in hotels where I let them deal with the car. Otherwise, I think it meets all of your criteria nicely.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 09:37 AM
  #7
 
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Avignon is one of my most favorite cities in Europe - many however feel it is too touristy and too big and prefer a smaller town, especially with a car.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 10:03 AM
  #8
 
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I like the Luberon region for cute villages.
Look at Mas Perreal---run by an American.

http://www.masperreal.com/
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Jun 28th, 2014, 11:12 AM
  #9
 
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used TA and found
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Vacatio..._Provence.html

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Vacatio..._Provence.html

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Vacatio..._Provence.html

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Vacatio..._Provence.html

Others there as well, just use tripadvisor click on Rentals and then work your way through the rooms and bathrooms listing.

Avignon is perfect in many ways
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Jun 28th, 2014, 12:13 PM
  #10
 
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"Either that or I need to find a support group for lost souls with no purpose in life if they aren't planning a vacation."

Too funny!
I know exactly how you feel. I'd need to join that support group too!

I also vote for Avignon. I remember it as a nice, flat, walkable city.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 01:42 PM
  #11
 
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Arles is Aviignonesque but is a smaller and slightly less touristed city - Van Gogh worked here and the town has set up copies of his canvasses at the place he painted them. At least spend a half-day here - also an ancient Roman Arena and of course a nice old church (or tow or three!)
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Jun 30th, 2014, 04:07 PM
  #12
wj1
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Hi everyone. Thanks for your help. Based on your feedback, we will probably focus on finding a rental in Avignon.

For some of you long time Fodorites, you may remember a couple of threads about my mother and soon to be traveling companion to Provence:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...paris-asap.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...robbiegirl.cfm

She is, ahem, even more of a certain age than she was in these threads. Last year she went to Cuba and she just left on Saturday for Ireland! So for those Fodorites traveling in Ireland, if you see an American woman trip, please pick her up, brush the dirt off and send her on her way!

(These were no laughing matters at the time but things don't like so dire after a couple of years. )
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Jul 1st, 2014, 01:48 AM
  #13
 
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http://www.ownersdirect.co.uk/accommodation/p8070837

saw the above and thought of your situation, two levels but seems to tick other boxes
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