Where to base ourselves in Provence?

Old Apr 26th, 2022, 02:47 PM
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Where to base ourselves in Provence?

I am sorting out my travel itinerary for June 2023 with a friend who has now decided to accompany me. We intend to visit the Provence region and are unsure where to base ourselves - originally Avignon was where I was thinking though I have read a lot of comments recently which suggest Avignon may be better suited to be a day trip instead.

We would love to see the Lavender Trail, Luberon, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence and will be relying on public transport or organised tours as we do not intend to drive on this trip, hence wherever we base ourselves it has to be easy to get around and ideally connected to the TGV network as we will likely be arriving from Dijon or Lyon.

I should note, we will only have three, maybe four days to spend in Provence (yes it is a short time frame but we would rather see some of it than none) so ideally we'd like to base ourselves in one location and travel in and out from there.

Any suggestions?
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Old Apr 26th, 2022, 03:23 PM
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Avignon has the best transportation options - by far. You are going to have to look for a small private tour to visit the Lavender fields - which are really not that close to Avignon - maybe a hour away by car/van.. There are several fields in the Luberon near Bonnieux. Also in front of Senanque Abbey - but Senanque is difficult to get to. They bloom from late June through July - depending on the weather.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 26th, 2022, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley View Post
Avignon has the best transportation options - by far
That's what I had thought initially but was put off by some of the commentary I've read about Avignon generally.

I am from Australia so travelling one hour (or even 2) one way for a trip is totally fine so I am glad to have received this reassurance! Once flights are available to book and we can work out the most inexpensive routes (i.e. it may be cheaper to do Spain, Portugal, fly to France and then fly home from France, or start from France and work our way down) we will know exactly when we'd be in Provence but I anticipate we'd be in Provence sometime around mid to end June so hopefully we can see the lavender fields in their glory. I regularly buy Panier De Sens' lavender hand soap so it would be nice to actually see the fields the lavender is grown in!
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Old Apr 26th, 2022, 03:45 PM
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St. Remy is an excellent place to stay. It's beautiful with lots of cafes, restaurants and shops. However, it might not work since you don't have a car. Will you be doing group tours? Perhaps you could arrange tours to pick you up in St. Remy?

Another nice city is Aix en Provence, and there is a TGV station there. But it's a bit further away from the Luberon.

Otherwise, I think Avignon is your best bet because it's a transportation hub. It's not as pretty as St. Remy or Aix, but it might be the most practical location since you won't have a rental car.
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Old Apr 26th, 2022, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo View Post
Will you be doing group tours?
Generally when I want to visit a place or area that is too tedious to travel to by public transport and requires a car I do a day tour.

As we won't have too much time I anticipate for the Lavender Trail especially that we'd be organising a comprehensive day tour.
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Old Apr 26th, 2022, 04:03 PM
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""Another nice city is Aix en Provence, and there is a TGV station there. But it's a bit further away from the Luberon.""

And the TGV station is a 20 min drive from central Aix.

Stu Dudley

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Old Apr 26th, 2022, 04:25 PM
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If you don't have a car Avignon is your best bet. Picking up a car from The Avignon train station is however easy and driving is pretty easy with GPS. Am not sure I would include Aix with your time frame. Nice city but a bit far from Avignon and there is lots to do closer.
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Old Apr 26th, 2022, 07:04 PM
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The logical choice for you is Avignon. What are the specifics of what you have generally read about Avignon that you did not like? My only caution would be that you should definitely stay within the old walls. Avignon will have more café/restaurant choices than anywhere else in the region and offer you the best transportation options.
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Old Apr 26th, 2022, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Sarastro View Post
The logical choice for you is Avignon. What are the specifics of what you have generally read about Avignon that you did not like? .
I had always intended to base ourselves in Avignon (after a friend raved about it) but then read on a few forums and guide posts that Avignon was overhyped, that there wasn't much to do etc so that made me start to doubt whether or not to base ourselves there.

After all the above replies I definitely think I will keep Avignon as our base - even if there isn't a great deal of things to see in Avignon at the end of the day we will be visiting other places from Avignon and not be there the whole time.

Thank you all for your feedback!
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Old Apr 26th, 2022, 09:04 PM
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There is a lot of stuff to do & see in Avignon.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 27th, 2022, 06:23 AM
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Welcome, victoriainwonderland. My hub and I sandwiched a visit to Aix from Paris. We took van tours to the Luberon towns and Cassis. Trained from Marseille to Nimes

Scroll down to Sept. 6. See if this link comes up:
Trip Report: A Provence Sandwich
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Old Apr 28th, 2022, 08:54 AM
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You shouldn't stay in St Remy without a car. I can't imagine how someone could say there "isn't much to do" in Avignon. I mean what do you want to do that you could in another city of that size that would be lacking in Avignon? They have at least six or more museums (the Petit Palais museum in particular I thought was superb) and I think most if not all are free entry. Then you have the historic sites due to history (Palais des Papes), the requisite old big church, not to mention of course typical neghborhood walkiung tours if that's your thing where you can pick up brochures ijn the Tourist Office. Not to mention, across the river in Villeneuve is an abbaye. ANd of course they have markets like any Provencal town/city. They have a large central square just below the Palais des Papes where the City Hall is and lots of outdoor restaurants around it. In the evening, I just felt it was so nice to pick out one and watch the kids play on the carousel and eat outside, it was like a big party with all the choices. IN fact, I didn't really like St Remy that well myself, but if you are more comfortable in a wealthier places with lots of English speakers and expensive shops, that would be it, but it would be foolish to stay there without a car, it doesn't even have a train station.

I like Aix, too, but Avignon is more central.

I just don't understand the talk about not much to do at the end of the day. What do you want to do? I mean seriously, I don't know what you are looking for. Of course no city or town in Provence is going to be like a huge city like Paris.
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Old Apr 30th, 2022, 06:21 PM
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Aix feels more Italianate than most Provencal towns. That's a good thing. Personally, I would be happy to base there and 'damn the transit torpedoes'. For us, it always delivers that certain je ne sais quoi vibe.
Tomorrow I'll finally post our long-delayed Aix Photo essay here, one that was originally meant to be included as part of our 'Provencal Echo' TR a few years ago. Those interested in additional Aix imagery or those suffering from insomnia (or both) could view.
Bon Chance.
I am done. the end.
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Old May 2nd, 2022, 01:45 PM
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A few years ago I spent a week in Ile-sur-la-Sorgue without a car. It is a beautiful small town with a famous Sunday market, including an antiques fair, and a smaller market on Thur. It is along a train line although not a TGV line; we arrived in/departed from Avignon and took the local train to ISLS, about a 40 min.ride, as I remember. We did a day trip to Cassis, changing trains in Marseille and another day to Arles, changing in Avignon. There is also good bus service to and from ISLS. Unless you do a guided tour there is no way to visit the hilltop towns of the Luberon; we were fortunate in having French friends pick us up for a day in the Luberon. Being located in the middle of the Sorgue River makes the town a picturesque place for a short séjour, IMO.
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