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Best city to make our home base in Provence?

ND
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Best city to make our home base in Provence?

It's time to ask the experts!

My daughter and I will be spending a week in Paris and then taking the train to the Provence area for three days (July 15-18) and on to Nice for three days (July 18-21). We thought we would base our Provence stay in Avignon, but with it being festival time, we are finding it hard to find a hotel. So, we are questioning if there is a better place to visit to give us the Provence experience. We would like to walk through quaint villages, see the lavender fields, visit a vineyard, etc. We will not have a car, so we have to rely on trains, buses, tours, etc. Anyone have suggestions on where to base our stay and the best things to do? As always, thank you!

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Best city to make our home base in Provence?

Western Provence is best explored by car. Public transport in Western Provence is designed to get French citizens to and from work and school. There is no consideration given to touristic travel.

You might want to consider L'Isle sur la Sorgue as a base...it is about 30 kms east of Avignon and is right on the edge of the Luberon.

NIce is also in Provence.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: Best city to make our home base in Provence?

Although it is better to explore western Provence with a car, it can be done via public transport but then, your instinct is right and Avignon is a good base for this.

ND
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3. Re: Best city to make our home base in Provence?

Thank you for your replies. I have much to learn about the area and what areas we may want to explore!

Berkshire, United...
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4. Re: Best city to make our home base in Provence?

Doby is right, Avignon is a great choice if you won't have your own transport - but as you say, you've left booking accommodation a little late as in festival time rooms/properties get booked up verty early, sometimes people book for the next year before they leave. Hope you find an area you would like and maybe come back with more questions.

Maine
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5. Re: Best city to make our home base in Provence?

Hi, I find that my friends search through sites like hotels.com, as you are immediately forwarded to that site when looking in TA for example. It happened this year, we were all searching for reservations, they came up with nothing and started panicking. I emailed directly and found plenty of openings. So the best bet is to email directly to the hotels. If you are set on staying in Avignon, go directly to the tourism website, you will find many hotels. Two places we have stayed are Hotel Medieval and Hotel Mignon. Another thought is to stay in Arles where we love to stay, and Arles has train service to connect with Avignon to use the bus or take tours. Although after just being in France just this week, I am reminded that everything you do and see takes twice as long as you plan for; much of our list was not done, but what we did do was just perfect.

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6. Re: Best city to make our home base in Provence?

Kaye, you can do it by public transport but it will be hard to manouver. As every one else stated above, Avignon would be best since it is a public transport hub but even so, you will have difficulty getting to those quaint perched villages and lavender fields. And it will be quite warm in July, so it is not like hopping into your rental car and crancking the air on..

I do not know whether you drive at home or whether your daughter does, but driving in the French countryside is not much different, if at all, than driving in the countryside of US. It is not like crazy traffic in a large city. Think about it, since it will save you lots of hastle and grief. If you still decide against it, than search the net for tour companies that you could join to explore the villages of Provence and the lavender fields.

Edited: 27 April 2014, 17:51
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7. Re: Best city to make our home base in Provence?

Hi Kaye,

Virtually all of the things that you have said that you want to see and do with your daughter - walking through quaint villages, visiting vineyards, seeing lavender fields ..., will absolutely necessitate your having a car as a means of transportation, especially since you have a quite limited amount of time to explore the region.

Since you live in North Dakota , I am certain that you know how to drive - trust me, driving in virtually ALL of Western Provence will not be a problem. They drive on the same side of the road, the roads are well marked, and in all honesty, all that you will need to really explore the area will be the Michelin Green Guide for Provence, and Michelin Maps in the Local Series

- #340 Bouches - du - Rhone, Var

- #332 Drome, Vaucluse

Since you are interested in exploring quaint villages, checking out the lavender fields and visiting vineyards, you may want to reconsider your decision to spend equal amounts on time in both Western Provence and the Cote d'Azur.

Personally, I would opt to do a minimum of 4 days in Western Provence, and the remaining 2 days along the Riviera / Cote d'Azur.

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8. Re: Best city to make our home base in Provence?

You can also hire a driver or guide depending on budget.

Two of my friends went to Avignon for 10 days and had a car and driver take them to the Luberon one day and to Nice and Cannes another.

ND
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9. Re: Best city to make our home base in Provence?

Thank you, everyone, for your recommendations. Very good advice! After learning a bit more about the "festival" in Avignon, we believe it might be too crowded for us to do the standard touristy things. We want something a bit more relaxed. We now have our sites on Aix-en-Provence, with perhaps an overnight stay along the way. It looks like a lovely town with tours to many places. Yes, I do drive, and it does seem that it would be a wise decision. I just wasn't sure I wanted the responsibility. I will have to give that more thought. Any thoughts to staying in Aix-en-Provence? Again, many thanks!

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: Best city to make our home base in Provence?

Unfortunately for most people being confined to places like Aix and Avignon because of a reluctance to drive is quite limiting.

When a lot of people think of Western Provence, they think of charming blue shuttered villages. Aix is not that.

I think that in most things in Western Provence....smaller is better.