Skip Navigation

Southern France, Recommendation for Base

Travel Forums Europe Southern France, Recommendation for Base

1. Posted by nutsnbolts (Respected Member 155 posts) 3w

nutsnbolts has indicated that this thread is about France

Ok, let me try this again. We are planning on going to France this coming early October for 8 to 9 days.

The high level plan is that I expect to go directly to Southern France (still to be determined) and find a base there and explore around. Where? So far I'm looking at around the area of Languedoc-Rousillon and maybe a bit of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur area.

The goal is to see medieval towns/cities. I'm not really interested in going to far south east. I figured a good 5 to 6 days exploring the area and then head up north to Paris for 2 to 3 days and fly home from there.

Currently looking at all the flights, I have been mapping out Nice to fly into but I'm figuring since where I really want to go...I really should be flying into Marseille instead?

From there, I would like to find a place to situate myself and then travel from there. I don't mind moving my base around if need be, however, at some point, I would like to take a train wherever I end up in (or even drive), up to Paris.

If possible, maybe even work my way up (zig/zag) towards Paris.

I haven't locked down all the cities I would like to go to but is open to suggestions. Please let me know if this somewhat enough information? I think I went from completely clueless to somewhat knowing what I would like to go and see. Of course, I haven't locked down everything but as I have stated, I'm open to suggestions overall as to place that I shouldn't "DEFINITELY" not miss.

Thanks for the help and I can provide more information if required to help narrow it all down.

2. Posted by Alain13 (Respected Member 100 posts) 3w

Hi
I really think it's better for you to flight to Marseille if you target old cities. There are a lot of nice historical cities not far from Marseille : Main ones are Arles, Nîmes, Aix en Provence, Avignon.
In October you'll get better price there.
TGV (Fast train) stops in Aix and in Avignon. Easy to go to Paris from there.

Of course Nice is another option but in this case you will rather find small very nice villages around.

3. Posted by nutsnbolts (Respected Member 155 posts) 3w

I guess I could fly into Nice and make my way over westward towards Marseille. Essentially see the small villages and as well as the medieval towns. Not sure though if that makes sense or just concentrate on the area surrounding Marseille? Thoughts?

4. Posted by mpprh (Full Member 114 posts) 3w

Just a few points :

Barcelona is closer to Languedoc Rousillon than Nice and may offer more routes to US ?

If you arrive in Paris, you can then fly to Montpellier or Perpignan ... both actually in LR.

The coast highway (train follows the same route) is a fast way to cover Languedoc Rousillon. I'd stay somewhere like Montpellier which has air, rail and road connections.

The fast train Montpellier - Paris is a shade over 3 hrs.

5. Posted by Alain13 (Respected Member 100 posts) 3w

Quoting nutsnbolts

I guess I could fly into Nice and make my way over westward towards Marseille. Essentially see the small villages and as well as the medieval towns. Not sure though if that makes sense or just concentrate on the area surrounding Marseille? Thoughts?

Sure you could proceed this way driving from Nice to Marseille or to Aix thanks to a bit more than 2 hours drive ... or one week low speed trip!
There is a lot to see in Provence:
Best natural areas in my opinion: Verdon canyon, National park of Calanques, Regional park of Camargue.

Marseille, Nice and Aix are also very interesting.

Some nice places :
Eze and Saint Paul de Vence, lovely villages close to Nice.
Roman architecture in Arles, Nîmes, Pont du Gard, Orange
Medieval towns: Avignon (do not miss), Aigues-Mortes or village: Les Baux de Provence

I really think you won't have the time to visit both Provence and Languedoc.
Enjoy South of France:):)

[ Edit: Edited on 08-Sep-2016, at 10:46 by Alain13 ]

6. Posted by nutsnbolts (Respected Member 155 posts) 3w

Alain13

This is very helpful. Part of the problem in all this also is the simple fact that I'm not sure how much time any of these places would take.

What you suggested above. Any suggestions where I should fly into? I know I can't see it all but the suggestions you made it do want to see avignon and it seems like I can make my way from Nice to Marseille as far West as Montpellier and then north to Avignon. From Avignon train/drive up to Paris?

7. Posted by Alain13 (Respected Member 100 posts) 3w

Avignon to Paris is less than 3 hours for 690 km (430 miles) thanks to TGV train. Avignon TGV station is outside of the town but you arrive in Paris center !!

8. Posted by zzlangerhans (Budding Member 6 posts) 2w

If your goal is to see medieval towns, I would strongly consider renting a car because depending on bus and train timetables is very limiting. We based ourselves in Avignon which I think was a good choice because it puts you within reach of many such places. Avignon itself is a very impressive medieval town with much to do in terms of sightseeing, restaurants, and shopping.

The top medieval cities within easy reach of Avignon (in no particular order) are Arles, Saignon, Venasque, Menerbes, Uzes, Gordes, Baux, Vaison-la-Romaine and L'Isle sur la Sorgue. There are many others and opinions may vary. I'm not a fan of Aix en Provence (except for the market) because it is packed with tourists and feels like a theme park. Further afield from Avignon are Tourtour and Chateaudouble to the east and Montpellier and Carcassonne to the west. I mention Carcassonne because it is the classic medieval town of Languedoc, but you may find it disappointing because the commercialization has destroyed its character. Truthfully, I feel western Provence is better than Languedoc for what you want, although Languedoc is certainly wonderful in its own right. As someone else wrote, 5 or 6 days is not enough to see Languedoc and Provence. You will run yourself silly.

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Sep-2016, at 18:41 by zzlangerhans ]