Looking for your experiences - Driving South of France and more!
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Jan 6, 2013 9:55 AM Last Post By: travelinstyle46
Dec 21, 2012 10:31 AM
Looking for your experiences - Driving South of France and more!Hello,
I'm planning a trip right now that consists of Berlin, Venice, South of France, Paris, Belgium and then Holland (and probably in that or a similar order). We'll be departing in early May.
The biggest question I have, and there is so much information out there but this is making it more confusing, is how to approach renting a car from Florence and driving the southern part of France "efficiently."
It's important that we hit Nice, Cannes, Marseille, Avignon, Nimes, Montpellier, Toulouse and Bordeaux and we'll have approximately two and a half weeks to do so. Does it make sense to drop the car off in any certain place and take trains in between? Is there any place worth seeing that I haven't mentioned? We very much like to do what locals do in terms of attraction, and I'm interested to visit wineries and vineyards.
If we end in Bordeaux, I think the next step would be getting to Lyon/Grenoble, heading to Dijon and Paris, then further North to Belgium and Holland.
If you have done a similar trip (especially the driving part) I would love to hear your recommendations. I have about two months to do this trip. Thank you!
Dec 21, 2012 10:58 AM
Dec 21, 2012 11:11 AM
Dec 21, 2012 9:23 PM
3Nice, Cannes, Marseille etc, etc - suggest you have a look first on viamichelin.fr to get a little idea about the time, distances and price for this trip. Using all cities on your list like a 'home base' is ok but have you heard about the problems with parking places? It will be easy if you choice hotels always outside the center of town, in the industrial zones, as they have most free parking.
Dec 22, 2012 1:08 AM
4Personally if I were doing a 'southern France' trip I'd be staying away from all large cities and sticking to the many, many smaller towns and villages that characterise that part of the worls. Nimes, Avignon and Montpellier are not too bad to stay in or close to but I'd stay away from Nice, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux.
Edited by: Mrs_Trellis
Dec 22, 2012 5:56 AM
Jan 5, 2013 9:52 PM
6Have you considered car leasing? It's available for non-European domiciled tourists with minimum 21 days rental. You get a brand new car and with a small fee (early bird specials on now), you can pick up / drop off these cars in France or countries bordering it. 3 car makes offer this: Peugeot, Renault and Citroen. I've done this before with Peugeot through an Australian rental company and it was well worth it.
Jan 6, 2013 12:21 AM
7I agree with #6, the Eurolease program is a great way to have a car with less overhead. I used the program for about 5 years, and a house I rented a couple times in the south of France was owned by a couple from Toronto, and they used the program every summer. The cost of picking it up in an Italian city can be found when you look on their website. I used RenaultUSA.com but I think you can do a search on any Canadian site and find similar offers.
You write that you have to visit "Cannes, Marseille, Avignon, Nimes, Montpellier, Toulouse and Bordeaux" but you don't say why. Perhaps if you could give us your reasons/guidelines for your choices we could make suggestions on those listings.
We encourage everyone to read the guidebooks and hope they have an understanding of what's available but in some categories, the guidebooks don't know what those who have travelled there know...
For example, the choice of Montpellier and Bordeaux make me think you might be interested in wines. If so, Montpellier may be in the Languedoc but may not be the best place to explore all the wines (AOC, Vin de Pays, etc) to be found in the Languedoc. And while I know Languedoc, I don't have a clue about Bordeaux but I'm sure someone's been there, and there's a resident of Toulouse of long standing on the forum.
Whatever you choose, have a good trip!
Jan 6, 2013 9:39 AM
8We have driven extensively in Provence. We had flown in to Barcelona at Christmas time, picked up the rental car stopping in Narbonne on the way to Salon where our on was finishing up a stint as an exchange student. We drove from there on day trips to Aix, Avignon, Nimes and the Camargue before heading back to our Holiday in Navarra with overnight stops in Carcassonne and San Sebastián. We had no problems of any kind and enjoyed the freedom the cár gave us. Several stops would have been impossible on public transportation.
Jan 6, 2013 9:55 AM
9What is the total length of time you will be in Europe for? That will help decide on the 'lease vs. rent' question. The longer the time period the better the leasing option looks.
You ask if you are missing anywhere and of course you are. There are countless places in the South of France (or anywhere else in Europe) that might interest you but you don't have unlimited time. So while I might say I would replace Nice with Antibes, I would not say add another place to your list. That would simply mean you would not spend enough time in any place. There is a common problem with confusing quality with quantity.
As a rule of thumb I go with the 'Rule of 3s' which says, never spend less than 3 full days/4 nights in a place unless it is just an overnight stop between A and B. Given your 2.5 weeks (17 days?) and the distances between the places you list as well, I would not plan on visiting more than 4 places in that time span. You have already listed 7 !
The way to see as 'much as possible' is to spend time IN places, not in BETWEEN places. In travel, less is always more.
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