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Please help with car rental & my itinerary in France.

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First off, thanks to all that responded to my Paris hotel request. Now onto the rest…

Our itinerary is shaping up this way. I know it looks chopped up in places, but part of that was because getting hotel reservations in Provence caused a bit of a problem, but I'm happy with where we are staying.

We will be in Paris 5 days. We've been to Paris before, but have always spent all our time there. This time, we want to venture out, so this is the plan.

After Paris, our first 2 days will be in Levernois to take a wine tour. I was thinking the best thing to do is to take a train from Paris to Dijon or Lyon and pick up a rental car there. Dijon looked like the better place so that we wouldn't have to backtrack to get to Levernois. But, I don't know anything about either city & also where rental cars are available. What suggestions or experience do you have with either place?

After 2 days in Levernois, we are driving to Provence and spending 5 days. We are staying 2 days in Gordes and 4 days in Saint Remy & then flying out of Marsaille. How long do you think it will take to drive from Saint Remy to Marsaille and is there a drop off place at the airport there?

My next big question, is how do I rent a car? I've read some bad stories about Hertz & I don't know anything about car companies in Europe. I know my Visa cc covers car insurance, but is there something else I should be concerned about? Are most of the cars standards? My husband & I both know how to drive a standard, but it would make me really nervous if we found ourselves on a curvy, hilly road which I'm pretty sure we will. How can I ensure we get an automatic?

Any thing else I should be thinking about? Will there be a charge to pick up the car in one place & return to another? I've read a lot of reviews where people did that, but recently I saw a posting that companies are charging for that now, then someone else said they do if the car is dropped at a small town with little chance of rental. Anybody know?

Thanks for any info.

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