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Back up plan for St. Remy/Luberon transport if rental car falls through?

Back up plan for St. Remy/Luberon transport if rental car falls through?

Old Feb 24th, 2024, 02:44 AM
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Back up plan for St. Remy/Luberon transport if rental car falls through?

My 13 year old daughter and I (from the US) are visiting Provence for 3 nights/4 days in early April. We made reservations via Europcar for an automatic car rental pickup from the Avignon TGV station. However, I have read that sometimes just because you reserve an automatic car doesnít mean there will be one available. Since we will be there the week after Easter, we are anticipating there may be a lot of tourists renting cars during this time?

I have signed myself up for a 3 hour stick shift driving lesson in a few weeks, but to be honest, I am a little nervous about driving on hilly streets in a different country with just a three hour lesson under my belt.

I would love some suggestions on back up transport plans if our automatic car rental falls through. Our first night we are staying overnight in St. Remy and were hoping to explore Glanum, St. Paul Mausole, and if time permitted, Les Baux.

For our second day, we have plans for Carrieres de Lumieres at 9:30, and then we planned to make our way to Gordes, Roussillon, and Bonnieux, overnighting in Lourmarin.

For our third day, we were planning to visit the Lourmarin Friday market and then head to Pont du Gard, overnighting in Uzes.

Finally, for our last day, we were planning to visit the Uzes Saturday market and then head back to Avignon for the TGV back to Paris.

I would love tips on how to navigate this area via public transport/taxi/ebike.

It seems like if we had to, we could get from Avignon to St. Remy via bus within 1 hour 30 minutes, and then we could walk from center of St. Remy to Glanum/St. Paul Mausole and taxi to Les Baux/Carrieres de Lumieres.

The leg from St. Remy to the Luberon seems the most challenging to navigate via public transport (3 hours by bus!). How difficult would it be to get a taxi from St. Remy to Bonnieux? From there, I think we could rent an e-bike from Sun-E-Bikes in Bonnieux and use it to explore nearby villages.

I think that if we didnít have a rental car, we would likely give up Uzes for the last night and spend an extra night in the Luberon, then make our way back to Avignon.

I am hopeful that none of this will be necessary and that the automatic car we reserved will just be there upon arrival but want to be prepared to pivot if necessary and not be scrambling at the last minute.

Thanks in advance for any insights!






Last edited by lillianhsu8007; Feb 24th, 2024 at 02:46 AM.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 02:50 AM
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I always start with rome2rio, it has its faults but it gives you some useful links and ideas. If you click through to the bus and train details you will find the actual data that they scrapped and from there can also find the local bus companies hence their larger time table. Good luck, a plan B is never wasted.

Just a thought, you could try to hire an EV, they drive like an automatic and you might be more likely to get it. France has about as many EVs as automatics.

Just a reminder that French driving laws are different to say US ones,p probably worth investing 20 minutes in reading up on them.

Last edited by bilboburgler; Feb 24th, 2024 at 02:52 AM.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 03:05 AM
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Thanks so much for these suggestions! rome2rio looks very useful!

If we rent an EV, are there EV charging ports readily available in these small towns/villages?
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 03:12 AM
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Originally Posted by lillianhsu8007
Thanks so much for these suggestions! rome2rio looks very useful!

If we rent an EV, are there EV charging ports readily available in these small towns/villages?
https://chargemap.com/cities/saint-remy-de-provence-FR is a good place to start.
You might need to also check with your hotel/gite to see what they have as a on-site facility.

Looking at the actual town website https://www.mairie-saintremydeproven...ge-electrique/ you will find these charge points so sometimes you have to dig into a town's website to find more as they are going in so fast they may not be on the chargemap or similar APP.

Last edited by bilboburgler; Feb 24th, 2024 at 03:21 AM.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 03:34 AM
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Many hyper/supermarkets in France have EV points too. You will need a card or app to activate the charging point. The hire company may have them and charge you a deposit against your electricity usage.
Many EVs have the ability to navigate you to charging points.
A couple of years ago it may have been tricky to find a charger but now they are increasingly common, and even small villages have them albeit not fast chargers Don't try and charge the car to 100% - the last 20% takes forever and it is better for the battery to take it only to 80%. You can always find somewhere to charge and go for a wander around while it is charging.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 04:01 AM
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One of the biggest worries of newby EV drivers or prospective buyers is “range anxiety”. - which includes the fear of not getting to your destination or getting stuck on the road due to an empty battery. Many drivers feel they need to top off the battery each and every day even if they only plan local short drives. Until one gets comfortable setting out with a battery thats say below 50% its an understandable angst.

If i add up all the miles you plan to drive it seems like you’ll barely use one full charge if even that. Which means as long as you find a charger somewhere along the way, at one of your hotels or maybe even a rest stop on your one longer drive youll be just fine. You dont need a charger every time you park.

Youll also need to know the car return rules and what if any cost there will be if you return a car with less than 80% charge. Topping off a gas tank before returning a rental is easy and fast. Not so for an EV.

you could also reserve an EV then ask to switch to an automatic when you get to the desk. Ive upgrade or switched cars at the rental desk countless times with no issue.

i would not bother with a 3 hr manual class. It wont help you at an intersection at the top of a hill, with traffic left right and behind you, or trying to enter a traffic circle only to find you stall out with a truck oncoming. It takes more time than a 3hr lesson to be proficient in all situations.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 04:09 AM
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i would not bother with a 3 hr manual class. It wont help you at an intersection at the top of a hill, with traffic left right and behind you, or trying to enter a traffic circle only to find you stall out with a truck oncoming. It takes more time than a 3hr lesson to be proficient in all situations.
True enough. I have seen plenty of Dutch drivers stall on a hill because they aren't used to doing hill starts!
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 04:23 AM
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I guess not many steep hills in much of the Netherlands. These days manual transmission cars seem to all have anti roll back features built into the system which definitely helps on hills. Not so for my first manual car - a used,, dinged up, rusted, bright yellow 1970s Datsun B210 with a worn clutch. It would barely prevent a top of hill rollback even in gear. Had to become proficient at using the hand brake in those situations. Loved that car.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by lillianhsu8007
However, I have read that sometimes just because you reserve an automatic car doesnít mean there will be one available
I am bit surprised that, if such case, they would give you a manual car. Because the driving license must state you are able to drive it. I don't know how it works with US driving licenses but in France there are 2 types of licenses with one restricted to automatic cars.
I agree with another post saying it would be wise to spend some time on the specifics of driving in France. Generally speaking, I find much easier to drive in US, especially in cities. Among things we French are not used to are : always watch for and give priority to pedestrians before proceeding, never block intersections and turning right even if light is red. Outside cities, I can't remember seeing roundabouts in US, which can be a bit tricky in France if they are quite busy.

Last edited by rouelan; Feb 24th, 2024 at 07:45 AM.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 08:13 AM
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Early April is still quite a ways off. You have time to do more than just a three hour lesson before you leave. You might consider moving your lesson up and perhaps borrowing or renting a manual car to drive in familiar areas near your home for a week or so.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 09:55 AM
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welcome to Fodors. If you can drive a stick it will likely save you a boat load of $$/€€. Modern manual transmissions are sooooooo much easier than in the 'old days'. As J62 says they have a sort of locking mechanism so the won't roll backwards when stopped on a hill. Plus they are pretty sturdy -- a missed gear now and then is no biggie at all. Heck - I even rent stick shifts in the UK where you are on the 'wrong' side of the road and shifting with the 'wrong' hand. So give the lesson a try - you may like it

Then rent a 'normal' stick shift and use the € saved to have a great meal somewhere. (or if the lesson is a disaster - book an automatic)

Re rouelan's comment. Few if any US states issue driver licenses with a special 'standard transmission endorsement so there would be no way to demonstrate the ability to drive a srick. I've rented manual transmission cars in probably 6 countries and have never been asked that.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 12:26 PM
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Did the same a few years back. Train from Paris to Avignon and then rented a vehicle at the Avignon station. Having rented automatics for several prior Europe trips, I had enough of the high prices for automatic rentals and rented a manual. I hadn’t operated a manual for 30 years prior since I was a teenager in the states. Within an hour I felt extremely comfortable as it came back as like they say riding a bicycle. Not sure if you have driving a manual in the past. I too would not count on the 3 hour course for a level of comfort. That being said, I believe if you rent an automatic with a reputable company, you have a contract with the rental company and you should be guaranteed the vehicle you agreed upon. Again, France, Charles De Gaullle Airport several years ago we rented an automatic and none were available. They did produce one after a 3 hour delay as the company did procure one from maybe another company. My experience is to always use public transportation in the large cities, driving a manual in small towns/villages you should be fine.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 01:01 PM
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A prepaid nonrefundable reservation may be an extra push to guarantee your automatic transmission.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 01:37 PM
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Just a note:

mike1728: "That being said, I believe if you rent an automatic with a reputable company, you have a contract with the rental company and you should be guaranteed the vehicle you agreed upon"

The rental companies really cannot/do not 'guarantee' any specific model/class/type of car . . . unless they only have one model in the entire fleet. That's why there is always some sort of disclaimer like 'Mercedes B Class or similar' - that 'or similar' and other fine print in the contract protects them.

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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj
Just a note:

mike1728: "That being said, I believe if you rent an automatic with a reputable company, you have a contract with the rental company and you should be guaranteed the vehicle you agreed upon"

The rental companies really cannot/do not 'guarantee' any specific model/class/type of car . . . unless they only have one model in the entire fleet. That's why there is always some sort of disclaimer like 'Mercedes B Class or similar' - that 'or similar' and other fine print in the contract protects them.
I don't really agree. Mercedes B Class is given as an example but specs should be the same.
if you are a party of 5 and asked for a car that can accommodate 5 persons, the rental company cannot give you a Fiat 500... the rental company must guarantee max number of pax and bags and manual/automatic.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by rouelan
I don't really agree. Mercedes B Class is given as an example but specs should be the same.
if you are a party of 5 and asked for a car that can accommodate 5 persons, the rental company cannot give you a Fiat 500... the rental company must guarantee max number of pax and bags and manual/automatic.
No, ,they can't give you a car that won't seat the number in your party . . . but they definitely can substitute an entirely different class and especially stick you with much larger car . . . more than once I've booked a compact and been 'upgraded' (yippee! - not ) to a too large behemoth (which for single track roads in Cornwall is NOT what I wanted nor booked . . . Nothing else was available unless I was willing to wait til the next day

One is never guaranteed a specific class/model.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 04:33 PM
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We rented from AE at the Avignon station as well and drove on to St Remy for a trip that hit some of the same places you intend to visit. AE seemed to have plenty of cars at the station but I do not know the % that were automatic. I applaud you taking a long lesson on a manual and agree that if you can, take another lesson on a manual for extra practice. I learned to drive on an automatic but five years later bought a used manual Triumph Herald. I took a lesson on a manual VW the day I picked up the manual and drove it home. That was in NYC through crosstown traffic, through the Brooklyn Battery tunnel and then 15 miles in rush hour traffic on a parkway. It was white knuckle all the way but within 2 days I was pretty comfortable with the manual. DW did similar some years later where she learned to drive a manual in just 2 lessons. The idea of an EV could well work for you. Also if only manuals are available ask if any are diesels. Diesel manuals have much more torque, thus less likely to stall and easier to drive than a regular manual.
Good luck and enjoy your trip.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 04:44 PM
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""We rented from AE at the Avignon station""

Which car rental company is AE? If you are referring to AutoEurope - they are a US company based in Portland Maine, and only broker for car companies that actually own the cars that are rented in Avignon (Avis, Europcar, Hertz, etc).

We've reserved about 10 automatic cars in the past 6 years in France, and have never been switched to a manual or a larger car.

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley
""We rented from AE at the Avignon station""

Which car rental company is AE? If you are referring to AutoEurope - they are a US company based in Portland Maine, and only broker for car companies that actually own the cars that are rented in Avignon (Avis, Europcar, Hertz, etc).

We've reserved about 10 automatic cars in the past 6 years in France, and have never been switched to a manual or a larger car.

Stu Dudley
Sorry about that. Yes, I meant Eurocar. They gave us a Renault Clio manual which turned out to be a comfortable and economical car. The shifting was very smooth. BTW if you are offered a hybrid, it will be automatic.

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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj
No, ,they can't give you a car that won't seat the number in your party . . . but they definitely can substitute an entirely different class and especially stick you with much larger car . . . more than once I've booked a compact and been 'upgraded'
Same applies for automatic/manual. I have been offered more than once to have an automatic car when I had booked a manual. When one is able to drive a manual car, it is obvious one can drive an automatic model. But the opposite is not true. Exactly the same for the size: if you asked for a small car, a big one will be OK (except for the fuel bill). But if you asked for a big one...

Attn OP: my best advice would be, if you are not comfortable, to call the agency 1 or 2 days ahead, confirming you will be coming and that you NEED an automatic car.

Last edited by rouelan; Feb 24th, 2024 at 06:20 PM.
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