Car or train for solo Provence?

Jan 24th, 2003, 06:07 PM
  #1  
Mary
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Car or train for solo Provence?

I am going to Provence (including the Vaucluse) solo and am not sure if I want to drive alone. How would it be to see the area by train? Any and all advice welcome! Thank you.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 03:07 AM
  #2  
PB
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It's rather difficult to see most of Provence without a car... especially the Vaucluse and the Bouches du Rhone areas. You could take a train to places like l'Isle sur la Sorgue from Avignon, or take bus tours from the Avignon tourist office.....
public transportation in the form of buses does exist here, but it's very time consuming.

PB
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 05:01 AM
  #3  
Mariarosa
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I'm struggling with the same issue - the cost of an automatic is prohibitive an unfortunately I don't drive stick.

Here is a website that has some of the bus links. You will need to travel by bus to the small towns and, as PB indicated, it is not too convenient (for example, for Gordes it seems you have to change buses in Cavaillon).

http://www.provencebeyond.com/travel/bus.html

The large towns have good rail connections: Avignon-Arles-Aix-Nimes-Orange.

Finally, the following company has tours that depart from Avignon http://www.cars-lieutaud.fr/circuitsgb.html
I sent them an inquiry and they responded the next day.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 07:08 AM
  #4  
LHALLSB
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mary - i just drove solo throughout spain, france and morocco in october/november and really enjoyed the liberty of having a car, especially in france. the only mildly challenging aspect is having to find parking sometimes...but i wouldn't trade the experience for anything. there's nothing like driving along, listening to the french radio stations. some of my favorite moments in france were getting 'lost' and enlisting the help of anyone who could endure my broken french. that would be my only deciding factor - i had a tough time in parts of spain due to not speaking the language. if you don't speak french, i would invest some time in learning a bit...especially directional words/phrases, parking, gas, etc. have a wonderful, wonderful journey!
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:21 PM
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Deb
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I travel alone quite a bit but will not rent a car when I am by myself. I think the navigation and the driving is too difficult, even with two of us we seem to find ourselves lost at times.

I also like meeting people on trains when traveling alone.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 12:49 PM
  #6  
John B.
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I agree (as always) with PB. If you have the time learn stick shift. It's great fun to drive in Provence.
If you want more information about things Provencal check out:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/provence
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 03:55 PM
  #7  
Christina
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I've done Provence with and without a car; obviously no car means you stick to the larger cities mostly, rather than driving around the countryside.

I don't drive stick and don't think it's worth the time or trouble or expense to learn for a short vacation, but if you have an easy way to learn, it might be. Also, I think in a strange country in an unfamiliar area, it is safer to drive an automatic anyway, for many people. They aren't that expensive, I got a nice Alfa Romeo with AC and automatic trans. for only about $40-50 a day from Autoeurope in the summer of 2000. That was all inclusive with complete insurance coverage, unlimited mileage and dropoff in a different city than I got it. I think a stick would only be about $10 a day less, perhaps. I actually can drive stick a little, I just don't on a daily basis. I just don't like to, however, and don't find it an enjoyable way to drive, so I rent an automatic anyway.

I think there are been several long and useful posts on the exact topic within the past year on here, so I won't repeat myself. Going without a car is definitely better than not at all.
 
Jan 26th, 2003, 04:31 AM
  #8  
ttt
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Jan 26th, 2003, 06:34 AM
  #9  
mimi
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Mary and Mariarosa, one thing to know is that if you rent from here(if you live in the states) it is Much less expensive. Alot less and be sure it is a small car because the streets are narrow and parking would be a problem with a big car.
 
Jan 27th, 2003, 08:03 AM
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Mimi has it right. The small car suggestion is important too.

I rent from Hertz and get an automatic confirmed. One problem is that Hertz seems to always try to give you a big car, like a Mercedes, "for the same price". Problem with a big car is navigating narrow roads, parking. So if you can get an automatic ask for a Peugeot 307, a Volkswagen Galt or comparable.

Anthony
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Jan 27th, 2003, 09:26 AM
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Spend a few extra dollars and get an automatic - and definately drive around Provence. You will miss so much if you can't visit the smaller towns that have so much to offer - make sure your go to Gourdes and Rousillion (sp?).
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Jan 27th, 2003, 10:37 AM
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Hi! I don't want to hijack Mary's post, but where are you guys renting your cars from? Hertz and Avis in Avignon, Arles and Aix are sold out for automatics for my dates (March 5 - 8)and the cheapest automatic Autoeurope can get me is 507 for 3 days without insurance or 733 with insurance. That is WAY out of my budget - would rather spend the money on food and wine. Any suggestions for getting a cheaper rate will be greatly appreciated.
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Jan 27th, 2003, 11:01 AM
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I rent my car 5/6 months in advance of my trip. Automatics are at a premium and from whomever you rent have them confirm in writing an automatic. (It may be that during the tourist season more cars are available as I have never had difficulty.)
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Jan 27th, 2003, 07:28 PM
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I realized I made a little error in my post -- I rented in summer of 2001, so prices shouldn't be that different. I rented from Autoeurope, but they contracted with Europcar for my rental (at Marseilles airport, returning Avignon train station). It's hard for me to believe rates should be that much higher in March when you wouldn't even need AC, which added on more than the automatic transmission, as I recall. I rented for a week, however, and I know rentals for only a few days can be quite high per day, but that is really excessive, unless you are talking about a very big car, of course. I rented just a small subcompact. Perhaps there is a country difference? I'm American, I don't know if they rate by that or not, I wouldn't think so, but I did rent from the US.

When I checked, Autoeurope had the lowest rates in comparison to any major company or Kemwel (I checked Avis and Hertz), but they still weren't that much higher. Autoeurope was great because they even quoted me a lower fare than originally applied because I think their web site suggested that to get an automatic you needed a slightly bigger car than I really wanted, but I talked to them on the phone about the quote and they offered a subcompact for less.

I had an Alfa Romeo which was nice, but I don't recall the model number. It got really good mileage, even though being an automatic because it had a special type of transmission we don't in the US (you don't need to use a clutch, but still do need to move the lever to change gears by hand, but it does it automatically and smoothly). I guess if you didn't understand at all how cars shift or have experience with a manual, you might not know when to shift or have even recognized the problem, but it was simple once you understood. It wasn't that different from US automatics when you need to move the lever for reverse and forward, but it didn't go from first to second etc on its own.
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Apr 10th, 2003, 02:51 PM
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Apr 13th, 2003, 06:21 AM
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jmw
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Hi, since we're topping, has anyone used a town other than Avignon as a place to stay for day-tripping via bus, train, or tours? Aix? Thanks (or thanx) J.
 
Apr 13th, 2003, 08:06 AM
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It really doesn't get any better than Avignon. i did alot of research for my solo trip. I'm a non driver. The train station, the Lieutaud excursion auto cars, and regular buses are all in my place outside the walls across from the Hotel Europe. I found Lieutaud, the easiest best way to dsee a lot. Different days they take you to a few different places.One day was my first day in the Camargue. Aigues-Mortes and saintes-Maries-De-La-Mer. Another day we went to Nimes and the Pont-Du_Gard.
And yet another to Gordes , Abbaye De Senanque and Roussillon. the day it was scheduled for Orange, it didn't show, so I hopped the next train to Orange.
These excursions allow you to lunch at one of the stops.
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Oct 7th, 2003, 07:15 AM
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Oct 7th, 2003, 12:33 PM
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We were also stayed in Avignon and took advantage of the trains and buses. We are thinking of doing it again, if we decide not to camp. It was less tiring compared with a previous trip because we wasted too much time getting lost.
 
Jan 14th, 2004, 10:38 AM
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