Cinque Terre to Avignon

Aug 11th, 2004, 11:24 AM
  #1  
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Cinque Terre to Avignon

Flying into Milan and am going to Cinque Terre and then to Provence in France. We are then flying on a low cost airline to Munich. My question relates to car rental vs. train. Knowing that the drop off rate is quite high going from Italy to France, should we take the train from Milan to Cinque Terre and then train to Marseille? We could then pick up a car to travel through Provence.
Or should we pick up a car right over the French border? Please help. The more I look at train schedules the more confused I become. We have traveled in Germany and France quite a lot but not too often in Italy.
LyndaKaye is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 12:27 PM
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It's a long long haul from 5 Terre to Avignon. You'll have to catch a morning train to Genoa then change to a train to Ventimiglia, on the French border, then a train to Nice and change most likely there to TGV to Avignon-TGV station, a few miles outside Avignon, arriving around 6pm. TGVs need reservations so that is a problem, don't count on doing them at Italian stations. Driving Nice-Avignon makes a fantastic trip on side roads but a drag on freeways - side roads take forever and on freeways you see nothing.
PalQ is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 02:50 PM
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PalQ - can I explore your comments in a bit more depth? I'll be doing same trip (5 Terre to around Avignon/Arles/Nimes) next year. There are freeways (fast but no view), inland roads (presumably high up and with a view) and a coast road (presumable traffic-packed). We prefer not to use freeways. Which side road would you recommend - inland or coast? How much slower are they? For example how long should I allow to drive Menton to Avignon with stops if I come across a picturesque village?
twoflower is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 06:22 PM
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I drove it in 2 days but were fairly long days, over this route: From Nice head to Vence then take a rather sinuous "corniche" road to Grasse, passing through ancient villages of Tourettes-s-Loup and Gourdon. At Grasse (which you could get to much quicker via the coastal autoroute to Grasse exit)I took the Route Napleon, built by Napoleon for military reasons, to Castellane, where the absolutely gorgeous scenery begins as you hairpin turn along the fabled Grand Canyon du Verson - a mini Grand Canyon, one of the largest in Europe, at a snail's pace after which I went via Moustiers-Ste. Marie and Monasque and, an aptly named town, Apt, to Avignon. A short detour off the main route before Avignon takes you to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, very famous in France, an ancient town centered around its famous fountain. Once in Avignon I would suggest you drive up to Les Baux, just east of town - Les Baux is a dream, an abanoned citadel-town topping a high plateau in the middle of nowhere - an exceptional feeling being on this huge outcropping of rock with its evocative ruined medieval relics with a stupefying 360 degree view for miles around. Anyway, you could drive this route in two days, but, there are lots of diversions en route. We rented a canoed through the Gorges de Verdon and then lolicked and swam in the cool river. Note: If it's July or August expect complete gridlock in the Nice area, I actually did this route in reverse and it took what seemed like hours to go anywhere once we got to Grasse - the whole Riviera is gridlocked during the annual migration down here in July and August.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 05:42 AM
  #5  
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We will be making this trip in October. Do you think that will make a difference in traffic? I think we will pick up a car in Nice (or possibly somewhere else over the border?) and drive to Avignon and then catch a plane out of Marseille to Frankfurt. We will have a week to tour Provence. Do you think this is possible? We don't want to spend all of our time in the car.
LyndaKaye is offline  
Aug 12th, 2004, 09:21 AM
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October should be fine - the huge crowds thin out lemming-like right after the last weekend in August, the so-called "rentree," or re-entrance of everyone back to school or work after the customary August vacation. Provence is a wide area but if you're talking about the classical Provence centering around Avignon, there are so many fantastic sights within a 30-mile radius of Avignon/Arles, so it's a compact area (the Pont du Gard, an aqueduct built by the Romans that is called the finest remaining Roman relic outside of Italy, Nimes (superb Roman arena), Les Baux (in my above post), St Remy (sleepy town with the insane asylum where Van Gogh stayed and painted many local scenes, with reproductions posted at the venues he painted)Chateaneuf-du-Pape and its esteemed vineyards and wine houses, as well as Uzes, Arles and Avignon, a trio of fine old historic towns. October should be a fine time, with weather still warm but the crowds nearly all gone.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 10:43 PM
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PalQ - many thanks for the detailed directions. They will help tremendously.
Tony
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