Driving in France in August

Jun 14th, 2002, 12:27 PM
  #1  
Betty
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Driving in France in August

The good news is I have found a really cheap flight to Paris this summer through the American Association of Teachers of French. The bad news is that the best dates I could get for a 2-week stay are July 28-Aug. 12. I usually try to avoid traveling to France in August since that is when all the French are on vacation and roads, as well as tourist sites, can be very crowded. But this time I really didn’t have any choice. I will be driving from Chartres to Amboise on July 31, from Amboise to a little village between Sarlat and Gourdon on Aug. 1 and, worst of all, from that village to Provence (Luberon) on Sat. Aug. 3. (I’m renting a little house Aug 3 - Aug. 10.) I’m not too worried about the first two legs, but I am concerned about the last one. Viamichelin advises taking smaller roads through Figeac, Rodez, Millau, and then south to Montpellier where I would pick up the A9 towards Avignon. Gourdon to Avignon is estimated to take just over 5 hours by this route. (I would have another 30-45 minutes to my destination in the Luberon, assuming no big traffic jams around Avignon.)
My questions: 1) Do you think this route is best or would I do better to stick to small roads to the north of Montpellier and avoid the A9? (Are traffic jams likely on the A9 between Montpellier and Avignon?) Another route?
2) How much time should I add to the Viamichelin estimate because of the date I’m traveling? and
3) Would I be able to avoid a lot of traffic by leaving very early (as soon as it is light) from the Gourdon area?

I would love to hear opinions from anyone who lives in this area (PB? Peter? St Cirq?) or anyone who has driven a similar route in August. Thanks in advance.
 
Jun 14th, 2002, 04:38 PM
  #2  
Betty
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Still hoping for some advice.
 
Jun 15th, 2002, 10:50 AM
  #3  
Martine
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Take care, In Millau you will loose app. 1/2 hour in the traffic jam because the motorway to the south is not finished yet and you have to go throughout the city.But it is worth it. When you get out of the city the road will climb up and you'll have a magnificent view. And than you'll pass the "Massif Central". Splendid. Just do it!
 
Jun 15th, 2002, 01:00 PM
  #4  
Martine
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And I forgot to say: when you passed Millau: make a stop at the "aire du Caylar" (= a parking place where you can fill up) Many rocks and mystifying.

When you go via Sarlat,you have to visit Rocamadour, a smal "antique "town at the roc. Very nice and "typique". You won't regret. And also the "Gouffre de Padirac". That is the most beautiful nature wonder I've ever seen. It is a big round gorge like a pitt in the earth. You can go down ito it and there you can imagine yourself into the prehistoric. Down in the pitt, there is a cave where guides leads you in little boats through the cave. They were uniforms like in the 1900's. All the French know that "curiosité" and it attires a lot of people every year. Please, make the detour to it. it is worth it! (sorry for my English, it is not so good)
Have a nice trip in France.
 
Jun 15th, 2002, 01:36 PM
  #5  
PB
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Betty,

I haven't done this drive in August, but I have in July and it's equally as long... My house in Maussane (just south of St Remy) to Les Eyzies took seven hours. Partial good news is that a lot of people should be 'in place' so the traffic won't be AS bad as, say Friday night or Saturday.

The autoroute is almost finished north and south of Millau - but as stated by another poster, Millau is a drag to get through. You can lose more than a half an hour if you get stuck behind a couple of cars pulling campers. Last time we didn't mind the slow traffic - a group of about 80 para-sailers/ gliders(is that what they're called ?) had just jumped off the high cliffs around Millau. It was truly amazing.

I'd agree to take the A9 - there will still be traffic (headed north - returning vacationers)but by the late afternoon, it might have slowed down.

It's tough to say whether you're better off leaving early or waiting until late in the morning... that's one of the worst traffic weekends of the year. Have you thought about taking the train (it's the train going from Bordeaux to Marseille) from Agen to Arles and then picking up a car there for your drive to the Luberon ? That train trip takes about 5 hours - but it can save you a lot of grief on the roads. There's one at around 10:30AM, which would give you plenty of time to get to Agen from Gourdon.

Patricia
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 05:55 AM
  #6  
Betty
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Thank you, Martine, especially for the warning about Millau and the information about the aire du Caylar. I have been to Rocamadour and the Gouffre de Padirac. You are right, they are both amazing places. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I won't have time to visit them this trip. This is primarily a "research" trip to help me plan a trip next June with a group of about 10 people. I will certainly visit those places with the group at that time. And, no need to apologize for your English, it is very good (peut-etre meilleur que mon francais!)

And thank you, Patricia, for your suggestions. But I am wondering about your statement: "Partial good news is that a lot of people should be 'in place' so the traffic won't be AS bad as, say Friday night or Saturday." I AM traveling on Saturday August 3. Did you misunderstand or did I? Does this change any part of your answer?

As for taking the train, in a way I wish I could, but I don't think it would work very well for me. I need the car in the Loire Valley and the Dordogne, so that I can check out a few hotels and B&B's for my trip next June. So I would have to do a three-day rental,Chartres to Agen, and then another 1 week rental for Arles-Luberon-Avignon. That would be more expensive than the 10-day rental I have now and with the extra drop-off and pick-up, plus the train ride, I doubt it would save me any time. Besides, I do enjoy driving, especially in France, as long as I don't have to contend with hours of "bouchons." I do appreciate the suggestion, though. BTW, your mention of the "parasailers," or whatever, reminded me that I have seen that before around Millau. There must be a center for that nearby.

Anyone else have any thoughts?
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 11:28 AM
  #7  
PB
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Betty,

Sorry if I sounded confusing...

<<: "Partial good news is that a lot of people should be 'in place' so the traffic won't be AS bad as, say Friday night or Saturday." I AM traveling on Saturday August 3. >>

I meant especially on the southern roads. There will be a lot of crossover traffic that weekend so heavy traffic in both directions. Vacationers returning north from Spain and southern beach areas as well as travelers headed for their vacations...

I understand about the rental car, but thought the train worth the suggestion as that is definitely one of the worst weekends for car travel. I took that train over the beginning Easter vacations to visit StCirq in the Dordogne and it was so much more relaxing than driving the autoroute.

Patricia
 
Jun 17th, 2002, 04:36 AM
  #8  
Betty
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One last try, for the Monday morning crowd.
 

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