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Driving in Southern (and Northeastern?) France in June

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May 15th, 2011, 08:57 AM
  #1
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Driving in Southern (and Northeastern?) France in June

Hi,

My friend and I will be renting a car for 9 days in early June to travel around southern France. We definitely want to stop in Aix and see the nearby cities (Avignon, Orange, etc) and spend a day or two in the Auvergne region (where we will visit a friend). Our goal is to relax, see the beautiful countryside, visit museums, and experience a few wineries. Any suggestions on how to best use our time?

(Also at one point we were thinking of trying to go to northeastern france, too, but decided it's too much. What are the down sides of cutting out Northeastern France (e.g., strausburg, metz, etc. Any way we could structure our trip to include these destinations?)

Thanks so much!
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May 15th, 2011, 09:13 AM
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Actually, 9 days in "southern" France is not much time at all - especially if you include the Auvergne. We've spent 55 weeks there ourselves - 50 in the Cote d'Azur, Provence, Dordogne, Languedoc, Pays Basque and another 3 in the Auvergne. There is a lot to see in France - don't try to cram too much into one trip - especially if your goal is to relax. Save the northeast for another trip.

Do you have my 27 page Cote d'Azur & Provence itinerary - or my 35 page Languedoc one? If not, e-mail me at [email protected] and I'll attach one or both to the reply e-mail.

Stu Dudley
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May 15th, 2011, 09:16 AM
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Northeastern France is a totally different experience, which you may or may not like. Weather is not as much of an issue, since nobody goes there for the weather. It is the part of France that I prefer, but it is also my ancestral region, so I will not beat my drum.
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May 15th, 2011, 01:33 PM
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Thanks for your thoughts and-- Stu, thanks for the terrific, extremely detailed itinerary.

It sounds like a lot of people recommend taking a train out of paris and then renting a car somewhere in the south (Montpellier, Aix, etc). As far as I can tell, train tickets for 2 are going to be more expensive than driving (since we'll already have the car). What are the benefits of renting a car in the south vs. driving from Paris? Also, which city would you recommend picking up a rental car from?

Thanks,
Amy
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May 15th, 2011, 01:47 PM
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Driving from Paris is fine -- and interesting -- but getting train tickets well in advance for another area in France can be as cheap as 19€ if bought at the proper time, even distances like Lille to Perpignan.
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May 15th, 2011, 01:55 PM
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Here's another idea: if you are flying into Paris, you might be able to add on to your current journey and transfer directly from Paris to flight into South of France.

It might be too late to do this to get a "bargain"--but for us, adding on a segment (into Toulouse) added less than $100 to the total ticket price.

There are also airlines e.g. Easyjet which fly from Paris to South of France.

I'd have gone with Kerouac's idea of the drive from Paris, if we'd have had more time.
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May 15th, 2011, 02:04 PM
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Hez
 
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When you're calculating the difference in price between driving and taking the train don't forget to add in gas and tolls - they add up very quickly in France. You can use http://www.viamichelin.com/ to get an estimate for your itinerary. Just a quick search shows it to be about 122 Euro to drive one way from Paris to Aix. A one way fare on June 3rd, Paris to Aix in 2nd class can be had for 50 euro.

Just something to take into account. The tolls really got us our first time in France as we hadn't accounted for them.
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May 15th, 2011, 06:18 PM
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We've driven every segment of the freeway from Paris to the south (Avignon, Aix, Nice), and I would never do that all at once. You are heading mainly south - so the sun will be directly in your face (except maybe June & July)which makes me ver "snoozy". Most of that freeway is not very scenic (except for a section around Burgundy & once you get to Provence). Take the TGV instead - it is very relaxing.

Stu Dudley
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May 15th, 2011, 06:55 PM
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you have barely enough time to do a drive-through of southern France. I mean, 9 days is nothing. I wouldn't complicate it by adding another part of the country. I sure wouldn't drive from Paris to the south.
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May 15th, 2011, 07:21 PM
  #10
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Thanks so much everyone's thoughts and tips. I had no idea how much tolls cost! We are reconsidering our decision to drive down to aix. Instead we'll probably take a train and then concentrate our time in provence (skipping over even the Auvergne region). T
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May 15th, 2011, 10:15 PM
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Then again, except for the A4, all of the autoroutes are free in Lorraine and Alsace.
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