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Driving the Mediterranean - Spain, France & Italy - 3 weeks - August 2013

Driving the Mediterranean - Spain, France & Italy - 3 weeks - August 2013

Jun 16th, 2013, 08:53 AM
  #1  
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Driving the Mediterranean - Spain, France & Italy - 3 weeks - August 2013

Hello Everyone!!!

I’m not new to Fondor’s but this is my very first post here asking for some advices on a 3 weeks trip along Coastal Spain, France and Italy.
We are a total of 3 Brazilians travelling: my mother (50 yo), a girl friend of my mom (50yo) and myself (21 years old). We are looking for picturesque views and major attractions, however avoiding the super touristic places. We also do not want to rush from one place to another.

The major idea of the trip is flying into Barcelona spending 2-3 days there, then renting a car and driving from Barcelona to Florence. Once we get in Florence we will spend another 2-3 days there too, and then take a ferry back to Barcelona. So that means we are mostly driving and flying in and out of Barcelona.
I have already worked on a preliminary schedule, and here is where I would like to hear from the more-experienced travelers if my schedule is good, and perhaps get some insider tips on where to sleep over night while en-route and what places not to miss. Below is our schedule, please let me know your thoughts and opinion:


1st Day - Barcelona
2nd Day - Barcelona
3rd Day - Barcelona/Montpellier - Departure Barcelona and drive to Montpellier
4th Day - Montpellier
5th Day - Montpellier/Lyon - Departure Montpellier and drive to Lyon. (on our way to Lyon we would like to make one stop over and visit cities in the region. We thought about Nimes, Arles or Avignon but we are not sure)
6th Day - Lyon
7th Day - Lyon/Aix-en-Provence - Departure Lyon end of the day
8th Day - Aix-en-Provence
9th Day - Aix-en-Provence/Nice (on our way to Nice we would like to make one stop over and visit cities in the regions. We thought about Marseille, but we are not sure)
10th Day - Nice
11th Day - Nice (day trip to St. Tropez or Fréjus, not sure about yet)
12th Day - Nice (day trips are also possible)
13th Day - Nice/Cinque Terre (on this day we will drive part of the cinque terre and stop over somewhere to sleep and continue the next day, but we are not sure where to stop and sleep)
14th Day - Cinque Terre/Florece
15th Day - Florence
16th Day - Florence (day trips possible)
17th Day - Florence/Barcelona (by ferry boat leaving from Livorno) - the ferry only departures at 23:30, so we can spend the day in Pisa, for exemple, but not sure where to spend the day yet.
18th Day - Mostly on the ferry - we arrive in Barcelona at 20:00
19th Day - Barcelona
20th Day - Barcelona
21st Day - Barcelona (last day, flight back to Brazil)


Here are a few considerantions I would like to make:

- As you may have seen, we are spending a lot of time in Barcelona, this is because most people tell us it is one of the nicest cities in Europe, and we all have never been to Barcelona before. Do you think it will be too much of Barcelona for us?

- Are we missing any must-sees during our Journey? I mean, visiting the wrong places when we should head to other cities?

- I have already been advised to include 2 extra days in Lyon.

- I have also been told to include 1-2 extra days in Aix-en-Provence.


Any advises will be greatly appreciated!

Wishing you all a great European summer

Cheers,
Franco.
francoluigimendes is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 09:07 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 650
First, you are doing the right thing by picking up and dropping off your car in the same city. There are usually incredible surpluses for dropping it off in another country, if they let you do it all.

Second, tell your credit card company where in which countries who will be and what time.

Do not rent the car until you leave Barcelona and drop it off as soon as possible, it is a burden in the city.

Since you are breaking Barcelona into two it is not a lot of time and you will want to see things upon your return. And if you want to go to small towns outside of Barcelona, you could do so before returning to the city.

A car will be burden in Florence and one day in Pisa is about 23 hours more than you need.
BigAleinstein is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 09:39 AM
  #3  
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Hi BigAleinstein,

Thank you for pointing that out. We are definitely not driving in Barcelona. Just picking up the car and driving off and the returning it.

Do you have any idea of other cities we could visit besides Pisa? Maybe we can go somewhere else and then just pass by Pisa, visit the Tower and head to Livorno. I have already visited Pisa in 2009, but my mother and her friend haven't yet, so I thought it would be nice for them to visit.

Btw, does anyone have an estimate of how much we will spend in parking in the major cities like Florence?

Cheers,
Franco.
francoluigimendes is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 09:47 AM
  #4  
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Below is also a link for a map I made with point-to-point stop overs. Red means cities we will sleep over and blue the places we would like to visit as day trips or on the way from one city to another.

Please note that although it shows Genoa on the Map as a sleep-over city, we have already decided to sleep over somewhere in Cinque Terre instead, but still haven't decided where.

https://maps.google.com.br/maps/ms?m...7713,21.643066
francoluigimendes is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 09:50 AM
  #5  
 
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I do not remember how much it cost to park in Florence, last time we did not drive there. I do not like to have cars in cities. In fact another tip is to rent the car in Barcelona near the periphery of the city so you do not have navigae through the city.

Lucca is an interesting town and the town square in Siena is unique. Know when the Palio takes place in Siena to either avoid it or plan to go. San Gimignano is another worthwhile stop.

I suggest you look at Michelin Green guides. There are excellent sources of information. Pisa is better known but these are places are much more interesting.
BigAleinstein is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 10:38 AM
  #6  
ira
 
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Hi F,

Nice plan.

I think that Barcelona is a lovely place to visit.

So is Florence.

Having been to both, I suggest that you take away one day from BCN and add it to FL.

>where to sleep over night <

What is your budget?

ira is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 11:25 AM
  #7  
 
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You can not legally drive in the center of Florence or in many other Italian cities/towns (Lucca, Pisa, Siena, etc.). Larger towns, access is controlled by cameras and tickets are mailed (after they track down the license through the rental company - your rental car will charge you for providing your info to the police). Parking overnight in a facility in Florence will run 35-40€ per night. You will also have to pay to park the other places and take public transport or walk to the centers.
kybourbon is online now  
Jun 16th, 2013, 11:52 AM
  #8  
 
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You usually have to be 25 years or older to hire a car, So I think mum or friend will have to do the driving.
You may also find that hire cars cannot be taken onto any ferry . Check and double check before you book the hire car.
ribeirasacra is offline  
Jun 16th, 2013, 01:12 PM
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I'd re-consider the idea of visiting Lyon with the time you have available. It's a fairly long drive out of your way and given the rest of your plan, you'll only have one day in town. That's just not enough time for a city the size of Lyon with all it has to offer.
RogerM is offline  
Jun 18th, 2013, 06:46 PM
  #10  
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Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for all the answers, I couldn't believe there were so many replies in such a short time.

So, we have decided to over night in La Spezia. Summing it up, Leaving Nice and driving until La Spezia, over night there, the next day we will do a boat trip around 5 Terre and then late afternoon we are heading to Florence.

However, I am very confused with how many days to spend in Lyon, Aix-en-provence and Nice.

In my current schedule we have as follows:

Lyon -> 2 full days (given that we are leaving to Aix-en-provence on the second day very late afternoon, that gives us 2 full days)

Aix-en-provence -> 2 full days (given that we are leaving to Nice on the second day very late afternoon, that gives us 2 full days)

Nice -> 3 full days (we are leaving on the 4th day early in the morning and driving to La Spezia).


That's where I need your help. Do you think that 3 full days in Nice is too much? We are thinking about doing a day trip in one of the days, the other days we have left to explore Nice. How many days do you need to see Nice?

People have told me to spend more time in Lyon and in Aix-en-provence, how many days do you really need in each of this cities?
I know that for Lyon 2 days is pretty short visit, so I am already considering including one extra day, but how about Aix? I have no idea about Aix.

Wishing you all a great day/evening!

Franco.
francoluigimendes is offline  
Jun 19th, 2013, 09:40 AM
  #11  
 
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I don't think you really have time for Lyon. It's the outlier on your itinerary, and you could easily allocate those two days better to Provence or somewhere else.

Do check on rental cars on the ferry. If you had to leave the car in Italy, that would be ridiculously costly. Also check on if you can drive the rental car - my 20-year-old daughter could in Italy for an extra 25E per day, but I don't know about Spain or France.

And forget about parking and driving in Florence and Siena unless you are totally familiar with the zone restrictions.
StCirq is offline  
Jun 19th, 2013, 04:08 PM
  #12  
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Hi StCirq:

I have already checked both with rental car company and ferry company. Ferry company said that there are no restrictions from their side and told me to check with rental company.

I checked with Auto Europe, and they explained that as they work with different carriers, some of them allow and some of them do not allow taking the car on the ferry. I quoted over the phone and they told me that EuropCar allows it and in case my carrier does not permit taking their cars on the ferry they would accommodate us with another carrier that does allow.
Another point is that rental car insurance does not cover any damages that happen in the ferry, but I assume the ferry has an insurance.

I also asked about extra fees for dropping it off in Italy, and even the customer service person agreed with me that the fees are ridiculous, believe it or not, they charge EUR 1.500 extra for a drop off in Italy.

By the way, we will not drive in Florence at all, we will arrive park the car at a parking lot near the airport and take a transfer to our hotel or city center.

Re. drivers under a certain age, or 20-year-old drivers, I assume this will only apply in case we got involved in some sort of accident or make damage to the car. I don't think the police or any authorities would bother if we get pulled over.

Cheers,

Franco.
francoluigimendes is offline  
Jun 19th, 2013, 06:03 PM
  #13  
Hez
 
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I would skip Lyon. It's an ok town, and yes the food is great, but there are certainly many other places along your route (Lyon is out of the way) that would be much better.

Regarding the insurance - do you really want to risk not being covered by insurance? What if you are in an accident and your mother is hurt - the accident is your fault - she spends months in hospital - can you cover that, plus the cost of damage to the cars - or other property - or other people's medical bills. Also I wouldn't be so sure that the police wouldn't care as you would be driving without insurance. In any case, if you would do this that is just irresponsible and downright stupid.
Hez is offline  
Jun 20th, 2013, 02:01 AM
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You have to show your drivers license when you rent the car and if they dont allow people under 25 to rent then you will be out of luck.

'Re. drivers under a certain age, or 20-year-old drivers, I assume this will only apply in case we got involved in some sort of accident or make damage to the car. I don't think the police or any authorities would bother if we get pulled over.'

This has to be about the silliest comment I have seen in a while. Does that mean I can go ahead and break the law and it only matters if I get caught?
jamikins is offline  
Jun 20th, 2013, 02:16 AM
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Yes the police will care about your insurance.

Note that some cities have no-car zones, Florence is a good example, while some Italian cities are just very tricky with cars (tight roads, zero parking). Fees on parking vary by where you want to park I would expect to rack up Euro 10 to 15 for a 24 hour period, but you can pay more and you can pay less
bilboburgler is offline  
Jun 20th, 2013, 06:41 AM
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You are very foolish, as are the adults who are traveling with you, to consider driving in a foreign country without being the insured driver in a rental car. Yes, the agency, the police, everyone involved will care. Please look for an agency that will, for a surcharge, rent to you legally.
socaltraveler is online now  
Jun 20th, 2013, 07:06 AM
  #17  
 
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socal...I was about to write the same thought..ridiculous planning on the part of the OP..that's asking for trouble, a lot of it. Please reconsider. It could put a very heavy damper on your nice trip with Mom. Does mother drive, or her friend?
stu
tower is offline  
Jun 20th, 2013, 07:53 AM
  #18  
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Hi Everyone,

I am sorry, but I think I did not really express what I wanted to say. Both my mom and her friend drive, they have very long experience with driving, since they have done so during their whole life. The only experience I have with car rental in a foreign country was lat year in the US. I took a trip with my boss and although I was not in the insurance policy of the car he let me drove, so that is why I thought this would not be such a big issue. But now after reading your comments, I understand that in case I do need to drive during the trip, I should definitely get coverage.

Peeps, let's say I take Lyon out of our itinerary, what would you suggest around the Provence? Should we spend all extra days in Aix-en-provence?

Thanks again and sorry for writing such a dumb comment before, but I didn't realize it.

Cheers,
francoluigimendes is offline  
Jun 20th, 2013, 09:00 AM
  #19  
 
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>>>I took a trip with my boss and although I was not in the insurance policy of the car he let me drove, so that is why I thought this would not be such a big issue.<<<

What you did was illegal. Do you really think people here are going to tell you it's ok? You are required by the laws of the various countries to have insurance. You are required by the rental contract to be listed if you intend to drive the car at all and have the proper coverage. You are required by law in Italy to have an IDP if you drive. When you are in another country, their laws apply.

If you need a car at all for this trip, you should pick it up across the border in France and drop it in Nice and avoid the drop charges. A car will be a hindrance for most (all?) your itinerary in Italy. All the CT towns are on the train line as are Florence, Livorno, etc.
kybourbon is online now  
Jun 23rd, 2013, 03:33 PM
  #20  
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Hi Kybourbon,

We have reconsidered using the car the whole trip. We will do what you suggested, we will take a train from Barcelona to Perpignan, pick up the car in Perpignan and drop it off in Nice. From Nice we will continue with a train to La Spezia, and then to Firenze. Since we will not need to take the ferry back to Barcelona (thank to not having a car at that moment), we will take a flight to Marrakesh and will visit Marrakesh and Casablanca.

Cheers,
francoluigimendes is offline  

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