Driving to cities in Provence

Jun 9th, 2003, 07:01 AM
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Driving to cities in Provence

Author: sandypaws3
Date: 06/09/2003, 09:43 am
Message: My husband and I are considering a trip to Paris & Provence next spring. The plan would be to take the TGV from Paris to Avignon, and then, rent a car in Avignon and drive to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, maybe St. Remy and any spots along the way. However, I read on one site that Aix is difficult to drive in. Has anyone driven to Aix and/or to these other towns? My husband would be driving, and he's a little concerned already, just because of the differences in driving in France. He doesn't mind the thought of out of town driving as much, but he's a little worried about driving into the cities. Has anyone taken a similar trip? If so, how did you find the driving in Aix, in particular?

Best regards,

sandypaws3 is offline  
Jun 9th, 2003, 07:21 AM
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My husband was the same way but now he's a seasoned driver, no longer timid. First be sure to rent the car from the states. it's much cheaper. We drove to Aix. Our hotel had parking so we left the car there as we explored the city and walked to dinner (Clos de violette) abit of a walk but enjoyable seeing another quiter Aix. Arles was worse. Trying to leave the hotel that was on the forum, was tricky.
cigalechanta is offline  
Jun 9th, 2003, 07:24 AM
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Driving in Aix is not as much the problem as parking. Just park on a wide street somewhere and walk--otherwise you get on streets that are 3/4 the width of your car.
There are MANY wonderful places to drive in Provence. Get the Michelin map of Provence and map away. And if I never go to Aix again, it may be too soon. More interesting and charming places to my way of thinking. Driving in France is not difficult. Just be aware that when you come to an intersection you must know the next town you are seeking, not the number of the road. They deal in "direction Aix".
Gretchen is offline  
Jun 9th, 2003, 07:29 AM
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Hi Sandy,

I spent a week in Aix a few years ago and only drove early in the morning or late in the afternoon (going and coming back from day trips). The driving was fine. There's a one-way road around the old quarter (pedestrian only) so if you miss the street you need to turn onto you just drive around again (did that a few times!). Getting in and out of town was no problem - good signage. Mostly in Aix you park your car and walk around - everything is either in the old quarter or just a few minutes' walk outside.

The only nervous breakdown I had was the first day I drove there (after a flight from the US and a connection from Paris so completely tired), looking for the street I wanted. I was with my mother and she wasn't helping find the street so I was on my own. It turned out that the only street sign was on a building and faced away from the traffic so it couldn't be seen from a car! To compound the problem, I couldn't figure out how to reverse the car! Finally found the street (and asked a passerby how to find reverse) and anything after that was a breeze.

adrienne is offline  
Jun 9th, 2003, 08:20 AM
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Drove thru Provence last summer without any problem except for Arels. I will never drive ther again. Otherwise, there are no cities that were difficult as long as you have a city map (got it at our hotel) and have a sense of direction. A;ways look for key landmarks.

Great trip. Have a good time.

davidj is offline  
Jun 9th, 2003, 09:10 AM
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cigalechanta is offline  
Jun 21st, 2003, 10:48 PM
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Thanks to all who answered my question about driving in Provence! Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner...think we may avoid Arles

sandypaws3 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 12:15 AM
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Aix has car parks on the edge of the old town.

Best to use them !

mpprh is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 05:11 AM
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In Aix we stayed at a hotel on the outskirts of town - no charm but it made day trips a breeze. Then to go into Aix it was a five minute drive to the car parks (mentioned above) - and then very easy to walk everywhere. There are some sections of the old town that do allow cars and driving there is a big mistake - otherwise it was great. We did the same thing with Avignon. The rest of the towns we went to were all smaller and very easy to drive and park in (or around).
isabel is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 05:24 AM
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We had no trouble driving in Southern France. Don't miss Aix, we were there on market day in August and we found a parking spot. Do watch for pickpockets at the market. The only problem we had was traffic at the beaches on weekends, but it was summer.
judya is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 07:10 AM
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Sandypaws3 - If someone who doesn't own a car, nor had driven in more than 5-years can do 1,000 miles through Provence and Languedoc, then anyone can.

Get a copy of Michelin #245 (yellow) map which is excellent.

Some people complain about driving in Aix (which really doesn't warrant more than 2-days), but like other posters mentioned, park your car and walk. Generally, there is one road that goes around town. We also stayed at hotel in northern part of Aix center, left our car at hotel lot and walked about the city. Aix is also at the furthest end of Provence, closer to Marseille.

In Avignon, parking was a horror, so we parked car in garage above train station and walked around the old city.

Arles, was terrible until we found a spot outside walls of old town, but once we did, we walked all around. Arles is also a bit difficult depending on from where you're entering as if on the Peage (freeway) there is a confusing interchange where all roads meet and you'd better know which one you want.

St. Remy is easy, it's small and there are exits from town going N,E,S,W around the town circle, and the best place to base yourself.

Just map out your route, so you know what signs to be looking for, start early in the day - and if we could do it, anyone can. Besides, Spring is still early enough that there might not be as many tourists. Overall, we had No Problems!

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