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Driving to Provence in July - Pick up car in Nice or Aix?

Driving to Provence in July - Pick up car in Nice or Aix?

Apr 25th, 2011, 08:45 AM
  #1  
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Driving to Provence in July - Pick up car in Nice or Aix?

I've got the option to pick up my rental car in either of these cities and here are the points I am weighing ...
1. Staying in Nice, so ideal pick-up. Will take A8 -- wonder what traffic will be like on that Cote d'Azur stretch this time of year.
2. Alternate route out of Nice via Dignes les Bains, Forcalquier etc. Scenic road - what's the drive like? More or less traffic than the A8 in July (Bastille Day weekend)
3. Can take train to Aix, thus bypassing the Cote d'Azur traffic. Worthwhile option?
Thanks everybody!
296vancouver is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 09:34 AM
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Bastille Day weekend in France is a nightmare , no matter what you do you will encounter lots of traffic on the roads... I would probably advise you to train to Aix and pick the car up there then try to stay in touch with the traffic situation on autoroutes via radio if poss or GPS or internet. Depends on where you want to go after Aix , but you can probably meander on small roads through Provence if you are not in too much of a hurry. Whatever you do stay away from the A7 during the weekend and on days when people are starting or finishing their holidays...Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays...just not worth the hassle. By the way book your train now if you take one
voyages-sncf.com the tickets get really expensive close to the time
Anny_Kerr is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 09:45 AM
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Which day of the week-end would this be ? That can make a big difference...

- Kevin
kevin_widrow is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 10:21 AM
  #4  
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Hi guys - well I tentatively planned to pick up the car Monday the 18th simply to avoid that long Bastille Day weekend. But I am really just guessing as to whether Monday will be substantively different from driving on Saturday or Sunday. I checked the car rental office opening times -- 8 am is the earliest - which I don't think is really early enough to beat the traffic. Then I thought about picking it up Sunday evening instead- that would entail traipsing out to the airport, and then finding a hotel in Nice with free parking (prob an airport hotel), all so I can leave 6 am-ish Monday. Don't know if it's worth the bother.

Anny, I'll be eventually heading to Apt area, a simple drive from Aix, which is how I came up with the idea of picking up in Aix anyway. I looked at the map and saw I could drive north to Pertuis. From there, I could either go west through Cadenet, Bonnieux etc or go northeast to visit Manosque and Forcalquier, then back southwest to Apt area, depending on my mood
296vancouver is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 10:49 AM
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Since the 14th is a Thursday, lots of French will be taking off the 15th as well to make a 4-day week-end. The vast majority of them will be heading back home on Sunday. Monday should be fine for driving the autoroute from Nice to Aix. So I'd certainly not bother with the Sunday evening idea.

I personally wouldn't train it to Aix. It's not a quick train ride and once you are done with the getting to teh train station in Nice, the train trip and picking up the rental car, you could already have made it to Apt.

Plus, while I'm generally not a big fan of highway driving, the A8 from Nice to Aix is actually pretty scenic and an easy drive.

-Kevin
kevin_widrow is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 06:33 PM
  #6  
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What's your feeling about option #2 on a Monday?
296vancouver is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 09:51 PM
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Option #2 would be a great choice assuming: a) you have most of the day to do it and b) you don't mind small, winding mountainous roads.

I'd recommend heading from Nice to Grasse and then to Moustiers via the Gorge du Verdon. It will be crowded for sure and slow going, but that's OK as you wouldn't want to drive quickly anyway and will want to stop for photo ops often. Moustiers is, despite being quite touristy, a lovely village and will make a great (much needed) stop along the way. From there, no need to head all the way up to Digne. You get head to Manosque and then on to Apt. Along that route, go via Valensole, which is up on a plateau filled with field after field of lavender. From Manosque, it's a relatively easy and very beautiful drive at the base of the Luberon to Apt.

This make for a truly lovely day of driving, with the emphasis on LOVELY and DAY...

-Kevin
kevin_widrow is offline  
Apr 26th, 2011, 03:39 AM
  #8  
 
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Official peak traffic dates : http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB2...pic.php?t=3875

Avoid the worst weekends and the traffic is busy but bearable.

Peter
mpprh is offline  
Apr 26th, 2011, 08:19 AM
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Interesting mpprh. I guess I'll have a couple of tough weekends. Are these figures for the autoroutes or the roads in general?
296vancouver is offline  
Apr 26th, 2011, 08:23 AM
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Just noticed your last post, Kevin! That's a good idea to go through Manosque. I figure I could leave around 9 am after getting the rental car (allowing for the inevitable delays in doing so) and then take the day to drive up. I'll have to google Manosque, as I am all about the lavender! I was also curious about that route because I'll obviously be able to take in the eastern part of Provence, which I might not get to otherwise, and I've only got 4 days total.
296vancouver is offline  
Apr 26th, 2011, 08:28 AM
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Vancouver,

Do I understand that you are planning to pick up the car at Nice Airport on a summer weekend? Even if you are picking up on Monday, you can expect at least an hour's wait unless you are a)flying in the front of the plane, b) on the first plane of the morning, and c) really fast of foot. Even though it is a bit slow getting out of town, we have found that taking a taxi to the train station and picking up the car there is far less stressful than picking up at the airport. Of course, once you are at the train station you might just as well take the train to Aix.
Jeff801 is offline  
Apr 26th, 2011, 11:55 AM
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296 -

The best lavender viewing over in that neck of the woods is on the plateau around Valensole. It's a small detour when going from Moustiers to Manosque, but well worth it.

-Kevin
kevin_widrow is offline  
Apr 26th, 2011, 10:36 PM
  #13  
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Jeff - actually I'll be picking up the car in one of their downtown locations. They open at 8 am; of course, if they don't have the automatic I ordered, I might have a wait (cue Seinfeld to the car rental agent, "See, you know how to TAKE the reservation; you just don't know how to HOLD the reservation, and the HOLDING, that's the important part, the HOLDING).

I'll be staying downtown, so it's just more convenient, and I also haven't got those 38E location fees either.

Kevin - thanks, I'll check it out. I still haven't given up on my dream of finding a horseback riding place to take me romping through fields of wild lavender (an idea I ventured on another post. It got pooh-poohed, but I am ever hopeful. I understand there is some riding around Forcalquier too.
If you think of anything, I'd love to hear it.
296vancouver is offline  
Apr 28th, 2011, 08:32 AM
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Thanks everybody for your help with this route!
296vancouver is offline  
Apr 28th, 2011, 12:07 PM
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296 -

I remember that post and apologize for not responding. I think it's easily doable. I've certainly seen plenty of folks galloping through the lavender over the years...

Try this outfit near Viens http://tinyurl.com/5vz2qdb - we had a guest once who did a tour with them and came back raving.

Since Viens is right in the middle of lavender country, I bet this might work for you.

-Kevin
kevin_widrow is offline  
Apr 28th, 2011, 12:39 PM
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Kevin, thanks for the encouragement! I googled Christian's name a bit and guess what -- this is the same guy, apparently, who leads the rides I posted photos of (to the non-believers of the first post). Yeah! And there they are. Bookmarked. And great location on that road between Forcalquier and Apt! http://www.provence-luberon-news.com...x/(view)/album
296vancouver is offline  
Apr 29th, 2011, 05:24 AM
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296-

Yep, that's an area where I have done tons of hiking over the years. It's drop dead gorgeous. Now that I think about it, there are plenty of hiking/riding trails around there which go right by field after field of lavender. No paved roads either, so every time I've been, I basically had the fields to myself. Good luck getting things organized. If you need a hand with the French, send me an email...

- Kevin
kevin_widrow is offline  
Apr 29th, 2011, 08:48 AM
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Cool Kevin,
I've been taxing my high school French (and no doubt butchering the grammar) instead of using google translate, but so far I have been understandable to them.

I emailed Christian although I might need to try again - filled in the fields, pressed send, but after processing it bounced me back to the empty form again. I think my French translated to something like "I would like to know if you can take me through fields of lavender on a horse" I can only hope he thinks it's quaint LOL.
296vancouver is offline  

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