Liguria to Cote d'Azur: Road or Rail?

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Apr 3rd, 2005, 11:16 PM
  #1
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Liguria to Cote d'Azur: Road or Rail?

I've finally settled on Santa Margherita Ligure for the Italian portion of my vacation, and probably Villefranche-sur-mer or Beaulieu-sur-mer as a base for the French part.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to get between the two. I read that there's a high-speed Italian train that goes to Beaulieu-sur-mer, but I haven't been able to figure that out on the trenitalia website. All I see are slow trains that take many hours to make the trip.

However, the viamichelin website says it takes only 2 hours and 20 minutes to drive between the two places. Could that be true? I was planning to rent a car in France anyway, and I'd be happy to rent it in Italy instead, if an international car rental isn't a problem. I like driving, and this looks like it could be a nice ride.

Can anyone provide any tips? Should I take the train? If so, which one? Should I drive? If so, what do I need to know about internation car rentals? I notice, for example, that Hertz has branches in both towns. Are there hidden complexities to the process, or is it as simple as renting a car in Cleveland and returning it in Pittsburgh? Finally, if I'm going to drive, can anyone recommend a particular route?

This will be in late June, by the way.

Thanks in advance!
medhead is offline  
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Apr 4th, 2005, 12:08 AM
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There are no high-speed Italian trains to Beaulieu. The fastest trains on this route are inter city trains which take nearly three hours from Genova to Monaco. The trains pass through Beaulieu and Villefranche as they go on to Nice, but do not stop: you have to change to a local train to get to Beaulieu or Villefranche. From Santa Margherita, you also have to change trains at Genova.
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Apr 4th, 2005, 12:11 AM
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Even with Hertz, when you pick up in country X and drop off in Y there usually is an extra charge of around 100 euros (check site).

One thing people should consider too is the risk of accident on the roads, especially Italy. Unless you have paid the maximum collision damage options (very expensive), you may be required to pay a lot of money (like the value of the car) on your credit card on the spot!

Or worse, you might wind up in a hospital somewhere...I don't want to be negative, but I have driven a lot in Italy, and it is not like Kansas, toto.

If you are just going from A to B and not planning on making a lot of stops in between, then the rail option is pretty efficient. It is a little slow getting to Genoa and I think you may have to change trains at the Monaco border, but in general it's fun, you observe life, and get there safely.

A car in France for me is a very good idea, and I have much less trepidation about risks in the south of France. Ciao, Rouss
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Apr 4th, 2005, 03:04 AM
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Hmm. Another option would be to take a train to Nice and rent the car there. Is there a faster train that will take me to Nice? I'm having trouble even finding that on the trenitalia website.
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Apr 4th, 2005, 03:20 AM
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It looks like the fastest trip to Nice (which requires a change in Genoa) takes about 4 hours and 14 minutes; it doesn't take too much longer to get to Villefranche.

Since you are having trouble checking schedules on the Trenitalia site you might try using the GermanRail site instead:

http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en
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Apr 4th, 2005, 05:39 AM
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We did this trip in reverse last summer. I think the fastest way would be to take a taxi from Santa Margherita to Genoa, then get on the Genoa- Nice train. This train runs a couple of times a day, and is about a 3 hour trip.

From Nice, you could take a taxi to Beaulieu ( about 20 minutes) or the local train ( also about 20 minutes).

A last thing: Although you didn't ask for an opinion, I'm just wondering how you settled on Beaulieu? We stayed there a few years ago, and found it very very quiet, actually a little boring. If I were to choose, I'd pick between Villefranche and Nice itself.
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Apr 4th, 2005, 01:33 PM
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Thanks, all. Weadles, I haven't actually decided on Beaulieu yet, or even Villefranche, (though I'd better do so very soon!) But those two were emerging as the favorites. I'll count yours as a vote against Beaulieu.

It seems that Weadles' idea of taking a taxi to Genoa, a train to Nice, and then renting the car there would be the fastest option that doesn't require driving in Italy. But driving through Italy would be so much faster and simpler... I find myself wondering again if it's really as bad as roussillon warns. I mean, I normally drive in New York. Sure, it could be worse in Italy, but would it really be so much worse that I couldn't steer clear of other cars on a highway? I'll admit that fear of Italian driving was one reason why I decided not to drive from Rome to Liguria even though that meant missing the opportunity for a lightning-quick stop in Tuscany. I wasn't at all keen to deal with Roman sprawl from behind the wheel (plus, I wanted to catch a nap on the train in preparation for some serious hiking).

So, are there any other thoughts on the driving-all-the-way-from-Liguria option? Will I really end up in a hospital somewhere? Isn't driving through the Italian countryside kind of a standard vacation mode?
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Apr 4th, 2005, 11:56 PM
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I wasn't trying to be voice of doom. I think if you had a car in Italy, and then drove up to Portofino, then into the foothills around Asti and poked around Italy, checked out the 2006 winter Olympic sites , and slid down into France, that way it is a great trip. But then it takes a lot longer...did you check out the dropoff charge? It is probably as much as the train fares...and did Michelin give the tolls...not a cheap route.

I love Italy as much as France! But when we have distance to cover going through big cities, we usually stick to trains.

BTW, did you know that if you rent a car in France(or other western European countries, you are NOT covered for theft/damage in Italy because it is specifically excluded...and none of the other European countries are treated like that...must be some reason...

Enjoy your trip whatever you decide. Rouss







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Apr 27th, 2005, 08:46 AM
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We just did the reverse trip a few weeks ago, from Cannes to S. Margherita. Because there was a 500-euro drop-off fee for renting in France and returning in Italy, we took a train (2 actually) from Cannes to San Remo and rented a car there. We had initially planned to use the trains throughout the trip, from Cannes to Rome. A friend at the last minute suggested I didn't, and I'm glad he did.

I definitely vote car for a few reasons. First, the short time we were on the trains was not enjoyable to say the least. Of course we had too much luggage which was a big problem, but if you do not speak the language, the schedules, terminals, and transfers can be difficult to figure. Secondly, the drive was one of the most enjoyable parts of our trips. We did not find it difficult in Italy. The cities, yes, but on the Autostrada it was very nice. You are up on the hill with an absolutely beautiful view of the coast nearly the whole way. The signage is also very easy to follow.

If you are not planning day trips, however, you may just want to bite the bullet and take the train anyway. We really enjoyed the freedom the car gave us, and we felt much more in control.

As far as renting, we rented through AutoEurope, which is a broker, who rented using Europcar.
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Apr 27th, 2005, 10:05 AM
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In late June, traffic is a big problem along the coastal areas in Italy and France. I think you'd find it less stressful to take the train from Genoa-Nice, then pick up a car if necessary. I do want to add, however, that if you base in Nice or Villefranche for example, you can rely on buses and trains to get you almost anywhere you want to go on the Riveria.
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