Provence: To rent or not not rent a car

Old Oct 19th, 2011, 10:55 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 59
Provence: To rent or not not rent a car

Over 4 full days, we want to be able to see:
Must see’s:
Avignon (1 day)
Arles (1 day)
Want to see:
St Remy de Provence
Would be nice to see:
Fontaine de Vacluese
Pont du Gard

If we make Avignon our base, Arles can be reached directly by train. So making Avignon our base takes care of the 2 full days. The other 2 days are the ones up for grabs.
If we are not renting a car at all (or if we only want to rent for the 2 days), then Avignon is the best option.
In a perfect world: if we had a car, I would’ve preferred to make Aix the base when visiting the Luberon villages, but Aix is further south (looks like at least an additional 45 min. drive…)
we are so confused on what to do.
Advantages of having a rental car for the entirety of our trip: flexibility, cheaper than tours and transfers, more time to spend Iinthe villages
Disadvantages: possibly more stress in finding parking in the cities (Avignon, Arles) and bigger towns, gas refills, and possible delays when returning the rental car on our departure date
Bobby_Tulio is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2011, 11:21 AM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 126
I think your answer is contained in your first three must-sees: Gordes would be very difficult to visit without a car. I am sure there are buses from Avignon to Gordes, but you would spend a ton of time to and from.

Your first instinct is correct – no car for Avignon and Arles, then get a car for the two days remaining. Most (if not all) of your want-to-sees really require a car for timely access.

With only four days in Provence, you can't afford to waste time waiting for bus or train.

I personally might be tempted to get the car for three days (skipping only your day in Avignon), allowing you to swing through St. Remy on your way to Arles, thus freeing up time on day 3 or 4. There is lots of parking just outside the walls of Avignon, so depending on where your hotel is there, you might find it easy to park during the evenings. Certainly ask your hotel about parking.

Finally, be cheered – the towns/villages on your want and would be nice lists are mostly easy to get around in and fairly easy to park in. You just don't have a lot of destinations that involve heavy traffic and consequent headaches.
Geonev is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2011, 11:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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A two-day car rental will cost as much as, possibly more than, a three-day rental. You definitely don't want a car for Avignon, but I would rent one for the next three days. Getting into and out of Arles isn't that bad if it's not market day, and there's always parking by the cathedral.

Four days is a very, very short time and you don't want to spend it fussing with bus and train schedules and schlepping from stations to the sites you want to see.

If you get a diesel, the only gas refill you'll need is just before returning the car. I don't understand about delays in returning the car - it's never that long unless you wrecked the car, and it's something everyone just factors into the last-day schedule.
StCirq is online now  
Old Oct 19th, 2011, 11:43 AM
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and you need a small car to visit the beautiful villages
to catch the real Provence.
cigalechanta is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2011, 11:51 AM
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A car is pretty necessary for the villages and countryside, not at all necessary for the cities. When I've rented cars in Provence, I did not stay in hotels in the big cities, at least not in the center of them. Just don't do that. Once I stayed in a very nice country inn just outside of Aix on the N7 (Mas d'Entremont) and so I could easily drive into town to visit Aix for the day (I had maps and knew where the public garages were on the edges and I also know French which helps with signs and asking directions, if necessary). But since it was really outside Aix proper and in the NW direction, it was a good location for drivign trips on the days I did not want to be in the city.

I have never stayed right in or on the edges of Avignon with a car (although there are certainly some hotels on the outskirts of it, I almost did once at the Auberge de Cassagne in Pontet (just to NE of Avignon).

So that's my tactic, if I do stay in cities in Provence, I find a place just outside it. It is stressful finding parking in the cities, as I said, I kind of know my way around and understand the parking situation in these areas and had good maps and planned ahead. Avignon is actually pretty easy, there is a big garage just off the highway going along the river and underneath the main square. Although, in peak season, it gets very full and one day after driving around and around I really thought I was not going to get a place in there although I finally got one. But it was very possible I would not have.
That place I stayed to the NW of Aix wouldn't be too bad for your plans and visiting the Luberon, although you are right, Aix is not the best location for that. I didn't do that when I was staying there, I was visiting Montagne Ste Victoire and the area below the Durance. I moved to Pernes-les-Fontaine to visit the Luberon and Vaucluse, that's a very good central location for seeing a lot of things in that area and on a main road but a small town.

If you find gas refills a big problem or delays in returning the car, maybe car rental isn't for you. I don't understand the problem with gas refills, are you concerned about cost? If you get a small car (which you should), you shouldn't be using that much gas. I rent automatics in Provence and still don't use that much gas as they are small and the distances aren't that far. it's not a major cost in my book compared to everythign else. And you just have to plan to book the time into your schedule for the car return as it can take some time, perhaps even to find the correct place to return it. So you do have to do that, that is true. But you'd have to use up extra time without a car if you need to wait for buses or whatever to see some of the things you want.
Christina is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2011, 05:38 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2011
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My wife and I really appreciate your comments. We'll probably have more to ask later on.
Bobby_Tulio is offline  
Old Oct 20th, 2011, 07:20 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
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I agree that auto would be needed with the time-frame you have.

We took a one-day van tour out of Aix with Rendez-vous Provence and saw the following:
Fontaine de Vacluese

We ate in Gordes and had time to walkabout in Rousillon and Lourmarin. This was in 2008 so do double-check schedules:
TDudette is offline  
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