Via Michelin drive times?

Nov 6th, 2006, 05:50 PM
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Via Michelin drive times?

Hi Fodorites,

I'm starting to plan (and overplan) a trip to France in late March, early April. This will be my first time driving in France, and of course I want to see about a million places in the limited time I have.

I've been consulting various routes on the Via Michelin website. Are the times listed reliable or do they tend to underestimate how long it takes to get from Point A to Point B?

Also, I've read here that it's important to get a car with a real trunk. Have also read don't get a car that's too big. The small models I've seen on autoeurope and kemwel are hatchbacks.

Thanks for any and all advice.
Leely is offline  
Nov 6th, 2006, 06:01 PM
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My experience of France is that the roads are good and by and large no big traffic jams at the time of year you are going. I don't know where you live, but to me it is like driving around New England in terms of estimating driving times. You know that once you get on a highway you can make time, a country road is going to have more curves and be slower and that driving into a city or town means traffic and finding parking.

If you know the miles (or kilometers) between your destinations, you should be able to estmate your driving time. If you like to stop and take pictures, toss in another half-hour to an hour.

nessundorma is offline  
Nov 6th, 2006, 06:13 PM
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Hi Leely. The issue of Michelin driving times has come up here before, and if I recollect properly, there wasn't really a consensus on their accuracy. From my experience, they're very close if most of your route is on an autoroute. On other highways, I find it usually takes me a bit longer than they suggest. As an example, if Michelin says a route will take 110 minutes, I assume I will need about 120 minutes. Mind you, all that will go out the window if you run into a detour or catch up to a crocodile of 12 cars following a farm tractor on a windy road.

Trunks? Most hatchbacks have a panel that hides whatever you're carrying in the back. We've zoomed around very happily in Golf and Mégane-sized hatchbacks with a 24 inch and a 22 inch suitcase, plus carry-on luggage. If there are only two of you in the car, you should be fine with something that size.

AnselmAdorne is online now  
Nov 6th, 2006, 06:14 PM
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If you are doing highway driving, the times are more or less accuate. However, I suggest you add in extra time, if you are using minor roads or your route takes you through towns - hitting a town during market day can slow you down a lot. Driving times also vary with the time of day and day of the week you travel.

Yes, if you intend to travel with luggage in a car, definately get a car with a trunk - too tempting for robbers if they can see your baggage. Tip: When parking, chose a parking sort where you can reverse the car up against a wall, so thieves can't prise the boot open.

Regarding size of car, I would say the opposite. I rented an economy once and couldn't stand it - no power on the highways for overtaking and sluggish when gtrying to climb up to steep hill towns. Get at least a compact car. I have now decided to rent mid-size cars - really great speed on the highways and plenty of power. I have had no problem driving through small towns. Parking is neither here nor there, as I am completely incapable of parallel parking ANY size of car . However, never accept a station-wagon.
OReilly is offline  
Nov 6th, 2006, 06:19 PM
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It depends on how fast you drive - which may be a function of how unfamiliar you are with the car, how powerful the car is and what kind of road it is (it's always easy to make time on a major highway, difficult if it's a local road you don;t know).

We have found that the times on Via Michelin are too long - but then, we drive fast. Also - be sure to give yourself time for a stop every couple of hours - to stretch your legs if nothing else.

we have never found a place in europe where roads were too small for a normal sized car (but you do need to be able to parallel park in a small space). but it is easy to get a car that's underpowred - esp if you'll be doing any mountains.

We always go for mid size or larger - with the biggest engine we can get. (Yes - I know they use more gas - but that's so little in the overall cost of the vacation why spend it in a little putt-putt?)
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 6th, 2006, 06:57 PM
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I would say allot time for the possibility of getting lost finding your way to the autoroute where your viamichelin clock starts ticking.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Nov 7th, 2006, 08:26 AM
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Hi L,

We've been reasonably happy with both and

You can compare them.

For cars, we like the compacts - VW Golf, Peugeot 307, Renault Megane, etc.

ira is offline  
Nov 7th, 2006, 09:03 AM
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Thank you all so much for the prompt responses. It helps because I'm a little worried I might be creating an overly ambitious itinerary.

Midsize okay. Hatchback not the end of the world but no luggage on the seat. And viamichelin times more or less okay. Got it.

Funny that the people who have responded have all, in one way or another, helped me shape this trip. Ger, your mad dashes are an inspiration for someone who likes to sightsee fast and furious. Ira, I've been studying your Dordogne/Lot trip report. Anselm, I'm trying to choose a Paris hotel in "your" neighborhood (Bastille/Marais or thereabouts). nytraveler and nessundorma and hopingtotravel, I have read many of your posts and am overwhelmed by your expertise.

Gaw, I sound unctuous, don't I? Well, it is election day after all.

Thanks again!

Leely is offline  
Nov 7th, 2006, 09:18 AM
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My experience with Via Michelin; 1) for The Netherlands and Germany: way understimated, 2) for France, right on the money, 3) For Spain, often outdated information, 4) for Sweden. still sketchy info. Overall rating as a planner: C+.
Viajero2 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2006, 10:07 AM
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My experience (October 2006) with viamichelin in France was that the directions were very good. The drive times were overestimated for drives on the Autoroute. They assumed about 110kph when actual road speeds were 140kph average.

As for hatchbacks vs. sedans... all of the hatches are covered (I was driving a VW Golf), so no issue there.
astein12 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2006, 10:12 AM
Join Date: May 2006
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<<<They assumed about 110kph when actual road speeds were 140kph average.<<<
Except that the maximum legal speed is 130 kmh (and 110 in case of rain or fog)
norween is offline  
Nov 7th, 2006, 10:18 AM
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I agree... but realistically, 140kph and even 150 - 160kph was the going speed in the left lane (at least on the A6 and A7).
astein12 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2006, 10:31 AM
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Leely, we just came within a hair's breadth of renting an apartment on boulevard Henri IV in February, which would be right in that area we've come to know. In the end we decided on a place near Palais Royal in the 1st, so now I have an entirely new area to fall in love with. I'll write a trip report next March.

Safe travels.

AnselmAdorne is online now  
Nov 7th, 2006, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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For France, the viamichelin driving times are 100% accurate. All you have to add is stopping time for meals or breaks. And the toll amounts (if you foolishly use toll roads) are also 100% accurate.
kerouac is online now  
Nov 7th, 2006, 11:49 AM
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Anselm, the 1st? That should be very interesting. I look forward to reading about it.

I think I'm just going to make a reservation at Hotel de la Place des Vosges. Very little about it on this board, but that's a very convenient location for me, close to a lot of what I like to walk to. Hotel Bretonnerie only had their charming rooms available, more than I wanted to spend. And Jeanne d'Arc only has tiny rooms available, paradoxically less than I was planning on spending.

kerouac, you must work for via Michelin.

My tentative plan is to drive from northern Burgundy to somewhere in the Dordogne. Tour the area, drop the car and train back to Paris for Easter weekend. Probably crazy, but I have wanted to see Vezelay, Auxerre, Abbaye de Fontenay AND Castelnaud, Sarlat, et al for quite a while.
Leely is offline  
Nov 7th, 2006, 02:11 PM
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If there are only two of you, a Renault Clio or similar size might do. Speed limits are being enforced in France, and I can't say that I have had problems with the Clio or the Peugeot 206 being underpowered. But I always drive a standard shift and I know how to down shift.
Michael is online now  
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