France Roadtrip Itinerary

Old Nov 26, 17, 2:59 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 52
France Roadtrip Itinerary

My wife and I are planning a summer road trip thru France. See below for tentative itinerary:

- Arrive from Chicago and spend 2 nights in Paris (have gone to Paris for the past 3 years thus 2 nights should be suffice as we just plan on a bit of shopping and going to a few favorite cafes/restaurants)
- Pickup rental car and drive to the Champagne region. Spend 1 night in either Reims or Epernay
- Drive to Burgundy and spend 2 nights in Burgundy/Loire Valley (we're big fans of French Pinot Noirs thus would like to go to a couple vineyards)
- Drive to Provence and spend 2 nights in Provence (like to check out some of the small towns, wife is a big fan of Rose, etc.)
- Drive to Nice and drop off rental car then spend 4 nights in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
- Fly out of Nice back to Chicago

Couple of questions:
- How is driving in France? We live in Chicago and have previously driven throughout Italy thus a little traffic doesn't scare us however I've read mixed reviews of driving. How's the parking situation?
- What would the preferred car rental be? We used Avis in Italy however we weren't thrilled with the car.
- Anyone have any must see vineyards to check out in Burgundy? What would be the ideal place to stay in the region?
- What are some must see sights in Provence?
- Are there any must see sights along the way to any of these destinations?

Thanks in advance.
kajonesbu is offline  
Old Nov 26, 17, 7:30 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Australia
Programs: NZ *G
Posts: 5,728
Originally Posted by kajonesbu View Post

Couple of questions:
- How is driving in France? We live in Chicago and have previously driven throughout Italy thus a little traffic doesn't scare us however I've read mixed reviews of driving. How's the parking situation?
- What would the preferred car rental be? We used Avis in Italy however we weren't thrilled with the car.
- Anyone have any must see vineyards to check out in Burgundy? What would be the ideal place to stay in the region?
- What are some must see sights in Provence?
- Are there any must see sights along the way to any of these destinations?

Thanks in advance.
OK... Ive had a car twice there...and found driving in France pretty straightforward (once I got used to the left hand drive manual car! - The Left hand drive won't bother you lol.... )
If you can cope with Chicago and Italy I don't think France will bother you. Note I have NOT driven in Paris.
I rented through Europcar both times. Was very pleased with one car... satisfied with the other.

Two things. Ensure you have GPS (I take my own to avoid the rental rip off)
WATCH YOUR SPEED! Rural France has (mainly) a 90 kmh speed limit. And plenty of fixed and mobile speed cameras.
Fortunately - by Aussie standards - the ONE speeding fine I got (lol) was very cheap. 45 Euros.
trooper is offline  
Old Nov 27, 17, 2:06 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Paris, France
Programs: United, TAP Victoria, AVIOS
Posts: 458
For car rentals, I would check Autoeurope. Be sure to read all Terms & Conditions. With AE you will have a 24 hour hotline for assistance in English, unlimited miles, and a fair rental price. There is a 40€ fee, not included in the contract price, for picking up at either a train station or airport. You can save money by picking up at a nearby, in town office. For rental insurance, American Express has excellent primary coverage for as little as $25 per rental periods.

Make yourself generally familiar with French driving laws to include yielding to traffic on the right. Know the speed limits - there are probably thousands of speed cameras operating in France and it can be very easy to be caught. Basically it´s 50kph in any town (the town sign should also be acknowledged as the speed change point) and 90kph outside of towns.

Unfortunately, 10 or 11 days is not sufficient time to visit Paris, the Champagne region, Burgundy, the Loire Valley, Provence, and the Côte d´Azur. That would be a very rushed 3 or 4 week itinerary. I would suggest upon leaving Paris, that you take the TGV to Dijon (or Beaune connecting in Dijon) for 2 nights. That would give you 1 full day touring wineries and I would only do that with someone who can get you access to properties. Burgundy does not lend itself for do-it-yourself visits. I would contact the Dijon Office de Tourisme of the Beaune Office de Tourisme for guide recommendations.

The following morning I would rent a car and drive to Avignon for 3 nights. If you absolutely must have a car with automatic transmission, it might be difficult to find one in either Dijon or Beaune. Manual transmissions are standard in France and smaller rental locations generally do not stock them. You could spend 10 days touring western Provence easily, you will have 2 full days. It will be rushed but with good organization and with a keen sense of where it is you want to go, you can still cover a lot of ground. I recommend the Michelin Green guide for Provence which will give you suggested driving itineraries and prioritize places to visit. I would contact the Avignon Office de Tourisme for additional information.

From Avignon, I would take to autoroute to Nice if you wanted to drop the car there. For route planning purposes, I would consult Michelin or Mappy. Google maps are overly optimistic about driver times and the other sources give you more complete information.
Tamino is offline  
Old Nov 27, 17, 8:12 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: UK
Programs: too many
Posts: 361
Sounds like a lot of driving in a few days to be honest. I'd forget about Paris and have a couple of extra days in Burgundy
->Driving in Paris is a nightmare now, so I would advise to take your rental in CDG after your stay in Paris, then drive to Reims or Epernay. They were doing tours of the Laurent-Perrier wineyard a decade ago, not sure whether it's still the case.
->Check with Europcar, they do cheap one-ways sometimes. Otherwise I'd go with Avis
->Driving in France is fine unless you go on a holiday weekend, in the summer around Bastille day and the first& last weekend of July and August, roads will be a total nightmare around Paris and other major cities.
->Speed limits: 130km/h on the highways, 90 on local "Departementale or Nationale" roads, 30-50 km/h in the cities. Do rent a car with GPS and ensure maps are up to date
ng1265 is offline  
Old Nov 28, 17, 1:28 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Denver CO
Posts: 3,654
I would take a train out of Paris and rent your car when you get to the Champage region.

You should plan each day’s drive and driving time based on the roads you’ll be taking. It’s not like the US where you can assume 300 miles in 5 or so hours. On highways, sure. But once you get off the hughways, many of the roads go from town to town, slowing down as you approach and leave each one. Toss in getting behind a line of cars and trucks and it can be a long afternoon.

A decent planning tool is the Michelin website.
Mountain Trader is offline  
Old Nov 28, 17, 5:56 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Redwood City, CA USA (SFO/SJC)
Programs: Last 1K flight 1/21/11; fun while it lasted, 1P in 2011, Plat for 2012,13,14,15 & 2016. Gold in 17 &
Posts: 8,505
I agree with the suggestion to skip Paris and take the train from CDG direct to your first destination. You've been to Paris. You'll always have Paris. :-)

Two things I have found a bit odd about driving in France-

- At a roundabout, if you make eye contact with another driver, you've given them the right of way
- In smaller towns especially, the stop lights and limit lines might be 5-10 feet before the actual intersection. If you drive to the "normal" (for US) location, you have not only overshot the limit line, but you have also gone past the signal light so you don't know when it's changed to green!
Mike Jacoubowsky is offline  
Old Nov 28, 17, 8:12 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Redwood City, CA USA (SFO/SJC)
Programs: Last 1K flight 1/21/11; fun while it lasted, 1P in 2011, Plat for 2012,13,14,15 & 2016. Gold in 17 &
Posts: 8,505
Mods: dupe post; please delete. Thanks!
Mike Jacoubowsky is offline  
Old Nov 28, 17, 8:32 pm
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 52
Thanks for the tips. We're not going to drive in Paris. The plan is to take an Uber into Paris spend 2 days and then pickup the rental car at CDG as it appears to be on the way to Champagne. After some further research we're leaning towards Europcar for the rental.

In Burgundy we're staying near Beanue and in Provence we're staying near Lacoste. Any must see sights near those areas? Any recommended vineyards near Beanue? Thanks as always.
kajonesbu is offline  
Old Nov 28, 17, 9:13 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Paris, France
Programs: United, TAP Victoria, AVIOS
Posts: 458
Firstly, there really is no place for Uber to easily pickup at CDG. I recommend your taking a taxi from the official taxi queue. Fares are fixed into Paris at 50€/55€ to the Right/Left Bank respectively. Taxi drivers are generally not tipped and there is no surge pricing.

Secondly, it doesn´t make a lot of sense to travel back out to CDG to rent a car if your destination is along A4. A Gare de Lyon pickup will be much easier, faster and save you the cost of airport transportation. From Gare de Lyon, take any road south a couple of blocks to the Seine, turn left and follow the road all the way to Reims or Epernay. Departing Paris in a rental car is not the same as driving around Paris.

Lastly, I will again strongly recommend that you find and hire a guide to take you to wineries around Beaune. Generally, properties are not open to just anyone who fancies to visit. Burgundy is not like California. You can visit the Hospice de Beaune and the Clos de Vougeot on your own but after that, things become much more complicated if you are serious about vineyards. Burgundy is a long way to go to end up not being able to take advantage of being there.

You might consider:

Burgundy Discovery
Wine Voyages
Tours et Detours
Tamino is offline  
Old Nov 29, 17, 8:22 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 251
Originally Posted by kajonesbu View Post
Thanks for the tips. We're not going to drive in Paris. The plan is to take an Uber into Paris spend 2 days and then pickup the rental car at CDG as it appears to be on the way to Champagne. After some further research we're leaning towards Europcar for the rental.

In Burgundy we're staying near Beanue and in Provence we're staying near Lacoste. Any must see sights near those areas? Any recommended vineyards near Beanue? Thanks as always.
If this is your first trip to Burgundy, I agree with the suggestion to go with a half-day driving tour to get an overview of the different villages and climates in the Cote d'Or. If you are staying in Beaune proper, visiting one or two of the big negociants is worthwhile, e.g. Patriarche (tour through stunning cellars, but less well-known wines), Bouchard (great wines and good cellars), Drouhin (similar to Bouchard, so you don't need to go to both), and Jadot (a bit outside downtown Beaune, but you get to see the production facilities). Book in advance, english is fine. Hospices de Beaune is also well worth a visit. If you can, have lunch in one of the excellent restaurants in the surrounding villages and dinner in Beaune.
east_west is offline  
Old Nov 29, 17, 9:52 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Redwood City, CA USA (SFO/SJC)
Programs: Last 1K flight 1/21/11; fun while it lasted, 1P in 2011, Plat for 2012,13,14,15 & 2016. Gold in 17 &
Posts: 8,505
And if you want to put one more thing in your plate, Burgundy is an amazing region for cycling. I found a website with some relatively-inexpensive day tours. http://burgundybiketour.com/
Mike Jacoubowsky is offline  
Old Nov 30, 17, 12:00 pm
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Programs: statusless these days
Posts: 19,334
The charm of driving in France is to stay on rural tertiary roads bypassing big towns and cities favouring small. quaint villages. It is slow driving that way depending on which region you're in (some are frankly less charming than others). I suggest staying away from autoroutes and blindly following a GPS's directions in favour of using a Michelin road atlas. Driving can be slow and it will be hard to cover more than 60-70 km an hour in this manner.

As mentioned above, vineyard wineries are rarely open for visits for the most part (not just in the east but pretty much all over the country) and you're not going to have the tasting room experience found in North America or the antipodes. If the wineries are open for visit, you'll see a sign along the lines of "degustation" (tasting) followed by "ouvert" open.

I've heard that visits can be prearranged by writing the winery in advance, accompanied by a letter of introduction by your local wine merchant if it is a high-priced winery.
YVR Cockroach is offline  
Old Dec 11, 17, 7:36 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Brussels/Voronezh
Posts: 6
Hi!

I can't really help you with car rental as I usually travel by train or other public transportations, but I can recommend you a couple small things about Provence : don't miss the Mont Ventoux, climb all the way to the top (you can do it in your car) and you'll enjoy the trip, no matter what the weather is! You'll either have tons of snow, dive in a cloud bath, or if the weather's good, you'll see the Mont Blanc and the Mediterranean from up there.
Plus, the small roads around the mountain go through tons of little villages made of traditional architecture, you've got Sault, Caromb, and some parts of the bigger Avignon that are more than worth it.
CzP410049 is offline  
Old Jan 25, 18, 1:51 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: DFW
Programs: AA gold
Posts: 65
Assuming there's more than one of you, here is my main driving tip. Assign the passenger the role of navigator/navigatrix. This person should look at the map (Michelin maps at the closest departmental level of detail are excellent) carefully and regularly to identify the series of towns you may need to pass through to reach your destination. Many times the roundabouts do not have good road number signage but do list names of towns; the same applies when you may be driving through a small town and you'll just see arrows with the names of other towns. Know that you need to pass through towns X, Y, and Z and you'll be fine. Other than that, driving in France is very straightforward and the roads are good. Europcar is a reliable option but be very careful about owing them any money for fuel.

And it sounds like a lot of car time to me....we spent ten days driving the Loire alone.
b1513 likes this.
monvoyage is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread