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5 replies
France Scenic Drives
desilva
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Hi Everyone,

I’ve been planning my 3-week trip to Europe and thanks to some of the members here, a larger part of it is complete. I’m still in need of a few good suggestions for the best scenic drives through France. I’ll be spending 3 days in Paris and from there I’ll be heading to Nice. I was thinking of driving from Paris to Nice, taking 3-4 days and I’m trying to identify a nice scenic route to do this. From the previous thread, I got a suggestion to take a train to a city out of Paris and start my driving expedition from that city.

As of now, this is my plan. I’ll spend 3 days in Paris and take an early train the 4th day to Tours. I’ll rent a car from Tours and explore the Loire Valley as much as I can. Then drive to Bourges and spend the night there. 5th day morning, drive up to Dijon and camp there for the night. Next day, drive to Lyon or Avignon and stay in one of those cities. Finally, 7th day, I’ll drive up to Nice.

I’ve calculated the total distance for this route and it comes around 1000km (using backroads and avoiding tolls, I get the same approximate distance). The rental for a car comes around $240 for 4 days and I guess I’ll add a $100 – $150 more for tolls and fuel (is that a fair estimate?).

Does this sound like a healthy plan? Is it do-able (distance-wise?). I admit I don’t know much about France or it’s countrysides. But I did a little searching and this routes gives me a lot of places to see (Castles, Vineyards, etc) but I’m open to other ideas. Does anyone have a better, more scenic route to get to Nice, starting from a city outside Paris?

Thanks in advance for any tips.

I am leaving from Salt Lake City with $16000 for 20 days
Paris, Würzburg, Colmberg, Füssen, Salzburg, Interlaken, Pisa, Rome
Requesting help with Transport, Itinerary, Sights
Cil
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Well, I like the idea of having a car in the Loire Valley.
But you would not spend the night there?
I’m not sure I’d want to take a train to Tours, rent a car and drive all around and make sure I get to Bourges the same day. I like to be on the move but that’s a bit much.
I’m kind of in a rush myself right now so can’t devote the time I would like to addressing your questions.
I have not been on the route you propose, but I have been to some of the towns.
I’d probably go with Avignon or Aix-en-Provence.
All of the French countryside is usually very scenic, the Var region behind the Riviera is especially lovely.
I’ll try to come back to this thread later today.

desilva
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Cil wrote:
Well, I like the idea of having a car in the Loire Valley. But you would not spend the night there? I’m not sure I’d want to take a train to Tours, rent a car and drive all around and make sure I get to Bourges the same day. I like to be on the move but that’s a bit much.

Thanks so much for the reply. Well I made this post a few days ago and things have changed a little bit. My detailed itinerary is here.

So Yes, now I’m staying in Tours for the night. I initially wanted to get to Tours early in the morning, rent a car, visit some places in Loire valley and then head back to Bourges. But I calculated the distances in Google Maps and I thought the distances were a little too much. So I decide to stay the night in Tours. Also, in google maps, I’m calculating the distances with the “Avoid Tolls and Highways” options. I hoped this will give me some nice backroads between these cities with good sceneries. Am I correct to assume so? I guess having a navigations system in the car I rent would help me get from point A to point B without getting lost. (I’m asking this since I’m a little worried about running into problems in rural areas in France, especially given that I don’t know about the place and I don’t speak their language)

Again, the reason I took a train to Tours and not rent a car from Paris itself was because a person in this forum suggested that I don’t drive in Paris. He said it was wise to take a train out to a city outside of Paris and then rent a car from there. Given that everyone is saying Paris is too crowded to drive, I thought this was the better option.

Also, as you can see from my detailed itinerary, now I’m not thinking about driving the whole way to Nice. (I’m just worried I’ll loose more days since the distance is a little too much). So, now I’m hoping to drive through Burgundy and return the car in Dijon and take a train to Nice. Any suggestions? Can I still drive the whole way to Nice from Dijon in a day?

Thanks for your feedback.

I am leaving from Salt Lake City with $16000 for 20 days
Paris, Würzburg, Colmberg, Füssen, Salzburg, Interlaken, Pisa, Rome
Requesting help with Transport, Itinerary, Sights
oldlady
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Quote:
Am I correct to assume so? I guess having a navigations system in the car I rent would help me get from point A to point B without getting lost. (I’m asking this since I’m a little worried about running into problems in rural areas in France, especially given that I don’t know about the place and I don’t speak their language)
Language is much of an issue for the “driving” part, however it is a bit of an issue for “spotting. Driving “in a foreign language” is a full time job for one person — reading basic road signs, looking out for the VERY aggressive French drivers passing on blind curves, general driving in a strange place issues, etc. Navigating and “spotting” (looking for street signs, advertising signs, where the well-hidden side road to turn is, parking spots) is a more than full time job for another. GPS would make the total 2 full time jobs instead of 2 1/2.

AAA (if you’re a member, stop in at the office and get the European driving maps) shows Dijon to Nice as a 7 hour drive — certainly doable in daylight in the summer, even if you stop for the traditional 2 hour French lunch (Marseilles is half way and would be a great city to eat in, but probably an absolutely awful place to drive). However you won’t be able to do a lot of other stopping unless you’re up for a really long day. Train is also close to 7 hours (fastest is 6:11, leaving at 9:11 or 16:11), but daylight would be less of an issue if you wanted to spend part of the day in Dijon.

desilva
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oldlady wrote:
AAA (if you’re a member, stop in at the office and get the European driving maps) shows Dijon to Nice as a 7 hour drive — certainly doable in daylight in the summer, even if you stop for the traditional 2 hour French lunch

Thanks OL. Yes, I’m a AAA member. I’ll consider your option as well. In a way it all makes more sense than taking the train (Dijon to Nice train came around $202 for two people). I guess I could save a little money (guess the fuel price would be significantly less than $202) by driving and I’ll probably try to avoid tolls by planning through some backroads.

Thanks again.

I am leaving from Salt Lake City with $16000 for 20 days
Paris, Würzburg, Colmberg, Füssen, Salzburg, Interlaken, Pisa, Rome
Requesting help with Transport, Itinerary, Sights
oldlady
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If you’re driving from Paris to Dijon, then driving to Nice makes sense unless an extra day of car rental and/or different drop off charges add a lot to the rental contract.