Next up in our Provence Travel series is "How We Traveled." We always fly into Marseille so we are close to The Luberon Valley and rent a car for traveling. However, you could fly into Paris and rent a car there and drive to Provence (6-7 hour drive) or take the train from Paris into Avignon. When we bring our girls, I think we will fly into Paris and drive down so we can take our time and stretch our legs more. Who knows :)
This trip, we splurged (for our anniversary) and I surprised my husband with a luxury car rental. We got a brand new BMW M4 convertible and it was quite the ride :)
I booked our car through SIXT directly and they were very easy to work with. I do recommend if you rent a car to go ahead and pay for a full tank fill up for when you return. This will help you avoid unnecessary fees if you happen to return the vehicle if it isn't totally full. Sometimes it's hard to find a gas station near the airport in Marseille and it is one less thing you have to worry about. SIXT only charged the market fuel price if you paid up front and we were glad we did.
I had only been in a convertible a few times, but taking it through the French Countryside was a DREAM! The light in Provence is beautiful and it was wonderful to feel the clean air on our face and smell the fresh scent of lavender.It will be hard to visit again and go back to a standard car. :) The only downside of a luxury car was that we were a bit limited on mileage. We had to up 2000 miles and while we didn't get close this trip, on past trips we did drive a LOT and 2000 miles wouldn't have been enough. Just something to consider for your stay.
A lot of the roads are narrow and curvy and the French are sort of famous for their driving.
Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Provence, complained of French drivers racing at unsafe speeds and passing on blind curves. He told of a policeman who insisted on writing a parking ticket while Mayle walked into the nearest shop to obtain change for the parking meter. The officer, however, ignored cars that were double-parked and blocking the intersection.
Fortunately, my husband is a great, safe driver so we didn't have any trouble.
Make sure whoever is driving can quickly parallel park in tight spaces though. I would also encourage you to always have change for parking meters and tolls. In Provence, most do take credit card now, but there are still some that don't... especially tolls. We always kept loose change in the car for these situations.
If you need more driving trips, check out this website. One last tip on vehicle rental is to rent something relatively small for those tight spaces and tiny villages. While the roads are in good condition, it isn't America. You will rarely see a large truck and in the country are more likely to see small, beat up cars and tractors. In France, the car buying process is painstaking so many drive the same car for years.
In closing, don't be intimidated to rent a vehicle in France! It's the easiest way to get around and see everything you want on your own time. We went all over this trip from the hillside villages and countryside to the beach on the Mediterranean.
As always, thanks for following along and reading about our travel adventures.