Travelling to south of France - suggestions for sightseeing/day trips/driving roads?

thevictor390

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Hi guys,

I'm travelling to Europe for the first time around May 1-9 and will have 4-5 days to myself. I've never traveled outside the US before so this is a pretty exciting and scary proposition for me. I'll be in the Marseille area in the south of France. So far I've decided to rent a car but am a bit clumsy navigating the French sites, so it's hard to tell what's out there. I would like to get something that is a bit of fun without breaking the bank, and hopefully find some cool Alps driving roads. I really have no idea what to do with myself for this time so if anyone has any suggestions for cool stuff to see I would appreciate it!

I am planning to try to go by Monaco to see the GP track, it's a 3 hour drive so hopefully fill find some other things to do down there.

I wanted to rent a small convertible initially, but options are pretty limited and expensive. Anyone have suggestions for cool cars to rent below the price bracket of Audis and such? There are some really cheap Renault Twingos which I would enjoy in a "weird French shit" kind of way....

Thanks!
 

Eye-Q

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Well, the Top Gear speed climbers vs. Audi RS4 roads are in that area (this is the starting point), in fact they are almost on the way from Marseille to Monaco. Here are the loops we did in that area in 2016.
 

narf

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Anything northeast of Marseilles or north of Monaco, really. For starters, raid the roadtrip threads of the past few years, I think at least two were in that region.

As for renting reasonably priced convertibles, France isn't the best destination for that - go to Spain instead :p for slightly more than a 500C the Spanish will give you a 595C to hoon about in.
Since you are in France and want to go topless for nine days, you can expect around 300€ for a 500C, 450€ for a Beetle, 700€ for a TT. For reference, I'll be renting a topless Spanish Mini (or similar) for a week next week, just under 170€, so the French prices are indeed on the expensive side.
Another thing to look out for, you will probably only have a bunch of kilometres per day included.
 

thevictor390

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Eye-Q;n3547220 said:
Well, the Top Gear speed climbers vs. Audi RS4 roads are in that area (this is the starting point), in fact they are almost on the way from Marseille to Monaco. Here are the loops we did in that area in 2016.
This is awesome, thank you!

narf;n3547237 said:
Anything northeast of Marseilles or north of Monaco, really. For starters, raid the roadtrip threads of the past few years, I think at least two were in that region.

As for renting reasonably priced convertibles, France isn't the best destination for that - go to Spain instead :p for slightly more than a 500C the Spanish will give you a 595C to hoon about in.
Since you are in France and want to go topless for nine days, you can expect around 300€ for a 500C, 450€ for a Beetle, 700€ for a TT. For reference, I'll be renting a topless Spanish Mini (or similar) for a week next week, just under 170€, so the French prices are indeed on the expensive side.
Another thing to look out for, you will probably only have a bunch of kilometres per day included.
Sure, I'll just tell my cousin to move to Spain before I get there :p

I do see that many rentals have km limits, I have also been told to watch out for insurance rates.... I honestly wouldn't mind a 500C, except my cousin owns one and we will be driving around in it for the second half of the trip so it would feel a bit awkward to show up with one :lol: That also means I should be able to keep the rental to 5 days which will help.

On second thought..... this seems like a terrible idea somehow, but many of the flights I was looking at had long layovers in Barcelona..... so long it would be faster to drive from there....
 

narf

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If you do end up renting out of BCN airport, make double sure to get the terminal right. T1 and T2 are basically separate airports, the shuttle leaves the airport, heads for the Autobahn, drives for a while, and re-enters the airport on the other side.

Based on a quick Sixt/Europcar check, the only topless model for a reasonable price is again a 500C from Europcar for 231€ including reasonable insurance from May 1st to May 9th. Priced better than France, you might save on the connecting flight (or not - it might be insanely cheaper with the connection, double check that!), and you have an excuse to spend time in the Pyrenees before and after hitting the Alpes-Maritimes.

For comparison, a 595C out of PMI is just 5€/day more... :burnrubber: :driving:
 

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I agree with Eye Q - you're so damned close to the area of the Verdon gorge it would be almost criminal not to go there. The scenery is spectacular and the roads are a hoot, plus you'll be there out of main tourist season so you'll be able to enjoy them in something relatively small without getting stuck too often behind motorhomes or hordes of Lycra Warriors.

Monaco is also worth a visit - they should be well under way with the preparation for the GP and many of the grandstands etc should already have been put up (went there the exact same time you're going a few years ago) and if you've seen the race enough times it's easy to do a lap or two of pretty much the whole GP circuit.

Finding true Alpine roads from your base would be quite a trek, but if you do a day in Monaco and a few days following the loops from last year's Mini Roadtrip I can assure you that you won't be disappointed.
 

Interrobang

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thevictor390;n3547219 said:
[...] I'll be in the Marseille area in the south of France.
I have never been to Marseille so I cannot really give you any tips, I just know about 5 Stories from Friends from Paris who have been robbed there. I'm not saying the region isn't great in general - but Marseille has a big problem with poverty and thus a big problem with crime. It is also the only place in mainland France that has a Mafia problem.

Just watch your stuff in Marseille ... it's got quite a reputation, even amoung Parisians ...
 

thevictor390

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I'm flying into Marseilles airport but will be staying in a town about 30 km out. Thanks for the heads up.
 

thevictor390

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Eye-Q;n3547220 said:
Well, the Top Gear speed climbers vs. Audi RS4 roads are in that area (this is the starting point), in fact they are almost on the way from Marseille to Monaco. Here are the loops we did in that area in 2016.
This was absolutely amazing. Yesterday I did some of the roads on the first loop, notably the D23 scenic route. I've never seen anything like it, or imagined it could be so much fun to drive a diesel Citroen slowly. I wish I could have taken someone with me, the scenery was just too much to take in while fearing for your life every time there is oncoming traffic. I stopped so many times but this is just a fraction of it, there was no way to preserve it all. The pictures do not do it justice, and I'm no photographer.

https://imgur.com/gallery/ygQsqcj

Driving overall is pretty scary. In town its just too crowded and narrow and in the country people drive insanely fast for the conditions. Then you hit a village and you have to alternate with oncoming traffic around a blind corner :lol:

I might have to post a proper review of the DS3. I was offered the upgrade and took it because I hoped the diesel would have a bit more oomph than a typical low end rental, and I was probably right. It sounds like crap but has a bit of power when you need it. And I did a lot of 1st and 2nd gear acceleration on those hairpins...
 

MWF

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Thanks for sharing the link. Those shots bring back some great memories from last summer.
 
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