Thanks for all the great ideas! I have been to and loved St Paul de Vence, Grasse and Villefranche-sur-Mer as well, but not the other places. Do you know if SNCF buses or trains go to any of them? While I have rented a car in France in the Loire and Dijon, I was able to get an automatic. I can't drive a stick shift, and definitely would not want to try the heights!
Unfortunately have not traveled inland via mass transit. During college days we used the trains along the coast.
Only when we returned as employeed adults did we rent a car and drive
I don't drive a stick either, so usually reserve an automatic. Usually this requires me making the reservation, paying extra, and then on arrival they never have it so I have to make a big scene to get them to go find what I ordered. My sister was impatient and did not want to wait and go through the battle. She does drive a stick, so in the end she volunteered to drive, and I did the navigating. It is very tiring driving as the roads are old and windy, and there are lots of traffic circles with 6-8 different turnoffs which kept me busy with the directions, e.g. go around the circle to 11 oclock or 3 oclock, etc.
I had the same thing happen in Nancy. I had reserved an automatic so that I could drive to Domremy and nearby Joan towns, and arrived at the station to find they didn't have any. They practically yelled at me and said I should have confirmed it. Since I have a different personality in French I yelled right back. But they still didn't have it. I checked every other rental agency in the station, but nothing. Since Domremy has NO transportation, I had to take cabs or walk everyone on this occasion (on a previous occasion when I did have an automatic on arrival in Dijon, where I was staying, all went well). So I took cabs, kept all the receipts then complained to National on my return home, they forwarded it to their affiliate and France with copies of my receipts and after a long battle I got my money for the cabs.
I do agree about driving in some of the hills and small roads. When I had the car (happily a small one) in Burgundy, I drove the route des Grands Crus, which has tiny winding roads that don't fit two cars (one has to go slightly off the road) -- and it was January and there was snow on the ground. But that was nothing compared to getting lost on on trip back to CDG in a rental car. I drove round and round the Boulévard Périphérique 4 or more times because the CDG exit comes right after another sign. It took four tanks of gas and a near nervous breakdown on my part (and ending up in Paris itself at one point). Fortunately I was staying at the CDG Marriott and not flying that day and the people at the rental car company were fine with me getting the car back 5 hours late...
The banterings of the pair of you 'sur les voitures' reminded me of something that happened in Pisa this past summer that I am still rolling about, so please permit me this frivolous and indulgent post:
My bro-in-law and sister rented a car, one of those tiny, little, cute stick shift Fiats. My bro-in-law drives like a maniac. We were looking for this little hole in the wall restaurant on a tiny side street in Pisa, and he was driving us down one of those super tiny, super skinny streets like a bat out of hell, and there was this even tinier side street that he needed to turn on, and he missed it (because of course he was driving like a bat out of hell, and honestly the intersection was so small and sharp that there was no way he could have made the turn anyway), and I'm in the back seat thinking, oh my God, oh my God, will you please slow down... after realizing he overshot his (impossible anyway) turn, he decides he's going to back up on this tiny street that we're on, where there is already only about 6 inches between us and the park cars. I told him, you can't back up bro, the street is too narrow, and besides, you can't make the turn anyway. No worries (mate - he's an Aussie... and do they all drive like that? I'm sure not), he's on top of it - he puts it in reverse and backs up - again like a bat out of hell, and I'm in the backseat praying, oh my God, oh my God, and BAM! His left side view mirror plows the right side view mirror of a parked car. We were like, 'What was that?' and immediately realized the damage. Because of the direction of the force, nothing happened to the parked car's mirror, but my bro's rental car mirror was toast. Here are some photos of the temporary repair job!
(My brother would probably be really irritated with me if he knew I posted these.) And of course, my sister was really irritated with him that day. And me, well perhaps I'm a bit of a nut job, but once the crisis was over, I couldn't hardly keep from laughing about it, even though it was not yet safe to laugh!
Here's the little gem of a restaurant that we lunched at that day. Thank God it was very good! And the little Donna that served us really ruled the roost.
IT WAS HILARIOUS. I still bust out at the seams when I think of it, and so thank you both for bringing up the memories!
We left Italy two days before they did. They said they fixed the mirror before they turned the car in, and that's good enough for me!
As a side note, he used his GPS from home. Prior to the trip, he bought the Italy map and downloaded it.
A great ex-pat driving story!
We use to love to sit at sidewalk cafe's and watch the cars. Some would go down the side walk. Once we saw 4 guys pick up a deux chevaux parked at the curb and move it to the sidewalk, and then park their car in its place. The deux chevaux being a odd car to us north american's was the butt of alot of jokes. One was that its engine sounded like a sewing machine winding up. Another was the windows that were hinge horizontally across the middle, so to open it you pushed the buttom of the window out and up till it snapped into place against the upper piece.
Another favorite was watching someone get out of a space they were boxed into by first hitting the car in front pushing it, then the car in back, and repeating till they had enough space.
My friends living in Thailand had another story they liked to tell about the expat that returned to the states and was driving on a 2 lane road and wanted to pass, so went between the 2 cars in each lane. The police stopped them and told them it was illegal and was writing out the ticket when the person responded with but there was room between the 2 cars, which is kind of how you drive when you are oversea, with total disregard for the lanes.
Like I said, my sister is an interpid driver, and is great with all this. I am content to be a passenger. Have driven just to make sure I can in an emergency, but prefer not to.
Hi ProfC and Pluto,
Are either of you able to get a branch Icon when you put the thread into edit mode?
I am not getting it, but it may be because I did not create thread.
If you can, I was going to start with Pluto's post with pictures to post as a new thread asking others for their ex-pat driving stories.
Nervous breakdowns are common when driving in major cities in Europe!
Not worth the trouble, but the rural areas are sure fun!
Enjoy Sancerre, a great place to enjoy a glass and relax. A beautiful drive from Euro Disney, Paris or from Southern France!
No Marriott's in The Loire Valley, but this is a wonderful hotel in Sancerre, France!
I once was in such a traffic jam on the Blvd. Peripherique that so many horns were honking, motorcycles coming at you on both sides of the car, I had to just bust out laughing, otherwise, you would cry!
However, I would not want to drive on that road again. It is real "Stress test", and I would "Flunk" that one!