Driving in France

I am certain I would travel regardless of my profession.

However due to my diligence to ever expand my knowledge and experience, I make note of my surroundings and adventures during every vacation to later better advise my clients. 

The realities of driving in France is one for the record books.

I would be the first to advocate the spontaneity and versatility that a self-drive holiday can offer, however the realities and constraints that driving in France entails is one that should be considered prior to arranging a rental car.

The country is criss-crossed with a highway system ranging from six-lane high speed freeways to national four -lane routes and then a series of agricultural and departmental secondary road accesses. 

The freeways are denoted by the letter A and give the quickest most direct access however they also are subject to many tolls. 

At $3EUR and above per stop, these charges can quickly add up over the course of a holiday. For example, the drive from Paris to Aix en Provence can be as expensive as $100EUR one way.

Both the freeways and national highways are subject to intense volume delays as well, which can add a debilitating and frustrating aspect to the drive. 

Photo radar is another liability to be cognizant of.

Many clients choose to upgrade the size of the vehicle to accommodate luggage and/or have extra power on the freeway. This is another factor to re-consider. 

Parking is a premium pretty much anywhere you go. Underground parking access is incredibly narrow and stalls are teeny-weeny. Above ground parking is haphazard at best and vehicles are literally jammed in with but centimetres to spare. 

Few hotels include free parking and rates range from $3EUR/hour to $20EUR/day. Again, a cost to factor in.  Smaller cars give you access to the twisting winding roads of the glorious scenic routes such as the Route des Cretes.

The road less travelled is slower, but leads you to the most interesting sites.

My suggestion would be to incorporate the incredibly efficient transit system into your travel plans. Trains are comfortable and air-conditioned and are cost effective if booked in advance or travelled during off peak hours.  Utilize this service to travel distances or 400 km or more. 

The national bus service is excellent and very inexpensive. Frequency of service is fantastic and comfort is premium. The bus from Aix en Provence to Nice was two-hours at a cost of $22EUR roundtrip. 

Public transit within the cities themselves is also an easy and effective manner of discovery. Rent your car for specific areas and perhaps for a day at a time to explore specific scenic routes or to discover hidden treasures such as Les Baux-de-Provence or the exhilarating Mont Ventoux route made famous by the Tour de France.

The iconic history, culture and cuisine of France is yours to discover in what ever way suits you best.


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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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