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Drive from France to Italy?

We're planning a trip for the fall and I'm kicking around the idea of starting off in Paris (my wife has never been) and then renting a car to drive into Italy. I know the costs of returning a car in a different country are exorbitant, so I was thinking of dropping the car off on the French side of the border, taking a train to Turin, and then renting another car once we get into Italy.

Has anyone ever done something like this? Any advice on car rentals?

One of the reasons I'm wanting to do this is to see a little more of France on the drive. What are the must see places I should hit on the drive? I was thinking Lyon, but some of the villages near Lake Geneva sound interesting as well.

We'll have two young children with us (5 years and 18 months, both boys). My wife and I are into art and pre-modern history and all four of us are foodies. Well, the kids are as much "foodies" as kids can be...
Hi Brad
We've driven from UK to Torino before, though took it very slow, aiming for 4-5 hours driving per day. It can of course be done faster, but might get a bit fractious. An alternative mentioned on a recent thread, is the train journey DIRECT from Paris to Torino. Logistically much easier, though it's a long journey so bring entertainment and lots of nice food treats to graze on during the journey. We've not done it, but were very close to booking it ~ 3 years ago, but in the end we chose to go to the north east instead.

In terms of place en-route, Beaune may be associated with Burgundy wines, but is architecturally interesting and has a very pleasant (and mostly flat) centre to stroll around. I'd avoid Lyon, as driving into any city can be a stress, but the small towns and villages are much easier.

One place I would recommend is St Gengoux le Nacional, not far away. We stayed in a B&B though the same people have an apartment that would be ideal for a 2+2 family. It's called Etape Robinson (the owners Ken and Sue are from Yorkshire). A charming small town, easy to stroll around and a few modest sights.

From around there we were able to head over to Aosta (Valle d'Aosta) and this might appeal, though also give some thought to more rural destinations in the valle d'Aosta. Once there you're in striking distance of Torino / Piemonte.

Mont Blanc tunnel is pricey and really rather dull, though the scenery around there was breathtaking - one of those 'wow' moments, but I believe there is even better if you come in via further north.

French motorways are very good, clean, safe and not very popular, so make for mostly very easy driving, with plenty of serviced stations en-route. Yes they cost, but in the scheme of things only ~ €70 plus about €45 for the Mont Blanc tunnel. The quality of construction dropped very noticeably on entry into Italy, though their driving skill is (IMO) unrivalled.

Personally I'd take the train with a family. Logistically much easier.



10+ Posts
Your trip has been my dream for awhile (although children didn't enter into it). I really like your idea of switching rental cars, as even in the states renting in one city and returning in another is astronomical. When a friend and I explored the Langdoc/Provence area, we trained it from Paris to Avignon and rented a car at the station. That might make it a little easier on the little ones. Other than the Camargue and the beautiful towns, there was an interesting art display, the name of which I forget right now that I will research to give you. It was built into a hill, and the combination of music and art was fascinating. There were at least 50 projectors illuminating the walls, floors, etc with image of two different artists.


10+ Posts
I found it. Was called Cathedral des Images, now called Carrieres de Lumieres, Les Baux de Provence. There's even a review on Trip Advisor.
We did the opposite two summers ago. We dropped the car in Savona and took a train to Ventimiglia, changed trains and continued to Nice. It took a couple hours to do all of that. It wasn't too difficult, but we were three adults with small suitcases. We saved about $700. Train goes along the coast.

BUT...you have to decide if this is worth the hassle with two small children, and potentially more luggage than we had. Sometimes the convenience trumps the money question. As I said we were three adults and it was relatively easy, but it wasn't "fun" per se. I like convenience, travel partner likes adventure. We compromise...sometimes!

How long will you be traveling? If more than 3 weeks, a lease is often less expensive than a rental... done through a website like AutoEurope. I have done this twice over the years, and it was very easy.
The advantage for you would be that you "own" the car for the duration of the lease, so could take it across borders, etc, without problems; although returning to original site might be required.
You would then have the same transport wherever you go... your car. No worries re: train schedules, etc. (Parking is another story!).
Might be worth checking out.



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