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Is it safe to drive in Provence South France?

Hi,

We are two girls and want to visit the lavender fields in Provence this summer (hopefully it is not too late to start planning). We read that it is the best to get a car rental when visiting South France. If we decide not to go with the local tour and want to do self-touring, is it safe to drive in Provence for two girls? Or do you still recommend joining local tours instead?

We have heard some people got their rental car broke in by thieves and lost their belongings when driving and parking in the countryside.....

Thanks!

Posted by
8293 posts

Yes, it is safe, as safe as driving in the countryside around Seattle.

Posted by
6332 posts

I drove all around France by myself, including Provence, and I'm a 'girl', albeit a senior one. I had no problems, always felt perfectly safe. When leaving your car parked always make sure you don't leave anything in sight that would tempt thieves (just like in the US), put everything in the trunk out of sight - but don't be obvious about putting things in the trunk when you're parked at a tourist sight, sometimes thieves watch the parking lot and will see you do it. Just take normal precautions and you'll be as safe as you would be driving around the US.

Posted by
172 posts

Thanks! Now I feel more confident :) Are the roads/streets narrow in south France and not too difficult to drive? since the streets in Seattle are pretty wide and flat and easy to drive.....

Also, do we need international driver's license in order to drive in France? If so, how can I get it?

Posted by
31289 posts

Jenny,

I don't believe an I.D.P. is compulsory for driving in France, although it certainly wouldn't hurt to have one. You can easily obtain an I.D.P. at any AAA office for a small fee (two Passport photos also required although they should be able to take those at the issuing office). Note that an I.D.P. is not a license per se, so you will also need to pack along your home D.L.

Posted by
10 posts

Hi Jenny,

I would also recommend buying a Garmin (or another brand of GPS) with European maps. My husband and I have used it in Provence for the past 4 years and it is a lifesaver. You will love Provence!

Posted by
7584 posts

About the break in: in the south of France you should leave nothing visible in the car when you park it. Just put everything in the trunk.

Posted by
25735 posts

Provence is mostly rural. As such it has quite a few narrow lanes, and because some of the are like the Luberon is very hilly some of the narrow lanes are windy and steep. Other roads are quite wide, by French standards, wide enough for traffic to pass, and some are straight. Watch out for the rows of trees either side of the road. You would be advised to learn the French road signs, and how to tell what you need to do about speed and priority when there are no signs as you be expected to know these lest you go home poorer to the tune of a fine appearing some time later in your mailbox.

Posted by
4666 posts

Other than getting stuff stolen from your car, you should be aware that other drivers in Provence can be quite aggressive. This may be prejudice, but my experience is that as a general rule the standard of driving in Europe gets worse as you get closer to the Mediterranean...