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Paris to Milan


First time Europe traveler planning an Italy trip and the wife wants to include Paris.

I was wondering if 2 days driving time is enough for this distance (~500 mi) with limited stops.

I just ordered Ricks France book but it looks like Beaune is a good stopover (I think I saw this one on Ricks show).
Also, we don't really need to stay in Milan (not much of a shopper) since our actual first Italy destination is lake Como so I would substitute Chamonix for Milan if we can get lodging.

Is 2 days driving reasonable (with limited stops) for this route and is Beaune and Chamonix the obvious stopovers?
I'm an avid hiker and I would never forgive myself if I don't get at least a short hike in the alps.


Posted by
7373 posts

if you drive a rental car to Paris from Italy it will cost several hundred dollars in drop fees. If you want to do Paris as a side trip, I would fly from Italy to Paris on a budget airline to save both time and money. You could do this drive in two days but that would be about all you would do, Beaune is a good stopover town -- we stayed in Hotel de la Paix there and it was an easy walk to the Hospice and central sites and they had parking (very tight parking). Unless you have 4 nights for Paris itself, I would not make the trip and if it were me I would definitely fly. The best way to make a first trip deeply unsatisfying is to make it all about getting there with little being there.

Posted by
15 posts


I did the auto rental comparison on of Milan to Rome vs. Paris to Rome (same #of days of course) and the cost is the same but they do have a disclaimer on both that there "may" (read "will") be dropoff fees. As you indicate I suspect it is more for across country dropoff.

I'll probably go with hertz directly - I assume I have to call them to verify these fees?

Posted by
15 posts

I went to and there is a drop off fee for France-Italy of $600!

Posted by
9110 posts

I've driven Rome to Paris in a single set of summer daylight, but it was a bear. Paris to Milan is something like eight or nine hours, so spreading it over two days would make it easy.

You've got two things going against you on the car rental: the short period ups the daily cost and the second-country drop fee is a killer. If you picked up and returned the car in France, you're looking at something like thirty bucks a day; drop it in Italy and it's going to be over two-fifty. Which city you drop it in in Italy makes no significant difference. Use Kayak and make a couple of runs with the variables and it will be immediately clear.

I wouldn't use AE for a whole bunch of reasons unless they have the very best deal by far when you get to the bottom line. I'd shy away from Hertz since you probably migrated to them as a familiar name, rather than anything else - - I rent a lot of cars internationally and Hertz only gets the nod less than five percent of the time, anywhere,. Just use Kayak and go with the deal.

The way I'd do it (since I have a low opinion of Beaune), is to stop there for lunch and an extra hour and press on to Chaminox for the night. The next day I'd either hop the train from there (there'll be some changes) to Milan, or drive on down to Nice and take the train the rest of the way. The scenery will be excellent either way.

Posted by
30282 posts


As you are from San Jose (I assume California not some other San Jose?) I'm sure that driving comes second nature for you. But by the time you have added in insurance (expensive and mandatory in Italy), the mandatory IDP ($15 plus photos plus the trip to the CSAA (now known by the nutty moniker of AAA NCNU!) or SCAA office), and the expensive French and Italian tolls, the costs if you violate the Tutor, the occasional ZTL, the Swiss Vignette is you go through Switzerland, and all the other costs will add right up.

The simplest trip might be by budget airline.

But, for about the same price, and certainly cheaper than driving, the alternative I would take is an easy train journey from Italy up though the Berner Oberland (just a very easy detour) and then onwards via Basel to Paris. The Basel to Paris bit is by very high speed train, traveling at nearly 300 kph.

That way you walk in the Alps, you save money, and have less stress - and a very good time into the bargain.