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Provence and Tuscany - where to fly in/out, where to rent a car

Hello all,
We are dreaming about a trip to Provence and Tuscany in the Summer of 2022. We'd plan to stay one week in a rented house or gite in Provence and then travel to Tuscany for another week in the same type accommodations.
We are flying from Boston and are used to long "road trips".

For ease, we'd prefer to fly in and out of the same location and rent a car from there for the 2 weeks.
Where should be fly into? We are considering Milan, Genoa, Marseilles? Pros/Cons of each?
I've read somewhere that rental cars may be more expensive in Italy due to some additional taxes/fees?

We are looking at rentals in Les Alpilles area of Provence and the Greve area of Tuscany.
Love to hear anyone's insight on the airports, car rental options, rental locations, etc.
Thanks in advance!

Posted by
122 posts

Hi,

It seems to me you'd be better off if you traveled "open jaw" by flying into, say, Paris or Marseille, and flying home from Florence. This as opposed to flying "in and out of the same location."

In about 2015 or '16, I flew into Charles de Gaule and caught a quick train for one stop where I had about a 7 minute layover before I boarded a TGV fast train to Avignon. The timing was tight, but it worked out perfectly.

I suspect if you flew into Marseille you could rent a car there to explore Provence. From there, you could possibly take an overnight train to Genoa, Milan or Florence/Seina and rent a car there in Italy. Or perhaps take a short flight from Marseille to Florence/Pisa on one of the discount airlines that operate in Europe.

Posted by
995 posts

Your trip sounds like a blast. For auto rentals, I have rented from Auto Europe in both France and Italy and found their rates and options to be very reasonable. They are also great to deal with if you get into an accident. You may want to have two rentals, one in Provence, drop off there and take train to Tuscany and then pick up another vehicle there. If you drive across boards, there may be an extra insurance fee and if you drive and drop off in another country there is a drop off fee.

Sandy

Posted by
15489 posts

If you fly open jaw be aware of the huge rental car drop off fees when you pick up a car in one country and return it in another. That drop off fee alone could greatly exceed €500. As such if you fly into France and fly home from Italy, it is cheaper to rent two separate cars in the two countries. Unfortunately traveling via public transportation from Southern France to Tuscany does not have easy solutions. The train along that route is slow and takes forever (also requires multiple changes) and, even in normal times, there are no direct flights between the airports of Southern France (Marseille or Nice) and those in Tuscany (Pisa or Florence), therefore you would need to connect via Paris or Rome, which is even longer than the train at that point.

Another, maybe preferable, solution may be to fly in and out from the same airport (in France or Italy), and travel between the two with the rental car which you would rent for two weeks. Renting a car in France may indeed be a bit cheaper (primarily because of Italy’s mandatory insurance requirements and inability of getting coverage from most credit cards), but the difference is not large enough for all other considerations (like flight convenience and prices).

Between Provence and Greve (near Florence ) there are 5 airports along the route: MRS, NCE, GOA, PSA, FLR.

If it were my trip I would look into flying in and out of NCE. It’s the largest of the 5 and likely to have the most options. Milan MXP is larger still and likely to have cheaper flight options, but it’s somewhat of a detour from either destination.

No matter where you decide to fly from, be aware that flights to Boston will require a layover in some other European hub airport and that flights to North America depart in the morning, therefore you will need to spend your last night near the airport where you fly home from.

Posted by
3073 posts

Make sure that you look for some of the "Italy car rental horror stories" which center around ZTL restricted traffic zones. Rent if that is your plan, but be aware that Italy has some very strict rules about rentals, and some locations which cause unexpected expenses for tourists.

Posted by
7655 posts

Some of the Italian “additional taxes/fees” expense could be ZTL or speeding fines. We’ve never had any, but lots of reports on this Forum describe getting a fine notice at hone, months after the trip, when the rental company forwards the police ticket they were presented. Follow parking restriction signs and watch the speedometer, maybe that will avoid problems. Rental cars and big cities don’t mix; taxis and public transportation, along with walking, can avoid traffic and parking hassles.

Posted by
10359 posts

To supplement what Roberto wrote: we flew Nice to Bologna. The high-speed train from Bologna to Florence is 30 minutes through mountain tunnels.

Posted by
7655 posts

Back in 2001, after taking the train to Avignon and having several days there, we rented a car as we departed that city, to tour southern France. The Hertz office was just across the street from the train and bus stations, but the train station has since moved some distance away from the center of town. After returning the car in Avignon, we took the train east, stopping for a night in Nice, before continuing to Italy, where we used public transportation the rest of the trip.

Four years ago, we flew into Marseille, and rented from Europcar at the airport. We spent that trip in France, driving up beyond Lyon to see some stages of the Tour de France, and eventually turned it in in Nice.

We’ve rented a car for a trip through a lot of Italy, but never in Tuscany - so far. There’s a trip currently planned for Sept./Oct. 2021, and we’ll see how that goes. In any event, we won’t be taking a car into Florence, no way.

Posted by
11516 posts

From a geographic perspective, Genoa or Marseilles are the more logical choices. Milan is rather remote for where you plan to be. (particularly given your plan to fly r/t)

The higher cost of rental cars in Italy may be the CDW/LDW coverage . Most credit cards exclude Italy from their rental car coverage programs/perks. Thus you are left to buy 'super cover' to buy out the 500-3000 euro deductlble that comes with the 'standard' CDW/LDW coverage.

The question I cannot answer is what happens if you rent in France and have an accident in Italy. Definitely something to clarify with the rental company beforehand.

Posted by
3623 posts

Re: joe32f’s insurance question:
We once did exactly what he asked about; i.e., rented a car in France and drove it to Italy. (Returned it in France, of course.). We asked at the agency in Nice, where we picked it up; and they assured us that our insurance was good while driving in Italy. It is always well, however, to check on the current regulations whenever renting cars.

Posted by
1076 posts

Not everyone wants to do it this way, but I'll tell you what we do.

We fly to whatever European city you can get to cheapest and most conveniently. For us that is usually London.

Once in London (or Paris or Frankfurt), stay there a day or two to get acclimated and see something new. Then, from there, Europe has a raft of cheap one-way flights that will get you wherever you want to (Ryanair, Easyjet, Eurowings, Vueling, WizzAir). And when I say cheap, I'm talking $50, although its very no frills and some of that will get eaten up in increased ground transportation as these airlines tend to fly to more out of the way airports.

For example, when we went to Italy and Provence, we flew Halifax-London; London-Rome via EasyJet; Nimes-London via EasyJet; and London-Halifax.

Posted by
11368 posts

On our last trip to Tuscany, we flew into Nice, spent a week there and then drove into Italy. At the end of an extended time in Italy we returned the car to the Nice airport. Yes, it is quite a bit cheaper to rent a car outside of Italy.
While we spent our time in Nice, it isn't far to Provence. Nice airport is right off the autoroute, very easy access.
Airport is close to central Nice too. Regular air service to Paris to connect to international flights.
We spent a week in Panzano, near Greve, and had a villa for our whole family. We love Chianti and Panzano is our favourite spot there now. We rented from chianti dash and dash more dot com. Excellent choices and service. The rentals they offer are only offered by them. You won't see the properties popping up on numerous websites. The agency knows their properties well. On our drive back towards Nice, we spent a night in pretty Noli.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all for the great advice! We will weigh all your ideas as we await flight prices, etc. for the Summer of 2022.

Another question - If the following are our prime objectives, which Provence region would you recommend?

We are looking to rent a private house to sleep 6-12 in or within a village for provisions that is close to wineries, other hilltop towns, farmers markets, away from the crowds but, not too remote. In our group, we cyclists, golfers, walkers, so a town that has good access to lots of activities is strongly preferred.
We had been looking in and around St. Remy, Menarbes, and now a friend has suggested the towns of Grasse, Tourettes, etc. which seems very different...anyone have Pros and Cons to share.

Thanks in advance. I love planning trips and love hearing others experiences and recommendations.

Beth

Posted by
1076 posts

Have a look at L'Isle sur le Sorgue. RS recommends it and we love it. We rented a villa there for a week. ISLS itself is a nice town, with a market and lots of water running through it in various canals and rivulets, which is rare for Provence.

Easy daytrips from ISLS include the Luberon / Alpilles, Mont Ventoux, Cote-du-Rhone wine country, Avignon, Pont du Gard, Nimes, Arles.

For activities, you can rent a tube and float down the Sorgue River from Fontaine le Vaucluse down to ISLS, and the company will pick you up and take you back to your car.