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Cinque Terre IT to Nice FR by car?

I am thinking of crafting my own vacation, flying into Rome,
renting a car for the duration of the trip, which I am thinking
will go from Cinque Terre by car, traveling the coast and ending

up near Nice FR and then driving to Paris for the flight home (to the USA).

I was looking for a tour vacation that would do this, but have not found anything,
so I figure I will try to see if I can create my own 12 day (or so) vacation to do this.
Has anyone done this?
Pitfalls?
Any other airports to consider?

Posted by
23728 posts

Have you considered the very high cost to rent in one country and drop in another? The car can't be rented in the country in which you leave it and it has to be driven all the way back. You pay handsomely for that.

Is there a reason you want to drive instead of taking trains?

How many in your party? Adults/kids/seniors?

Posted by
2881 posts

There are a couple of pitfalls you need to be aware of. The biggest one is the fee you would be charged for dropping a car in a different country from the one where you picked it up. $400 or more.
It also appears that Paris is on your itinerary only for your return flight. Is that your plan?
Assuming the above, I have a couple of suggestions. One is that you drive to the last Italian town where you can drop the car. When we did that some years ago, it was San Remo. We took a a train to Nice from there, about 1 hour and very inexpensive.

If your only reason to get to Paris is for a flight, you should check into flying from Nice. You’ll most likely have to change at CDG, but you save a lot of time vs driving. A second possibility is to take the TGV from Nice to CDG. Either scenario is preferable to keeping the car solely for the purpose of getting to Paris.

Posted by
21 posts

Nigel, no, I have not. All I have ever done before is booked vacation all-inclusive guided tours,
that is why I am here, learning. I appreciate the reply, I will look into that also...
I just want to make sure I can have ample 'feet on the ground' and be able to walk around for a
day, and not be given one or two hours 'on my own' before having to meet back at the tour bus
to go to the next location. It will just be two adults, no kids.

Posted by
21 posts

Rosalyn, you are correct in my flight plans from Paris, flying out of Nice would be OK,
but I am wondering if the drive from Nice to Paris would yield some nice sights?
I LOVE driving and it is common for me to drive 1,000 miles in a day in the USA
when on vacation.

Posted by
1550 posts

First, what month? Driving along the coast in July or August would be congested--I would want to avoid that.
Second, subtract the number of days you wish to spend in Rome, Paris, and Nice to determine how many days you would have for your road trip. If not enough time, it may not be worth it.
Third, the drop-off fee is a big factor in my opinion. There are ways around it though--cars rented separately for the Italy and France portions (train between). Or, just drive in one country and use train for the other.
Answer those questions and you should be able to determine the feasibility.

Use viamichelin for route planning.

Posted by
2497 posts

Your travel plans seem very vague at this point. A car is a great tool if you are visiting mainly rural areas such as the small villages of Tuscany or Provence. BUT if your travels will include cities, then a car becomes a huge PITA due to pedestrianised or local traffic only areas, and difficulty parking. Many hotels won't have their own parking lots.

Most of Europe is well served by public transit - trains and buses. And you don't have to worry about the expenses of tolls, gas, and huge drop off fees when going from one country to another. I would suggest reading Rick's transportation tips, and especially https://www.seat61.com. That site should be mandatory reading for anyone new to travelling in Europe. You may find it will be both easier and cheaper to travel primarily by rail, and only renting a car for short periods to explore any out of the way places.

And I agree that there should be no need to travel all he way to Paris if it's only to fly home. Look at flights out of Nice or Marseilles. Even if those flights connect in CDG for the TA portion, you'll save time.

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you folks, this is why I am asking here, in Rick's site.
My plan is to go in early October, possibly even the last week of September and into October,
and spend somewhere around 14-16 days there, leave the USA on a Thursday, come back on a Saturday,
or even leave on a Tuesday and come back 16 days later...
Why a car? I don't need one if I can figure out all the public transportation, I just figured I love to drive, so..
And I do understand a lot of places I want to go don't even allow cars into their villages, I can deal with that.
I need to do a lot more reading.

Posted by
2579 posts

Twelve days is not a lot to cover that much ground. It's certainly doable, but you won't have a whole lot of time to sightsee along the way, especially if you want a couple of days at each end to see Rome and Paris. I would say to choose two locations to stop for a few nights. It looks like Cinque Terre is already going to be one of these, and Nice or somewhere near Nice for the other one.

Posted by
16996 posts

The express trains (Freccia... in Italy and TGV in France) will move you between major cities much, much faster than you can drive. If you are willing to commit to specific dates and times and buy non-refundable tickets way in advance, the rail fares will be very cheap. (By comparison, fuel will be very expensive.)

If you have just 12 days and want to see Rome, Cinque Terre and Nice (not to mention Paris), you will have precious little extra time for stops along the way, making a car considerably less useful than you are probably imagining. The first thing to do is be very precise about how many nights you can spend in Europe (not counting the night on the plane) and the bare minimum number of nights you will want at the known stops.

Keep in mind that when you're not on a tour, you do not necessarily get dropped off at and picked up from the door of your hotel. You need to find your own way from place to place, choose your own restaurant, buy your own tickets to attractions. There are many advantages to independent travel (and for most of us it's the way we prefer more times than not), but it isn't the most efficient way to move from City A to City B to City C. On an independent trip, a lot of us figure 3 nights in a city is barely more than 2 days of sightseeing time, 4 nights yields just over 3 days, etc.

If you have a yearning for a European road trip, I'd recommend planning to visit primarily small towns in a single country. On a trip like that, there will be significant benefits to having a car, and it would be a great trip. It would not, however, start in Rome and end up in Paris 12 days later.

Posted by
1550 posts

Try for September, as October can be pretty rainy. You'll need to be prepared for the parking situation (read up on ZTL), but at that time of year, I would not be too concerned.
Go check out some good guides to the Riviera (Eyewitness is a good one). There is much more the the area than Cinque Terre (where you would not want a car), so size up where you would want to stop, etc., to see what the best plan would be. I think it's way too early to dismiss the car--or make any decisions really. The only thing I know is that I would not pay several hundred to drop off the car in France!

Posted by
883 posts

I have driven from Paris to Northern Italy (in a rented motorhome, no less) and would state categorically that if you are looking for scenic drives, this isn't the one I would necessarily choose. It is a long trip just from Paris to Nice, and you get to cruise down the Autoroute at highway speeds through farmlands with the occasional city to break the monotony. Don't get me wrong--there are things to be seen (think Ohio and Indiana) along the way, but it's not like a scenic drive in the Rockies or the Alps, for that matter.

The stretch from Nice to Genoa is Tunnel Land, with buttloads of tunnels blocking your views of the Med to the South and West, with trucks and Ferraris passing you at high speed. It wasn't a necessarily pleasant journey, and my kids were surly as we finally got clear of Genoa.

Trains, on the other hand, were clean, efficient, and fast, with the opportunity to get some napping done and beers consumed along the way.

You don't mention if you will be spending any appreciable time in Rome, or at the CT, before heading into France. With only 12 days, this is a busman's holiday, full of movement without end and devoid of the leisure components of what I view a vacation to contain.

There are trains to everywhere, and buses to the places trains won't go. See about flying out of Nice to save aggravation with the task of getting from Point A to Point B.

Posted by
16996 posts

Yes, check out flights from Nice. I was able to fly into Nice in 2017 with a single stop in Europe (Amsterdam, I believe); you'd probably need two stops to get home from there, but if the cost is reasonable (it was fine for me), I would find that preferable to traveling all the way back to Paris and spending the night at the airport. This is assuming that you don't want to spend part of your vacation in Paris, of course. (If you do, you already have at least one stop too many, in my view.)

Posted by
23728 posts

wbfey1 said what I wanted to say but I'm afraid that I'm often seen as negative and didn't want to share the negatives of the drive contemplated.

That said, now that the pussycat is out of the cloth receptacle, the description I use for the road between Genova (Genoa) and the French border is a Venetian Blind. It really truly is tunnel after tunnel after tunnel after tunnel, and neither the inside the tunnel road nor the bits between the tunnels can be described as anything like straight. Narrow too. The highway that just fell down was in Genova.

Tolls in Italy are high, there are speed cameras, fuel is the most expensive in Europe, they have TUTOR, there are ZTLs with delayed high fines, and IDPs are required. If any of those abbreviations are unknown it is worth looking them up or asking. Parking is very expensive or non-existent.

Tolls in France are extremely high (in the range of €90 to €100 each way from north to south (I saw each way because of the cost of repatriating the car will include it for the return journey), speed cameras are everywhere, fuel is very expensive (that's one of the reasons for last week's riots), IDPs are required (or at least are the cheapest and easiest way of meeting French law), and parking in Nice is extremely difficult. When I visit there I often marvel at how many cars have dents from parking.

I understand that appeal of a road trip - I've done my share, and I drive to Europe several times a year. The trip you are contemplating has a few hazards however, and the route you will have to take won't be scenic.

Figuring out the trains can, with a little information on how to do it, can be very straightforward and easy.

Posted by
11681 posts

“Buttloads of tunnels blocking your view. . . “.

Yep. I drove the “coast” between La Spezia (just below the Cinque Terre) and Portofino with friends years ago. All I remember is tunnels. No beautiful coastline views. And they weren’t your nice modern well-lit Swiss tunnels; they were dark, narrow, and creepy. Maybe the tunnels have been updated since then, but they are still tunnels.
Go on Google maps satellite view and look closely at the coast in that area. There are roads, to be sure, but not many that hug the coast and afford you beautiful views. And the ones higher up are narrow, twisty, and follow a very convoluted path because of the rugged terrain.

If you want a lovely drive along a coast, come to the Pacific Northwest and drive the Oregon coast, or Highway 1 in California. Trains work much better in Italy, especially with your limited time. You have 2-3 days for Rome, 2 for Cinque Terre, a few for Nice and the French Riviera, and 2-3 for Paris. If you skip Paris and fly back from Nice, you have more time, it it is still not worth the time, expense and hassle of driving up the Ligurian coast. Take the train between towns and villages and enjoy the time with feet on the ground and views.

Posted by
16996 posts

Absolutely add as many days as you can. As you do your research, I guarantee that your "I wanna see that" list will grow and grow. The more days you have, the less cutting you'll have to do. I won't promise that the cutting will be pain-free. I had to cut Paris in 2017 and I fear it may happen again next year.

Posted by
21 posts

I appreciate all the replies, let me say I have no plans to 'see' Paris or Rome - just go thru the airports there,
arrive there, stay overnight, and leave the next day.

Posted by
21 posts

I am cancelling the thought of renting a car, I will find trains and busses to do what I want to do.
And for the folks that are saying how boring the drive would be, I am in Nebraska - I am pretty used to boring drives,
especially when I drive across Wyoming, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, etc.

Posted by
31030 posts

Fredman,

Based on what you've posted about your plans, using well planned trains and buses is undoubtedly the best idea. The group here will be able to help you work out the details.

As Nigel mentioned, if you had decided to use a rental car, each driver would have needed to obtain a compulsory International Driver's Permit for driving in both countries, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. For driving in Italy you would have had to be extremely vigilant to avoid the ZTL (limited traffic) zones which exist in many Italian cities. Some ZTL's used automated cameras so difficult to avoid getting fined. EACH pass through one will result in hefty fines.

Using trains (and especially the high speed versions that travel at up to 300 km/h) is also a much more efficient use of limited travel time. These travel downtown-to-downtown and no parking issues.

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
21 posts

Thanks Ken. I did get an Int'l DL when i was in Europe last, but never used it.
They are only good for one year so it is expired.
Now I am off to find the best couple of books to help me figure out transportation,
and current websites as well..

Posted by
8889 posts

I did get an Int'l DL when i was in Europe last, but never used it.

That is a common post, but untrue. It is like saying you didn't use your home driving licence when you drive to work, because nobody asked to see it.
It is a legal requirement to have an IDP (Permit not licence). The car rental may not ask to see it, but if you are stopped by the police and don't have both the IDP and your licence, you will have a big problem.

Posted by
698 posts

I will just add congratulations on planning your own trip! It’s true that YOU have to manage the details, but it’s also true that you are in charge of your own time and making sure your own interests are the prime consideration. You are now on the right track with most likely not needing a car for this type of trip and I like that you are doing your research to determine where you really want to go with the limited time you have.

Posted by
21 posts

No, Chris, I really didn't use it, I didn't rent a car at all.
I think one reason I got it was I thought it might be a
form of 'second ID' even though I never rented a car..

Posted by
23728 posts

well you can't blame the IDP for being un-needed and of no use if you never drove.

Posted by
21 posts

I don't recall 'blaming' it for anything, all I said is I acquired one but did not use it.
I didn't know if I MIGHT have a use for it.

Posted by
31030 posts

Fredman,

One of the best websites for checking rail schedules anywhere in Europe is - https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml (German rail site).

The definitive guide for anything you ever wanted to know about rail travel is - https://www.seat61.com/ .

If you decide to pre-purchase any of your rail tickets, one of the best sites I've found is - https://www.trainline.eu/ . You'll have to register on the site first, but after that it's very user friendly. They don't yet sell tickets for all rail networks in Europe, but at the moment they offer Germany, France, Italy, Spain and several other countries. You can also buy tickets on the websites for each rail network, but I prefer to use the "one stop shopping" approach as much as possible.

There are some potentially expensive caveats to be aware of when using trains or buses in some countries, especially Italy. Once you have an Itinerary worked out, it will be easier to comment on that.

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
21 posts

Thanks Ken. I see you are into military history, so am I, one thing I would like to do is
arrange a vacation to the UK and Germany to visit WWII airfield sites and museums. I have been reading
a lot of books, especially memoirs written by German and Soviet pilots, it is very intriguing to read
about things from their perspectives. People that read books written by only American pilots
have no real idea of how some things went on, I learned a lot there, too..

Posted by
362 posts

To the OP. Don’t get me wrong this site is extremely useful, but don’t let it unduly influence what you are doing. This site (well it’s users actually) has a very strong set of biases and one of the biggest is against the car for anything but outvof the way trips and short day hops. I believe that this may stem from Rick Steves or at least how he presents things on his shows.
As such the folks here for whatever reason tend to be very anti car. And in some instances that is fine, only a fool would drive in Paris or London for example. But that means that for those of us that like to get out into the country and just site see while driving around this is not generally a well supported idea on this site. Also some of the problems with mass transit and with people with som limited abilities usie of mass transit that can make a car more appealing are often overlooked. Once again that is nothing against this site but it most definitely is something you as a new poster on this site need to be aware of.
This is NOT the site to seek out unbiased upiinions on car trips.
As for the cost of the car return fee. That all depends, I have seen big fees and I have seen very very little fees. Personally I have not figured out the logic. This year I rented a car in Germany drovecinto Switzerland intending on returning it to Germany but it broke down, so I had to get a different car. And that was a bit of an issue as only a couple of cars were available in the town I was at that could be driven back into Germany, I never did figure out why. But I ended up with a BMW X5.

As for the money only you can decide if that is a problem but think of it this way. How often are you going to go to Europe? If you will be back a lot that is one thing but if this is a once in a lifetime trip that is something else. If you are on a vert tight budget then it can matter but if you are spend 6 to 10 grand then the cost may very well be irrelevant. It is one thing to be frugal it is another thing to be so cheep that you letting a relatively small expense deprive you of what you want to do on an expensive trip.
That being said.
Last year in late Sept early Oct I spent about 7 days in the south of France. I took the TGV to Avignon and drove from Avignon to Nice spent a couple nights in Nice and returned to Avignon, parking in Avignon was a pain in the But but I stayed inside the old wall. So that explains that.
Note that the train trip to Avignon from Paris was dull as Kansas and I would not recommend driving it. The drive to Nice on the highway was nothing to write home about.
In Nice I had a parking lot just around the block from my hotel and never had an issue.
I drove from Nice into a Italy to s little town call Ventimiglia. And back to Nice on one day. Driving along the cost on the old roads on the way in and back on the highway, I drove through Monaco because I wanted to drive as much as I could the famous F1 track.
The last day I started in Nice and drive along the cost as far as St Tropez. I stopped here and there to admire the view. I hugged the water as much as possible (and that is the vast vast majority of the time) And if you like driving that streatch was amazing. The views were unbelievable. The first view of St Tropez in the distance was just stunning. And frankly the whole drive along the Cost from just the other Side of Monaco was just stunning, But I grew up watching “To Catch a Thief”. So I may be biased.
We stoped in Cannes and waded in the water (got very lucky with the parking there). And a number of other spots were also nice, picked up som food and had a picknic in a park that had an old WW2 landing craft in it. And many other places to stop and admire the view.
The drive itself was a blast, I was driving a little BMW 1 series with a stick and driving along the water on The twisty curve was fantastic
(To Be continued)

Posted by
362 posts

After St Tropez I drove over the mountains/hills and back to Avignon, this was also a fun drive with nice views and interesting little towns.

So my advice to you is to take the train until you get to Nice, then I would rent a car and drive along the coast roads into St Tropez or so as I think that this drive has s exactly what you are looking for.

I wish I could post a couple of photos I took as I think this is what you are thinking with you original idea about driving.

Posted by
21 posts

I appreciate that, Doug.
Right now, I plan on flying into somewhere like Geneva, someplace I can stay overnight,
and take a nice train trip to La Spezia-Cinque Terre area or possibly somewhere else for a few days and THEN
go towards Cinque Terre/Vernazza.
In looking at train travel, it is pretty cheap, but I will tell you I DO plan on getting a car for maybe
a couple of days to go into the country, but the entire trip won't be totally 'car based'.
It remains to be seen just exactly where I will fly into, to me it seems Rome or Paris are just too 'normal',
so I am looking for a place common enough that it isn't too expensive, but also far enough away I can
enjoy a long train ride or two thru the countryside.
MY problem is that I have a lot of options, and you cannot see everywhere enough to enjoy it, and I don't
want to spend most of the time going from point A to point B, and then from point B to point C... I want to
settle in at a couple of places and spend 3 or 4 days in each, about 11 or 12 days total besides 2 air travel days.
I like your reference to Kansas, since I am in Nebraska and can relate. It's not that bad,

Posted by
362 posts

Don’t get me wron I would never drive long distance as my primary transport. I took a train long distance and rented cars as needed.
This year I did rent a car for use in Austria and Switzerland and Germany. But that was because I wanted to drive to several somewhat remote locations in all three Countries so a car was needed. But I did not pick it up until on my way out of Munich and I dropped it off the moment I got to Koln. And I was in small towns or remote locations in between. And I was traveling with my 87 year old father so that does effect the drive vs public transit argument a bit.
In my case the Driver ve through Austria and Switzerland were nice and the views were great and we got to stop at a couple little places, so it was more then worth it,
In Germany we used the car to get places that only busses went and even the busses were not as convenient as the walk from /to the bus would have been a bit rough for my Father.

So it all depends . I am looking at a possible trip to Italy next year and if so I will use mass transit in the cities and between cities but if I get outside the cities I would plan to rent a car. Even if only for a day trip to drive through the country side.
Many folks are only interested in the big tourist locations and never get out into the middle of no place t see what the country looks like to those not living in the big cities but for me that is half the fun.
In Germany we stopped in this tiny little town and pulled off the road to look around. We got some odd looks when we were talking in English. But the fact LHS were realy friendly once they realized that my Dad spoke German. We stopped because the one house used to be my Great Grandmothers house and my dad used to visit and spent many a day in that house.

So don’t be afraid of getting out and seeing the less touristy areas.

Posted by
21 posts

Doug, that is what I plan on doing: renting a car as I see fit. The problem is I won't have a lot
of time to drive or go places I have no idea about, it is very likely I will never go back to Italy
after this trip - there are too many other places I want to see around the world.
I have NO plans to run around in Rome or Paris, the big cities, I DO want to see the 'lesser'
destinations, I know Cinque Terre/Vernazza are pretty big tourist areas, but I will be doing a
lot of research over the nest few months to decide where I may want to go, I just don't want
to aim for a place and be disappointed.
I will probably AirBNB most places, so once I commit to 4 days each at 2-3 places, I am kinda
tied to those places.
I will find some neat places I am sure, La Spezia or Genoa will be one place I 'work' out of, and
will figure out the other two in a couple of months...
Thank you sir..