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Arles - Dordogne-Paris

We are staring in Venice. coming to France, We have 7 days and I have 3 dots to connect. We want to see (1) Arles and (2)Caves in Dordogne and (3)need to end in Paris ( Paris a separate item, not included in this question or the 7 days.. meeting a RS tour in Paris. I just need to get us there and probably drop a car somewhere that makes sense ) There are 4 of us so car rental seems cheaper than train. this leg is just about how to get From Venice to France. See Caves and Arles OR Arles and Caves ( don't care which we do first) return a car ( in or outside Paris) and get us all into Paris. looking at flying in to Nice, or Toulouse, or night train from Venice to Dijon ( not scared of discomfort of Thello overnight train) or anything else you amazing folks come up with. thank you. mom and family travel chick.
Chris.

Posted by
3191 posts

In my opinion, a rental car is the best option for getting around in the Dordogne, especially for cave visits with four people. A friendly warning: do your homework Some of the caves are being closed off, putting more pressure on the remaining open ones. Find out which take reservations, and snag four as soon as you nail down your dates. Make sure your information is up-to-date. I have read that some of the caves that took reservations in the past, no longer do so. While in the area, you should take in L'Abri du Cap Blanc, a 42 ft.frieze depicting horses, carved into a limestone cliff. A worthwhile complement to your cave visits is the Musee National de Prehistoire in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac.

Posted by
803 posts

if 4 people I'd just drive all the way to paris. maybe stop by somewhere in the Loire valley, but if you compare train cost vs. rental you might be able to do better with a rental car.

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks Rosilyn and David, I am glad to hear car makes sense. So.... coming from Venice.... and wanting to get a car and see caves ( thanks for heads up regarding these.. ) and Arles Where would anyone suggest we collect the car. ( coming from Venice) and wanting to cover Caves, Arles and end in Paris. ? thanks all,
Chris

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks Rosilyn and David, I am glad to hear car makes sense. So.... coming from Venice.... and wanting to get a car and see caves ( thanks for heads up regarding these.. ) and Arles Where would anyone suggest we collect the car. ( coming from Venice) and wanting to cover Caves, Arles and end in Paris. ? thanks all,
Chris

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks Rosilyn and David, I am glad to hear car makes sense. So.... coming from Venice.... and wanting to get a car and see caves ( thanks for heads up regarding these.. ) and Arles Where would anyone suggest we collect the car. ( coming from Venice) and wanting to cover Caves, Arles and end in Paris. ? thanks all,
Chris

Posted by
8 posts

It may not be cost effective, but the TGV train from Avignon to Paris is nice and convenient if you don't want to drive all the way to Paris. Keep in mind some roads are tolled. Definitely make a reservation for the caves. We were there in the off season and managed to get some same day, in French, but that was a lark.

Posted by
4125 posts

Chris, I don't know if it is possible or what it costs, but a flight to Marseilles (versus Nice) would save you some time on the ground in Provence. Each leg of the trip (Arles > Dordogne and Dordogne > Paris) is probably about 6-1/2 to 7 hours. This does not leave you much time for sightseeing, but you can get a taste. On the other hand if you fly into Toulouse or Bordeaux (whichever is cheaper) and drive to the Dordogne first, then to Arles you can take the train to Paris in less than 3 hours. You can return the car right near the Avignon TGV station. You'll have to price this out (it can be really cheap if you buy early), but even if it costs more you will have more time to sightsee that way. It's what I would do, but the other way works also. To answer your other question: Pick up a car at whichever airport you fly into.

Posted by
26414 posts

If you collect your car in Venice (or anywhere in Italy) and leave it in France you will pay many many of your dollars in special international fees. If you drive in Italy you will need an International Drivers Permit in addition to your normal full license for each driver, available at AAA in the USA. If you happen to drive through Switzerland on the way you weill require a CHF40 sticker for the windscreen called a Vignette. Remember not to try to drive in Venice. Watch out for the dreaded ZTLs throughout Italy and similar restrictions elsewhere. Keep your car under the posted or unposted limit or you will likely have a photographic souvenier of your journey.

Posted by
29 posts

Thank you everyone. We have the beginnings of a plan. we are flying into Marseilles. flying in to Toulouse and Bordeaux, great ideas and tried it, but pretty steep cost increase when multiplied times 4. no driving in Venice???... shoot, I had my giant car snorkel all packed ( meant to be friendly , not snarky) seriously thank you Nigel, I think we won't try to drive until France and I will be a very good girl. ( especially after your kind warning). I had ignored Giant Marseilles as an airport. Thank you for that suggestion. Thank you everyone.
~chris

Posted by
50 posts

We picked up a car just outside Venice and it worked quite well. We took the Traghetto (sp?) to the edge of town where there are streets and rented from Hertz. We have driven from one country to the next and sometimes the drop off fees aren't too bad (once they were only 3 euro per day). We are renting a car as we leave Paris next summer to go to the French countryside and it was quite reasonable (approx. 115 Euro per week). Pick up is right in the first arrondisement. If you want to fly inexpensively, look at Easyjet.com. Also, the sky scanner app is helpful to look for low prices if you know what day you want to travel.

Posted by
803 posts

there is a cave I visited didn't require reservation and it's authentic. can't recall the name now, but it's not far from salart. it's in the woods there is no way you can get there with public transportation. also note that there are cave dwellings people dug on the hills you can visit. not prehistoric, but also very interesting. I saw a few and really liked them. all within 1 day drive from salart.

Posted by
1809 posts

From Venice fly to Marseilles OR Toulouse OR Bordeaux whichever is cheapest and most convenient. From there rent a car and drive the rest of the way. You will want a car in Provence and the Dordogne and the drive between isn't too bad at all. You could drive to Paris which for four people would be the most economical and not much more time than a train. Flying to Paris to make your connection with a safe layover time would also be an option. A train from Venice to Provence would entail four or five transfers with a good chance of missing a connection and take upto 18 hours.

Posted by
26414 posts

A train from Venice to Provence would entail four or five transfers with a good chance of missing a connection and take upto 18 hours. But most people could do Venezia to Avignon by train in 11 to 12 hours and 3 or 4 connections. The train is vastly faster from Provence to Paris. The train goes 300 kph and takes about 3 hours from Avignon to Paris. The car will have to go about 700 km and the speed limit on Autoroutes is 130 kph in the sun and 110 kph in the rain. A car will take not much more than a whisker's width less than 7 hours.

Posted by
1809 posts

When I booked Avignon to Florence it was 12 hours and four transfers with two of them being less than 15 minutes. One late train and your schedule is toast and you won't get to your destination till late at night when it is difficult to check into a hotel. It is a marathon of train travel and Venice is farther. While the train to Paris from Avignon is very fast, getting to the station and waiting for the train takes additional time. The cost for four people compared to driving should be a lot and a factor to consider. Probably an average of $100 per person (if you are savvy and go on the French site in advance) compared to another day of rental gas and tolls, I'm sure Ed could tell us the cost.

Posted by
29 posts

Hey all, We kind of have a plan. we are flying into Marseilles, ( booked) renting a car ( not yet booked) at airport and returning it in Paris.. .... somewhere. thank you everyone very much for all your help , it has gotten me through a tricky leg of our trip. I'll try to get back on after we have done this in case any want to know how it went.
~christine