I am a solo traveler with an open itinerary arriving in Nice. I want to spend a few days on the riviera, see the grand canyon and end up in the Avignon area as a home based before heading to Lyon and then Annecy and/or Chamnoix. I have 11 days. The grand canyon is 2 hours north of Nice and 3 hours east of Avignon. I would like comments on the drive through the mountains. I have not driven a manual transmission in decades but have driven mountains in the northwest. If need be, I could bypass the grand canyon and do the small gauge train to Digne with either a round trip and depart Nice or find a way to get from Digne to Avignon. Any assistance would be appreciated.
I have done the drive and although I drive a manual here in the US as well as in Europe, it is not a bad drive. Especially if you are used to the mountains... it is all relative however... I drove the Amalfi coast and would not like to do that again. I drove to Moustiers and it was beautiful. The Grand Canyon of France was absolutely stunning and I am so glad I saw it. If you have ever driven a stick it is like riding a bike... you will be used to it in a few minutes. However, if you prefer you can rent an automatic (I did on my first trip there as I had a cast on my right arm and did not want to try and shift...and it was not that much more than a manual )
I throughly agree with everything Terry Kathryn wrote. Moustiers is a not to be missed.
In 2005 I drove from Nice to a little village west of Apt in the Luberon and took the route on the south side of the canyon. Beautiful! It was not at all difficult. There are plenty of switchbacks, but the road is not especially steep and it is not particularly narrow. Since you've driven mountain roads in the northwest, you'll do fine.