We plan to visit Provence and Southern France next May/June. We have two sons- 20 & 26. I'd like to rent a car and drive myself, but my wife's clinical anxiety level won't allow her to enjoy vacation in that way. We only have 10 days so don't want to waste too much time on public transportation. Any thoughts on a reasonably priced tour guide with car or just a private car in that area? Thank you.
could either of the sons be the driver?
So you wife would be happy with a stranger driving but not her husband?
Trains are as fast or faster than driving to different locations. You can enjoy southern France or Provence on public transportation quite easily. Are you looking for a tour guide and driver for a day or the whole 10 days?
I spent two weeks on a Road Scholar tour last month. We were randomly assigned a guide named Tom - and over the course of that two weeks we had an unbelievable time with him. Tom is funny, creative, organized and able to reschedule sites on a dime for COVID issues. He knows his history, his current events, his French foods and his sports. He’s easy to talk to - and I was sad to part ways with him. Many of our Road Scholar tour mates - and they are very well-traveled - said Tom was their best guide ever.
Tom does private tours and his prices were extremely reasonable - but you’d need to reach out to him for specifics. He can help you plan an itinerary or just use the mapping you want. He has access to a private mini-van that he can drive for your group or you can hire a driver as well.
Tom is British but married to a French woman. His English is impeccable.
You can Private Message me on this site and I can give you way more detailed notes if you want.
Tom’s full name is Tom Thal-Jantzen. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie- Thank you so much! That's great information. Seems like exactly what we're looking for. We did Kensington tours in Inida with a private car but the itinerary was set for us and there was a lot of down time.
My hesitation with public transportation is getting from one local site to the next which are maybe 2 miles apart. Also going to small towns which I'd like to do.
Yes, my wife would be more comfortable with a "native" who knows the roads and isn't looking at GPS for directions. None of us speak fluent French.
The "natives", as you say, are as likely to use GPS as the tourists! I typically don't, and my mates think I'm weird.
This being said, there is plenty to fill 10 days in southeastern France without ever stepping foot in a car and without wasting time! Split your time between Avignon and Nice, with perhaps Marseille or Aix in between, and you're good to go.
There's a regional train line running along the coast from Menton (near the Italian border) almost to St-Tropez. There is no easier way to get to the coastal towns than via that train. Traffic can be bad and parking a challenge. A car can save time if much of what you want to do lies in villages up in the hills (Eze, St-Paul-de-Vence, etc.). I can't comment on parking because I took buses.
The major towns in Provence (Arles, Avignon, Nimes, Aix-en-Provence, etc. are well-connected by trains). A car is extremely handy for the small places like the Luberon villages.