UKC

Verdon by train or car

New Topic
This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 laurafennelly 23 Jul 2022

Hoping to plan a trip to Verdon Gorge in October but struggling to decide the most cost/time effective way to travel without flying. Trains are a good option to get to the south of France but then you need to rent a car which makes it quite expensive. Driving the whole way is long and potentially as expensive with tolls and petrol. Anybody done this or similar and can offer advice?  Any good recommendations for cheap ways to rent a car in France? All help much appreciated!

 climbingpixie 23 Jul 2022
In reply to laurafennelly:

We did Céüse and Verdon like this on a two week trip. Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Avignon and hired a car at the station. It wasn't cheap, especially compared to flying, but we decided it was worth the extra financial hit for environmental benefits. It's a nice way to travel, I really enjoyed the journey (apart from the dash across Paris between stations). We've also done Seynes like this, as well as using the Eurostar for our last skiing holiday. I definitely couldn't be arsed to drive to the Verdon unless I was going to be there for long enough (a month maybe?) for it to be worth the unpleasantness.

I don't know what your motivation is for avoiding flying but if it's carbon emissions related it's worth noting that driving if there's only two of you in the car isn't all that environmentally friendly. Better than flying, of course, but much closer to flying emissions levels than to electrified rail.

 Adrien 24 Jul 2022
In reply to laurafennelly:

If you travel by train it could be worth buying one of the discount cards; if you're over 27 the SNCF call it something like carte avantage weekend ou adulte. It's 50€ but the discounts also apply to a second traveller so chances are you'll get your money's worth off it with just one round trip, AND it also gives you a 15% discount on car rentals if you rent with Avis. Worth comparing priced at several stations just in case, eg Valence (ideally Valence TGV, not Valence ville which is downtown and a bit of a pain) is perhaps cheaper than Aix although slightly further from the Verdon. Though Aix is close to the Calanques in case the weather craps out in the Verdon.

(Unfortunately the discounts don't apply to Eurostar tickets...)

 kevin stephens 24 Jul 2022
In reply to laurafennelly:

The weather can be unreliable in Verdon then, you may need some flexibility, for example to relocate to the Calanques  

 Uncle Derek 24 Jul 2022
In reply to laurafennelly:

If you are interested in travelling by train have a look at https://www.seat61.com and a great tool for train route planning is https://www.bahn.com/en.

Your nearest station to Verdon appears to be Manosque Gréoux les Bains, but  ¯_(ツ)_/¯ . With trains, the most expensive is getting out of the UK. Possibly a Bus or Hitchike from Manosque Gréoux les Bains.
You will find car hire much more expensive this year.

 duncan 24 Jul 2022
In reply to laurafennelly:

Purely from a cost perspective, comparison of driving the whole way versus plane or train plus car rental depends on several factors including how many people are in the car and long you are staying for. The last time I did the calculation for two people, two weeks favoured renting, three weeks favoured driving but recent increases in car rental may have shifted the tipping point. 

https://www.viamichelin.com/   will give you a feel for driving costs. Driving my eurobox from London to La Palud is about £240 not including ferry (taking 14 hours with a carbon footprint of 178.03 kg).

I've done London to Ceuse by train and hire car a couple of times. It is a very civilised way to travel but not the cheapest. Getting across Paris is straightforward with the instructions here: https://showmethejourney.com/travel-info-and-tips/gare-du-nord-to-gare-de-lyon-by-rer/ 

It's worth checking car hire costs from different pick-up points. On a recent trip I rented a car from Lyon rather than further south as the cost was somewhat cheaper (picking the car up in the town was ~€200 less than from the airport). Good for Ceuse but not the Verdon. 

Only you will know how much you're willing to pay for time and energy saved, convenience, and reducing your carbon footprint.

OP laurafennelly 24 Jul 2022
In reply to all:

Thanks everyone, lots of really helpful info.

OP laurafennelly 24 Jul 2022
In reply to kevin stephens:

What time of year do you think is most reliable weather wise? I was just going off the UKC Destination guide but this is quite old now. 

 kevin stephens 24 Jul 2022
In reply to laurafennelly: I don’t think there’s a simple answer to this Sep or Oct. Hope for the best but plan for the worst

 seankenny 24 Jul 2022
In reply to laurafennelly:

> What time of year do you think is most reliable weather wise? I was just going off the UKC Destination guide but this is quite old now. 

My limited experience suggests autumn (once, great) is better than spring (twice, both rainy). Late October was very good during the day but freezing at night, fine for shorter routes but getting stuck on a big route at this time would be very serious. 
 

If it is rainy then Toulon and Chateauvert are do-able. I’m of the view that the climbing in the Calanques is crap but it is super pretty (based on going to a few different areas at either end but not venturing into the middle and more remote part). 

Post edited at 14:15
 jon_gill1 24 Jul 2022
In reply to laurafennelly:

I’ve been to Verdon 5 times but always found October to be the best as Springtime the snow has still been lingering but TBF it’s never really caused an issue, just meant big walk ins as the road is shut during the winter months and sometimes hasn’t yet opened in the early spring months…. It does get very pretty cold at night in October but then I’ve also seen it hit 32 degrees in the day time! I highly rate the venue and as others have said Chateauvert is a great spot to head to as well with some routes staying dry in the rain! 

In reply to laurafennelly:

Ouicar is a person to person car rental service run by the sncf. I use it often, and it's very cheap, i usually find a car for 20-35e per day. Plus there are some interesting options including hybrids, lpg, and electrics depending where you pick it up from. Highly recommend. You can also try blablacar, also run by sncf, for getting around in the 04 and 06, which aren't super well train-serviced compared to farther north. 

OP laurafennelly 28 Jul 2022
In reply to All:

Thanks all, much appreciated!

 James FR 28 Jul 2022
In reply to duncan:

> It's worth checking car hire costs from different pick-up points. On a recent trip I rented a car from Lyon rather than further south as the cost was somewhat cheaper (picking the car up in the town was ~€200 less than from the airport). Good for Ceuse but not the Verdon. 

Also for some places on the main Lyon-Marseille line you might be able to find trains that go direct from Lille, bypassing Paris. Eurostar from London to Lille then a TGV onwards makes the journey a bit easier.

There are two stations in Lille (Lille Europe and Lille Flandres), but they are walking distance apart.

 Fellover 28 Jul 2022
In reply to laurafennelly:

I drove there last year in a car of 5 people. It was a lot cheaper than the train (someone else came via train and hire car). We got there in one day with an early ferry. It started raining on our last day, so for the way back we left at a more leisurely time and split the journey over two days. The driving was really not that bad imo, we split it between two people.

In reply to laurafennelly:

Went by train to Verdon years ago and hitched the last leg. However, that was about my last ever hitch. We were picked up on the return journey by a seemingly mild-mannered chap in an old Peugeot: driving gloves, in-car lift music, you get the picture. He  asked us where we wanted to go and then proceeded to drive in an insane way at a constant speed overtaking anywhere: blind bends, into oncoming traffic, cars all over the road avoiding him with us stuck under 2 huge rucksacks in the back seat. We eventually arrived at the station and staggered out numbed ,he politely bade us goodbye and turned round and went off back the way he'd come!  

We were waiting for a mate who got a lift on a bike and after a couple of beers were looking forward to telling him our story. However, he turned up clothes in shreds and covered in blood after coming off the bike and scraping 30 yards down the road which somewhat trumped our story! 

We were pleased to get aboard the train

 henwardian 28 Jul 2022
In reply to laurafennelly:

I've driven there a few times. I have a van that is just high enough that it usually gets charged at a higher toll rate too so by and large I avoid the peage.

What I've taken to doing in the last few years, particularly for France, is having a play with the route options beforehand on google maps and a toll calculator website. You can see which sections are the most expensive in terms of tolls and you can see which sections save the most time and decide on a few bits of toll road to use to save time in the most economic way. Luckily there aren't really any mountains between Calais and the Verdon so even avoiding the peage the whole way doesn't add too too much extra time. I'd recommend avoiding the peage at least as far as Dijon as it's pretty quick roads up to there.

Also, you can advertise your free seats on UKC and get a bit of fuel/toll contribution that way too.

It's worth thinking about how your time stacks up. Including the ferry and driving in the UK it is fully 2 days of driving to get to the Verdon and 2 days to get back. If you are going for a month that's fine but if you were going for a week it would just be silly. If you fly and hire a car, you could feasibly spend only half a day in each direction. I don't know enough about the trains to comment.

I would say that you _can_ do the Verdon without a car and just take a backpack but it would be very limiting because there are many good sectors that are too spread out to walk to and just going down to the village shop to stock up on supplies would become a bit of a mission.

 henwardian 28 Jul 2022
In reply to laurafennelly:

> What time of year do you think is most reliable weather wise? I was just going off the UKC Destination guide but this is quite old now. 

My 2 cents: October is a great time for the Verdon. I'm Scottish so I would mostly be trying to climb in the shade at that time of year - too hot in the sun for me. But even on the popular North side the angles of the cliff mean you can easily choose shade or sun in the morning or afternoon depending on the weather/your tastes and generally it will not get too hot to climb (but obviously weather is weather, so occasionally it will).

OP laurafennelly 28 Jul 2022
In reply to James FR:

Thank you! This was some very good beta, much cheaper and more convenient to change at Lille.

 Paul Evans 30 Jul 2022
In reply to kevin stephens:

Surely that never happens Kevin


New Topic
This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Loading Notifications...