Do you need a rental car in French Riviera / Côte d’Azur? Is a rental car worth it for the French Riviera round trip? The French Riviera with cities like Cannes, Nice and Saint-Tropez is a world famous destination in the south of France with countless sights and great activities.
Whether a rental car for the French Riviera makes sense for you, I have compiled in the following article. Here you will find the advantages and disadvantages of a rental car on the French Riviera. All Pros and Cons. So you can plan your trip to the famous azure coast optimally and decide for yourself whether you will make the French Riviera round trip with or without a rental car.
French Riviera round trip with rental car or public transport?
Before a French Riviera round trip you surely ask yourself whether a rental car is useful or bus and trains are completely sufficient.
I felt the same way. Therefore the core question:
Is a rental car on the French Riviera worth it?
Short answer: Yes, a rental car on the French Riviera is worth it!
My reasons for this, including advantages and disadvantages, you will learn in this article.
What are the advantages of renting a car on the French Riviera?
#1 No waiting time as with public transport
Definitely my main argument! With a rental car you can save a lot of time on your French Riviera tour. Logically, you have no waiting time for public transport. Whether at the train stations or the bus terminals: You always have to plan a little buffer – not including delays. Buses and trains run regularly, but what exactly “regularly” means, you get to feel especially at less frequented stops.
You may even have to leave a sight earlier than planned to catch a bus or train. That would be a real shame. So I would be annoyed.
Especially in the evening this can be problematic, when the frequency of transportation decreases significantly. Relaxed dinner adieu – as the Frenchman says here – we have to go to the train station! The alternative: A long wait until the next train…
#2 Advantage French Riviera with rental car: short distances
Traveling by rental car on the French Riviera does not involve hours of exhausting driving. The distances between the cities and their sights are relatively short.
In other countries, I find it less relaxing when you know that you have to drive several hours back to your accommodation after a great sunset. On the French Riviera, depending on your time budget, you can leisurely work your way along the coast.
And always book a new accommodation at the current destination of the day. This also keeps the distances manageable and saves you many kilometers – and thus money.
#3 Unique panoramic routes on the French Riviera
For me, a decisive factor in the question of whether the French Riviera round trip takes place with or without a rental car. To experience these unique routes only from a bus would not really be an option.
Corniche des Crêtes
During a French Riviera round trip with a rental car you can enjoy unique panoramic routes like the Corniche des Crêtes.
You are completely free to decide at which of the spectacular viewpoints you want to get out and for how long. If in doubt, you can even just stop anywhere – better safe than sorry, you don’t want to miss anything.
Formula 1 track in Monaco
Another highlight on the French Riviera is a drive through the dazzling Monaco. Here you have the opportunity to explore the city around the famous casino of Monte-Carlo and other things to do in Monaco on an original Formula 1 track.
Formula 1 fans will surely recognize many places here – from TV or video games.
You can also do everything by bus, bike or on foot – but it seems less exciting.
#4 Advantage French Riviera with rental car: to the doorstep
Some train stations and bus stops are not exactly at the sights or at the beach, but a little bit away. The last meters (or kilometers :-P) you have to walk or take an additional cab.
This is especially annoying at the accommodation, if you have to walk with a lot of luggage from and to the train station through the entire city – all the time loss included, of course. This is especially the case if you favor rather inexpensive accommodations somewhat away from the tourist centers.
The always available pinpoint navigation also contributes significantly to this point:
With generous roaming capacity of your cell phone, relaxed navigation is no longer a problem at all nowadays. You can easily use Google Maps or similar providers to navigate through the still unknown area. Especially when searching for a parking space in the confusing city centers with their small, winding alleys, this is absolutely worth its weight in gold!
#5 High flexibility in planning
A rental car increases the flexibility in the time and location dimension immensely:
The advantage of a rental car is obvious everywhere: you decide when to go where. Not the bus schedule or the next train.
In addition, you can reach places very comfortably, where far and wide no bus stop is to be found. Especially places of interest on the French Riviera off the beaten track are easy to reach. There are also some places that would be too difficult to reach for a big bus. This is especially true on the French Riviera for small, hidden bays and beaches. Of course, you could also take a cab or rent a scooter. But even then, of course, the price adds up…
A very important point is the flexibility in booking accommodation. Without a rental car, you’ll have to look around the train stations and bus terminals if you don’t want to carry your luggage all over town. And let’s face it, the areas around a train station are often more seedy than beautiful.
Likewise, cheap accommodation with good value for money is often not found in the absolute tourist center and therefore difficult to reach by public transport.
With cheaper accommodations outside the city centers, you can save money on the French Riviera.
French Riviera with rental car: helpful websites and resources
If you don’t want to take care of everything organizationally yourself, just enjoy your vacation and still don’t want to miss any sights on the French Riviera, great day trips or tours are offered locally:
Don’t forget to pack a suitable travel guide for your French Riviera round trip. I used the Lonely Planet for the French Riviera as a source of inspiration and a practical travel guide on the spot:
What are the disadvantages of renting a car on the French Riviera?
To be on the road with a rental car on the French Riviera brings of course not only advantages. Also on the disadvantages of a rental car on the French Riviera I would like to go into more detail here. So you have the complete overview and can make your own decision easier, whether a rental car is useful for you on this trip or not.
#1Stress and loss of time with car rental
Just drive from A to B and nothing else – dreamlike! With Ubers, cabs or public transport, all the effort and stress is reduced to a minimum. Get in, buy or pay for ticket, get out – over, out, applause.
With rental cars, you have to allow quite a bit of time for pick-up and drop-off. And possibly also some nerves.
Especially if you return the rental car on the same day as the flight, you should plan enough buffer. Otherwise, the vacation feeling and the energy refueled on the beach can quickly be gone.
And all this without damage to the rental car and annoying discussions in addition.
The takeover of our rental car on the French Riviera has unfortunately cost a good 2 hours of our round trip. I would rather have been in the national parks around Marseille on the road than in a small stuffy office in the city center until finally everything was clarified…
#2 Disadvantage French Riviera with rental car: Challenging nationalities
Along the French Riviera you also have to overcome some local challenges with your rental car. On the one hand, there are the local French drivers, who are not necessarily known for their considerate and understanding driving style.
On the other hand, you are certainly not the only rental car in this popular vacation region. Travelers from all over the world are here with more or less large cars on the road. Some are used to driving on the left from home, others turn off super suddenly, because the navi was not quite clear… who does not know it 🙂
#3 The joys of finding a parking space
Some already know it from home, others only get to know the joys and sorrows of young Werther – eh – looking for a parking space with a rental car or winding city streets.
Depending on where you finally find a parking space, you still have to walk back to your accommodation with all your luggage – or you manage to unload everything beforehand.
We don’t even need to talk about additional costs because of the parking spaces. Admittedly, parking in the cities and beaches on the French Riviera was often cheaper than we had feared. But additional costs it was nevertheless.
#4 Concentration and discipline required
To be on the road with a rental car on the French Riviera round trip also requires some concentration and discipline.
The one or other road is quite adventurous. Especially when it goes to the mountain villages like Ezè or to remote beaches and bays. Scratches are quickly in the paint of the car with small carelessness.
Especially if longer distances or long days with late return to the accommodation are in the travel plan, it requires on always drivers who can afford it. Tiredness is absolutely not conducive.
And should you ever want to go celebrate: Someone has to stay sober and bring you home safely even late. This discipline is not necessary with Uber, cab or bus.
But: You can also be on the road with a rental car, but still come back from the party at night with an Uber.
#5 Disadvantage French Riviera with rental car: Higher costs
Usually, rental cars with additional gasoline costs are much more expensive overall compared to public transportation. However, this is not always true, at least not with too large amounts. With special offers of the rental car rental companies offer great bargains. Especially in the off-season you can often really save.
An important point in the calculation is the number of travelers. If you can already divide the cost of the rental car by two or even more people, it gives a completely different picture.
The costs for public transport can not be divided, everyone has to pay the amount…
French Riviera with rental car – excess or not?
Booking a rental car on the French Riviera without deductible is in my view definitely saving at the wrong end.
In French Riviera you will not only drive over wide boulevards, but often through narrow streets, over paths full of gravel stones and small mountain villages with even smaller and especially narrower streets. It’s really easy to get hit by a car and get the first scratch in the paint.
The driving style of the locals and other tourists does the rest, even if you sometimes can not even what for it.
Long story short: Be sure to book a rental car WITHOUT deductible!
Where to get a rental car on the French Riviera?
Probably the easiest option is to rent a car directly at the start of your tour. These are usually Marseille or Nice. At the airports and the city centers there is the largest concentration of car rental providers.
Conclusion French Riviera round trip with or without rental car?
From my point of view, a rental car for the French Riviera round trip makes absolute sense! At this destination, the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. Especially because the “last mile” from the bus stop or train station to the beaches and highlights on the French Riviera is quite arduous, expensive by cab or simply not possible.
The decisive argument for me, however, are the special routes. Along the panoramic route Corniche des Crêtes, get off at the spectacular viewpoints and let your eyes wander over the coast. Or the unique drive on the Formula 1 track through the dazzling Monaco. All this is simply not feasible without a rental car or your own car.
📝 If you want to know more or need more info, feel free to let us know via message or in the comments
For the complete overview and additional inspiration for highlights on the French Riviera, read on here:
- Marseille: TOP 15+ Things to do in Marseille + travel tips
- Monaco: TOP 20+ Things to do Monaco + travel tips
It’s off to the French Riviera soon?
We use the following resources ourselves when making travel plans:
- Compare for the cheapest flights to Nice or Marseille run on Skyscanner
- Don’t feel like driving? Then look here for cheap tickets for the train, Flixtrain (with night trains) or Flixbus
- You can find great hotels and accommodations for all needs on Booking.com
- We book excursions & tours conveniently in advance at Get your Guide
- Receive a SIM card for France from Holafly in advance and have internet available immediately after landing
- Don’t forget to pack a suitable travel guide for your French Riviera round trip. I used the Lonely Planet for the French Riviera as a source of inspiration and a practical travel guide on the spot:
If you find the tips and summaries of JOURNICATION helpful, we would be very happy about bookings through our affiliate links. You don’t have to worry about any additional costs with this, but we receive a small commission and can continue to run the website that way. THANK YOU VERY MUCH 💙🤗
Bon Voyage 🇫🇷 🇲🇨
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