September 5th
written by Bullet-Point Ben

We rented a car for 4 days for a road trip through southern France from Perpignan to Annecy.  The region is filled with Roman ruins, medieval castles, and endless fields of grape vines.  It is also where Van Gogh made his most famous paintings.

View Drive in Southern France in a larger map
Some observations:

  • Roundabouts instead of stoplights at most intersections
  • Nothing quite like suddenly realizing you’re driving by the remains of an enormous 2,000 year old Roman aqueduct.
  • Many of roads out in the countryside are lined with enormous Poplar trees with bark like an impressionist painting.  It’s everywhere and it’s gorgeous.IMG_7392-Poplar-lined-road
  • Speed limits in France were pretty high – 110 to 130 km/hour (70 to 80 mph) on the highways – and most people drive faster.
  • Most gas stations don’t take cash or credit cards.  I think they take special European gas station credit cards.  When we went to fill up the tank before dropping off the car we had to go to 5 different gas stations to find one we could use.
  • Gas stations also don’t sell ice in France.  Nobody sells ice in France.  God help you if you sprain an ankle or want a refreshing Coca-Cola on the rocks.
  • Road names are extremely hard to find in France, rendering maps mostly useless.  Everything is done by which direction you’re headed, so you need to know the name of every city between where you are and where you want to be.
  • Many of the roads are based on old Roman roads, meaning that they go right through the middle of every city.  Running roughly parallel to these are newer toll highways.  We did a lot of driving on both.  The old roads are scenic but slow, the new roads are very fast but very expensive.
  • French drivers seemed very aggressive to me, like NY drivers, but we might have simply managed to get on their nerves, driving so slow and erratically when lost.
Alonna with the rental car

Alonna with the rental car

Alonna with rental car at a rest stop.  I have no idea what those platforms in the bay are for.

Alonna with rental car at a rest stop. I have no idea what those platforms in the bay are for.


  1. Sandra Capri

    I remember that ice was hard to find in France. I’ve heard from other people that it’s mostly Americans that regularly want ice, and the rest of the world finds that odd.

    That’s so cool you guys rented a car and are driving around the countryside! You going to stop at HP in Grenoble and see if they have any jobs there for Americans that fell in love with the nearby Alps? 🙂

  2. 09/06/2009

    I didn’t know that HP was in Grenoble… ooh, now that’s an idea!