Program 367: Driving In Europe; Getting Around Ireland; Exploring Provence

Release Date: 06-14-2014

On Air Description

Sometimes it's just worth the extra expense to go ahead and rent a car, so that you can explore the countryside of a beautiful place on your own schedule.

On the next Travel with Rick Steves, we'll look at your options for getting around Ireland, and for exploring the floral landscapes and villages of Provence  (pro-VAHNCE)  in the south of France. And a pair of professional tour bus drivers offer tips for what you can expect, when navigating the highways of Europe. 

Cruise your way around Provence and Ireland, on this week's Travel with Rick Steves. 


  • Dimi Rigas, professional tour bus driver based in Belgium
  • Jean "Joe" Stulens, professional tour bus driver based in Belgium
  • Susie Millar, tour guide based in Northern Ireland
  • Barry Moloney, tour guide based in Ireland
  • Patrick Vidal, tour guide based in France
  • Virginie Moré, tour guide based in France

Related Links

  • Wikipedia provides a list to the highway tunnels of Switzerland.
  • The website for the French motorways includes English-language instruction on its automatic toll payment system.
  • Barry Moloney conducts historical walking tours of his hometown, Kinsale.
  • Susie Millar conducts tours of Belfast, including sites associated with the doomed ship Titanic.
  • A guide to the motorways of Ireland includes its expansion plans.  
  • Barry Moloney notes that the 2010 movie "Leap Year" had scenes filmed in Dingle, Ireland.  It was a romantic comedy
  • Rick Steves provides a guide to Ireland's Aran Islands and County Antrim in the northeast, and to the French region of Provence
  • Singer Liam O'Riordan's website for traditional Irish music.
  • The Luberon is an area of Provence which Patrick recommends visiting.  
  • The French-language website for the supermarket chain Carrefour.
  • The Provençal  market that Patrick recommends is held every Friday morning in Carpentras, a little northeast of Avignon. 
  • A 2010 article in the Telegraph recommends places to experience "Van Gogh's Provence."
  • The Huffington Post describes the newly-opened Fondation Vincent van Gogh in Arles.
  • The English-language website for SNCF, the French national railway system.   
  • The Camargue is a coastal area of Provence in the Rhone River delta where the Pont du Gard is located.


  • "Unless you are really in a hurry, stay off the German autobahns and use the smaller, slower and safer side roads.  You see more, have new experiences, and maybe meet some local people this way.  If you must be on the autobahn, stay in the right lane, check carefully before pulling out to pass, pass quickly and pull back into the right lane."  (April in Roseville, California)
  • "Is my regular driver's license valid in all European countries? Or is there other paperwork I need anywhere? "   (e-mail from Nicole in Victoria, British Columbia)
  • Caller is hesitant to learn to drive on the left in Ireland.  "To drive or not to drive:  that is the question.  My husband and I plan to visit Ireland for two weeks.  Can we easily connect to the main sites by public transit, or should we plan to drive in some areas?" (Erin in Duluth, Georgia)
  • "We have traveled independently in six continents, usually driving. We are now in our 70's and want to tour Ireland.  I've read that those over 75 years old can not rent a car in Ireland.  Is this true?  What transportation can you suggest for independent travelers?" (Mimmye in Memphis, Tennessee)
  • "My fiancé proposed in Orvieto last year and we're planning to honeymoon in Ireland in October.  We’ll be spending a couple days in the Aran Islands. What are your transportation suggestions for getting there and for the days we’ll be on the islands?" (Erin in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
  • Caller describes touring Provence "last Spring," from Marseille to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, with day trips to the market in Aix, and the ruins in Arles.   Describes shopping at Carrefour supermarkets for picnic supplies.  (Richard in Rochester, New York)
  • "I'm planning my first trip to Provence. Where is the best place to stay for driving day trips around the area, and to see fields of lavender in bloom, without the tourist crowds of late July?"  (Sue in Girdwood, Alaska)
  • "I am wondering about pros and cons of renting a car to explore Provence and La Cote d'Azure, versus using the local trains in late September? Trains seem simpler and efficient, but what would we be missing out on by not having a vehicle?"  (Melisa in Davenport, Iowa)
  • "We will be driving through the Riveria, Provence and the Luberon, and would like to know if there are many toll roads and how to handle them."  (Marilyn in Delray Beach, Florida)  (in web extra)

Incidental Music

  • David Shostac, "Le basque," The Romantic Flute, vol. 1 / Resort Music
  • Rodach, “Camping,” Haus Am Meer (Seaside Home) / Traumton
  • Kraftwerk, "Autobahn (remix),"  The Mix / Elektra
  • Bob James and Earl Klugh, "New York Samba," Cool / Warner Bros.
  • * Bela Fleck, "Rocky Road," The Best of World Music, vol. 2: Instrumental (collection) / Putumayo
  • Déanta, "King of the Blues," Celtic Collection (compilation) / Putumayo
  • Tom Morrison, "Castlebar Traveler," From Galway to Dublin:  Early Recordings of Irish Traditional Music (collection) / Rounder  (recorded in 1927)
  • William J. Mullaly, "The Green Groves of Erin," From Galway to Dublin:  Early Recordings of Irish Traditional Music (collection) / Rounder
  • Clannad, “An Gleann,” Landmarks / Atlantic
  • Sharon Shannon, "The Mighty Sparrow," Celtic Collection (compilation) / Putumayo
  • David Russell, "Whiskey, You're the Devil," The Emerald Isles (collection) / Telarc
  • Au P'tit Bonheur, "Sociere," Le mal de vivre / Polydor (France)
  • * Jean-Luc Ponty, "In Spiritual Love," Individual Choice / Atlantic
  • The Women's Philharmonic Orchestra, Jo Ann Faletta, cond. with Gillian Benet, harp, "Concertino for Harp and Orchestra:  Allegretto (Germaine Tailleferre)," The Women's Philharmonic:  Boulanger, Tailleferre, Mendelssohn, Schumann / Koch International Classics
  • Reinbert de Leeuw, "Gnossiennes II (Satie)," Erik Satie:  Gymnopédies, Ogives, Trois Sarabandes, Petite ouverture à danser / Decca (Netherlands)
  • Alan Mills, “Sur le pont de Avignon,” Children’s Music Collection (compilation) / Smithsonian Folkways
  • F. Barcellini, “Theme from ‘Jour de Fete,’” Music from the Films of Jacques Tati / Phillips-PolyGram (France)
  • Coco Briava, "Les Yuez Noirs," Gypsy Caravan (collection) / Putumayo
  • Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, "'Toreadors' from 'Carmen Suite' (Bizet)," LAGQ Latin / Telarc
  • London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas, cond., "La Boite a Joujoux - 1:  Prelude (Debussy)," Sony Almanac 1992 Highlights of the Year (sampler) / Sony Classical
  • Stan Getz, "A Summer Afternoon," Bob Parlocha's 'My Favorite Things' (compilation) / KJAZ

Dated References

  • At 11:13, the discussion refers to how Germans insist on not having a speed limit on parts of their autobahn freeway system.  At 12:33, Rick, Dimi and Joe note how the Low Countries have been adding lanes to their highways to address traffic congestion. 
  • Rick notes at 15:40 that an increasing number of European cities, such as Florence, now prohibit cars from the city center, or create resident-only entry zones. 
  • At 29:35 caller Erin says she plans to be on her honeymoon in Ireland "this October."
  • Caller Richard describes highlights from his visit to Provence "last spring," starting at 46:14.
  • Caller Sue says at 48:28 that she wants to see the lavender in bloom in Provence, but not when it's crowded with tourists in late July.  Virginie recommends visiting in May and June.  At 49:16 they talk about sunflowers in bloom in later summer. 
  • Caller Melisa says that she's planning a trip to France "toward the end of September" at 50:43. 

Program Extras

More with Patrick and Virginie - Patrick and Virginie explain to caller Marilyn in Florida how to navigate the toll system on the French highways. (runs 2:52)