Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday 3/14/12: Renting a Car in France

I had arranged for the car rental using a few months back, and added a new reservation when I saw the price drop.  I had two reservations, one for 85 euros for Wed-Sat and one for 77 euros for the same period.  I thought I canceled the high priced reservation but apparently I later found that I didn't but it didn't matter anyway.   The great thing about car rentals (provided you don't use Hotwire/etc which I never do - there is no way to avoid lots of waiting in very slow lines when using Hotwire) is that  you can make a reservation without a credit card, never show up to pick up the car, and nothing bad happens to you.  I always make an extra just in case the first one has problems, which car rentals often do.

I picked up the car at a rental office in the 10th Arrondissement at 184 Rue du Faubourg Saint Martin because it was one of the cheapest locations to pick up and was within a mile of my hotel. I also had scheduled to return it to an office just a block from our hotel near the CDG airport in Roissy (although we ended up returning it to the Avis at CDG because the branch was closed), which removed the need to figure out a way to get to the airport. Other locations were quite a bit more expensive.  If it is an option for you, picking up away from an airport can often save a lot in extra taxes, which sometimes amount to more than the cost of the car itself.

It turns out the rental office is an Avis office, not Budget, but they seemed to be aware of my reservation.  I had to spend about 1/2 hour figuring out what the extra insurance they were trying to sell me covered, because it would have been an extra 100 euros for 3 days. I'm not an expert at insurance, but I believe the only insurance I needed was liability insurance, because the standard Visa Signature cards include collision insurance and we have our own health insurance. I finally realized their very expensive upsell covered the collision portion, which I didn't need , so I declined it.  They gave me a contract to sign with a copy written in English, and I saw that the liability insurance was included standard.  This jives with what I had read on Rick Steve's web page on rental cars.  The Frenchman sitting next to me was friendly and helpful, but quite surprised that my credit card gave me the collision insurance, which apparently French credit cards don't.

Had the car, which was a nearly new white Peugeot 5-door hatchback (small upgrade from the mini car I ordered).  Likc most cars in Europe, it had a manual transmission, which I enjoy driving.  I drove off and found myself on the open road in Paris.

Some things about Paris had never occurred to me until I started driving.  For one thing, there are no stop signs.  However, if you are turning right onto a street, apparently the drivers on the destination street have to allow your merge and yield to you as you turn in front of them. I only approximately knew how to get to the hotel but finally did, and used the loding zone to get Nancy and the luggage.

1 comment:

Please post as if your mother would read it.