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Roads are sometimes unmarked, so get a map and look for signs pointing to a destination. These will be nailed to posts at all crossroads. Roads are narrow and sometimes very steep, but recent work has improved roads all over the island; even so, check the brakes and gears of your rental car before you drive away. Take a careful inventory of existing dents and scrapes on your rental vehicle with pictures on your smartphone or digital camera. Maximum speed on the island is 30 mph (50 kph). Driving is on the right, as in the United States and Europe. Parking is an additional challenge. There are two gas stations on the island, one near the airport and one in Lorient. They aren't open after 5 pm or on Sunday, but the station near the airport has pumps that accept automated payment by chip-and-pin credit card (such as those used throughout Europe), although at this writing most U.S. credit cards don't have the chip required for credit payments. Considering the short distances, a full tank of gas should last you most of a week.
Car Rentals: You must have a valid driver's license and be 25 or older to rent, and in high season there may be a three-day minimum. During peak periods, such as Christmas week and February, be sure to arrange for your car rental ahead of time. When you make your hotel reservations, ask if the hotel has its own cars available to rent; some hotels provide 24-hour emergency road service—something most rental companies don't offer. A tiny but powerful Smart car is a blast to buzz around in, and also a lot easier to park than larger cars. Expect to pay at least $55 per day. A Mini-Cooper convertible makes the most of sunny drives.
Avis (0590/27–71–43 or 0590/27-71-52. www.avis-stbarth.com.)
Budget (0590/29-62-40. www.st-barths.com/budget/en/home.html.)
Cool Rental (590/27–52–58. www.cool-rental.com.)
Europcar (0590/27–73-33. www.st-barths.com/europcar/index.html.)
Gumbs (0590/27–75–32. www.gumbs-car-rental.com.)
Hertz (0590/27–71–14. www.hertzstbarth.com.)
Turbe (0590/27–71–42. www.turbe-car-rental.com.)
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