Appropriate size of car to rent

Old Dec 8th, 2011, 02:40 PM
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Appropriate size of car to rent

Will be driving through Provence and Languedoc in May. There will be three of us, and we will attempt to limit our luggage. Will be picking up a car in Avignon, but don't know what size of a car would be prudent ... re safety, handling the narrow roads and comfort. Do we have to sacrifice one of them? Do not know much about the cars available. Thanks.
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Old Dec 8th, 2011, 03:57 PM
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You should probably first check out what types of cars will be available at the time you plan on renting with whichever company you plan to rent from. DH and I rented a car during our Normandy trip that was a Ford "Mondo" a model not here in the U.S. We each had a 26" bag and a carry on and it was a good size. No problems with road size or safety. If what's available is not a model you're familiar with, simply google it.
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Old Dec 8th, 2011, 04:14 PM
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most car-hire websites have a guide to capacity next to the car description.

you don't say how long your trip will be, but with 3 of you, I'd opt for a slightly larger model, with a decent luggage capacity, so that the person in the back has some room to move, rather than being squashed by extra bits of luggage, coats, etc.

I'd also opt for A/C - even in May it could be quite warm.
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Old Dec 8th, 2011, 04:26 PM
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I feel the compact size is still OK for 3 and is the most available model but often gets upgraded
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Old Dec 8th, 2011, 05:41 PM
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I think Bob is correct - still go to the AutoEurope site and see the various models they offer. I have found the sizing information to be fairly accurate (showing the number of people and the suitcases they will accomodate). Remember with only 3 people, you also have half of the back seat for carry-ons and stuff or another suitcase.

As for size of the car, I have rented cars 4 times over the past 10 years (for 5 or 4 or 2 people) and I have never rented a car that was too large for the roads in France. Even the small, out of the way roads accomodated the car. BMW's, Mercedes and Volvos are European cars and if they can fit (and you see them all over the place), the compact or even mid-sized sedan you rent will too. Just use common sense about where you go.
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Old Dec 8th, 2011, 06:11 PM
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We always go for at least a midsize - for a tall couple - since car models are smaller in europe than in the US (what they call compact we call sub-compact) and trunks seem to be minute.

You should know that is you want automatic rather than standard transmission - you may have to take a larger size car. Also - you have the best chance of getting an automatic at the larger offices (airports etc).
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Old Dec 8th, 2011, 06:45 PM
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We've done this area a couple of times, once with two of us and once with four. The equivalent of a Peugeot 303 was fine for two. Big enough to be comfortable and quiet, but very easy to drive.

With three, it will depend on the luggage - there's not a lot of room behind the seats. For four we had a Renault Laguna, which is quite large, but so were we.

We've had good luck with Avis in France. Check out the selection online.
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Old Dec 8th, 2011, 07:06 PM
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If you were renting a car at home for the 3 of you what would you drive?
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Old Dec 8th, 2011, 07:14 PM
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When driving from one base location to another, will you be making stops to sightsee with all your luggage in the car? If so, it's best if all the luggage is hidden from view to lessen the chance of it being stolen. So you'd need a bigger trunk or a covered hatchback.
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Old Dec 8th, 2011, 11:44 PM
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A compact should be fine. In recent years, all the cars I've rented--I usually choose economy--have had AC and the hatchback always had a cover.
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Old Dec 9th, 2011, 12:20 AM
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If you can only drive an automatic then the choices will be limited.Autos are usually mid size upwards. If you don't drive a shift, do not try an learn in France!
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Old Dec 9th, 2011, 12:55 AM
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We recently rented a 4 door VW Golf diesel in Italy. I'm 6'3", and it was comfortable for me, easy to park, had plenty of pickup, and was economical to operate. It would take three adults and luggage.
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Old Dec 9th, 2011, 01:19 AM
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France roads are good quality, even the secondary roads. You may freely choose whatever size appeals to you, even an SUV / people carrier.
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Old Dec 9th, 2011, 01:20 AM
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Travelling Europe and at the moment in Provence. DH is doing all the driving! We have a Renault Megane 1.5 diesel 4 door hatch. We have two adults and two children (13 & 9), 3 medium bags, 1 larger (but I've seen bigger), 3 backpacks (which tend to be full all the time and are inside the car) and a soft insulated bag about 35x30x25cm for food.
all this squeezes in but I wouldn't say it makes for optimum comfort.
The car has so far made it in and out of some incredibly small places with no scapes and the economy is really good.
Only disadvantage in my DH's opinion is that he is tall (just over 6') and says the vision seems limited when manouvering in tight spots. Hope this helps.
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Old Dec 9th, 2011, 04:07 AM
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I traveled through Provence, the Rhone Valley and Burgundy with 2 friends and our luggage with a Citreon C3 Diesel hatchback with a 5 speed manual transmission. It was pefectly adequate for our needs. I rented the vehicle through Europe By Car: http://www.europebycarblog.com/

I found that they were the most reasonably priced agency to deal with. They are brokers who uses Citer in France; Citer is the Enterprise Rent a Car European affiliate. They are located in on William Street in lower Manhattan.
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Old Dec 9th, 2011, 05:45 AM
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I rented a Passat TDI Wagon for 3 of us to drive from Nice to Paris. It was supplied by Europcar via AutoEurope.com.

The car was awesome... big enough to be comfortable but not too large to be difficult to drive through the Pyrenees and Gorges du Tarn. The TDI engine was amazing... we have owned diesels both now and in the past... the engine was so quiet and powerful my wife kept asking me 'Are you sure this is a diesel?' It was... and 1,000+ km to a tank of fuel too.

If you wonder about a car model you're not familiar with try http://www.parkers.co.uk and type in the make/model in the search box. They have multiple photos including pics of the load space so you can see if your luggage is likely to fit.

Rob
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Old Dec 9th, 2011, 10:43 AM
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For a sense of luggage space with a VW Golf:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...57623094971409

The bags are nominally 22" bags.
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Old Dec 9th, 2011, 11:17 AM
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The way some of you talk you would think there were no Europeans over 6 foot tall. Trust me there are plenty, especially here in the Netherlands. Yet they don't all drive around in massive cars. Not only that but they manage to fit all their luggage, a couple of kids and the family dog in them when they go on holiday.

Even some larger cars have lousy legroom in the back so don't assume that bigger is better for the one on the back seat.

The main reason for going for a smaller car is fuel economy. Fuel is expensive here - the less fuel a car uses the better for your pocket.
As someone pointed out if you can't drive a manual transmission you choices may be very limited anyway.
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Old Dec 9th, 2011, 02:16 PM
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Just gat back after nearly 3 weeks in a rental (Avis). We had a Renault Scenic. It's a hatchback/station wagon sort of vehicle, with plenty of room. We do not travel very light! We had our choice of standard trans or automatic.
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Old Dec 9th, 2011, 06:09 PM
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You really need to define what you want in a car. How many people, how much luggage, how much does comfort, pick-up, handling, and cost matter. We usually gor for a mid size or larger performance car - since we enjoy driving - fast where possible. We hve never had a problem with a car being too large (caveat: we live in NYC and are used to driving and parking in very tight quarters) and we find the freedom/fun provided by a decent car far outweighs the cost involved.

Strongly agree not to rent a standard unless you drive one everyday. It can be too much to deal with - a foreign country with different rules of the road, an area you don;t know - and a car you're not used to.
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