Car rental tip for Avignon

Jun 30th, 2006, 01:45 PM
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Car rental tip for Avignon

We rented a car from AutoEurope/Europecar for a week in Provence. We picked it up at the TGV station in Avignon. We had originally asked for a midsize car (a Renault Laguna), but were upgraded to a Kia Sportage, which is more of an SUV. I didn't think about it at the time -- being upgraded always sounds like a good idea -- but when we got to the village where we were staying, we realized what a bad idea it was. The route to the house we were renting was through very narrow, twisty, steep lanes. We had to fold in the side mirrors to keep from knocking them on the houses on either side of the lane. I called Europecar to ask if we could trade the car in for a smaller model, and was told that they really only offered the larger cars.
When we returned the car I questioned this and was told that they generally only had large cars available and you had to add a special note to your reservation in order to get a small car. To me this seems kind of strange in an area known for its small, hilltop villages that are popular with visitors!
The uphshot is that if you're renting a car from AutoEurope/Europecar in Avignon and want a small car, be sure to make a special request for it.
Also, the larger cars use lots more gas -- which is even more expensive in France than in the US.
emvic is offline  
Jun 30th, 2006, 01:47 PM
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Thanks for the tip. I'll be renting a car there in August.
CarolineM is offline  
Jun 30th, 2006, 01:56 PM
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This sort of information seems so obvious to me, but that's because I know both the village roads in that part of France and also the streets of the walled part of Avignon (actually, I avoid driving into the walled part like poison, even with a miniature car). I am happiest in such situations in a Twingo, a Corsa, a Polo, or whatever else is as small as possible. Anyway, it is true that the smallest cars are often not available, so I am consistently upgraded against my will when I pick up cars. I'll be getting an AutoEurope car from Europcar in Avignon in 2 weeks for the festival, and I am actually keeping my fingers crossed just a little for once about an upgrade -- the reserved car is not air conditioned, but if they nudge me up just one level, I will suffer much less in the 35 heat. I don't use the car all that much anyway -- just shuttling to and from the city from my hotel in the suburbs with maybe one or two side trips to Les Baux or the Pont du Gard. I'll probably cut out the side trips this time because with gasoline at 1.40 € a liter, driving around is getting very painful.
kerouac is offline  
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:04 AM
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Hopefully none of you will have to (or have had to) deal with the 'w'itch I dealt with when we rented our car there on May 18 (2006). We spent 19 days in France and she was the most unpleasant and unhelpful person we met during our entire stay (and I am fluent in the language). The car we were given worked out ok although it was not what we considered the size we had ordered and paid for. And when we filled up the car with gas before returning it (in Aix en Provence) the gas gauge registered only 3/4 full. Since it was very early at the train station we had to use a drop box to turn in the key because the office was closed. Three weeks after returning home we received a letter from AutoEurope stating they had to charge us an additional $80 for gas! Whose word would it be: ours against theirs? I would never do business with them again. Most Fodorites rave about this company which is why we chose it to begin with and our bad experience does not necessarily mean everyone else will be subjected to the same treatment, however I just wanted others to know that their customer service is not 100% stellar.
Bonjour_Voyageurs is offline  
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:17 AM
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Are you talking about autoeurope or europecar?
Underhill is offline  
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:19 AM
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We had no problems picking up a car from Autoeurope at the airport in Montpillier. Reserved a Renault/Menage/AC/Diesel and that was what we got. We did fill up the car before returning it and have noticed a charge on our credit card so can't wait to find out what that was for. We drove about 1,000 km and filled up 3 times at about 25-30 euros a fill up. Returned at Aix TGV train station which was easy.
Ronda is offline  
Jul 6th, 2006, 10:31 AM
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My most recent problem in car rental was with Hertz in Paris, who charged me for something like 550 extra kilometers when I knew that I had driven exactly 280 km out of the authorized 3-day total of 750 km. I told them to check their records and make sure they had not skipped a rental in between for the car in question. They sent me a letter of apology and a certificate for USD 30. Having rented cars from just about every company on French soil, I know now that not a single one of them is foolproof, but if you keep records of everything, they admit their failings very quickly.
However, I noticed when renting again at Hertz the other day that they ask (at Gare du Nord in Paris) that you show them the receipt for the gasoline you purchased when you return the car with a purportedly full tank -- this would show them, among other things, how far away the station is from the return point. They did not actually ask me for proof, but I know (having worked at Avis many years ago) that the not-quite-full-tank is one of the major scams that customers pull on the rental companies. I myself always pay close attention to how many kilometers I can drive in a rental car before the gauge moves off the "full" mark -- sometimes as much as 50 or 60 km. And I have abused rental companies myself, by using this information.
kerouac is offline  
Jul 6th, 2006, 11:48 AM
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Hi BV,

>Three weeks after returning home we received a letter from AutoEurope stating they had to charge us an additional $80 for gas! <

It would be Europcar that charged you extra, not AE. They are just passing the charge along.

Did you dispute it?

ira is offline  
Jul 10th, 2006, 02:10 PM
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Just got the bill referred to above from Europcar. The extra fees were for Licenses and Fees ($1.15) and Premium Station Surcharge - picked up at the airport in Montpellier and returned at Aix TGV ($24.10).
Ronda is offline  
Jul 10th, 2006, 02:10 PM
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That should have been in euros and not dollars.
Ronda is offline  
Jul 16th, 2006, 08:23 PM
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I'm not sure quite what the relationship is between AutoEurope and Europcar. I did the original rental via the AutoEurope website, but then when the voucher arrived via email it was from Europcar. We picked the car up from the Europcar booth at the train station. I prepaid for the rental and then got a statement after the trip charging us extra for gas, even though we'd filled up just before returning the car. We also were charged a "Prem/Railway" surcharge of 24.10 Euros, even though this was never mentioned in the original agreement. I haven't had a chance to contest these extra charges yet.
emvic is offline  
Jul 17th, 2006, 09:57 AM
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Kerouac- or anyone- in looking at sizes of cars... is a VW Golf too big for the areas and streets in Normandy? I've been told that we should get a 'bigger' one for luggage and 2 people than we would request at home as they are REALLY small in Europe. (But on a trip to Italy, we saw so many bigger cars.. TOO big!)
daryleann is offline  
Jul 21st, 2006, 09:43 AM
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daryleann -- We never encountered particularly narrow streets in Normandy -- Bayeux, Mont St. Michel (you can't drive into the town anyway), Caen, Honfleur, and Giverny, were the places we went. There aren't the tiny, hilltop villages like you find in Provence. A Golf should be plenty small enough. A good reason for a smallish car is that they use less gas -- which is very expensive in France.
emvic is offline  
Jul 21st, 2006, 10:02 AM
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I rented a Renault Vel Satis and drove it around Paris, Normandy and Brittany without issue. A Golf will be fine.
MorganB is offline  
Jul 21st, 2006, 10:10 AM
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You always get a different company for the rental because Autoeurope isn't a car rental company. It's a broker or middleman/travel agent who has contracts with various car rental firms and tries to get the best rates for a request. They also have other services like air fare or hotels. They don't rent cars and aren't a car rental firm. The fact that the names both have Europe in them doesn't mean anything, it's just their company names. Their website describes who they are and I don't think there is any indication on it that would suggest they are a car rental company themself.

They do use Europcar a lot, though, so they must have good deals with them.
Christina is offline  
Jul 21st, 2006, 01:40 PM
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A Golf should be fine in Normandy.
I have made two AutoEurope rentals this week -- one in Avignon and one in Paris, and the cars came from National. Last month the cars came from Europcar. And this spring, most of the cars came from Budget. However, AutoEurope has never supplied a car to me through Hertz or Avis.
kerouac is offline  
Jul 21st, 2006, 04:57 PM
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Our car from Autoeurope last month was from Avis. Rented in the Netherlands.
RufusTFirefly is offline  

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