never learned to drive a manual

Old Mar 6th, 2003, 06:36 PM
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I'm with NYGirl. Rent a standard for a couple of days and practice.

In the alternative, you could just shop until you find a guaranteed automatic to rent in Tours and pay the difference.

I'm guessing it may be easier to learn to drive a standard than negotiate your way out of Paris, then drive to the Loire Valley, with an automatic.
djkbooks is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2003, 08:34 AM
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I would caution strongly against trying to learn how to drive a stick shift before you leave. Driving in a foreign country creates a bunch of extra things to deal with: unfamiliar roads, driving habits, signs, etc., and you hardly need the extra problem of a stick shift to deal with.

Yes, it will be more expensive, but the price you pay for the security of a car with a familiar transmission is worth it.

If you don't find an auto car to rent in Tours, it's not a bad idea at all to pick one up in Paris. If you're staying in the city and would rather not drive in the city, reserve the auto car from Hertz or Avis at Orly airport (which is south of the city, toward the Loire valley).

I also strongly second the idea of having good and detailed road maps. Michelin yellow maps for each area where you'll drive are good choices. If you can't find them in NYC (or online), you'll have no trouble finding them once you get to France.

Driving in France is really enjoyable and a wonderful way to see the country. If you're on multi-lane highways, remember to always keep right unless you're passing another car. Also, if another car flashes its lights at you, it means that the car flashing its lights is coming through and you should watch out. (Note that this is directly opposite to the meaning of flashing lights in most of the US, where flashing the lights usually means, "go ahead, I'll wait for you.")
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Old Mar 7th, 2003, 09:09 AM
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YOu don't have to pay for special driving lessons, renting cars, etc to learn to drive a manual just to rent a car in France. I've rented an AT and it didn't cost that much more than a manual and was readily available (in France, in Provence area). I'm surprised not in Tours (but I think you are looking at the wrong companies, Hertz is not that good for that) because it's a fairly large city. It isn't that hard driving out of Paris, either, if you had to rent one there.

I used Autoeurope, I'd recommend them. Others have a lot more money or free time to spend learning how to drive manual, I guess, for a few days vacation. Any time and money you spent doing that would be much more than the small difference in rental fees (when I rented, I think it was only about $10 a day difference). Some people don't value their time in any way in that equation, either, I think.

No one ever told me that my reservation for an automatic was just a "request" and that I might not get one. I got one with no problem. I did not pay out the ass for gasoline, either, even the automatics in Europe are very fuel efficient.
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Old Mar 7th, 2003, 09:21 AM
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Slight problem that you may have overlooked.
I may be wrong here, but check it out anyway.
In UK, if you pass your driving test in automatic then automatic is all your licenced to drive.If you pass in Manual then you are licenced to drive both.
Now UK and french don't usually see eye to eye on anything and driving is certainly one of them, but I would check out the rules anyway.
Those French cops are pretty nasty when it comes to motoring offences.
If my info is total garbage....then at least you would have looked into it,,
Mucky is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2003, 09:24 AM
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Thanks all for your help! Autoeurope looks like the best way to go, although i'm still price-comparing. the U.S. companies definitely are more expensive and don't look worth it. I don't mind paying extra for an automatic and i like the idea of renting at an airport, like orly, where there is bound to be more selection. thanks again for all the input!
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Old Mar 7th, 2003, 09:28 AM
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I never learned to drive a manual either and don't want to try at this stage of my life so I can relate to amyknyc's situation. It is more difficult to get an automatic in Europe, but not impossible. I'd suggest renting from airport locations,they have the most cars,hence you are increasing your odds. Make the reservation with the 800 number (not on-line) and insist that the clerk put in the comments section that you cannot drive a manual shift. I've done that and had no problem.

Truthfully, I'd get the car at either CDG or Orly (Orly is closer to Loire Valley and south of Paris anyway).

I've lived in NYC in the past and knew hundreds of people that did not have cars of any kind, that is not unusual in a city with lots of public transportation and high parking garage rates.
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Old Mar 7th, 2003, 10:05 AM
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Now that you've resolved your auto problem you might want to get Michelin's Chateaux of the Loire for the rest of your plans. It has history and descriptions of the Chateaux, maps, suggested itineraries, time to allot, etc. Villandry, just outside Tours, has the most amazing gardens.
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Old Mar 7th, 2003, 10:07 AM
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Driving out of Paris on a Sunday morning when traffic is light was no problem for us at all so if that's a possibility for you and you find an automatic transmission car you might want to consider it rather than going to the hassle and expense of traveling to the airport to pick up a car rental. Our very helpful rental car clerk gave us a detailed map and verbal directions (in English) and we drove right out of the city heading toward the Loire Valley. Both my husband and I drive (and prefer) manuals at home so that was not an issue for us. I would not recommend drving a manual in an unfamiliar area in the short time in which you have to learn. It takes frequent driving to feel comfortable driving a manualand since you live in NYC and have few opportunities to do so I wouldn't even think of trying to drive in a foreign country when there are so many other things to distract and stress you.
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Old Mar 7th, 2003, 07:36 PM
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I had the same problem a few years back, but just learned to drive a standard. It is also much cheaper than an automatic (more fun to drive too!).
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Old Mar 8th, 2003, 08:32 AM
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It really depends on how you feel about a shift car. If you would feel uncomfortable, as I do, keep calling back and call other companies.

Consider that driving in a strange, large, congested, foreign city is difficult enough, and more difficult when you don't know how to drive the car.
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Old Mar 8th, 2003, 02:50 PM
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I've learned how to drive a car with manual transmission and it has been very useful in Europe. You have 2 choices, 1) learn how-not for the 3 day trip but for all future trips, or 2) reserve an automatic and have a Plan B.

Neither choice is completely wrong, it's up to you.
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Old Mar 8th, 2003, 08:20 PM
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After reading the many posts here, glad to read you solved your problem.

FYI: On two of our trips to France we rented from Hertz. Once picked up car at Orly Airport and on another trip was a car pickup at Nice Airport. Both times rented automatic. Our 4-door Pueogot worked out great as we had a lot of luggage. It had a space in back to hide luggage while driving around the country to deter theft. We had no problem at all renting an automatic. (Tip) Advise you set up car rental in States beforehand rather than in France upon arrival. Saves a lot of money that way.
Good luck and enjoy the Loire. It is magical.

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Old Mar 9th, 2003, 05:15 AM
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If I were you, I would not rent a manual. Here in Europe you will see, people don't drive like in the Sates. So you will need all your energy to drive like we do. Try to find a manual somewhere. I think that's the best.
Good luck!
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Old Mar 9th, 2003, 06:00 AM
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Do book in advance. I was recently in Montpellier, South of France and tried to book a car with a day's notice. Not one single company had a car that I could use. So, if you have specific requirements then book well in advance. Even then, it may not be available and you'll have the ubiquitous Gallic shrug!
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