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Paris to Normandy - Where to pick up rental car?

Paris to Normandy - Where to pick up rental car?

Jul 1st, 2013, 04:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 12
Paris to Normandy - Where to pick up rental car?

During my trip to France in September, I plan to spend a week in Paris and a few days in Normandy. Based on the research done so far, I'm inclining towards picking up a rental car at Gare Montparnass for a ease of driving out of the city. And a few facts that should influence the car pick up location -

- will need a car with automatic transmission (unable to drive manual)
- I plan to stay in Arrondissment 6 by Tour Eiffel
- Plan to stop in Giverny on the way to Caen

Thanks for your help!
vivace98 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 06:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,876
8 years ago we rented a car thru gemut.com. They got us a car at a better rate than directly with Autoeurope, but it was thru utoeurope. We picked up the car at an underground garage just east of the military museum that's near the Eiffel Tower. As it turned out, the garage had an Avis sign on it. It seemed like we drove about 3 blocks or so to the Arc du Triumphe, and maybe 4 blocks or so to an entrance to the autoroute to Normandy. Far less challenging than had we picked it up at the airport or at a train station.

Plus, we saved the $75 or so that is charged if one picks up a car at an airport or train station. (No such charge is made when returning the car).
tomboy is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 07:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,951
If you're headed to Giverny anyway, you could take the train from Paris to Vernon and pick up the car there. I have no idea what the price is to pick up a car there or whether you're more or less likely to get an automatic transmission by picking it up there. You might even be able to drop the car in Caen and then train back to Paris (if you're headed back there afterward).
Andrew is online now  
Jul 1st, 2013, 07:15 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,522
Your best bet on getting an automatic will be at CDG... if it's a slush box or nothing you had better swallow the airport service charge to be safe. Call AutoEurope on their 800 line and discuss your needs... if you get a better price elsewhere they will match it.

If you can... why not take a couple of standard transmission driving lessons? It's not difficult. Many driving schools have a short course for licensed drivers who wish to learn manual... doing this could just save your vacation as an automatic transmission is never guaranteed.

Good luck and bon voyage!
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2013, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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The airport is not the only place you can rent an automatic. I just checked Gare Montparnasse and there are at least 14 cars with automatics to choose from, and the prices are not bad at all, a 3-day rental of a VW Gulf at less than $170 USD through AE. Most of the downtown locations also have automatics available if you want to save on the rail station surcharge.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 10:26 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,960
Needing an automatic will severely limit your options as automatics are not popular in France and places are few where they are readily available.

Gare Montparnasse would be my choice given your itinerary. You'll still need to pay the location surcharge, typically about 40€, and the environmental fee (charged on automatic rentals), an additional 35€, but other alternatives are even more expensive or reduce your chances of actually receiving an automatic.

I might suggest that you call the actual rental company, not Autoeurope which is only a broker, the day before pickup to confirm that a car will be available. That will give you time to maneuver in the event you are told that an automatic will not be available.
Sarastro is offline  
Jul 4th, 2013, 08:24 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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"Needing an automatic will severely limit your options as automatics are not popular in France and places are few where they are readily available."

Have you actually checked out the various rental companies yourself, or are you just guessing? All of the ones I've checked now offer automatics on various models. Europcar at Montparnasse has a MERCEDES CLASSE A automatic listed as well as a Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 508. Dollar offers a Peugeot 307. Citer has a Peugeot 208 & Skoda Octavia. Avis has a Volkswagen Passat. Hertz has a Peugeot 407.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2013, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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Offering one and actually having a model on hand are two completely different things Robert2533 and I never make guesses about anything I post. Did I not write that Montparnasse was a good location in which to actually find an automatic available?

Have you checked in Avignon, Tours, Beaune, Bayeux, Aix-en-Provence, Nîmes, or any other city which is heavily frequented by tourists? A week ago I picked up a rental in Montpellier and there was only one other car on the rental lot (and it was not an automatic). Check the possibility of finding an automatic in one of those locations and confirm with someone who successfully picked one up.

Maybe you have a suggestion for a location in Normandy where the OP will be guaranteed of obtaining an automatic.
Sarastro is offline  
Jul 4th, 2013, 10:02 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,285
We have rented cars with automatic transmissions a few times in France; picked them up in Tours, Amboise and Caen after traveling by train from Paris. We reserved ahead and usually there was no problem. On one trip that was planned quickly we booked only 3 weeks in advance and did have a manual transmission which DH drove. Since we were dealing with unfamiliar roads we prefer the automatic so that I can drive as well. In Amboise we had to wait until a replacement car could be brought to us as the planned for car had been in an accident. We were staying in Amboise so it was not as much of a problem as it would have been when we picked up cars in Tours and Caen then drove to another destination.
Scootoir is offline  
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