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Renting a car at Geneva Airport - French Side

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Apr 4th, 2013, 08:14 AM
  #1
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Renting a car at Geneva Airport - French Side

I plan a road trip through the French Alps and Burgundy. I will be flying into Geneva, renting a car from the French sector of the airport (to save money and avoid drop off fees), then returning the car in Paris. However, I would like to stay a few nights in Geneva before renting the car. Could someone please tell me whether the following plan would work:

1. Arrive from US in Geneva. Go through Swiss immigration and take train/bus to city.
2. Stay a few nights in Geneva.
3. Return to Geneva airport via bus or train from Geneva .. walk into the French section ... pick up car at French car rental desk.
4. Exit the airport via France.

I'm particularly looking for comments on Steps 3 and 4 ... am I correct in understanding that I can simply walk over to the car rental desk from the (Swiss) bus or train stop and walk over to the French side, or do I need to enter the airport via the French side somehow in order to pick up a French rental car. Please advise. Thanks!
just_wandering is offline  
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Apr 4th, 2013, 08:21 AM
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My memory might be faulty but I remember reading a thread where someone picked up a car on the French side but the road out of the airport goes through Switzerland and the person didn't have a Swiss vignette for their car and was fined. As I say, I could be incorrect about the exit from the airport but it's better to find out now. I do know that Switzerland requires vignettes for their highways. Hopefully someone will be able to confirm this so you can be prepared.
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Apr 4th, 2013, 09:29 AM
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Yes, your assumption re step 3 and 4 is correct.
Arriving from Geneva by train, you enter the bigger Swiss sector of the airport anyway. Inside the terminal follow signs for "Destination France" and walk inside the terminal to the French side.

Technically you will go through Customs (not passport control, though)- same as if you were driving to France or Germany. So the goods (alcohol, tobacco, merchandise you bought in Switzerland) you carry with you should be within the "nothing to declare" limits. Though in reality, you will probably not be bothered.
You can get into serious troubles with the French Customs though if you had splurged on a new Swiss watch or other expensive goods as VAT in Switzerland is much lower than in its neighboring countries.
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Apr 4th, 2013, 10:03 AM
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It should be possible to exit the Geneva airport without using the limited access highway which is the one for which a vignette is required. Using Google map, enter the Geneva airport as one point and a French town in the direction you wish to travel as the next destination, choosing the option no highway. Print out the blow-up of the airport map to use once in the car. That will take you out of Switzerland on non-vignetted roads.
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Apr 4th, 2013, 10:23 AM
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We rented on the Swiss side to escape the French VAT--but I don't know whether that's still the case.
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Apr 4th, 2013, 10:24 AM
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We rented on the Swiss side to escape the French VAT--but I don't know whether that's still the case.

But then the car cannot be returned someplace else in France without incurring a stiff cross-border drop-off fee.
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Apr 4th, 2013, 10:34 AM
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On the French side, there's only a tiny exit, which will lead you to a parkig lot. I didn't even see a rental agency. The road from there is completely on French territory. If at the end you turn right, you'll enter a tunnel with Switzerland on the other exit. No road tolls. If you turn left, you'll stay in France. There is NO public transport on the French side and walking on the side of the road can be dangerous. Anyway, I didn't dare to walk there.
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Apr 4th, 2013, 10:35 AM
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While staying in Geneva, take a boat over to Yvoire and have lunch at the Hotel Restaurant du Port.
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Apr 4th, 2013, 09:12 PM
  #9
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Thank you all for your helpful comments!
just_wandering is offline  
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Apr 5th, 2013, 12:36 AM
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Check GVA's website.
You'll find maps under the getting to/ from airport which cover exactly that matter how to leave each sector by car.
As logos said, it is dead easy to leave the French sector parking lot for France without going into Switzerland accidentely.
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Apr 5th, 2013, 02:19 AM
  #11
 
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... and don't forget that the Swis vignette is needed for highways only. It's mega easy to cross the whole Canton of Geneva (may be on your way to Haute Savoie)or to move around Lake Geneva without using highways.
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Apr 5th, 2013, 03:03 AM
  #12
 
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There are many routes to the French sector of Geneva airport avoiding Swiss motorways. Map provided by Geneva airport here: http://www.gva.ch/Portaldata/1/Resou...cations/af.pdf
They do not show the option of going through Geneva city centre which is probably the quickest and easiest (IMO). But it depends where you are going after you collect your hire car. If you are going to the French Alps (e.g. Chamonix) then you take a route through Geneva city centre like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvVYI-XhXWg
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