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shescribe May 4th, 2007 08:15 PM

Trip to France: Rent a car, take the train?
My traveling party is in a bit of an argument about our upcoming trip to France. They plan to rent a car, but are now concerned about the costs for a week. Itineraries include Paris, Versailles, Normandy, Champagne and Burgundy, I believe.
I thought you could buy a rail pass ahead of time. True? Worthwhile? Advice?

jeff001 May 4th, 2007 08:29 PM

The first thing to decide is exactly where you want to travel. With the train you are much more limited than with a car. You can look up the details of schedules and fares here: - click on the UK flag at the bottom left of the page for English.

curmudgeon May 4th, 2007 09:21 PM

With that range of locations, and several people, renting a car seems pretty logical (though you don't want a car for Paris or Versailles). It's worth shopping around on car rentals, there are often substantial discounts available through various specials on the company websites. An exception might be if everyone was under 25, as that sometimes creates issues on car rentals. While fuel is expensive, most rental cars get pretty good mileage, especially the common diesels. Tolls can add up for long drives, probably equal to fuel cost or a bit more (use that as a sign you are trying to cover too much ground in too short a time). I prefer the secondary roads for the most part, you see more of the towns and people.

Michael May 4th, 2007 11:45 PM

I'm renting a car in nice, retuirning it in Paris. In this instance, Kemwel gave a better rate than AutoEurope.

Gretchen May 5th, 2007 03:48 AM

ALL this in a week? Anyway, I think driving is much better. You aren't limited to the train schedules nor the station locales and making arrangements for sightseeing beyond the town. But as others have said, not in Paris.
Your itinerary is VERY spread out--from northern France to Burgundy.

tedgale May 5th, 2007 04:24 AM

This itinerary (leaving aside Paris and Versailles, where presumably you will not have a car) sounds impossible in a week, even with a car (which, other factors aside, is the more time-efficient, because you are not the prisoner of train schedules).

I think you need to get more details before anyone can advise you:

Does "Burgundy" mean huge Dijon or little Semur-en-Auxois, for example? Main towns are fairly well-connected by train but smaller towns are not....

Rastaguytoday May 5th, 2007 04:38 AM

In two weeks we are picking up a Peugeot 407, enough room for 4 comfortably in style, in Provence and returning it 15 days later at CDG.

Total cost including GPS and all taxes and service charges is $509 euro. That price certainly beats the train, even with a rail pass. Wher did such a good deal come from?, Hertz of course.

Whe have a diesel reserved, which has the city mileage at 33 and the Motorway at 51. YMMV.

Even with gazole and tolls, it's cheaper than rail by far. If you're worried about the price of petrol in France, you should be. Here is a link to help you on pricing. It's current.

georgiegirl May 5th, 2007 06:04 AM

Will each one in the party take turn driving? The driver is the one who misses out in enjoying the scenery. If this is you first time in Paris, pick one place for a day trip by car, either Burgundy or Normandy. You will need the rest of your week there in Paris itself and that includes Versailles.

StCirq May 5th, 2007 06:20 AM

You can't do all that in a week's time, so the first thing you need to do is settle on a sensible itinerary. Then rent a car once you're done with Paris and Versailles. A rail pass certainly can be bought ahead of time but in your case it wouldn't be a smart decision or a cost saving.

klondike May 5th, 2007 08:21 AM

We prefer to drive for the freedom of choice and you get to experience so much more. That being don't say how many of you there are.

We are a group of 6 (some of us larger people, all with luggage) staying for varying lengths of times = having to rent a 7 person van. The cost was exhorbitant! We switched to a mix of train and renting 2 separate cars.

Please heed what everyone else has said about being overextended on the plans. Pick one region outside Paris and enjoy it instead of running all over creation and seeing nothing.

ira May 5th, 2007 12:24 PM

>Wher did such a good deal come from?, Hertz of course.<

One must always look around for the best rate.

Today, Hertz is not offering a 407 in Nice. They do have a 307 for about $790 for 15 days.

AE has a 407 for the same price.


ira May 5th, 2007 12:26 PM

Hi S,

>I thought you could buy a rail pass ahead of time. True?



You have to check the price compared to railfare and car rental.


If this is all to be done in a week, it is not a vacation; it is an expedition.


USNR May 5th, 2007 12:49 PM

I'm weary just thinking about all that driving. Cut out Burgundy. Maybe cut out Champagne. Drive less, see more.

Stormin280 May 6th, 2007 11:59 AM

Paris, Versailles, Normandy, Champagne and Burgundy in a week!
Renting a car, gas is now about 1.27 Euro a liter in France, that is per the British/Irish auto club.
My wife and I did Paris, Versailles and a day trip to Lyon in a week. We walked or used the metro in Paris and the RER to Versailles. I agree with Gretchen, about driving in Paris and Versailles, besides where are you going to park it?
Lyon, to visit friends, we used prepaid rail passes for the TGV. Our friends said 4-4 1/2 hours to Lyon from Paris minimum (8-9 hours r/t), they live there, I figured on getting lost at least once so added time.
The TGV cut it to 1 1/2 hours (3 hours r/t) and they keep to their schedules.
If you live in the USA and need help with rail passes try (808) 395-2083 Fujiwara Mele, this lady came through for us at the last minute with rail passes when no one else could besides she knows France and was extremely helpful.
USNR, is right, drive less enjoy more!

Rastaguytoday May 6th, 2007 02:56 PM


It's a variation on airline prices, get the price when it is low. Did you try the 'show all cars' listing on Hertz, which is where I chose the 407?

The 407 is 504.96 euro. If I substituted a 307 TODAY (I just pulled the quote up) for this trip it would be 516.32 euro.

For the amount of money you're suggesting at AutoEurope I could rent a BMW 320D.

Given what you've said, I guess Hertz is the best deal out there, at least in my case.

Rastaguytoday May 6th, 2007 03:02 PM


I missed the 'in Nice' part. I rented the auto from the Marseille airport, which is in Provence.

Gretchen May 6th, 2007 03:03 PM

As Mrs Doubtfire would have said of the itinerary--"it is a drive by viewing".

tedgale May 7th, 2007 03:19 AM

Maybe the OP should visit ONLY Normandy and content herself with DRINKING Burgundy and Champagne...

Dukey May 7th, 2007 03:34 AM

Entirely too little detail, Shescribe, as others have pointed out.

Please respond so we can get this thread away from two people squabbling about who offers the best car deal as well as the usual "you can't do that" responses based on no information whasoever....

IOW <b>if you really want the answer</b> give us more info!!!!

ira May 7th, 2007 08:19 AM

Hey Dukey,

&gt;Please respond so we can get this thread away from two people squabbling about who offers the best car deal ...&lt;

It is not a squabble. Some people might be interested in knowing how to find the lowest prices for rental cars.

Since that is part of the original question, I suggest that it is an appropriate contribution to the thread.


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