France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Car Hire/Rental in France
Hiring/renting a car can enhance your trip to France, but here's a tip: don't rent it in Paris or at its airports. Rent it at a train station in another city.



Car hire can enhance your trip to France by giving you the freedom of the road. Rental/hire is usually easy, convenient and not overly expensive, but the offices may operate differently than what you're used to. Read this!

Maybe Not in Paris...

A tip: avoid picking up your car in Paris or at its airports. Driving in or anywhere within 30 km (19 miles) of Paris can be a nightmare of heavy traffic and suicidal motorcyclists.

Instead, start your explorations of France by taking a train from the airport or from Paris to a smaller city and pick up your car at the train station there. This will also make it easier to return the car at the end of your rental, whether in the city where you took delivery of the car, or in another city or town.

Here are the various costs for hiring/renting a car in France:

Rental Fee

The fee you pay, per day, week or month, to use the car. This is the largest single expense, but other costs may add up to equal it unless you opt for an all-inclusive rental. Click here to see costs for a typical car rental in France.

All-Inclusive Rental/Hire

Some rental companies include all of the most common fees—rental fee, insurance, additional driver—in one price, which makes the rental easy., a partner, provides a variety of rental/hire companies from which to choose. More...

Liability Insurance

This is insurance that pays claims made for damage done by you to the vehicles, property or persons of others. Most car rental/hire companies include this insurance in the Rental Fee. You should not have to pay extra for it.

Collision & Theft Insurance

Insurance that pays for damage done to your rental car by you or others (including unknown others), or theft of the rental car by others. This insurance is usually NOT included in the basic Rental Fee and must be paid in addition.

Sale of this insurance coverage is an important profit opportunity for car hire companies so they may convince you that you should buy it. If you do, you needn't worry if there is an accident. But most hired cars are returned in fine condition. Do you need it? You decide!

Some credit cards offer Collision & Theft insurance coverage to their cardholders. Check the Terms & Conditions of your credit card agreement closely to assure that you will be covered.

Additional Driver(s)

Every rental assumes one driver. Most companies charge extra for additional drivers. VAT (Sales Tax) will be applied to the Additional Driver fee.

Young/Old Driver Surcharge

Some companies charge extra—a LOT extra!—for young drivers (younger than 25 years of age), and may levy a surcharge on older drivers (65+). Keep this in mind when estimating the cost of your rental.

VAT (Value-Added Tax)

This sales tax, of nearly 20% in France, will usually be included in the Rental Fee, but check to be sure. VAT will be added to all other charges including insurance, Additional Drivers, child car seats, etc., so if the Additional Driver fee is 33€, expect to also pay 6.47€ VAT in addition to that fee.

Airport Fees, Road Tax, Local Tax

These may be charged in addition to VAT.

Infant/Child/Booster Seats

Special seat equipment for small children may be required by law. It should be requested in advance, and is subject to an additional charge, plus VAT.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

Many car companies offer GPS devices for rent at an additional fee, plus VAT. Some higher-class cars come with GPS built-in.

Ski Rack/Snow Chains

This equipment may be available for rent at an additional fee, plus VAT. In winter, in a few mountainous locations, snow tires or chains are required and you won't be able to travel the road without them. Ask at your rental company office if you're in doubt.


Most French rental/hire cars are thrifty with fuel, whether gasoline/petrol or diesel, but you may find that you get more distance per unit of fuel with diesel (gasoil). Diesel engines are being phased out in favor of hybrids and electric cars, however. More...

About Rental Offices

Driving in France

Parking in France

Fuel & Charging

Highway Tolls & Payment

Priority of the Right

Cost of a Typical Rental

Transport in Paris

Transport in France


Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel by Tom Brosnahan


Highway toll machine, France

Highway toll machine in France: if you drive much on autoroutes (expressways, divided highways), you'll have to learn how to pay the tolls. More...


On the road in France
On the road in France...


Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel by Tom Brosnahan

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