Exploring France by Hire Car
France, the land of pleasure and joie de vivre, is a great place to travel by hire car. Whether you want to climb in the mountains, swim in the Mediterranean or feast in first-class restaurants, you will find it in France. And those interested in culture certainly won’t miss out there either. For renting the car and the trip we have put together a few tips.
Taking over the hire car
At the major international airports in France, you will find numerous rental companies directly in the terminal or in the immediate vicinity. However, you should make sure that your rental agency is also located in the airport. If the station is a bit far away, you may have to wait a long time for a shuttle to get there and lose precious travel time.
Booking the right hire car
In France, you can choose the hire car according to your travel plans. If you want to travel in the big cities, you should go for a small car that allows you to use tight parking spaces.
If a long drive across the country is planned, perhaps a large and comfortable sedan is the right choice. And for a holiday by the sea, a smart convertible might be recommended.
Hire car prices
Hire car prices in France are around the mid-range. In high season or at trade fair times in the major cities, prices can of course go up. You can usually get the cheapest deal if you book well in advance of your trip and use our handy price comparison tool.
hire car price comparison France
You need to be 21 years old to get a hire car with most rental companies in France. For higher-end vehicle categories, the age limit is often 25 and sometimes as high as 30. And drivers under 25 are often charged an additional fee to pay.
A good navigation device can serve you well in France. However, to ensure that this and other accessories are actually available on the day you pick up your vehicle, you need to reserve them well in advance.
Many French people speak English poorly. Before you travel, write down the telephone number of your rental company’s French head office. There you can ask for translation help in case of communication difficulties
France is a great country to explore without a care in the world if you have booked a hire car with all kilometres free.
Remember the tank regulation
There are rental companies that sell the first tank of gas for a service fee. The customer can then return the car empty. However, since you will never manage to roll into the hire car company’s yard with the last drop of gas on the day you return the car, you will always pay on this option.
Make sure you order your hire car from a rental company that only blocks the deposit due on your credit card.
Because if the amount is actually charged, it may take longer to get it back into your account after you return the car. Also, check your card’s credit limit to be sure you’ll be able to pay the deposit.
Customer Satisfaction Hire Car
Most customers are satisfied with hire car companies in France. Some complain about longer waiting times. So plan a time buffer, especially if you have to drop off the car and catch a plane or train.
Safety Hire Car
Although hire cars in France are usually safe, you should still test the car’s lights before your first trip. And inspect your vehicle immediately for scratches or dents and get written confirmation of any defects.
This is the only way to be sure you won’t be held liable on the day you return the car for damage you didn’t even cause.
Traffic rules France
France has an excellent developed road network especially in the Paris area and on all routes to Paris. The cross connections are still in the development stage. Most motorways are privately operated and are therefore subject to tolls.
An international driving licence is not required.
All over France the 0.5 promille limit applies.
Alcohol can be quite expensive here. Between 0.5 and 0.79 per mille, the penalty is still 750 euros, then up to 4500 euros.
Speeding: from 90 euros
Red light: from 90 euros
Overtaking ban disregarded: from 90 euros
Parking ban: from 10 euros
Telling without a hands-free device: 135 euros
Red light: from 90 Euro
Overtaking despite ban: from 90 Euro
Parking despite ban: from 10 Euro
Telling without handsfree: 35 Euro
Missing breathalyser: from 11 Euro
Driving too fast: from 90 Euro
Other than that, similar traffic rules apply as everywhere else in Europe. Outside built-up areas, you are allowed to drive 90 km/h and in the city 50 km/h. On motorways, the maximum speed is 130 km/h. In wet conditions, take your foot off the accelerator. On country roads the speed limit is 80 and on motorways 110. Caution: parking is prohibited on kerbs with a yellow line.
Driving with deflecting lights is recommended during the day, but is only compulsory for motorcyclists. In France, high-visibility vests have been compulsory since 1 July 2008. Children under the age of 10 are not allowed in the front seat and carrying and using radar detectors in the vehicle is prohibited in France.
In addition, you should know that parking in the “zone bleue” is only allowed with a parking disc and that priority roads end at the place name signs. Since 01/07/2012 it is compulsory to carry a breathalyser in every car. Vehicles driving uphill have priority.
Suggestion of a hire car trip
Paris – one of the most beautiful cities in the world
Start your trip in Paris. The capital of France is still one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Perhaps start your day in Paris with a visit to a museum.
The Louvre impresses with a gigantic art collection. The highlight of the exhibition is the Mona Lisa, whose smile captivates visitors year after year. Afterwards you can stroll a little along the Seine. Countless street vendors offer their wares on the banks of the river.
Eiffel Tower: lunch with a view
Now it’s time for lunch. It’s no problem to find a good bistro in Paris, however, in the tourist center it comes at a price. Maybe treat yourself to something special and head for the Eiffel Tower. Go to the south pillar. There are no tourist queues here, as the elevator only goes to the Jules Verne restaurant.
And this visit is well worth it. At a height of 125 meters you will enjoy excellent cuisine paired with a fantastic view. The menu costs 350 euros for 2 people including drinks. For the evening menu, you will have to pay 750 euros. This is Paris.
Train Bleu: The most beautiful train station restaurant in the world
After an excellent meal, conquer the city. Let yourself drift. Paris offers endless possibilities. Visit one of the countless museums. Stroll the Champs-Élysées and marvel at the adventurous prices in the boutiques.
In the afternoon, grab a coffee at Train Bleu in the Gare de l’Est building. Here you’ll sit in the most magnificent train station restaurant in the world. Then, in the evening, you’ll have the opportunity to attend a revue. The most famous place for this is probably the “Moulin Rouge”.
Orléans: Lively University City
The next day, the trip heads south. Orléans is the destination. In less than two hours you will be there. The university town with over 100,000 inhabitants attracts with a charming city centre. Many of the town houses you will see here date back to the Renaissance period.
Sainte-Croix d’Orléans: magnificent cathedral
But the city’s greatest attraction is the Sainte-Croix d’Orléans Cathedral, which dates back to 1278. Since then, the place of worship has been destroyed many times but always rebuilt. The foundation stone for the current building was laid in 1601. However, the consecration did not take place until 1829.
Till today, especially the magnificent facade and the imposing nave inspire visitors from all over the world. Since 1429, the Joan of Arc Festival has been held almost every year in the first week of May. The six-hundredth birthday was celebrated especially splendidly in 2012.
Montélimar : Sweet interruption
Continuing south past Lyon, you come to Montélimar. For foodies, stopping is a must. White “Nougat de Montélimar”, a kind of Turkish honey, is the local speciality. You can watch it being prepared in small manufactories and stock up on sweet provisions for the onward journey.
Saint-Tropez: home of glamour
Now it’s time to hit the coast. To this day, the beautiful and the powerful gather on the Côte d’Azur – and Saint-Tropez is the centre of the illustrious activity. The small fishing village became famous through the actress Brigit Bardot. She seduced the men here in the film “Und immer lockt das Weib”. But Louis de Funès also made the town famous as the gendarme of Saint-Tropez.
Today, a motley mix of curious day-trippers, aging playboys and ultra-rich yacht owners congregate here. None of this has harmed the beauty of Saint-Tropez. There are no ugly new buildings. You can still stroll leisurely through the alleys here.
Enjoy the Mediterranean serenity that the place exudes and don’t miss sitting down in one of the cafés on the harbour. The drinks may be sinfully expensive, but the show put on by the many strollers is priceless. Plus, you can leisurely plan the next stops on your road trip here.