Rent a Car in Paris: 6 Things to know before you book

1. Is it necessary to rent a car to visit Paris?

You can visit Paris without a car and it is actually advisable to use the Metro network instead. Most Airports around the capital city offer convenient and affordable public transports facilities to get you to Paris within an hour. You will always be less than 10 min walk from a subway station and it is the fastest way to go anywhere, even more so you don’t have to find and pay a parking space.

However, if you want to go around outside Paris, Mont Saint Michel or castles in the countryside during your trip, then it is a totally different story. We recommend you to book your car directly from the Airport using the advice at the bottom of this page to save money.

2. Are you allowed to drive in France with your licence?

If you got your driving licence from a country of the European Economic Area you can come a drive as long as you want in France. It is an enlarge version of EU and is also commonly called EEA. List of countries in EEA here.

If your driving license was issued in another country you can still drive but for a maximum of a year. Such cases include USA, UK and Canada.

So in either case you can always rent a car and be allowed to drive. You can also read the main principles of the highway code applicable here. Also here is the full road signs meanings translated in English.

3. Parking problems in Paris

That’s where you spend money when you rent a car in Paris, there are no free parking spaces. The image below shows you the rates per hour and can be counted by 15 minutes slices. Parking your car in Paris will be charged at these rates from Monday to Saturday between 9AM and 8PM but will be free outside these times. You can pay from the parking meter (map here) or with this English app. Make sure you use your exact number plate to avoid getting a fine.

There are many privately managed underground parking also available. They have their own pricing and can sometimes be cheaper, as some in central Paris are 5.20€ for 1 hour (instead of 6€) and 15.60€ for 3 hours (instead of 24€). The most private parking used is called “Indigo”. You can search online to find these private parking here (in French). As you can see on the image below the central area of Paris (zone 1 to 11) is more expensive than the rest (zone 12 to 20). These zones are called “Arrondissements“.

4. How to avoid car rental scams in Paris?

Body panels : It is important to take a good 5 minutes to inspect the vehicle inside-out and check for small scratches and damaged panels. We advise taking a quick video around the car and pictures of the front, back and sides. Don’t forget to check inside too. Check under the car for damages, specially under the front bumper for scratch marks.

Tyres : Checking the state of the tyres is a safety precaution above all. The state of the tyres is even more important during the cold months, if there is snow or rain a good tyre can save lives. Check the sidewall or the tyres as much as the parts in contact with the road. Check the tyres tread wear indicator (video here). If the tyres don’t have enough rubber left you should ask for another car. Also check for screws or anything pointed already in the tyre as a flat tyre force you to replace both tyres…

Fuel : During the pick-up process of the car. The contract will mention the quantity of fuel the rental car should have, often it will be full tank. Make sure to start the car and check the fuel gauge.

Authorised mileage : Most cars have at least 931km or 1750km free mileage. Definitely take the 1750km if you want to go to Mont St Michel or to some castles in the West. Since prices are the same we would always advice the 1750km option anyway. The best rentals give you unlimited mileage, this is the choice to make for a road trip in France !

Insurances : A lot of people now have insurances linked to their credit card VISA or MasterCard when booking with them. So careful of some rental companies that will scare you one way or another and push you into buying an extra insurance with them. Just check before with your insurance to be able to stand your ground and know your cover policy.

Caution/Safety deposit limit : Ask your bank what is the authorised limit on your credit card for a European transaction. If the rental company want to take a pre-authorisation (but without actually taking the funds) your card still need to be able to handle it. The amount can be 1000€ or much more for some rentals.

5. What is the cost of renting a car?

From Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport renting a car is really cheap. You will be set for 184.09€ for seven days

From Orly Airport around 180.14€ for 7 days.

Prices varies depending on the season and the availability, but more or less you are good for a 25€/30€ per day for a small car.

6. How to compare the price of car rentals and save on extra costs?

We all know that the best way is to compare and book online. You can save hundreds of euros that way. But comparative websites also offer to buy an extra insurance. If you don’t already have one take it in order to avoid being terrified of damages during all your trip. However, if you already have a car rental insurance of any kind, check your cover policy before paying extra money for nothing :). You can check prices to rent a car in Paris with the blue button below. Set the place and dates carefully to get a precise quote.

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