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Driving in Paris

Our original plan was to pick up a car in Parc des Princes to drive to Normandy, however we want to change the rental and if we do that we'll need to pick up the car at Gare Montparnasse. This will be on a Wednesday morning. How difficult is it to drive out of town from Montparnasse rail station?

Los Altos, CA

Posted by
785 posts

If you wait until after rush hour it should be doable. I looked at Google maps, they offer 3 routings and it shows there are construction projects/closures on the most direct route so you might want to opt for one of the others. I have developed a preference for Google maps as I find them easier to use and it is easy to really zoom in on the area around the station so you can get a good idea of exactly where you are going.

Posted by
5893 posts

We drove from the Hertz place near Gare Montparnasse, to the Peripherique, and on to Bourges, on a weekday. It went fine, required plotting the route in advance, then a lot of attention from us both, I'd suggest using the Via Michelin website to get your best route. Google Earth can also route you, and its street view can show you what the landmarks and turns look like. GPS should help too, though we didn't have it on the trip from Montparnasse. Drove back in a couple of weeks later with few problems.

Driving in Paris isn't fun and isn't a good way to get around the city itself, but driving in and out is certainly doable. And Gare Montparnasse is close enough to the Peripherique to make it worthwhile.

Posted by
5697 posts

But after driving in Paris, the drive to Normandy will be a piece of cake!

Posted by
1005 posts

Excellent advice from previous posters. I just want to add how helpful it is to look at major intersections and roundabouts on Google Street View before your journey. Don't depend just on GPS to guide you if you plan to use it. Familiarize yourself in advance and you'll make fewer mistakes.

Posted by
61 posts

Thanks so much for all the helpful advice. I wasn't familiar with viamichelin and I love the idea of using Google street view.


Posted by
2023 posts

It has been ten years or more since we picked up a car in Paris. We got the car (Hertz) at Gare Nord and made exactly two right turns onto a fairly major street that led us to the Periferique where we turned left and were on our way to the Normandy area. It was a bit nerve wracking but nothing like driving on the "left" in the UK. The way the lanes were marked (and unmarked!) was slightly confusing. I should add that it was a Sunday morning and traffic was light.