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advice on picking up rental car and dropping off outside Paris

Hi All
I am flying into Paris September 3. heading to Bordeaux first- should I fly or train from CDG to Bordeaux? We arrive in Paris at 1pm.
Our route through France: from Bordeaux, through Carcassone area, then to Provence. Can't decide if I am better off returning to Paris by train or air on Sept 30. Question is where to return rental car- I do not want to drive in or near Paris. I do not know if there are advantages/disadvantages from returning to Paris from Montpellier or Nimes or even Avignon. Would love some advice. Flight out of Paris on the 30 th is at 2pm- so may have to return car on 29th,stay in whatever town overnight before returning to Paris.

Posted by
437 posts

We returned a car near Gare de Lyon after driving from the Loire Valley area 2 years ago and it was CRAZY. We just got home a few days ago from France where we rented a car and returned it to Avignon TGV and trained from there back to Paris......super easy. I would say to return the car in a much easier place than Paris and train back to Paris. We loved seeing the countryside from the train.

Posted by
98 posts

Your can take a TGV from CGD to Bordeaux; unless you have lots of time to spare, the train is the better bet. Your can also take a TGV from Avignon to CGD. Easy to pick up a car at Bordeaux and return it at the TGV station in Avignon. Plan to stay near CGG after your train from Avignon. It would be very tight to get a flight on the same day. Last year we drove from Bordeaux through the Perigord and had great food.

Posted by
2837 posts

I'd second Monty's advice, except I'd stay in Paris itself the night before your return flight. I would never stay at an airport hotel unless it was absolutely necessary, and with a 2 p.m. flight it's not necessary.

Posted by
36 posts

Last year my wife and I picked up a car at CDG and rummaged through eastern France to Provence. Dropping the rental car at the Avignon TGV station was simple (several major rental companies are located at the station) and TGV puts you back in central Paris in less than 3 hours. And the rental price semed to be the same regardless of where I returned the car.

Posted by
760 posts

Hi from Wisconsin,
Been to France for long car rental vacations 3 of the last 6 years.

Take a train from CDG to Bordeaux (2hours). Use cd.cz to buy your tickets. You can view the train car make up and select your seats then print your ticket.

Maybe rent a car in Bordeaux to drive to Carcassone and then on to Provence. Getting out of Bordeaux can be a bit of a trick, what with the river, and one way streets. Plan carefully for your exit. Drop car at Avignon or similar and take train back to Paris.

The train tickets are about what you pay for gas and tolls if you drove, so you break even and arrive rested. (Bordeaux...gosh I am jealous).

Last I knew there was NO charge for dead heading a car (renting at one spot and dropping off at another) in France. It is the law...at least it was.

Returning car to CDG airport is not as bad as some make it sound. There are signs indicating where a rental car should go. But then you are at the airport where there is nothing to see and the food is really disappointing after having fine French food all vacation.

One more thought...driving on the big roads in France or Spain or anywhere is like driving on the Interstate in the USA. Quick, but boring. Bordeaux to Carcassone is a long drive and you will see practically nothing on the way. The trains will make you envious of what they have and what we in the USA have not.

wayne iNWi Bordeaux...what a great city.

Posted by
2717 posts

We picked up and dropped off the car at CDG. On that trip we visited the Loire valley and Chateaus, then headed to Zaragoza Spain and over to Santiago de Compostela before heading to Bordeaux and back to Paris.

Posted by
16782 posts

Wayner posted a Czech web site - don't use that one. French tickets are sold by the railway at https://en.oui.sncf/en/ and through agents like Rail Europe and trainline.eu. Tickets purchased in advance are no good if you miss the train - you'd have to buy a new one, probably for $100-150.

If there's a convenient flight connection to Bordeaux (probably one operated by Air France) that could be sold or added as part of your trans-Atlantic ticket, then that's the safest connection plan. Otherwise, allow a minimum of 3 hours transfer time to catch a train at CDG terminal 2 or to catch an un-affiliated flight. More time is always better, especially if you have checked luggage to collect.

Posted by
11743 posts

I turned my car in at Bordeaux then trained to Paris after a couple of nights there. Bordeaux public transportation isn't anywhere as well developed as Paris, so I'd suggest staying somewhere with parking and renting at the start of your stay.

On another trip I flew back to Paris from Nice. If the train trip exceeds four hours, I look at flying. I stayed in Arles but Avignon is a bigger hub and might have flights back to Paris, so you could turn the car in there. I'd guess Montpelier and/or Nimes would have flights too, but I haven't tried.

For price, I've always started and finished in Paris. I plan a couple nights (or more) in Paris on arrival to get over jet lag, then a couple (or more) nights before leaving. Last trip it was three nights on each end but I've done as few as two nights and as many as five nights, depending on the trip.