We didn't realize so many car rental agencies in France are not open on Sunday. Is it common practice to use after hours return options? We would like to drop our car off in Caen before returning to Paris. Any experiences with this?
Some have locked key boxes or door slots where you can drop your keys after having parked the car in the lot. Some don't. I think it's best to call the specific agency you're planning to use and asked them if they have a Sunday drop-off procedure.
Yes, call the local office and get their advice on how to drop off your car. Then take pictures of the car in the lot to document that you returned it in good condition. Once I returned a car to the Dinard Airport on an obscure French holiday (Ascension) and there was no one to tell me what to do. I finally asked at the Ryanair desk and they explained how I had to open a gate and leave it in a special parking lot. From now on, I make sure the rental office will be open or call to get directions first.
Take pictures of the car from every angle if dropped after hours.
I would try to find someway to avoid doing that. I have not had any experience with that in Europe but there have been a couple of reports here of damage reports after the drop off. Hard to argue after the fact.
We had the same issue. Many offices also close midday for hours as I recall. We worked it out at pick-up (amazingly, really, as his 10 words of English matched my 10 in French ), parked and dropped the keys through the slot. It all worked out perfectly, though I was nervous anyway until the bill came through with no problem. Taking photos sounds like a good idea.
A couple of times I had to drop off a rental car in France after hours, and things worked out fine. Actually, neither time was really "after hours;" it was that infamous French Fermeture Exceptionale. The first time was a Friday before a long weekend, and we were leaving the town the next day and France the day after, and there was no real drop off spot, because the Europcar office was just in a gas station. I finally got a hold of Europcar HQ, and they said to leave the car in the large municipal lot (where it was anyway), and drop the keys through a slot at the gas station. I was pretty nervous, but I didn't have much of a choice at that point. I always try to avoid dropping off a car on a closed day, but sometimes it's unavoidable.
We dropped off our rental car in Caen last June on a Sunday. They told us exactly where to park it and where to leave the keys. We had no issues with leaving it on Sunday when they were closed.