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Car rental. Pickup/drop off Normandy visit

Hello everyone. I am sorry if this is a frequent question but I'm going round the website to find answers
This is the plan
Arrive in Paris CDG , take train to Giverny stay at BB overnight then rent a car and head for Ryes for our Normandy visit. Visit for two days and then head to Loire Valley for one night then back to Paris Drop off car. ( hopefully not at airport)
Hotel in Paris is in the around 6th district
Don't want to drive in downtown Paris

Can I drop it and take train into city. ??
Any advice greatly appreciated

Posted by
9110 posts

If you take trains from the airport up to Vernon, it's going to take you a couple of hours. You can drive it in one without having to go anywhere near the peripherique..

You'll have a better car selection at the airport (automatic required?).

There's plenty of places to drop it at Porte Maillot. Most are a single turn off the A-14 (which becomes Ave Charles de Gaulle/Grande Armee/Champs Elysses as you continue into the city). Metro stops abound in the area.

Further out, around La Defense, there's Avis, Hertz, Sixt, etc, but they're a bit harder to hit due to location. I can't picture the rer/metro stops out there, but it'd still have to RER A and Metro 1 which are pretty much parallel to the right bank once you get into the city (figure they run under the list of streets above). In either case, you'd probably switch to Metro 12 at Concorde.

Posted by
293 posts

Thanks Ed so we should really get the car when we arrive. I had a feeling about that I have a lot of homework to do
I'm afraid this will not be my last question about this.


Posted by
1005 posts

I agree with Ed about picking up the car at CDG. I've done this drive myself, and you can avoid the worst Paris traffic (but it's still no picnic). Use Google Maps or to chart your trip. I also use Google Street View to look at the signage before I leave--it helps ease the stress. Might be easiest to drop your car off at Porte Maillot, since La Defense traffic can be confusing.

Posted by
1294 posts

In 2012, we dropped our car at Orly airport and rode the train in from there. It was very easy. I originally wanted to drop the car in Versailles and take the train from there, but the car rental place closed at 5:00PM back then and I did not want to have that limitation. The airport stayed open until midnight. We are going back next September. Versailles rental place now stays open until 6:30 pm, so we will pick our car up there and head to Giverny. ( In 2012, we toured around France and ended our trip with time in Paris. We are doing it in reverse this year). The one thing about picking up at the airport is that it is more expensive. There is always a surcharge for picking up at an airport or train station. However, with your situation I would probably just pay it. I have never had to pay a surcharge for dropping a car at an airport or train station.

Posted by
171 posts

I agree with some of the comments, I would pick-up the car at CDG and I would also return the car there. I once returned a rental car to a location in downtown Paris, and it was a nightmare to get there from the hotel, with the rush-hour traffic and struggling to figure out where I was going. I'm also going to Paris for a few days later this year, and then on to Giverny, Normandy and other locations. I will probably take a shuttle to CDG and pick up the rental car there to avoid some traffic hassles.

Posted by
7567 posts

Yes, driving in Paris is worse than a nightmare. I notice that you have scheduled a single day in the Loire, and you didn't say how many nights you have in Paris at the end of your trip. Are you hoping to also go to Mont St. Michel?

You didn't indicate whether this is your first trip to Europe or France. It doesn't make sense to me to drive all the way from (no doubt ... ) Bayeux to the Loire for a single night. Check Google Maps and add 30% to the time. Now add time to get from one chateau to another, and back to your hotel. While you are very wise to plan overnight in Normandy, your trip may not be long enough to justify the Loire too. While we had plenty of time, I will offer our last itinerary:

We went to the CDG TGV station and trained directly to St. Pierre des Corps (Tours), where, alas, the car agencies have a two-hour lunch closing. We had 3 nights near Chinon, but most people stay to the East of Tours. We spent two nights in Dinard, including MSM, although most Rick Steves travellers would stay, say, in Dinan or on MSM. Then we had a leisurely drive to Bayeux, for three nights. Although I was dumb enough to drive back into Paris, you could return the car in Vernon, but also consider Rouen, Versailles, or Chantilly, after considering your tourism priorities.

If you can't afford to add a few days to your trip, please add up the car costs and see if you might want to go fewer places entirely by train. One of Rick's Rules, "Assume you'll return."

Posted by
293 posts

Thanks everyone. I have been in Italy 3 times First visit to France and I want to see Normandy and Paris .I was hoping to drive thru Loire just to see it I know our time is limited but we don't mind driving my husband loves country driving but this is the early stages of planning Normandy is higher on the list
We have 3 1/2 days in Paris and yes we will be back

Posted by
9110 posts

Lots of rough scoop and I'm the leader since I missed the Loire part.

Port Maillot is out, that's only good if you're coming back down from Lower Normandy.

Going back to Roissy is out and nuts. That's diagonally all the way on the other side of town and would add another hour of driving at least, plus the hour to get back into the city.

Orly is out since the approach from the east has too many pitfalls unless you know the roads. It's a good half hour of trains for no reason as well.

Versailles is out coming up from the south unless you know the back roads and chunk your gps.

Which leaves three options for dropping the car:

a. Entering Paris through the Porte d' Orleans and leaving it either at Gare Montparnasse or around Invalides. It's easy, but if you refuse to drive in Paris, won't work. It's hard at night. The whammy is getting on and right back off the peripherique - - if you try to use the back streets, you'll get all twisted up.

b. Following the Loire up to Orleans and taking the train the rest of the way. It's about an hour and goes in to Gare Austerlitz.

c. Same as 'b' but continuing to drive to Chartres (for obvious reasons) and taking the train the rest of the way. It's also about an hour and goes in to Gare Montparnasse.

I'm not exactly a stranger to France and have been driving in and out of Paris for close to fifty years - - the only reason it hasn't been longer is that I didn't have a driver's license when I was a kid. It just ain't that hard. You can enjoy the Loire Valley without having to go into a single chateau. Pick one or two and you'll be fine. I haven't been in a single one for years and my life still seems complete.