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Car rental question - Paris to Normandy and back

We are staying in Paris for several days, then traveling to Litteau on a Tuesday and returning to fly out of CDG on Friday of that same week. I thought about taking a train to Caen and renting a car there, but with 4 adults traveling, it's a better option to drive from Paris. I want to avoid the city traffic as much as possible - is it best to rent a car at CDG and return it there, or rent somewhere else and return to CDG when we fly out?


Posted by
3696 posts

It is not a problem to rent and return at CDG.... I had directions on how to head out towards Normandy and while the freeway in that area was busy it was a simple route. I think it's a pain to have to take a train to get a car... hauling luggage, etc. Same for my return... just pay attention but with 4 adults you should be fine:)

Posted by
469 posts

We've rented at CDG and haven't had any problems returning the car to a location near where we're staying in Paris. If I'm reading your post correctly, you could reverse that - pick the car up near where you're staying, drive to Litteau (this would require some city driving), then drop it off at CDG when you fly out on Friday.
If your top priority is to avoid city driving, pick up and drop off at CDG, but that requires getting 4 people and their luggage to CDG.
I'd pick the first option because getting 4 people and luggage to CDG (or to Caen) strikes me as more of a hassle than driving for a little bit in Paris.

Posted by
16893 posts

This logistical question has been a common topic in this Travel Forum, but you are one of the lucky few travelers who is spending time in Paris first, not considering driving from the airport right after an long flight. For you, I would depart from Paris in the car in order to save train fare for 4 people on the same day. Instead of going out to the airport, there are several in-city agency locations that are close to the main ring road and route out of town, so you're really not doing much driving in Paris. There should not be any problem dropping the same car at CDG later.

Posted by
32 posts

Thank you all. We are staying on Rue Monge near Maubert - Mutualité Metro stop. Any suggestions as to the best place to rent close to the main ring road that would be easy to get to? We live near DC and have driven in some of the worst traffic in the US, so while I'm not wild about getting into Paris traffic, I'm not completely freaked out by it either.

Posted by
469 posts

From my limited experience driving in both D.C. and Paris, I don't think you should have much to worry about. As you say, you've driven in some of the worst traffic in the U.S. You know, just stay conservative, no sudden lane changes or hard braking. Better to miss a turn than get in an accident.
Once you decide on a car rental company, you can google it and see how close their locations are to you. I'd advise you to get there early to pick up your car, to raise the chances of getting what you asked for. Then drive to where you're staying and load everyone in. With a little patience, I've always been able to find parking places very near to where I want to park.
Then GPS or a live navigator with a map will get you out of Paris without much trouble. The worst that will happen is you take a wrong road, which can be rectified by taking another road to get you back on track.

Posted by
509 posts

We investigated this issue, decided the CDG pickup and return would involve fewer "moving parts", and had good luck with a Hertz mid-size rented through AutoEurope (cheaper than the Hertz website). We successfully navigated to Normandy, and back via Provence. CDG is far enough out from Paris city center to prevent serious traffic issues. GPS was extremely helpful. We asked the Hertz attendant in the pick-up lot to help program it for English. (It had been returned "in German", so this took several worthwhile minutes of teamwork.) It helps to study a map in advance to get an idea of the major cities en route to assist with exit and other directional signs. Ask for detailed instructions on finding your designated return location at CDG. We made some wrong turns and had to ask directions, but it all worked out fine. Finally, do a little advance research on the toll payment situation to reduce anxiety on the major motorways. (Only once was our US [ChaseBank] chip/signature card refused by the toll machine, so it helps to have some Euro coins handy for that possible issue, and also for the minimal charges were a Euro or two will cover the toll. We would turn on our emergency flashers as we entered each toll lane, just to minimize inconvenience to more savvy motorists who might otherwise have to wait as we fumbled.

Posted by
9138 posts

Rent the car in town. Going out to CDG is a big enough pain (and takes up too much time) when you HAVE to do it, much more so when it's completely unnecessary.

Posted by
6179 posts

There are rental locations at the major railroad stations, a short Metro or RER or taxi ride from where you're staying. Gare de Lyon is probably the closest, Gare du Nord might be easier because it gets you north faster. Also I believe there are car rentals at Porte Maillot, on the Peripherique, and La Defense, beyond the Peripherique, on the west side of Paris to get you off to a "flying" start, also reached by Metro.

If you're using the Auto Europe website, it will give you lots of choices for Paris rental locations, and a good map can help you find those most convenient to you.

Posted by
3528 posts

I suggest going to La Defense if you want to start out heading west. It's my preferred "outside of Paris" spot for trips to to the west, but leaving from Gare de Lyon will be even easier in your case. You would just take Blvd Diderot to the exterior circle of Place de la Nation and turn right on Avenue du Trone and take that to the Peripherique. There is a EuropeCar on Blvd Diderot just past Gare de Lyon that would make the trip super easy if you picked up there.