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Car rentals forcing itinerary change for Sept.?

We have been reading about the exorbitant costs of rental cars in Europe at the moment (as are here in the U.S.). Our original plan was to fly to Paris, spend a few days, then possibly plane to Geneva, rent a car to drive to Chamonix then over to Annecy, Avignon, down to Provence, then Nice where we would return the car and fly back to Paris. We would only be in Geneva to pick up the car there as it looks like the easiest place to get to the destinations we are wanting to see. Now we are rethinking this whole plan and have decided to do public transit only this trip. Is Grenoble with considering instead of Chamonix? Looking for suggestions as to changes in our itinerary and the ease of public transit in any of these areas. We have never been in this region of France before and had hoped to explore it all (we have plenty of time). We are watching the boards to see what the requirements will be for a health pass after the August deadline. Hopefully, there will be a plan in place before we leave to make it easier than having to run the streets of Paris seeking a place to give us a pass. Again, we know anything can change in an instant with the Delta variant. We are both fully vaccinated.

Posted by
185 posts

Have you actually gotten quotes for rental rates? I have a car rental that I just rebooked for September and the second rebooking was actually a little bit cheaper even with the one-way destination fee.

I find the rates to be a little bit more than normal but not exorbitantly so.

Posted by
1767 posts

I priced a couple of car rentals in France as I’m trying to decide if I’m still going on this trip and what I might do and I have not seen them near the problems with pricing I’m seeing in the United States. (I’ve got a trip to Las Vegas for a conference and needed to rent a car for one day for a friend and it one point all of my contracts were sold out and the only thing I could get was $100 a day for a compact)

From what I’ve seen and read I don’t think Europe is having near as much problem with rental cars as the United States

Posted by
372 posts

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/europe-car-rental-carmageddon-cmd/index.html

Read this and automatically thought of the same problem as in the US. We tried to rent a car in Denver in early July and they wanted almost $1000 for three days rental for an economy! We just thought perhaps rather than worrying about rentals this trip we would train it, so open to any suggestions with our itinerary on whether it is feasible to get to destinations on public transit. Or revise the plan altogether.

Posted by
75 posts

I just booked cars in Nice for Sept and pricing is $23 a day. It does not include one way though.

Posted by
3789 posts

I think you need to actually trial book your plan.
The other day I was trying to look at October plans either here in Canada or Loire Valley. My neighbourhood is Orleans, ON. Compact starts at $1000 for 2 weeks, and Orleans, France compact is $347 for 2 weeks. Even an automatic is under $500 for the 2 weeks.
Don't trust media hype.

Posted by
185 posts

FWIW my car rental is from CDG for 16 days returning at Vernon and it was $612. Mid September to end of September.

Posted by
372 posts

Wow - those aren't bad. But, should we decide to do trains only - is this itinerary feasible? Or should we ditch one or two places?

Posted by
2094 posts

Have you checked the price for Geneva to Nice car rental? Returning the car in a different country can be really expensive and you might be able to save a lot by renting the car in e.g. Annemasse instead.

Also, don't fly from Paris to Geneva. There are direct TGVs that are both faster, cheaper and more comfortable.

Posted by
3 posts

I got a rental car in Geneva and we plan to go to Annecy and Chamonix as well. On the 31st of August. If you get the car from downtown Geneva, it is much, much cheaper. There is an easy train from the airport to downtown. That is what we did when we visited Switzerland in 2016 as well. Hope this helps....I didnt read the other responses, sorry! :)

Posted by
185 posts

Whoop I just checked Europecar and saved another $150, with two drivers! I have to say thanks to Maria for posting her rates and making me re-check.

Posted by
3789 posts

@Aimee, it was just a theoretical Expedia search, but glad it got you looking again and some savings.

Posted by
2110 posts

You don't need a car for your itinerary: you can take the train from Paris to Chamonix in about 6 hours with 2 easy connections in small stations.
Then Chamonix to Annecy is a quick bus ride (Flixbus and Blablabus are the 2 intercity bus companies operating in France right now), faster than the train for that one.
The rest is easy by train; you might just want to rent a car for a few days in Avignon if you need more flexibility but it is not essential - and if you do so, driving to Nice is quite a bit faster than the train, but you don't need the car in Nice so could drop it off on arrival.

Posted by
25587 posts

I've both driven (my own car) and taken the double-decker TGV train between Avignon and Nice.

While it is undoubtedly quicker by car, that is because the Autoroute is inland and relatively straight and you can chug along at a steady 130 kph. The train is faster at the beginning, being a TGV (train of great speed), but it reaches the coast at Toulon (with or without a stop at Marseilles St Charles) where it goes much much slower. Trains work best on straight level tracks, and the route between Toulon and Nice is anything but.

However, if you like scenery, and the rest of your plan makes me think you do, if you sit upstairs on the right-hand side of the train facing direction of travel Avignon-Nice you will be rewarded by lovely views of the Mediterranean, the beaches, and some cool apartments. On the Autoroute you will be rewarded by views of trucks, cars, concrete or asphalt, and pretty much stock motorway views. But faster.

Your trip - you choose.

Also, if you keep your car parking in Nice is an absolute bear. There is a reason why all the cars have dents and handbrakes are left off. A very recent Rick Steves Radio Show (available on this website or any good podcast player) confirmed that this is still the case.

And finally, the area between Aix-en-Provence to the Italian border has the most frequent and highest per km Autoroute tolls in the country, if I remember correctly.

Posted by
942 posts

When you pick up a car in one country and drop it off in another, expect to pay a very high drop off fee. Instead of renting a car at the Geneva airport, you can take a direct train to Annecy (1h 30m). In Annecy you can pick up your car at the Chambéry Airport that’s 20-miles from Annecy’s city center. I would try pricing the cost of your car rental from Chambéry.

Posted by
2110 posts

There are car rental options at Annecy station itself; no need to go to Chambéry airport where there is very little public transport.

Posted by
323 posts

i have rented cars a couple of time recently, and haven't noticed prices being any different to 2019 (I originally typed last year, then I remembered...).

I suspect the price difference is if you book through a US agency?

Posted by
7532 posts

The Geneva airport has a "French" car rental area, so if you need a car to be returned in France, this is considered as having been picked up in France, not Switzerland. Be sure to use that option.

Simon, I think prices depend on where, when, level of insurance, as well as how it's rented. Our local Carrefour that requires a French license is 25% of what AutoEurope wants for the same dates, model and insurance, while some of the responses here have very low AutoEurope quotes compared to ours--hence geography, insurance, model.

Posted by
909 posts

I've reserved direct through both Hertz and Enterprise, picking up in Colmar in December and paying at the counter (no up front payment). I booked Hertz first, about 380 euros for a week, then found Enterprise for 100 euros less so reserved that one as well. I'll cancel the Hertz a month out if everything looks like it's going to happen as planned.

Posted by
400 posts

I'm booked for a car in Colmar in late September for 4 days. Rate all-in was $420.

Posted by
2110 posts

Yikes, $420 for 4 days is astronomical even with zero deductible. Few options in Colmar I guess...

Posted by
400 posts

The only option for Sunday drop off. All others are closed.

Posted by
909 posts

Marc,
Try booking for an even week - you might find a cheaper weekly rate than your current 4 days. You can just turn it in early.

Posted by
73 posts

Try booking for an even week - you might find a cheaper weekly rate than your current 4 days. You can just turn it in early.

Not so fast there. Read the fine print on returning cars early - i have rented many vehicles in France over the years, and I recall that there can be a penalty for returning early. I never had any need to turn one in early, so it never mattered, but don't assume you can do it as is allowed here in the US.