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Driving trip through the South of France

Hello All,
We will be driving through Languedoc and Provence for 2 weeks in July. Will pick up the rental car in Toulouse. Do the typical US car rental agencies operate there, and do I need to obtain an international drivers license ?
We appreciate your input.
Bill and Kate

Posted by
2916 posts

You do now need an International Driver's Permit in France. And given the size of Toulouse, I assume all the principal US and European rental agencies will be there. You can check by using www.autoeurope.com, which is a good site to rent from. They're a consolidator.

Posted by
10339 posts

You will need an International Drivers Permit, to be used with your state drivers license. It translates your license information into many languages. You can get it at AAA and it's good for 12 months. You will need a passport sized photo. They can take it there if you prefer for a small charge. I think with the IDP and the photo it cost me approximately $25.

I book my cars in Europe using the consolidator Auto Europe - www.autoeurope.com.
You can compare prices between different rental agencies. The two times I've rented in France I got the best prices with Europcar. You may find a better price with Hertz or Avis. Those seem to be the most common rental companies.

Edit - I see that Robert and I were posting at the same time. I recommend using a GPS and paper maps.

Posted by
782 posts

If you are a regular car renter in the US,you might try that company,I am a Hertz gold member and I rent my cars here in the US and get very good rates,had four cars in the fall in four countries,40 days for 1100 Euros.
Mike

Posted by
12 posts

For car rentals in Europe I like to use the web site KEMWEL.COM It will give prices for a variety of European car rental agencies. It usually gives me the best price as well. I've had good luck with customer service as well. I've used them at least 10 times.

Posted by
1014 posts

I have driven in the South of France. We told the gps to not do tolls and major highways. It took us down country roads and through small villages. Takes longer, but I was there to see the country, not asphalt. Be warned. Local gas stations close on Sunday. Most, but not all grocery stores sell gas too. Carefour is a major grocery store. Cash works better than cc. If you need cc, be sure it is chip and pin.

Posted by
174 posts

Thanks for all the great info, extremely helpful
Bill

Posted by
313 posts

Everyone always recommends the European companies/consolidators, but I've always gotten a better price through American companies. Many times, I'll go to carrentals.com for a brief review of comparisons (the companies go back and forth as to who is more price competitive). I've never yet had Sixt, Europecar, etc. beat the American companies (with the exception of Dan Dooley in Ireland), particularly if I want to drop the car in a different location than I picked it up. I've never had a drop charge with a US company. It's not that I'm against renting European, but I thought it would be easier to deal with a problem to straighten out later.

Other tips I'd say is to always pay for the rental in euros (or whatever other local currency). On a 300 or 400 euro charge, you can get hit by a sizeable difference in exchange rate, which will not be in your favor, believe me. Also, if you're spending time between Cannes and Menton, double the driving times. We spent a lot of time between Nice, Cap d'Ail, and Menton in September, and I was surprised at how much time it took us to get around because of the traffic. If you're headed to the Riviera, I'd recommend avoiding peak hours, as a lot of people evidently don't live near their work. And definitely get your petrol at Carrefour and other large grocery stores. Now that the US has chip cards, you don't have to be quite as careful about making it to them while there is an attend available.

Posted by
3200 posts

FYI AutoEurope is located in beautiful, downtown Portland, Maine. The only time you are normally charged a drop fee is if the vehicle is returned to a different country. I have found the folks at AutuEurope to be friendly and super helpful - whether trying to get the cheapest country to country drop charge or helping to get needed documentation for an overseas fender bender.

Posted by
313 posts

That's good to know about their foreign location. I guess it all depends on the prices available when you go. We've been going for two weeks in May and again in September, so maybe we have more of a selection since that's shoulder, rather than peak season.