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Leaving Paris by Car

After a five-day stay in Paris (no car), we will be renting a car and driving on to Normandy and then down through France to Nice, where our trip will end. Because we plan on stopping in Giverny to visit Monet's gardens on our way from Paris to Honfleur, we will be renting our car in or on the outskirts of Paris. We are staying in the Rue Cler neighborhood in Paris. This is our first trip to Paris, so we are not used to driving there at all.

Would we be better off taking the metro to an outer area of Paris such as the Porte Maillot to pick up our car? (I believe that I read a post on this quite some time ago, but cannot locate it now). Or do you think we could reasonably navigate from the Rue Cler neighborhood to get on to the A-13? Your suggestions are very much appreciated!

Posted by
7205 posts

Most definitely just take the train from Gare St Lazare all the way to Caen. Pick up your rental car there and drive onto Bayeux.

Posted by
1205 posts

I’m not seeing any car rental locations in the Rue Cler area, so I’m thinking you would either have to walk a ways with luggage, or take a taxi or metro to the car rental place. I would just take a taxi to a rental location on the outskirts, as you mention.

We are planning a similar trip in reverse- coming into Paris from Bayeux with a rental car. We’re staying near Rue Cler, and there is a rental location at Invalides station. It looks simple enough to get there from A13, but looks can be deceiving. Plus, we’d still have to take a taxi to our apartment. We’ve chosen to return the car to Orly, avoiding city driving altogether and take a taxi to our door.

Another thing to consider is that the smaller rental locations might not have as much selection. If you need an automatic this might be an issue. Make sure the outskirts location has what you need.

Posted by
15 posts

Thank you for your comments. We are both very comfortable driving standard transmissions, so that is not an issue for us.

Travel4fun, your research shows exactly the same as mine. The closest rental agency would be in the Invalides area, which is not all that far away from our hotel. As you write, looking at the map it doesn't look like it would be too difficult a drive from this neighborhood to get to the A-13 in the direction of Honfleur and Bayeux -- but never having been there, I could be completely wrong. Perhaps someone who knows this area and the car traffic will make a comment to that.

Tim, if it weren't for our plans to stop in Giverny for Monet's gardens, we would probably follow your plan or something similar. But we would have to "backtrack" if we went that far out of Paris to pick up a rental car.

Thanks, again!

Posted by
2953 posts

I'd advise renting from CDG airport. We made the mistake (not a terrible one, but ...) of renting out of Gare Montparnasse with Chartres as our first destination. Navigating along several miles of Paris streets was stressful and very slow -- it took about twice as long as we'd anticipated. When we finally reached the Autoroute, our carefully researched on-ramp number didn't exist, so we got onto the Autoroute going the opposite direction from what we wanted, had to drive to the next exit and turn around, then pray that we'd catch the correct exit when we got there.

Major airports may seem intimidating because of their size, but they have many advantages. They're located on major highways with good signage, they have a large selection of cars and long hours of opening.

Posted by
382 posts

We rented at CDG last summer and it was very easy to the highway. Lots of selection too.

Posted by
8850 posts

CDG is way out of the way for you going west and a huge waste of time. If you need an airport, Orly is more on your route taking a freeway just south of Versaille. However, having driven from Orly many times, I assure you that multiple freeways merge and separate right there, so you have to be quick and ready to merge, move and go. We’ve picked up at Montparnasse, going to Burgundy, many times, also. If my husband hadn’t grown up near the Porte d’Orleans and the southern suburbs, we’d be going the wrong direction, too. IMHO, your first idea of Porte Maillot is probably the best. Just take a taxi over. When you come out of the parking structure, it’s a quick entry onto the peripherique, which is condensed, packed, often-slowed traffic, and off you go. Bonne route.

Posted by
5509 posts

Bets is usually right and this is another example. Taxi or metro to Porte Maillot, or maybe La Defense, and drive from there. Renting from an airport will cost more with no added benefit. Taking a train to Caen and renting there would save all the Paris-outskirts driving, but you'd be paying train fare plus car rental on the same day (as our friend Ed used to point out with refreshing regularity -- hope he returns someday).

I've driven out of Paris from near Gare Montparnasse, it's doable but not fun. Don't know about the route from Invalides, but if you feel adventurous you could try it I guess.

Posted by
4725 posts

Porte Maillot or La Défense are the best rental locations for heading to Normandy. You drive straight out of Paris on the Avenue Charles de Gaulle from Porte Maillot / leading onto A14 from La Défense. No Paris streets, no Paris ring road (Périphérique) even. CDG and Orly are both out of the way

Posted by
2169 posts

A14, the autoroute through la Defense, has an 8€ toll which can be avoided by picking up A13 at Porte d'Auteuil or via the peripherique. However, picking up at any in town office will avoid the 45€ location surcharge incurred with airport or train station pickup.

There is a Europcar office just to the east of rue Cler. I would also agree that for destinations in Normandy, the airports are ill suited for rental pickups.

Posted by
3936 posts

We rented at the Europcar spot on Ave Foch, just beyond the Arc de Triomphe. Leaving from there did not require going around the Arc roundabout. We rented on a Sun morning, so our choices were limited. But it was very easy to walk to from the metro stop (I'm very sure it was Charles de Gaulle Etoile at the Arc) and if we hadn't messed up the GPS, it would have been really easy to get out of the city to the ring road (as it was, we ended up back by the Eiffel Tower after getting on the ring road correctly - don't ask). But we were also leaving on a Sun morning, so traffic was very light.

Posted by
8850 posts

Very kind, Dick.
But, balso and Tocard are more up-to-date and precise than I am. Usually, if they’ve answered, I know it’s accurate and don’t add anything. Last time we leased at Porte Maillot was ten years ago, and we were on our way south to Burgundy, while our last trip to Normandy took us around Orly as we were coming from near Chablis.

Posted by
15 posts

I want to thank all of you for taking the time to respond to my questions. It is truly wonderful that us less experienced travelers have a forum to bounce ideas off of experienced travelers. After reviewing the many comments, we have decided to rent our car on the outskirts of Paris, from the Porte Maillot area. It appears that this would be less challenging than negotiating city streets, given that we have no experience driving in France. Although we probably would have more rental car options out of CDG, I do believe that we would be going significantly out of our way to do that. Again, thank you so much!

Posted by
4725 posts

I've had good service from Avis at Porte Maillot, I know that Hertz is thereabouts too, maybe others - Autoeurope will let you see all the options, it lists Porte Maillot as a location.
There was a comment earlier about the toll on the A14 to Normandy: yes, the alternative A13 is free so saves you 8 euros, but the A14 is basically "straight on" from Porte Maillot, less traffic-prone, and shaves a few minutes off the trip even in clear traffic conditions. On a weekday at least, I find it worth the expense.

Posted by
2169 posts

As this question is asked often (driving to Normandy), I should like to emphasize how easy it is to pickup or return a rental along the Arc de Triompe to la Défense corridor. There are a number of rental car companies with offices with easy on/off access to ave Charles de Gaulle/ave de la Grande Armée (Porte Maillot) which is one long, wide, and straight road west out of Paris.

Either way, A13 or A14, you reach Normandy. A14 has one advantage, it is very simple to navigate and rarely has traffic backups. I believe one reason A14 does not clog when A13 does is because of the toll which everyone tries to avoid. It's more of a factor when returning to Paris.

Picking up a rental and driving out of Paris is not the same as driving around Paris. Driving out is much simpler and no one, who is otherwise competent to drive, should be afraid of doing it.

Posted by
15 posts

Balso and Tocard, thank you so much for the information you have included. Your experience is greatly appreciated and is very helpful. Thank you!