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Rental Car on a Sunday in Caen

We are traveling to Mont St Michel from Paris. We were advised to take a train from Paris to Caen, rent a car from there before driving to Mont Saint Michel. I have a couple of logistic questions that I need help with.

Is it better to rent a car from the train station or an airport? I ask because we are traveling on a Sunday and I have only found one rental agency that would provide me an estimate without having to call in. They charge a significant fee for pick up on Sunday and they do not open until 2pm (we were hoping to pick up before lunch). I do not know if this is standard practice for rental agency's in the area and/or if it is my only option.

Would we have better luck picking at an airport?

Who would you recommend renting through?

I imagine there are many rental agency options in both places, but the Sunday travel is putting a kink in my search.

Thanks for any feedback.

Posted by
4927 posts

I did take the train to Caen years ago to pick up my rental car, but it wasn't a Sunday. If it were, I'd probably pick up the car in Paris (but return in Normandy if that was convenient at the end - not sure where you are headed). I'm pretty sure you'll be able to pick up a car on Sunday in Paris, at an airport at worst.

Posted by
5564 posts

There's no universal answer to your questions. You need to find the answers for your specific case.

Cars rented from airports are often (but not always) more expensive - sometimes a lot more more expensive. Airport rental counters usually (but not always) are open longer hours than other locations at a train station or "in town".

As an example, I was just quoted prices for a European rental. From the airport (with better hours, open evenings and weekends) would have cost me more than $300 over the cost of waiting until 8 am on a Monday and picking up the car in the city center, a few blocks from our hotel.

You might save yourself some time and running around by getting someone else to do it. Try gemut.com. Let them know what you want, they will check out the options and let you know.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks Andrew, We will be in Paris for a 5 days before heading out to Mont Saint Michel. We will be dropping off at Charles De gal Airport (last leg of out trip).

David- Thanks for the site recommendation. I have been spinning my wheels on this trying to research options.

Posted by
8387 posts

If it’s for a Sunday, you could just rent at one of the Paris train stations or Orly airport and drive. Why pay for both a train and a rental car on the same day. Sunday traffic is lighter.

If you still want to drive, try taking the train from the Paris Montparnass train station to Rennes. Rent your car there and drive to Mont Saint Michel. Rennes being larger is likely to have moreagencies available on a Sunday morning. You can get good information using AutoEurope, autoeurope.com.

Posted by
21033 posts

I have never driven in Europe, so there may well be an advantage to getting the car in Caen that I'm not aware of, but you don't mention visiting that part of Normandy, and it's not really on the way from Paris to Mont-St.-Michel. Just looking at a map, Rennes appears to be a more convenient place to start the driving part of your trip. Rennes would probably save you 30 minutes of train time on the trip from Paris as well as about 20 minutes of driving time to Mont-St.-Michel.

Note that:

  • I haven't compared rail fares to Caen and Rennes.

  • Trains for Rennes depart from a different station (Montparnasse), which might be more or less convenient for you than St.-Lazare.

  • There is major construction work going on at the Rennes railroad station, affecting traffic patterns in the area. It would be important to understand exactly where the car pick-up point is located and ascertain that there is no difficulty in driving away from that point toward Mont-St.-Michel.

In addition to Gemut, it might be worthwhile also to check rates with AutoEurope and Kemwel.

Posted by
9 posts

I have been using google maps to estimate times of drives. I had not even considered Rennes. I guess I thought it was to far south of our destination, but looking closer to travel times, we can rent in Paris and drive out to Mont Saint Michel via Rennes for about the same amount of effort. We are staying in Bayeux that night and a loop is more ideal than our original plan to "backtrack" a little to Caen. We doing Normandy the next day on our way "home".

Posted by
8387 posts

One difference is that a train to Rennes is only 90 minutes because it’s high speed. The one to Caen is not high speed. From Rennes you drive toward St. Malo and then over to Mont St. Michel. I’ve driven to Rennes and I’ve taken the train. The train is a lot faster.

P.S. one little detail— here’s the correct order of the words. It’s called Mont St. Michel, as in Saint Michael’s Mountain.

Posted by
9 posts

Bets-Its good to know that the train is high speed. How was the drive? Would you do the drive again?

Posted by
8387 posts

Driving is a bit long. The last time we drove to Brittany we were caught in Friday noon traffic getting out of the Paris region.

The train is very comfortable and fast.

No, I wouldn't drive again unless I had to because I don't enjoy driving. I recently took the train to Rennes and picked up a car there. We drove back to Paris, though, when our return train was cancelled due to a strike.

Posted by
658 posts

Ditto on the Rennes recommendation. I have rented from Caen often, but only because I was going to that part of Normandy. Last September I was going from Paris to MSM, and took a fast TGV to Rennes (previous post was correct about the Caen train being a slow, Intercities train). Rennes is much closer to MSM.