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Renting a car in Nice and dropping it off in Avignon?

Salut!

My fiancee and I are hoping to rent a car in Nice in order to drive to our lodging in Roussillon where we will keep the car for 5 days while we explore the Luberon and surrounding areas. On the 6th day, we want to drop the car off in Avignon (or Aix-en-Provence if that's easier) and take the TGV back up to Paris.

I'm quite new at renting cars internationally, so I just wanted to see if this sounds reasonable. Will I be able to set these pick-up and drop-off locations online or will I need to call the car rental location? Is the best place to rent the car at the train stations?

Merci beaucoup!

Posted by
23465 posts

We did something similar except we had the car for a week. We paid a 50 euro drop fee. We picked up at the train station and dropped at the airport. It was fairly smooth.

Posted by
6670 posts

Auto Europe will help you find your options and shop for whatever you need. They're a US-based brokerage with a good reputation. You can use the website to search and then see if you can get a better rate from the company you choose, but I've never seen that happen. Booking through Auto Europe requires prepayment but it's easy to cancel or change your plan. I booked a car with them months ago, then revisited the site to find that the price had dropped considerably. I called them and got the lower price, also upgraded the car, and got a refund on my credit card for the difference.

Your plan is certainly reasonable, though you'll probably incur a dropoff charge for returning the car to a different location. That may be worth it, rather than driving back to Nice and then taking a train or bus back to Avignon or Aix, costing time and money. Many train stations have car rental locations, as do airports. You should know that French law requires you to carry a translation of your state-issued driver's license -- the simplest way to provide this is with an International Driver's Permit, available at low cost from AAA offices throughout the US. You'll need a photo, or they'll take one for you.

De rien.

Edit -- Note the opening hours of rental locations when you make you plans. Many are closed on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, some are closed weekdays for a lunch break. Auto Europe has this information and hopefully won't let you book for timeframes that won't work. Double check with the rental company's website if in doubt.

Posted by
35 posts

Thank you for the replies! It seems I can use Auto Europe to book a car through Avis at the Nice train station and drop it off in Avignon! That Avis has horrible reviews, but then again so do most car rental agencies.

Thanks for the tip on an international license as well. Any other general driving in France tips would be greatly appreciated!

Posted by
7068 posts

In Avignon, make sure to use the Avignon TGV agency for the drop off. There might be a branch downtown too, but it will not be convenient.

Posted by
6670 posts

Here are our host's "Travel Tips" re renting a car and driving in Europe.

Posted by
10349 posts

Be dure you take pictures of the car at pick up and drop off. At drop off, have an employee do the inspection and sign off that there's no damage, if there isn't.

Posted by
3621 posts

We did the pick up in Nice/ drop off at Avignon TGV station scenario, and here are a few pointers. We rented through AutoEuruope, which was, in fact, cheaper than going through the rental company. No fee for dropping at a different location, but that might have changed. The drop off location is right at the TGV station, so couldn’t be easier.

The one big issue was that we couldn’t find a source for refueling before returning the car. Apparently, European rental companies do not offer the option of pre-buying a tank of gas. All the stations that our phone took us to were unmanned, and would not accept any of our cc’s. We were about to suck it up and just pay whatever the rental company would charge us for refueling, when, for whatever reason, a pump accepted our card. I think it was the 5th try! Perhaps the technology has advanced now, so you won’t have this problem.
Common wisdom dictates that if you are flying out the next day from Paris, be there the night before. We always do that. Sure enough, about an hour into our journey the train ground to a halt. After a fairly long period, a voice came on explaining what was happening, but too quickly for our feeble French skills to comprehend. A young Belgian couple, overhearing our puzzlement, explained that there had been an “incident” ( think suicide). They also said it was a not uncommon occurrence.
Another train was being brought up and would use an alternative route to CDG.
We reached the airport at 1 a.m., at which time everything was shut down. Buses were provided to take people to various airport hotels, with taxis for those going further afield.
All turned out well. Yay for common wisdom.

Posted by
35 posts

Laurie Ann, thank you for that link! It's very helpful.

Rosalyn, thank you for your advice and experience. I believe we are going to do just that - rent a car via Auto Europe and drop it off at the Avignon TGV station. I have done some further research and I believe most gas stations these days will accept our credit card as it has the chip embedded in it. However, it also seems that we need to fill up the tank during the day when there are attendants there... We are from Washington so we're used to gas attendants in Oregon; hopefully it's similar to that.

We're getting so excited for our honeymoon!

Posted by
7068 posts

However, it also seems that we need to fill up the tank during the day when there are attendants there... We are from Washington so we're used to gas attendants in Oregon; hopefully it's similar to that

There are no pump attendants in France, with very very few exceptions.
But non-supermarket gas stations such as Total, BP, Shell, Esso, Avia typically have a small shop where the attendant is located and can take payment at the counter, during opening hours.

Posted by
35 posts

There are no pump attendants in France, with very very few exceptions.
But non-supermarket gas stations such as Total, BP, Shell, Esso, Avia typically have a small shop where the attendant is located and can take payment at the counter, during opening hours.

I see! Thanks for the clarification. At the gas stations, is it possible to pay at the pump with our credit card (that has a chip) like in the States? Or do you need to go in and pay with the attendant?

Posted by
27409 posts

I think the issue is that Europeans have credit cards with PINs, but most Americans do not. If there's staff available, you can be asked to sign a charge receipt instead of entering a PIN; if there's just a machine there, no person, that's not an option. People have reported similar issues at freeway toll booths--but at least there you can probably use a Cash lane, if you can identify one.

I don't know whether the advent of tappable credit cards has improved the situation at gas pumps and toll booths. I think there's usually a tap limit, varying by country. The cost of gas in Europe is such that you might exceed the tap limit.

Posted by
209 posts

Following, as next May I will also be renting a car in Nice, driving to Provence for week, then dropping back off in Nice, then spending another week in Villefranche sur mer. I have not booked my rental, but I have grown resistant to booking anything through 3rd parties. When all goes well, you can save money through a 3rd party, however, as soon as problems arise, like canceled flights, it becomes a nightmare, in my opinion. I am thinking the same with car rental - Hertz has rentals out of nice on their website that seems in line. I am considering booking direct with them.

Good info above on gassing up!

Thanks
Glenn