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Train or car rental?

We (3 adults) will be spending 17 days in France during June. Our plan is to go from Paris to St Malo (MSM) for 2 nights, to Loire for 5 nights, then back to Paris.

I know there's no easy way to MSM unless you bus it or have a car, so my question is (and yes I know everyone will have varying opinions) - I've been thinking of taking a train out of Paris somewhere (i.e. Versailles, Le Mans, etc) to pick up a rental and then use that for the whole week or to train most everywhere and do day rentals when needed? My thought wold be to renr a car someplace in-between Paris and Tours for easier pickup and return.....and not driving in Paris. Thanks.

Posted by
5269 posts

Take the train from Paris to Caen or Rennes, rent the car there for MSM and the Loire, return it at Tours or somewhere nearby and take the train back to Paris. This website, used with a map, can help you find a pickup city with good train service from Paris and a dropoff city with good train service to Paris. This one can help you find a rental car. This one can help you estimate drive times (keeping in mind that you have to add time for stops and traffic conditions).

Posted by
20 posts

Dick, I've thought about returning the car to a different location, but I really don't want to add $200 to the cost of car rental if I don't have to. Though, it would cut down the time in a car which my wife hates. That's why I was thinking Versailles or Le Mans as they are reasonable spots to pick-up and drop-off the rental. I'd rather keep transportation costs down and use those $$ elsewhere if possible. Thank you for the help and the links.

Posted by
4227 posts

Tolls + gas cost about 0.25€ per km these days, and the drive to Saint Malo from Paris/Versailles is very, very boring. Ditto for the drive from Tours to Paris. I would shop around for lower drop off fees; $200 for rental in Rennes and drop off in Tours seems high.

Le Mans is a good compromise, if you cannot find a good offer with drop off.

Posted by
676 posts

If a goal is MSM and St. Malo, Rennes is closer than Caen. I have rented from both, and both are easy pick-up/drop-off. But Rennes is just closer to MSM and to Tours. I have never been to Tours, so I can't comment on that location. BTW, some rental car companies charge a drop-off fee for a separate location, but others don't. I usually rent from Hertz, and unfortunately they usually do.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks for all the replies. So far on a quick check from autoeurope - can't find a car at all. So I'll keep looking. Oh, and for anyone else reading this.... www.autoeurope.eu is definitely cheaper than .com site.

Posted by
1191 posts

I am doing the same thing, with different cities. I found Hertz to be the best option, Autoeurope didn't have any cars where I need to be. There is a Hertz place at Saint-Pierre-des-Corps train station, in Tours. Easy to drop off and train back to Paris.
My total was $397 for 10 days, including taxes, fees, etc., with drop off in a different city.

Posted by
20 posts

My other issue is that I'm a big guy (6' 3") so I really have to research the cars to make sure I'll fit.

Posted by
4227 posts

I recently found that Autoeurope was working with fewer rental locations than they used to. You will have more options going direct with car rental companies: Hertz, Avis and Enterprise are in just about every town; Rennes & Tours (or nearby Saint-Pierre des Corps) will have other options.