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Where to drop off rental car after visiting MSM and heading to Paris

On Sunday, April 30, we are leaving Mont St Michel in the morning and would like to stop at St Malo or Dinan before heading out to Paris. We would also like to see Chartres. Would it be better to drop our rental car off in Rennes and take the train to Chartres and do some sightseeing there? Then what would we do with our luggage? Or should we just keep the car, drive to Chartres and then drop it off as close to Paris as possible? Our apartment is in the Marais. I would even consider dropping off the car somewhere close to our apartment but have read so many warnings about driving in Paris that I wonder how bad an idea that is. I am from traffic heavy Southern California and have even driven in Manhattan so I think I can possible handle Paris traffic?! I was just thinking that Chartres is on the way to Paris and I would love to see it since we probably won't have time to make that day trip once settled in Paris for our 4 days there. I know it sounds like a crazy day and we may not have time to stop in Chartres at all and in that case we will just drop the car off close to Paris. Is the drive from MSM to Paris pretty scenic? I would love to hear suggestions on what to do.

Posted by
1540 posts

I read on these forums that lots of people drop off in Caen and there is a train right into Paris.
Hope others write here..... I'm not familiar with the other spots like Chartres or ???
But you are correct to drop off before going into Paris.
Happy Travels.

Posted by
10254 posts

Sunday driving inside Paris In't bad but the jams approaching the city on Sunday pm are bad. Most rental places will be closed but you can drop at Orly. You'll still hit a jam but won't be caught in it all the way into the city.

Posted by
8119 posts

We had a Brittany tripped planned for this fall and our plan was to drop the car in La Defense and take a cab (one could also take the train) into Paris from there. We have dropped in Caen in the past, but that they adds a major train fare into the trip. Trains from Caen to Paris are 15 Euro if you get PREMs 3 mos out but are a lot more than that closer to the time of travel. We had to cancel the Brittany leg of the trip when I ended up with elbow surgery in southern France which knocked 5 days off the trip; as a result we dropped the car at Orly coming from the south so I can't attest to how good our plan was. Wherever you plan to drop be sure you have very good directions for the drop; France is notorious for having difficult to find often underground drop points. (in Caen we had to put the car in a lot rather distant from the office and then drop the keys through a slot; I prefer to have a receipt showing the car is undamaged and gassed but the Caen rental offices take long lunches and close mid day.)

Posted by
784 posts

We dropped a car off in Chartres, but were coming from the Loire, so had lots of time before having to take the train into Paris. MSM to Chartres is a fairly long drive, so you are correct that you probably wouldn't have much time to visit Chartres. We discovered that the train station in Chartres did not have luggage storage - this was several years ago, so could be different now - but the EuropeCar agent allowed us to leave our luggage in the car while we visited the cathedral. EuropeCar office is right across from the station, but don't know about their hours on Sunday.

Posted by
487 posts

Driving in Paris is, in my opinion, entirely manageable, especially with your background (Southern California and Manhattan). I've done it on 5 previous trips and will again this year. I am even confident that I can find a parking place on the street near my apartment or hotel, since we've been able to do it every other time. Yes, it sometimes - and only sometimes - takes a few circuits around the block but it's never been more than a minor inconvenience.
If I were you, I'd definitely consider the possibility of driving into Paris on Sunday and returning the car on Monday morning.
You might be trying to fit too much in one day with a visit to St Malo/Dinan, then Chartres, then Paris. It would seem to leave very little time for enjoying St Malo, Dinan and Chartres, but you know your travel appetites and preferences better than anyone. However, the later you arrive on Sunday evening in Paris, the more I would expect to find people settled into parking places for the night. If you're looking for a space, that's not good. Garages are always a possibility as a backup plan.
The drive from MSM to Paris is about 4 hours, without any time added for navigating through city streets to your destination, then finding parking. And leaving Mont St Michel may involve a little extra time as well if you're taking the shuttle back from the island to begin with. The drive itself is nice enough, except that things start getting less scenic and more cluttered as one approaches any large city.
And if you take the train, that'll be great too. I hope you have fun, Claudette.

Posted by
1116 posts

Thank you so much for all your suggestions. After checking train schedules on a Sunday, I found out that train service is so limited on Sunday and we would have to go all the way back up to Caen to return our car. We decided to follow Bet's and Janet's advice to return the car to Orly. From Orly, we'll just catch a cab to our apt.

Posted by
12172 posts

I'd probably drop in Rennes if it won't be too difficult for you to handle your luggage. I haven't done that leg, it may be that you have to go into Paris then catch a different train back to Chartres (that was true from the Loire Valley). If so, I'd drive all the way Chartres. From Chartres, getting into Paris by train is easy so I wouldn't take the rental any further than that.

Posted by
143 posts

Car return at Orly is not complicated; would recommend taxi to your apartment in Marais since you will have luggage.