Traveling from Paris to Utrecht, Netherlands for the weekend, I am finding trains and planes too expensive. Car rental seems to be the most reasonable for 2 people. I am also attempting to avoid the airport additional fees. I would like to get as far out of the city hopefully close to a metro.
OK - two variables that make a difference. How many days do you want the rental car? Autoeurope has a minimum of 3 days.
Second, are you staying in Paris before picking up the rental? I'd suggest picking up at Gare du Nord and splitting to the Netherlands from there if you'll already be in Paris. Otherwise, I'd train to Lille and pick up there.
We need the car Friday returning Monday. I like the Lille suggestion. I would be able to find my way easily to the Netherlands. Thanks
The drive between Paris and the Netherlands is easy. It's the driving IN Paris that is hard. Have you ever been there before? If you have it might not be so bad. If you aren't familiar with Paris at all, I would suggest picking the car up out of town. I drove into Paris almost 3 years ago and my blood pressure still goes up when I think about how stressful it was...and I have been driving in large cities for a very long time!
Indeed, driving in Paris is very tough (more stressful than Manhattan in my opinion). At any rate, there are car rental facilities close to the Rue Cler area in the Air France terminal (bus terminal) at the front of Les Invalides. That may give you another option to consider.
If you are already in the city I would recommend the train stations. We rented at Gare Nord and it was painless. Returning at the airport was an absolute nightmare.
I agree with Jeff. There are several car rental agencies at Gare de Lyon. Get the detailed Michelin Paris and France maps, you'll be fine. You can follow the signs to the train station to return the car. Driving in Paris may be stressful to some, but then again driving in ANY unfamiliar big city is. If you're just driving away from and then back to the train station, this is different that cruising around trying to find Paris locations and places to park.
One year we rented with Eurocar at Invalides by the huge AirFrance office, and with the help of our TomTom drove out of downtown Paris towards Normandy with very little difficulty. It was ONLY due to the TomTom we could find our way out of town- so many turns otherwise we could not have done it no matter with 3 navigators.
Our big problem was finding Eurocar's rental return at CDG; it was totally unmarked and there were no instructions at all on any paperwork. ( PANIC!) Finally we asked an Avis employee if he could direct us, and he told us where to leave the car and how to return the keys inside to the eurocar counter. Poor marks to Eurocar for that oversight, tho their rates were very good that year, I will be checking Avis rates as well for our trip this July.
Auto Europe has a pick-up point near Porte Maillot which is west of central Paris and close by the Peripherique ring road. Take either Metro line 1 to Porte Maillot or the RER C to Neuilly-Porte Maillot.
We were quite timid the first time we drove in France, so we took the short train ride out to Versailles, and took off from there. It's somewhat in the wrong direction from the Netherlands, but we wanted to start from a smaller town.
We've had good luck renting with Avis in France -- they are quite widespread in France and they've always beat the European consolidators for us. If you have a Costco membership you can also get additional discounts, including additional drivers free, etc.
Thanks for all the ideas. It is very helpful.
On our first trip to France, my sister and I rented a car from Budget Rental at Charles de Gaulle Airport just to get a start from outside the City. It coincided with our air reservations, but you could also ride the RER to/from Paris to the airport. If you are driving internationally for the first time, several obvious but sometimes overlooked obstacles are: 1) you "should" have an International Driver's license; 2) traffic signs (stop, etc.) are different--you need to know what they are before you take off; 3) directional signs are in French (believe it our not :); and when you are on the crowded freeways near Paris and trying to translate on the fly, it can be stressful. Without a GPS, which you can rent with the car, if you know how to keep it programmed correctly, you need a good map. If you are not experienced in international driving, I would NEVER rent a car inside the City (unless your day job is bicycle messenger or taxi driver in New York city), but then, I live in the mountains. If it is your first visit, you will understand once you get there. My best advice is to head for a car rental destination outside of Paris.