My wife and I are planning on driving from Paris to Normandy, starting about April 22, 2012. We will spend some time in Normandy, then drive up to Belguim, and finally return to Paris (total time about 3 weeks). I think the best thing would be to rent a car on the western side of Paris, and start from there. But my question is whether it would be better to rent a car, or to lease one (if that option is a possibility)? Also, any suggestions on what company to use for rental (or for lease)? We can both drive a stick shift, so that is no problem. We do not need a real large car, as we both pack light. Thanks. Peter
Leasing requires a minimum contract of about 21 days, so you're right on the borderline. Both Renault and Peugeot have well-established, reliable, leasing programs. The advantages of leasing are: full insurance coverage included, 24/7 roadside assistance, and a brand-new car. Plus, it often works out to be less expensive than a rented car with equivalent insurance coverage - particularly if you plan to pickup and return the car in France (there are extra fees for pickup/return in other countries). Details here: http://www.peugeot-openeurope.com/ http://www.renaultusa.com/ My advice is that if you're going to have the car long enough to qualify, lease it.
Not sure how many days you are spending in Paris but you do not need a car there at all, believe me, been there, done that. Not only did I do it once, did it twice, shame on me.
Get the smallest car you can use, if you're driving in any old cities with narrow passages. And try (of course even Avis and Hertz won't "promise" a specific model) to use a car that will conceal your luggage on hotel-change days. (Note: I didn't encourage you to risk leaving stuff in the car, I just made a suggestion about real life for most travelers .... no flames please.) If your luggage isn't too massive, consider a train to Tours or Caen, or someplace that suits your itinerary. That's what we did on our air arrival day.
If you lease through Auto Europe the minimum lease period is 17 days. I agree that you do not want a car while in Paris. Advantages to a lease is that you receive a new car with full insurance coverage. You also specify what car you want, not just a category. You can find out the details from autoeurope.com. I agree that whatever car you get should have a covered area for luggage, whether that be a trunk or a cover for a hatchback. A lease can cost more than a rental. You would have to do the math to determine what works best for you.
Earlier post by Tom is excellent advice. Have twice leased Peugeot 207 hatchback diesels with manual transmissions from Auto France and been very pleased. Picked up and returned at Paris CDG. New car. All inclusive price. No unwelcome billing surprises. 21 day minimum, as I recall, to qualify for lease.
You can compare the lease/rent prices on Autoeurope.com.
We've leased both Peugeot and Renault. If you don't want to pick up at an airport, there is a pick up point for both in the 16th which puts you on the road to Normandy pretty quickly. The rentals can be picked up just about anywhere in town.