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GPS rental with car in France without having it mailed to you in advance

I have a feeling this has been asked a zillion times before, but... Next month we'll be renting a car for about 5 days in Provence. I have good Michelin maps but am also intrigued by the thought of renting a GPS with the car. However, our travel agent tells us that local France offices of Auto Europe do not have GPS's on hand to rent to you with the car. Apparently the arrangement instead is that they mail it to you in the US beforehand, and then you bring it with you. Is that possible? It's hard to imagine that car rental offices wouldn't carry them in stock to offer you on the spot with the car. Maybe that's true only in some French cities? As has been suggested, I might just load up my own Garmin with a France map and take it with me. Or just stick with the Michelin maps -- a GPS is a lot of weight to carry.

Posted by
2828 posts

GPS is an essential tool to travel in Europe, it makes life much easier 99% of the time. Paper maps might be still helpful to get a general picture of your travel area, but GPS are invaluable for navigating small town streets and getting quick info on detours or re-routing, or making sure you are on the right lanes on highway interchanges. Of course, there will be some "back-in-the-day" travelers who hate technology and will say that GPS are not needed and that they drove from Portugal to Turkey with maps only, so should anybody else do. Don't bother renting a GPS, that is usually the worst option. Instead, load European maps into your device. It will be probably cheaper, you can guarantee it is d (something many rental agencies don't bother doing with their devices), you will know how to use it in advance, you have time to pre-program destinations / waypoints at the comfort of your home before leaving. AutoEurope is not a rental agency per se. They are a consolidator operating with major agencies like Hertz, Europecar etc. They offer this mailed-in GPS as a sort of add-on service. You can usually rent GPS from the counter, by that is often insanely expensive (the costs for 3 days often equal the price of buying a brand new device online on Amazon!)

Posted by
8255 posts

Every car we've rented in France for the last 7 years has automatically come with a GPS already installed without us specifying that we wanted one. We rent ordinary compacts with a stick shift, nothing fancy. I wonder if others have had the same experience.

Posted by
65 posts

Thanks. Andre, I was interested to get the first part of your sentence that got cut off: "you can guarantee it is d"...?

Posted by
2828 posts

typo, my bad! I meant guarantee that it is updated. Many rental agencies will not upgrade/update their GPS maps after getting a car. If you buy your own map for your own GPS, you can be assured that you downloaded the latest version.

Posted by
8650 posts

I rented a car in France two years ago and it did not come with GPS. I bring my Garmin from home. I know how to use it so it's easier for a low tech person like me. I do bring a paper map too, and know basically where I'm going before I set out.

Posted by
65 posts

Bets, I'm curious in what city you rented your car. Is it possible that in the larger cities and towns the rental offices have GPS devices on hand to rent to you (or it's built in to the car), but in smaller towns they do it this crazy way of mailing it to you first? Or could it be that no matter what city you rent from, if you use Auto Europe as a consolidator you have to get it through their mailed-in service? Maybe Auto Europe has huge stores of GPS devices in one central warehouse and prefers to mail one to you from there in advance in case the local rental agency that's actually doing the renting doesn't offer them.

Posted by
9110 posts

I rent the cheapest cars. I've never asked for a GPS and have never gotten one. I rent a lot of cars. (Hertz in the US does seem to always come with that crappy one, however.) Part of the problem is that you're dealing with two middlemen, the travel agent and AE. That leads to nothing but confusion. AE has its main office in Maine somewhere with a couple or three more scattered around the world. None of those offices have cars. AE does not have cars - - anywhere. When AE kindly rents a GPS it shows up a couple of days before you leave. If you don't pick up the car until a couple of weeks later, you're still paying rent the whole time. Rent stops when AE gets the box back, not when you get back or turn the car in. AE rents GPSs because it makes tons of money off a hundred dollar investment. Take your own or do without. Screw intrigue.

Posted by
65 posts

Ah, so with Auto Europe the GPS devices are mailed to you from Maine?? That's rich. But it sure does makes sense. Ok, I am learning a lot about the wild and wooly business of renting a car for Europe while you're still in the US. My first time. Thanks for the heads-up.

Posted by
850 posts

We always take our gps with us. On our last trip a month ago we picked up our car in Stuttgart and it had a gps although we did not request one. First time that has happened but it could become more common in the future. Since we were going to drive into the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia we were limited on the choice of cars available to us so I was surprised that we got one with a gps. The supplied gps only had maps of Germany, Austria and Switzerland however so having our own for the other countries was good. My suggestion would be to load your Garmin with the France map in case the car you rent does not have one. At least you will be more familiar with yours although the learning curve on the one in the car should not be a steep one. The one we got was a tomtom which is the same as we have so it was easy for us to use.

Posted by
27 posts

Totally agree with everyone about bringing your own GPS from home. We have rented cars in both France and Italy and have always brought our own Garmin. I also bought the Michelin map book and I have done a Michelin mapquest on the driving directions. That really helped alot as when we went to use our Garmin for the first time it blacked out and did not work. Came to find out that we could not use it while it was being charged in the car. Thank goodness we had the printed directions as witout them there would have been a lot of cuss words spoken.

Posted by
65 posts

Robin, thank you. You're saying your Garmin wouldn't work while it was charging in the car? I wonder why that would be. So I should make sure mine is fully charged before I plug it in to the rental car?

Posted by
8255 posts

We pick up rentals or leases at Orly or inside Paris. Most of the time they've had GPS. However we have a European TomTom we always throw in the suitcase anyway. We're not savvy enough to offload, upload, etc so we have a US GPS and a European, Which cost 100 euros many years ago. Best is our big Michelin atlas. Sounds like AutoEurope is doing a hard sell. It's worth the weight if you are used to the ease of one. But remember, we drove all those little roads for decades with only a good map and made it (even if the marriages didn't survive all the wrong turns and missed exits).

Posted by
65 posts

Right, Bets - I never know what to say to people who tell me, "Come on, Rick - people have been driving in Europe for decades without GPS devices and..." All I can muster at that point is a half-hearted "Yes, but" and a glazed-over look. I suppose the only scientific way to solve this question would be for some international road organization to conduct a demographic study comparing the total percent of marriages that fell apart after a European vacation when the couple used maps with their rental car, with the percent that fell apart after a European vacation when they used a GPS. Then we'd have some solid statistics to present to our Travelers Helpline here.

Posted by
9110 posts

Assuming the GPS itself is not screwed up (i.e.; it eventually worked in another car), there are only two things that could have been wrong: 1. The battery was stone dead. In this case it may have had to wait for five or 10 minutes to build up enough charge to get going and then it should work fine. 2. The automobile charging circuit could have been bad. If this were the case and the GPS had been charged up in some other manner, The GPS would have died with the battery eventually trickled away. An unexternally powered automotive unit generally dies in less than an hour depending on illumination level, number of items displayed, etc. The lack of power could have come from either a bad lighter socket or a blown fuse in that circuit. It was probably the latter. I've had several times where I had to go buy a new fuse and stick it in the box. I doubt that there are any other possible explanations. Unless the cord wasn't well-connected to the unit.

Posted by
500 posts

How much are they charging for the GPS rental? You can buy a GPS device with world maps for about $150, android or iPhone app from Tom Tom or Garmin for less than $80, add European maps to an existing GPS for about $100.

Posted by
27 posts

Rick, I have no idea why it wouldn't work with the charger in the car. I have to tell you that it scared me to death as I thought the unit was broken. However, when we did arrive at our location I went and charged it and then used it the next day. It worked like a charm so I made sure to charge it every night. Like I said before thank goodness we had backup directions as we would probably be still looking for the place today (lol). Robin

Posted by
65 posts

Robin, I am the most ignorant person in the world (right now) about GPS devices. What does it mean to charge it overnight? Do you mean attaching it via USB cable to a computer and letting it sit overnight?

Posted by
497 posts

Rick, The one thing we found very useful when we took our GPS to Germany was that it would tell us the speed limit around towns. Don't know how much it would cost you to upload the maps but at the end of the trip you still have your GPS.
Have fun!

Posted by
27 posts

We plugged it in to the wall with an adaptor to charge it. There are no computers involved at all. GPS's are so easy to use now a days that I wouldn't worry about it. If you don't have one and want to buy one make sure that it has European maps already downloaded. I think they are around $150 on Amazon.

Posted by
2211 posts

The last two cars we rented in Europe came with a GPS. We did not request one or pay extra for it. Both cars were rented from Hertz and were very small cars with automatic transmission. The GPS in the car we got in France two years ago was really confusing, and I never did figure out how to use it. The GPS we got in Wales this year was really simple to figure out. However, we didn't use it because sometimes they are just so annoying and/or confusing. The road signs in France and Wales are both excellent for getting you to the towns you are going, and I had detailed instructions on how to get to each B&B we stayed in. Of course, I also had a hard copy map. I had my personal GPS with me on both trips since I didn't know I would be getting a GPS in the car. I don't know whether or not I will bring it the next time we rent a car. They aren't super heavy, but I hate every extra pound.

Posted by
9 posts

We are renting a car later this month that I booked through rentalcars.com. I had the option to add a GPS for an additional fee of $10/day.

Posted by
8255 posts

You can compare the price for a GPS with European maps sold in Europe on amazon.fr
They are for sale in all the large supermarket stores.

Posted by
711 posts

Like Bets, we usually pick up our rental or leased car at Orly or in Paris...but usually Orly and we have always declined a GPS because we have our own, but all the cars have always had one anyway and sometimes we used ours and sometimes we used the one in the car at no cost.It is difficult to change it from French into English however....we have the car place do it. As we said we take our own GPS because my husband is a photographer and we put down markers on places we return to in order to photograph.I will say that we need a new GPS though because of all the new roundabouts and new roadways that do not show on our old Garmin.We also have great maps because we like to see where we are..not just blindly follow the GPS.I would take my own GPS really.Cheaper in the long run.Do not forget to put a marker down on the place you pickup the car if you are returning it there.It makes it easier to return it...if you are not totally familiar with the airport or the area where you are returning the car.