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Automatic car rental in Paris

I need to rent a car with an automatic transmission in Paris. Probably at Montparnasse for a drive south to the Loire Valley and then to Normandy.
Automatic autos are very limited. Do you think that I can be assured the rental agency will have the automatic when I arrive? What would I do if they say they don't have one? please advise.

Posted by
9110 posts

Maybe, maybe not. Assured, never. Nord will have a bigger ion and, I think, more agencies. If somebody doesn't have what you want, take your quote to the next agency and ask them to match it. If they have it, they will. The best odds of all would be getting it from one of the airports - - plus there are even more agencies to dicker with if things aren't starting to work out.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks Ed Trying to avoid renting at the airport (CDG) and trying to figure out the traffic on the ring road to go south. My daughter and I will have been on a plane all night and wanted to avoid as much traffic as possible for our drive to the Loire Valley.

Posted by
9110 posts

Nord would involve the peripherique as well. Getting out of the Montparnasse area to head for the Loire is tricky to mean. There's a bus that goes from Roissy to Orly. Get the car there and getting on the road is easy, if not simple. The problem is, I don't know how that bus works - - other than it should take about an hour - - which is a lot shorter than getting into the city and across town by metro/rer. Bets does, but she's probably deep into her cups by now. Give her a little time and she'll spell it out.

Posted by
10359 posts

Hi, I got word from Ed to add on. Yes, you can be assured of an automatic if you rent through AutoEurope, at autoeurope.com. They are brokers for many brands of car rentals. I like renting from EuropeCar through them better than Citer/National.. We've rented at Montparnasse a few times. Usually they have a large selecion of cars. It is a train station, so you would be paying the 35 euro supplement. The "city" agencies, ie. store fronts, usually have smaller ions. It's as good as the Nord or other stations. We've also both rented and leased from Orly. Once at the end of July, we got stuck with a Fiat lemon at Orly b/c it was the only car in its class left in the garage. So time of year can make a difference. The Parisians rent a lot in July and August when they take off on vacation, but not automatics necessarily. To get to Orly from CDG, there is an Air France connecting bus. Ours took 2 hours due to jams, which gave us two hours of sleep.
Getting out of Orly, we rely heavily on our gps and maps b/c there are numerous roads, roundabouts, etc. No matter how many times we drive into and out of CDG or Orly, we are glad we have the gps. Study your map from Orly to the Loire well. Some GPS might take you back up to the Paris ring road and then back down. It unnecessary. Avoid that.

Posted by
2916 posts

I've rented in France through AutoEorope/Kemwel for years, and I always need to get an automatic. I just make sure my voucher says "Automatic" on it. One time in Lyon, at the train station, I was given a car that was a manual, and when I went back and pointed it out, they checked the voucher, saw that it said Automatic, and had one of the staff drive us to the airport to pick up an automatic, since they had none at the train station. Last time I rented a car in Lyon and specified the train station, Kemwel got back to me and said it had to be the airport for an automatic, so I said fine.

Posted by
9888 posts

If you're headed to the Loire, you night consider taking the train to Tours and renting the car there (from AtuoEurope to be sure of getting the automatic you need). Renting at (and driving out of the city from) Montparnasse is not going to be any less of a headache than renting at CDG.

Posted by
403 posts

Pat-you probably know this already, but just in case...
The TGV station for the Loire is in the suburbs of Tours, not in the heart of Tours itself. To find it using the DB timetables, you have to input St. Pierre-des-Corps rather than Tours. There are multiple departures from Montparnasse, several clustered around 7 to 8 am, and the TGV takes only one hour. That would put you in the Loire early enough to avoid any lunch problems in renting your car. I suspect that the selection at SPDC is similar to what you find at an airport.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks to all of you for the excellent advice. What's so nice about this forum is that ideas are presented that I would have never thought of. I thought that the Gare Montparnasse was a good idea. Sounds like it would be very confusing. I thought that by renting at Montparnasse, we could avoid some of the heavy morning traffic (our plane lands at 6:45 am). Also, we would be returning to the same location because we have an apt rented in the 15th district which is not too far from Gare Montparnasse. And would have some prior experience with the area and the location of the rental agency. I like the Orly idea. I should explore that. Doesn't using a middle man like Auto Europe just create another layer if there is a problem? Tours train. I looked at that, the high speed train leaves at 10:16 and arrives in Tours after 12:00. It appears that all of the car rentals close from 12:00 - 2:00. That would mean that we would not reach our destination of Pontlevoy until late afternoon. I didn't like that. I need to make a decision. However, September 5 is the day that I need to rent the car. So I have some time. I just don't want to mess up badly. Thanks again to all of you for your suggestions. All my best
Pat

Posted by
9110 posts

'Doesn't using a middle man like Auto Europe just create another layer if there is a problem?' Not really, if they have the best deal, go ahead and use them. Just be aware that they're done when they foist you off on somebody. After that, you have to deal with the agency that actually has the cars. For example, I got totalled by an idiot in Melbourne a few months ago - - AE was a non-player, I just had to work out getting a new car from Europcar. Don't ask why Europcar's in Australia, but they are.

Posted by
2916 posts

I've found Auto Europe pretty responsive, at least when I've had issues afterwards. When I've had issues during my trip (like wanting to keep the car an extra day, or finding the familiar "Fermature exceptionale" sign at the rental return place), I've gone directly to the main number for the rental company (usually Europcar).
I too always need an automatic, and one thing I've found is that there are only about 5 or so cities in France where you can be certain of being able to reserve an automatic in advance (Paris, Marseilles, Lyon, Toulouse, Geneva French side, probably Nice), and then often only at the airport. I have my doubts about Tours, but I can't be sure. One way of checking initially is to go to the Kemwel or Auto Europe web sites (or Europe by Car) and go through the reservation process, picking your city and seeing if automatics show up.