Rental Car in France - Where to rent & Cargo Space

Hi All. My husband and are going to France in June and while in Paris we are going to take public transportation, i.e. buses & metro. However, on the day we leave, we are going to rent a car for the remainder of our time in France so that we can go to Monet's Home, Honfleur, Mont St Michel, Loire & then down to Provence. We will return our rental car in Marseille before we fly home. We are going to reserve our vehicle before we leave. Here are my two questions. First, where is the best place to rent the car? Is it less of hassle to rent in a)Paris (we're staying in the 7th arrondissement) or b) head back to CDG and rent the car at the airport or c) take a train to Vernon and pick up the car before going to Monet's home. Secondly, in checking the various car rental websites - Avis, Auto Europe & Hertz, I'm getting conflicting information in terms of the cargo space. Auto Europe says that a Ford Focus through Hertz will accommodate 1 large suitcase & 1 small but if you go to the Hertz website it says a Ford Focus will handle 3 large suitcases and 1 small. I'm getting so confused! My husband and I will have a total of 2 large suitcases and a small carry-on toiletries bag. I want to make sure whichever car we get will handle the luggage in the cargo area (don't want anything exposed for safety reasons) while still being someone economical in terms of cost and gas. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated to all!

Posted by Thomas
Snyder, Texas
504 posts

Hello Trish, While you will more than likely receive a car somewhat like you reserve, you will receive whatever they have on the lot. Therefore, a bigger facility such as the airport is your best option if you require a specific size or style. I have had great results with Autoeurope, which is a consolidator based in Maine. You pay at the time you reserve, but you can get it refunded if you cancel within the requirements of the contract. If you explain your needs, the agent will be very helpful. Regardless, go to the rental counter knowing you may not get just what you are expecting. I have found the same true in the US.
Best regards.

Posted by Bets
3355 posts

Since you are staying in Paris, the different rental pick up spots will have good selections. The agencies at the train stations are particularly good in town. To be economical, you should specify a diesel rather than a gasoline engine.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8186 posts

Rent where it's most convenient for you. A trip back to the airport would be a waste and may cost more. I'll be surprised if a small car will hold two big suitcases in the trunk, let alone another carry-on bag (probably depends on what "big" and "small" mean to you). Most will hold a couple of carry-ons, maybe a little more. I think it's wise to keep your stuff out of view as you frequent tourist spots. Fortunately, when you pick up the car you can always change to a different car on the spot (even if you book in advance). Look at the trunk. If it doesn't work, go back and ask for something that will fit your luggage (or at least consider what's available and how much they will charge you for it).

Posted by Bets
3355 posts

This might help: last summer we were breaking up a house in Burgundy, so we took a 24" bag, a large wheeled duffel, two 22" carry on bags opened all the way, and two briefcases. Everything fit in the trunk of a Renault Scenic and we were able to close the cover to hide everything. Now if you check the autopeurope website, you can compare the trunk space in the Renault Scenic with the other cars offered. Hope this helps.

Posted by Steve
Gaston, Oregon, USA
908 posts

The Ford Focus will easily handle a couple of standard large suitcases and some other small bags. If in doubt, go down to your local Ford dealer and check it out!

Posted by Trish
Crystal Lake, IL, USA
5 posts

Thanks to all who posted. We finally made a decision. We decided to rent out of Orly since we felt the selection would be better and they have more flexible hours to be able to leave Paris early in the morning and get a jump start on the traffic. we decided to rent through Auto Europe and went with a Ford Focus or similar. Since our Auto Europe reservation is through Hertz, I went on the Hertz website and it said that it should accomodate 3 large suitcases and 1 small. Since we're only going to have 2 large suitcases and a toiletry bag, we should be more than fine even if we end up with a different compact car.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

Hopefully you had some sound advice from somewhere when you made this decision. I'm not so sure I'd have wanted to spend an hour working my way south to turn around and drive a half hour north to pass within a couple miles of the hotel I just left. The other news is that if you get going real early the traffic on the southwest quadrant of the Peripherique could make it even longer. Alternatively, you could bypass the ring and swing over through Versailles, which is maybe another half hour, but who knows, it might work out that it saves a litte time.