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Rental Cars - 6 people plus automatic - recommendations?

We are going to be traveling from Paris through Germany and then dropping off in Frankfurt this summer. I was curious if anyone knew of any good rental car agencies that have small minivans/minibuses that can seat 4 adults and 2 kids in car seats. We would really really prefer an automatic given that only one person in the crew can drive stick, but Hertz is looking for almost a 3k premium on an automatic with the drop fee. We have also looked at Sixt, but they only seem to have manuals. Thanks in advance!

Posted by
12950 posts

Try AutoEurope. I just ran a test one-way rental from Paris to Frankfurt. a 7 pax Mercedes Viano w/AT was only $700 more than a Renault minivan with manual. prices for this 15 day period were $1200 and $1900. Child seats are required and are an extra cost.

Posted by
5506 posts

Reconsider the rental. You can all get from Paris to just about anywhere in Germany quite cheaply by train - even to Berlin if you want to go that far - by getting advance-purchase tickets 92 days out; for the whole group, you'd pay 156 Euros if you snag the best deal, probably less than the off fee alone. http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en Daytrips from your travel base can be accomplished by regional daypasses (under 30 Euros for your group per day.) http://www.bahn.de/i/view/DEU/en/prices/germany/laender-ticket.shtml

Posted by
9 posts

Thans for the input, we are actually doing a number of cities (through Rhine, Black Forest, part of Switzerland, Munich) so train will actually be a lot more expensive per person given that there are 6 of us. The car also helps given that we have two little ones on the trip, making things a bit more flexible. We are seeing quotes of about $900USD for a manual minivan for the entire trip. The first train alone would be $600 for everyone. How about just a general question, what car rental agencies do people typically use in France and Germany?

Posted by
9 posts

How did you run the Paris to Frankfurt on their site? I can't seem to get anything but other locations in France once I choose Paris? Thanks!

Posted by
5506 posts

I last rented a minivan from Autoeurope. It was good for the 5 of us but we had to be extremely careful about packing. Before you jump, be sure you are fully informed about the luggage space. Gas is $8./gal. You'll need a Swiss vignette. "The first train alone would be $600 for everyone." That's possible if you shop at Rail Europe and don't look at the advance-sale tickets sold by the German Railways (DB) and don't take advantage of the regional daypass deals. The $ argument for the car is a weak one. Here's what your trip (I picked typical destinations) would cost me by train in Euros for 4 adults (kids are free.) Paris-Koblenz (Rhine) = 156 (adv. p.) 3 days of Rhine travel = 100 on daypasses Koblenz to Triberg (BF) = 89 (adv. p.) 3 days of BF travel = 0 (free KONUS card from hotel)
Triberg to Interlaken = 116 (adv. p) Interlaken to Munich = 156 (adv. p.) Just a tad over 600 Euros total. There are often good reasons to rent but $ isn't usually one of them.

Posted by
9 posts

Russ, My checks for pricing were from the DB site. We have 6 people... so the total is about $620 per person or ~$2400 (and our legs are a bit different with more stops). A minivan from Hertz or AutoEurope is coming to a max of $1500 plus fuel, parking, and tolls. We have done the train many many times before, so its really easy for my wife and I to handle, but not for the grandparents in our case. Can I ask what you paid for your car rental and fuel as a rough estimate? Thanks for the help.

Posted by
5506 posts

"My checks for pricing were from the DB site. We have 6 people..." Summer discount tickets are not yet available on the DB site; you can only get them 92 days in advance. You said 4 adults and two kids (under 15, right?) Kids are free. To find the discount prices yourself, try some dates in May for 4 adults. I rented that minivan 6 years ago on a combination train/van trip, so I don't think the price would help you. It was a Renault model of some sort. Very limited cargo space. Very snug for 5 adults. We got stuck in two miserable traffic jams. We were delighted to finally drop it off after 3 days and get back on the trains. We're heading over to Germany next month again. Because of the train deals that are available in, into and out of Germany, we didn't give the slightest thought to a rental vehicle.

Posted by
27464 posts

Fuel prices Vary from country to country. Diesel is often less expensive, but not Switzerland. Luxembourg and Austria cheapest. UK and the Netherlands generally most expensive. Germany more expensive than France. Belgium cheaper than France. But, it goes up and down (well mostly up) all the time. Taxes in individual countries go up and down (well mostly up) all the time. The general rules above may be different by the time you travel. Fuel in the UK at the moment is a little over £1.30 a litre. which is just over £5 a US gallon. That's over $8.10 a gallon. Mileage is a little better here but it won't be great for a van. Don't forget tolls.

Posted by
12950 posts

Jeremy-the link to the multi-country rental is on the AutoEurope main page, but it is very small. It is something like "for one way rentals to a different country, click here.". That will open a new page where you can enter the Paris pickup and Frankfurt drop off.

Posted by
18240 posts

"We have 6 people" How old are the"kids"? Certainly you don't have 15 yos in car seats!

Posted by
9 posts

They are in car seats (4 and <1) so they would be free on the train. Thanks.

Posted by
2297 posts

"Europa Spezial" from Paris to Germany or the "Sparpreis" tickets for travel within Germany are really good deals - if you can get them. There are only a limited number of them per train and if you don't pay attention to book them right when they go on sale (i.e. 92 days in advance) you risk missing out on them. Especially if you need 6 (six) seats! It is usually not too difficult to buy single tickets at this sale price but at busy travel times very hard to get enough to cover the entire family. A car rental can be a good solution for a family. But there are a couple of issues. Minivans in Europe usually really do merit their name "mini" more so than their Northamerican counterparts. They will seat 6 or 7 but you are left with very little luggage space in most models. Between looking for a van that offers automatic transmission and one that is big enough for 6 PLUS their luggage your choices might be very limited. A minibus might provide more space but if they can seat more people you might need a special drivers licence. Make sure you are well aware of the pertinent legislation in the countries you plan to drive through.

Posted by
3729 posts

Try "viamichelin.com" for estimates on fuel and tolls. You might also drop the car on the France side of the border, train to the German side of the border and pick up a different van. This should save you around $300-500 . If you drop at the rail station, it's usually a 15-30 min. train ride. Know its' a pain to do with luggage, but easier on the budget.

Posted by
1357 posts

Here's another option: take the train from Paris to Frankfurt, then pick up a car and do a loop from there. Saves you the drop fee. Renting vans can be really expensive in Europe. Would you guys be willing to rent 2 cars instead? You could get 2 economy cars for about half of what you're being quoted for a van.

Posted by
7205 posts

As for expense comparison...your kids travel absolutely free with you everywhere in Switzerland. Having done trains AND minivans in Europe with my 2 kids I can safely and 100% confidently say a minivan (or any rental vehicle) is more trouble and aggravation than it's worth...even with kids. However, I'm sure you're dead-set on a minivan. Try using www.autoeurope.eu also try www.kayak.com for car rentals. And don't pick up and drop in a different country. That's just giving LOTS of free money to the car rental agencies :-)

Posted by
355 posts

Bit off topic..... But suggestion, instead of worrying about getting an automatic. Spend a couple of hours (in the USA, before you travel, on some back roads) having the one person who can drive a stick teach the other three (assuming that person currently owns a stick.) {If I can learn to drive a stick shift anyone can. And I pretty much had to teach myself. I was getting some direction from the car owner who was totally drunk and thus not the best teacher. (The reason why I was driving.) I actually got pulled over cause my driving was a bit erratic and we were heading away from the bar area at 2 am. I explained the situation and volunteered to take a breathalyzer. Cop gave me some tips on driving the stick shift and let me go.}

Posted by
9110 posts

Before you get too exited about having a slew of people driving, you should check to see how much extra (per driver / per day) it's going to stiff you. It could knock your socks off.

Posted by
1357 posts

Oh, and if you do go with a car, I'd consider bringing the car seats with you. I don't know if you're getting a seat on the plane for your 1-year-old, but, if so, having a place to strap him/her in is safer and will help you keep your sanity. If your 4-year-old is in a car seat, too, I'd do the same. If he/she is in a booster, you can check it with your luggage. We did that with our son's, just put it in one of those big plastic bags from the airline. The only problem with that is that we had to check it in and pick it up from "oversized baggage", which meant waiting in an extra line. But, as the rental companies charge 4-5 euro/day/car seat, it was worth the wait.

Posted by
759 posts

You did not say how long your trip will be. If it is anywhere near 3 weeks look at a lease through Renault or Peugeot. If I remember correctly, one of them has a large van with an automatic transmission. The advantage to a lease is that you get a new vehicle that was built for your lease and it will be there when you need it, you will not get to the rental desk and hear, "We are sorry but......" It's an uncommon car and we don't have one here is not a happy song no matter how often it is sung. The lady at Auto France was very helpful with my questions.