Planning Road Trips

Quick Guide to Renting a Car in France


Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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How to Rent a Car in France (Car Rental in France Tips)

France is one of the most varied countries in Europe, with many things to see, do, and taste. Taking a road trip in France is just about one of the coolest things you can ever do, and with a car, some good tunes, and the best company, you are set for one of the most memorable adventures in your life.

What do I need to hire a car in France? How to rent a car in France as an American? This article gives information and our best tips on how to rent a car in France. After reading this quick guide, you will see that renting a car in France is very easy!

Citroën Car

Main Requirements for Driving in France

If you plan on driving in France, you need to be aware that there are certain requirements before getting behind the wheel. The following are the documents that you must have with you at all times and other driving requirements for legally driving in France.

  • You need to be an adult
  • Valid Driver’s License
  • Current registration and proof of purchase (if driving your own vehicle): When driving your own car, a valid driver’s license, as well as registration or proof of ownership, is required to be with you at all times in the car.
  • Valid Passport: A passport is required for both the driver as well as any other people in the car.
  • Valid Car Insurance: For car rentals in France, double-check your contract and agreement that this has been included in the paperwork or is in the car and is up to date.

Towing: If you intend on towing anything behind your primary vehicle when traveling to France by car, ensure that you have all the proper licensing documentation from the country of origin. This includes a sticker on the license plate from your country that matches the plate on your car

Best Way to Rent a Car in France

As good Parisians, we don’t have a car in France, so our French road trips start from the rental car office most of the time.

When we need to rent a car in France, we usually sweep and AutoEurope to find the best deals. Both sites cover the major and local brands and make a price comparison for you. This helps to ensure that you get a great price without all the time and work.

Consider Auto Europe’s long-term car rentals and short-term lease options if you plan on hiring a car in France for a more extended trip. They offer the best rates available for trips of one month or more.

We recommend renting a car in France as soon as possible, especially if you are traveling during the high season or special holidays. Once you have bought your train or flight tickets to France, start looking for your car in France for more options and the best prices.

Hiring a Car in France, What Do I need?

What do I need to rent a car in France? The car hire in France requirements are the same as the requirements for driving mentioned above. In addition to the above requirements, most rental companies will also request the following:

  • A debit or credit card to cover the deposit
  • A valid driver’s license that has been issued for at least 12 months prior to renting the car.

How old do I have to be to rent a car in France?

All drivers must be 18 years of age in order to drive and hire a car in France. Even student drivers with a permit and with an adult are not allowed.

Do I need an international driver’s license to drive in France?

An international driver’s license in France isn’t required by law. However, it is a good idea to get one if your trip also takes you to other European countries, as some countries do require that you carry an IDP with you in addition to your valid driver’s license.

UK citizens do not need an International driver’s license to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein if they have a photocard driving license issued in the UK.

Renting a Car in France as an American

If your trip to France is shorter than 90 days, driving and renting a car in France with a US driver’s license is possible if it is accompanied by a notarized translation in French. It’s generally recommended to get an International Driving Permit, which provides a translation of your license. These are available from the American Automobile Association.

If you are staying in France for longer than 90 days, you may drive and hire a car in France with a valid U.S. driver’s license accompanied by a notarized French translation for a period of one year starting on the date of validity of the first carte de séjour, excepting students whose driver’s license expires at the end of his or her studies.

Renting a Car in France Tips & Tricks

1. Book the car early for the best deals

As with train tickets, booking early is a safe bet for finding the best car rental prices in France. As you get closer to your travel date, availability dwindles, and prices get more expensive (search for your dates and compare car rental agencies).

2. Be careful with your start date!

Your car reservation won’t necessarily need to begin on the first day of your trip. If, for example, you’re flying into Paris and spending a couple of days in the city before driving off to Normandy, you won’t need the car until you leave Paris.

3. Be smart about auto insurance

Call your insurance company and your credit card company to confirm auto coverage before renting a car in France. In many cases, you’ll be covered, so you don’t need to take the additional coverage options offered by the car hire company.

4. Go for a small car

Unless you need a lot of space, go for a small car when you rent a car in France. Gas is expensive. Streets are tiny, and parking spots can be tinier or difficult to find.

So if the rental agency proposes you an upgrade to a roomier, nicer car, just say ‘non merci,’ and stand your ground.

5. Don’t skimp on Travel Insurance for your holidays in France

On top of car insurance (Collision Damage Waiver / Loss Damage Waiver), you should have your own travel insurance. And since anything can happen while on the road, the best thing you can do for yourself is to be insured.

SafetyWing is an excellent travel + medical insurance covering people from all over the world while outside their home country. You can sign up for SafetyWing insurance for a few days or longer periods and even if your journey has already started. Check here what is included and what is not, and get a quote for your next trip to France.

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So you’ve got wheels; Now what?

Road Trips France

Check out our quick Guide to Driving in France. If you are driving a rental car in France, you need to know the French rules and what to expect on French roads!

Go through the different regions in France to decide which ones to explore.

Check out our France Road Trip Planners for road trip ideas and help with the planning.

Click here for our Road Trips

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