No need to elaborate too much, but here are some specific issues regarding car rentals in France:
- Don't rent a car which is too small - you might have issues with the leg room if you are a tall person.
- Make sure you understand the insurance options in order to only pay for what you really need.
- If you have a US credit card, collision, injury and personal liability insurance might be available free of charge. Make sure you understand the procedures, the fine print and have a copy of it handy in case the car rental company asks for it.
- Checking the option of additional drivers to drive the rental car may incur a surcharge.
- Car cleaning charges may be imposed if you return the car in a state beyond what is considered normal usage.
- Take your time and read the terms and conditions of your car rental agreement.
Before you leave the car rental agency make sure you know where the gas tank is, how it is opened and what kind of fuel (in French: carburant) it uses. Roughly 50% of cars in France run on diesel (in French: gaz-oil), the rest on gasoline (in French: essence), either SP 95 or SP 98. To get an idea about fuel prices, check one of the relevant internet sites, like zagaz.com.
Short Term Car Leasing in France
Both Renault and Peugeot offer short term sale buyback programs for overseas visitors residing outside the European Union. There is a bit more paperwork involved, but the rental rates are much more advantageous. The rental period is 17 days min., 175 days max. under the Peugeot Open Europe and 21 days min. and 170 days max. under the Renault Eurodrive program.
Driving in France
In general French drivers are pretty disciplined nowadays. Police has cracked down, speed and alcohol limits are strictly imposed and violations carry substantial fines. As a result accidents have decreased substantially during the past years.
Important Driving Rules in France:
- Drive on the right - easy to forget when you are on a quiet country road driving back from dinner!
- Don't approach roundabout's too fast, in general the cars already in the roundabout have right of way. Go anti-clockwise and indicate your direction before you leave the roundabout with the right signal blinker.
- Cars coming from the right have right of way at junctions unless indicated otherwise. Sometimes small side roads have right of way, simply because the right of way or stop sign has not been posted.
- Strictly obey speed limits, speed controls are frequent and fines are heavy.
- Stop signs mean stop - bring the car to a standstill - a frequent police trap.
- Pedestrian crossings are generally ignored by French drivers. Watch the car behind you when you break this habit (as you should) and stop.
- Drink driving rules are very strict, alcohol controls frequent - check current regulations!
Road Speed Limits in France:
- Motorway: 130 kmh (110 kmh in wet conditions)
- Dual carriageways: 110 kmh (100 kmh in wet conditions)
- Other roads: 90 kmh (80 kmh in wet conditions)
- Towns, villages and built up areas: 50 kmh, but many towns have lower speed limits than this. Always check signs.
The most frequent speed traps are at the entrance or exit of towns. Make sure you have your speed reduced to 50 kmh (or whatever the indicated speed restriction is) at the point where you pass the sign with the town name. Don't exceed the speed limit until you exit the town and have passed the exit town sign, normally the town's name with a black line through it. This sign might be a fair way outside the built up area!