If you are looking for top quality, cheap car hire in France then this section of the website will help you prepare yourself for the task of finding a good reliable firm to hire a car from at a fair price.
Below we also offer 8 tips that will really help you save time and money with your search.
One. Book Early
Book early, book early, book early. I’ve repeated that 3 times to try and hammer the point home. Also to highlight the fact that if you don’t you could end up paying three times the price. Typically if you book 3 months before your trip you will pay just 33% of the price that someone else will be paying stood next to you at the desk. Why? Because they just decided to turn up at Calais or one of the main French airports and pay on the day to hire a car.
Two. Compare Car Hire France
You can definitely search more companies quicker and potentially get a better deal that suits your needs if you use a couple of Car Hire Comparison websites.
I used to recommend some but in the light of my recent car hire problems abroad I no longer wish to point you in the direction of any in case you encounter problems.
That should not be the end of your research though. You will be wise to dig MUCH deeper than just looking at the headline price offered and then immediately booking it.
Car Hire firms are notorious the world over for adding EXTRAS on to the base cost and the unscrupulous pull every trick in the book to do so. See here for horror stories.
Three. Check the Fuel Policy.
Give some thought to the mileage you will be doing and how much petrol/diesel you are likely to use? Is the fuel policy "Full to Full" or "Full to Empty" etc.
Be careful if you are not going to do more than a couple of hundred miles because if it’s "Full to Empty" they will charge you on collection for a full tank of fuel and you will only use a quarter of it and give them the rest back. Which they then sell to the next customer!
Also find out exactly how much they charge you for a tank of fuel as unscrupulous car hire firms often charge DOUBLE what the fuel would actually cost if you went to a garage yourself to fill up.
Four. Excess Insurance
When you arrive to pick up your car a lot of car hire firms try and scare you into taking additional collision damage waiver (CDW).
They will try and scare you into paying around £20 per day for this cover which is an awful lot on a 14 day car hire. If you buy your own CDW separately it can be as little as £2 a day, which is a saving of over £250.
If you hire cars a lot throughout the year then you can actually buy an annual policy which will save you a fortune.
Five. Credit Card Balance
Remember they will often want to charge a holding deposit especially if you are not taking the CDW so make sure your credit card has sufficient budget available or this could cause problems and embarrassment.
Personally I would recommend using your credit card to pay for the car hire if the cost is over £100 as this affords you greater consumer protection in the unlikely event of there being a problem.
The holding deposits charged by some of the cowboy firms is over £1,000. Even more importantly check if they just reserve the funds on your card or actually charge the amount in full and then refund it later. Some bad operators do not return this money for well over a month and when you are back home it can be difficult to sort this out. Check before booking.
Six. Child Seats and Sat Nav’s
Expect to pay around £5 a day to hire a child seat, so take your own if it’s not too much trouble Sat Nav’s cost about £60 to £80 per week to hire so personally I’d buy and take my own. I paid £260 for my last TomTom (It has live updates on traffic and Maps for the whole of Europe) but I use it a lot, both when I'm driving my own car in the UK and when on frequent French driving holidays so I definitely get my moneys worth. You can visit the TomTom Homepage here.
Seven. Be a Forensic Scientist
Get your fine tooth-comb out upon collection especially and drop off and make absolutely sure you double check the car inside and out. Mark any damage or even the slightest scratch on the paperwork when you pick the car up, and don’t drop the car off without having it checked and signed for.
If it gets bumped in the car park after you have dropped it off but the paperwork isn't signed you will be getting a bill for it. Often unscrupulous car hire firms in France will charge you for dents and scratches that you were not responsible for and often you don't find out you have been charged until you get home.
If the car has scratches or wear and tear on collection I’d advise you to take photos’ or video the car on your phone.
Eight. Safety Equipment?
Has the vehicle got Hi Viz vests for the occupants, a warning triangle, spare bulbs etc . Remember you can get on the spot fines for not carrying these items and blaming the hire company will not save you as the police won't care. See our Driving in France Checklist page here for full details of what you need.
Drive Your Own Car?
Personally I've only hired a car a couple of times whilst on the continent; I normally just drive my own car though I've hired several in Spain and the UK. So driving your own car is certainly something to consider.
If you are looking for car rental in France for business purposes I fully understand but I personally love going through the tunnel or on the Ferry and driving through the French countryside but I understand that a lot of people like to Fly Drive to save time especially if they are going to the south of France. For me though the road trip is all part of the adventure!