Summer is here and with it the best months to explore France. While France, like most destinations in Europe, has a great train system, many of the charming villages and hidden nature spots are a bit out of the way and hard to reach. For those of you looking to explore the countryside off the beaten path, it is easier and more convenient to rent a car. And since a car rental in France, like everywhere, can be difficult to navigate – there are just so many options – here’s a couple pointers to help you along:
How to find a rental car in France:
The easiest way of booking a rental car in Europe is still online and in advance. This will not only save you the hassle of trying to find the car you want last minute, but usually also comes with discounts if you book a minimum number of days ahead. Shop around and find the company that offers a combination of price, pick-up and drop-off spots and additional services that suits you best.
Cars in Europe are usually rented by the day and the longer you rent, the less is charged per day. Make sure to adhere to the hours though, as dropping it off late will result in an additional day being charged. If you can find it, the most economical option is simply renting the car by the week with unlimited mileage.
Keep in mind:
- A lot of car rental companies have age limits (they vary between 21 and 25) and charge more for people under 25.
- Most cars in Europe have a manual transmission, the rate for renting an automatic car will be higher.
- Delivery and return spots: Consider a round trip since the rate is often cheaper when you drop off the car at the same place you picked it up. Also, stick to the plan since changing the drop of point usually comes with a high fee.
- Consider picking up the car at a smaller location. Driving in big cities is usually stressful and you can actually save money by not picking up your rental car at an airport.
- You will probably be doing a lot of driving, make sure to pick a car you’re comfortable spending time in instead of getting the absolute smallest and cheapest one.
- An international drivers license isn’t required in France, but if you plan to leave the country with the car, it might be needed. Research the laws of the countries you want to visit ahead of time.
Where to drive it:
If you’re just getting started with planning your road trip itinerary, here’s a couple off the beaten path destinations to get your inspiration kick started:
Étretat is a small coastal village on the Alabaster Coast in France’s Upper Normandy. It’s mainly famous for its towering cliffs smoothed by the waves. There’s no train going there, so the town and it’s surroundings are perfect for a road trip.
This charming little town also lies on the Alabaster Coast and is famous the many artists that have come here to find inspiration to paint and write, such as Victor Hugo and the poet Jean Richepin. The roads are narrow, the houses picturesque and there’s a little river going through the town, with fully restored waterwheels, a mill and thatched cottages along the way.
Conques is a little town in the French Midi-Pyrénées and is one of the most beautiful villages in France along the Camino de Santiago. Accordingly, the Abbey-Church of Saint-Foy is one of the main attractions, not only for pilgrims, but also tourists travelling through the countryside. Since most people use it as a day trip location and depart during the late afternoon, stay overnight to have the town all to yourself.
Pesmes is located in the Haute-Saône department of France and is best known for it’s intact historic buildings, including townhouses, a church and a castle from the 16th to 18th centuries. The town is located on the river Ognon, which makes for a great relaxing spot.
Located in the beautiful rolling hills of the Alsace, Eguisheim is not only known for the wine, but also for the charm of it’s narrow streets and timber framed houses. La Place du Château is a great place to start exploring. It’s the old towns main square, houses one of the largest fountains in Alsace and is surrounded by beautiful houses from the Renaissance.
* This post was written by myself but sponsored by Europauto. I only work with brands I support – trust and authenticity are important.