Renting a Car and Driving in France

  • © ATOUT FRANCE/ Hervé le Gac

Renting a Car and Driving in France

Click here to see more about legislation regarding safety jackets.

Driving in France

While France has an extensive rail network, a car is probably the best way to explore the country in total freedom. From motorways to departmental roads and country lanes, France has an extensive road network, and driving is a good option if you plan to explore the countryside. The most detailed maps are produced by IGN (Web site in French only), and show even the smallest paths. Others, such as Michelin maps (Web site in English), also give an excellent overview of the road network. As a general rule, tolls are levied on motorways. Seat belts must be worn in both the front and back seats of all automobiles. Children under 10 may not ride in the front seat. If you are on a motorcycle, scooter or moped, you are required to wear a helmet. All cars must also carry a safety jacket or warning triangle at all times.

If you are staying in France for less than 90 days, you can drive with your valid US driver's license. It's also 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 can drive with your US license for one year. You can find more information about the requirements through the French Embassy.  A valid driver’s license (permis de conduire) and passport are required to operate a motor vehicle. The minimum age for drivers is 18. Proof of insurance is necessary. Carry your identification, license, insurance certificate and vehicle registration (carte grise) with you when you drive.

Distances between principal cities, listed in both miles and kilometers:

K       MILES      



Paris Lyon Marseille Bordeaux Lille Nantes Nancy
O Paris x 289 483 362 137 237 191
M Lyon 465 X 195 334 424 407 252
E Marseille 777 314 X 400 621 597 445
T Bordeaux 583 538 644 X 497 199 526
E Lille 220 683 1000 801 X 373 261
R Nantes 382 655 961 321 600 X 420
S Nancy 308 406 717 847 420 676 X










Renting a Car in France

Reserving your rental car before you leave can mean substantial savings—most international car-rental agencies discount standard rates if you reserve ahead for a minimum number of days and pay in advance. For longer trips, consider leasing, which can offer big savings. Gas (essence) and highway tolls are about twice as expensive as in the United States and Canada. Note: To rent a car in France you must be at least 21 years old or 25 years old (minimum age varies by rental agency), and have a credit card in your name. Some agencies may require you to have had your driver’s license for at least one year. Check specific rules with individual rental companies before booking. 

To hire a car, contact one of the various car rental companies (Avis, Europcar, Autoescape, Sixt/ Eurorent, TT Car Transit). The big names have offices all over the country, as well as in some airports and railway stations. Don't forget to bring your driving licence and your international insurance papers! 

  • Autoescape
  • Auto Europe
  • For over 56 years, Auto Europe has been a leader in worldwide car rental services. In recent years, we have expanded our services to include over 8,000 car rental locations in over 130 countries worldwide but also chauffeur and transfer services; prestige and sports car rentals; mobile phone and GPS rentals; and motorhome rentals. Our philosophy is, "If you think that there is something more important than a client...then you need to think again."  Auto Europe strives to provide our customers with competitive rates and the best service available anywhere. At Auto Europe we do not believe that customers should expect less because they pay less. Our rates are always competitive, but we never forget that we are in the service business. If you have never used our services before, give us a try.

  • Avis 
  • Eurocar TT Citroën 
  • Europcar 
  • GotRental Cars

Based in Orlando, Florida, is part of one of the largest internet players in the travel industry in Europe: BSP Group. With its headquarters located in France, BSP Group excels at providing travel services such as cruises, hotels and car rentals with at the best price and always with the best service.

With 15 years’ experience bsp-auto and allow you to access both the most competitive rates and the most convenient terms and conditions worldwide for your car reservations. GotRental Cars has over 8,000 locations in 85 countries, working with all the major internationall suppliers like Alamo, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt, as well as many local suppliers to provide you with the best pricing for your market and easy access to rentals even at the last minute.

With over 2,000 European locations, Hertz assures you that no matter where your travels take you, you'll receive low, competitive rates and quality service with every rental. For reservations and information regarding the Affordable Europe program, please contact your travel agent, or Hertz International Reservations at 1-800-654-3001. 

Renault’s Eurodrive program is available for drivers who are at least 18 years old and are staying in Europe for 21 days or more. All cars are brand-new Renaults. There are pick-up and drop-off points all over France in cities and airports including Paris, Avignon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, and many others. 

Sixt is a leading full range mobility provider: car or van rental, limousine service, Holiday Cars, leasing or car purchase. Sixt has an excellent range of vehicles from the luxury segment, premium brands from leading manufacturers. The Sixt vehicle fleet has been equipped with the highest technological level right from the start, in particular with navigation systems. The Sixt service is available in 75 countries at 3500 locations.

TT Car Transit has specialized over the past 30 years in tax-free lease and car rentals exclusively for expatriates and foreign tourists. Special offer from TT Car Transit - use code MDLF.