Renting a Car and Driving in France

Please note that restrictions apply to driving your personal vehicle in Paris. For environmental reasons, a special vignette is required. For vehicles not registered in France, the service for ordering the Crit’Air Vignette opened on Wednesday the 1st of February 2017. However, you can click here (External link)to utilize the classification’s simulator for allocating a Crit’Air Vignette to a vehicle type.

Click here to see more about legislation regarding safety jackets. (External link)

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 (External link) (Web site in French only), and show even the smallest paths. Others, such as Michelin maps (External link) (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 (External link) 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 (External link). 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.

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!

  • Auto Europe (External link) Auto Europe has been helping travelers find the best car rental, chauffeur & airport transfer service rates around the world for over 60 years. Through strategic partnerships with the most reputable suppliers in the industry, we are able to offer you pickup & drop off locations in 35 convenient cities throughout France including; Paris, Nice, Avignon, Bordeaux, Lyon & Marseille. Visit our website now to easily & quickly compare rates and suppliers in one place.

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(External link)* (External link)GotRental Cars (External link) Based in Orlando, Florida, GotRentalCars.com 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 bsp-auto.com at the best price and always with the best service. With 15 years’ experience bsp-auto and GotRentalCars.com 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.

  • Hertz (External link) 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 (External link) 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 (External link) 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 (External link) has specialized over the past 30 years in tax-free lease and car rentals exclusively for expatriates and foreign tourists.

  • Avis (External link)

  • Autoescape (External link)

  • Eurocar TT Citroën (External link)

  • Europcar (External link)

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

Paris**LyonMarseilleBordeauxLilleNantes**Nancy
Parisx289483362137237191
Lyon465X195334424407252
Marseille777314X400621597445
Bordeaux583538644X497199526
Lille2206831000801X373261
Nantes382655961321600X420
Nancy308406717847420676X