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How to Rent a Car in France – Requirements & Car Hire advice

Requirements & Advice for Renting a Car in France

Category: Travel Guide

How to rent a car in France

  • The renter has to be at least 21 years old to rent a car in France.
  • For renters below the age of 25, there is a young driver surcharge.
  • The age limit varies according to the category of the car.
Credit card The renter must have a credit card under his own name.
License A full driving license that has been valid for at least a year plus, for the rental period.
ID A passport is needed for citizens from non-EU countries otherwise, any proof of ID will do.

NOTE : The car rental will not be issued to you if your license has declarations of theft or loss or if the license is suspended or restricted.

Do you need international driver’s license in France?

By law, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is not required for renting a car in France but providing one will definitely be beneficial for the renter. An IDP is necessary if the renter’s driving license is not in the Roman alphabet (is in a language such as Arabic, Greek, Russian or Chinese). But an IDP should not be presented alone, it must be accompanied by an original driving license. If you are not an EU citizen then your international driving permit or IDP must be accompanied by a national driving permit.

What about renting a car in France as an American?

A US driving license held for at least one year is valid for car rentals in France. Tourists from the USA will be relieved to know that just like the USA, France drives on the right-hand side of the road.

Driving in France with a foreign license

  • Visitors who come for a short time period i.e. less than 90 days can use their valid license for driving a car rental in France.
  • An important information to consider is that the license must be either in French or accompanied by an official translation or an IDP.

Cross country car rental from France

  • Most of the suppliers will let you go for a cross-border drive to Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, mainland Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
  • Most of the car rental companies restrict entry into Albania, Balearic Islands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia & Ukraine.
  • You will be allowed to take only selected cars to other countries, there will be terms and conditions regarding that along with a cross-border fee.

Important tips for driving a car rental in France

1. Fine

  • Using a cell phone while driving can end you up paying a heavy fine.
  • Another thing to keep in mind is the speed cameras, these can often be hidden and end you up in trouble if you are caught driving 50 km/hr or more than the restricted speed limit, resultantly, the police might ban you from driving and confiscate your vehicle.
  • In France, the level of driving under the influence (DUI) is strictly followed and is lower than the USA.

2. Car parking

  • As far as parking is concerned apart from the french countryside, car parking in the cities is indicated by street number.
  • By law, you are not allowed to park your vehicle on any public spot for more than 24 hours but if you change the spot then this rule wont apply.
  • Parking in front of fire hydrants is also illegal.
  • You can easily spot the legal parking areas or the Blue Zones.

3. Travelling with children

  • Children below the age of 10 years must be seated in the back-seat of the car with exception to cars with only front seating.
  • Make use of child booster seats and your baby must face the rear while sitting on the front seat.
  • As per the rule in France, all the passengers travelling in the car must wear a seat-belt.

Speed limits in France

French motorways 130 km/hr, 

110 km/hr in rain

Dual carriageways 110 km/hr
Main roads 90 km/hr
Built-up areas 50 km/hr

Should I rent a car in France?

Driving a car in France can be an enjoyable experience for someone who is not uncomfortable in heavy traffic. It is advised that you consider renting a small car due to the narrow streets and its fuel economy as fuel is very expensive in France.

Roundabouts are a common sight in France, people from countries like US might not be familiar with these. Every country has a different driving scene, similarly, driving in France can be a mixed experience. One of the problems on the roads of France is tailgating, we advise you to keep calm if you experience this sort of behaviour and the French drivers are not used to giving indicators. We recommend learning basic French if you do not want to face any problems while reading the road-signs in France.

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