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Best plan for a car rental with automatic transmission

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Washington, D.C.
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Best plan for a car rental with automatic transmission

Hello, we are planning to visit Normandy after several days in Paris. My preference would be to take a train and rent a car at Caen or another location in Normandy. Howevever, I cannot drive a manual car and need an automatic transmission. I have read on TA that obtaining an automatic in Normandy is much less likely than in Paris, so I am planning to rent in Paris, then drive to Giveny and onto Bayeux. We'll be staying in the 5th or 6th. To date, I have managed to reserve an automatic with Europcar to pick up at Gare Du Nord.

My questions:

(1) Since I understand that an obtaining an automatic is not "guaranteed" (despite the reservation), is there a location better than Gare Du Nord where I could more likely expect to get an automatic that makes sense given my travel plans? CDG might have more cars, but it also seems out of the way. Would CDG nonetheless be preferable?

(2) I have reserved a "Renault scenic auto" (or something similar). Does that seem large enough for an adult and two teens and luggage?

(3) We are tentatively planning to eventualy drop off the car at Deauville and fly from the airport there via Cityjet to London, as opposed to driving back to Paris and then taking the Eurostar. At 71 euros per person one-way to London, Cityjet seemed to be the more efficient alternative. Does this make sense?

Thanks much for your help.

Paris, France
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1. Re: Best plan for a car rental with automatic transmission

1. You are correct, there is never a guarantee that any automatic will be available at your pickup time, in spite of any such prior arrangement. ORY, CDG, or perhaps Gare du Nord or Gare de Lyon will generally be able to honor such requests as these locations maintain large on site inventories. However, pickups at these locations also are assessed a 40€ location surcharge (for rentals in excess of 2 days) and automatics are also assessed an environmental surcharge (in addition to the higher rental cost). Neither of these fees are included in most rental estimates.

2. The problem with a rental car carrying 4 people will be having sufficient space for luggage. This car might work as long as you have no more than 4, 22¨ suitcases. If your suitcases are larger than the standard roll-aboard at 22¨, or if you have more than just 4, you may not have sufficient space.

3. Good idea just confirm that your rental company will not charge you a one way fee. Hertz and Avis generally do; Europcar, Sixt, or Citer generally do not.

Paris, France
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2. Re: Best plan for a car rental with automatic transmission

Any of the three main train stations is best -- Gare du Nord, Gare de Lyon and Gare Montparnasse. All three stations have very simple straight line access to the périphérique ring road.

Paris 4th Arr
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3. Re: Best plan for a car rental with automatic transmission

Just FYI, I recently read that EuropCar and SIXT were planning to offer hybrid compact and mid-size cars. They're almost certain to have automatic transmissions.

Lords Valley...
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4. Re: Best plan for a car rental with automatic transmission

For what it's worth, I have been successful for A/T with Hertz at CDG and in central Florence, Italy. In both cases my reservation confirmed A/T but I was nervous until I got the vehicles.

Paris, France
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5. Re: Best plan for a car rental with automatic transmission

And keep in mind, if you should have a problem with the original car and need a replacement you could end up with a manual. I had this happen when our car was broken into via smashed window outside St. Remy.

Obviously chances of this happening are slim, but wanted to make you aware.

Washington, D.C.
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6. Re: Best plan for a car rental with automatic transmission

Thanks for your replies.

To clarify, we will be a total of three people (one adult, two teens), so we'll be able to use a portion of the back seat for bags. How does a Renault Scenic Auto compare to a VW Golf in terms of size? (I have reservations for each with automatic transmissions, both from Gare du Nord.).

Hertz is, in fact, charging me a one-way dropoff fee of 54 euros. However, that reservation (through kemwel) is still less total cost than the one with Europcar, which apparently is charging a hidden one-way fee.

It seems like several of you are at least indirectly suggesting that CDG might be a better location for getting an A/T. How does any greater likelihood of getting that A/T compare with the relative inconvenience of starting the drive at CDG? That is, if CDG increases my odds significantly of getting an A/T, should I tolerate the longer ride and get the A/T there insted of Gare du Nord?

Chicago
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7. Re: Best plan for a car rental with automatic transmission

It's been years since I dealt with a car rental in Europe so can't speak to that, but do not leave bags in the backseat of any rental car while you go off sightseeing, etc. That is an invitation for a smashed window and a stolen bag. So try to pack so that you can fit all the bags in the trunk.

Ottawa, Canada
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8. Re: Best plan for a car rental with automatic transmission

Here's a link to a site that has pics of luggage areas of most cars available in Europe:

parkers.co.uk/cars/…gallery

or http://tinyurl.com/9wgvskl Click on Boot/load space link.

But don't forget... as there is no guarantee of an automatic being provided there is also no guarantee you'll get a Scenic. If you have not already paid any money check with http://www.AutoEurope.com. They will match any price lower than theirs and may be able to save you the one way fee. As far as fitting... 3 people should be fine as long as luggage is not any bigger than the 22 inches mentioned above. If you have soft squashable bags they are always better for car trunks.

As to your plan to fly to London... makes sense to me. Saves backtracking and will likely work out cheaper too. A big time saver too.

I'll add one thing. I'd hate to see your vacation ruined by not being able to drive a manual transmission. Where I live there are driving schools who offer courses for people who are already licensed but want to learn a stick shift. The cost is low and it only takes 2 or 3 hours. Worth looking into.

Victoria, Canada
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9. Re: Best plan for a car rental with automatic transmission

When you leave car, say at a sight, or rest stop for lunch , do not leave your luggage on the seat, and be mindful of placing it in truck in front of everyone.

Pack light and you won't have an issue. Three bags will fit in most trunks if they are not too big.

Victoria, Canada
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10. Re: Best plan for a car rental with automatic transmission

And if it was me, ( who also does not drive a manual) I would try and learn how to before going, just in case I absolutely have to use a manual car( as noted when someones car automatic car broke down, the only replacement offered was a manual).