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Driving in Paris? Driving to Versailles?

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Vancouver, Canada
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Driving in Paris? Driving to Versailles?


We have booked everything except our rental car. After five nights in Paris we are planning to go to Versailles for two nights at the end of June and although we had originally planned to take the RER there and then rent a car to continue on to Tours a few days later, we have discovered that the car rental agencies have very limited hours on the weekends (and are closed completely on Sundays).

We will be staying in Le Marais near Arts and Metiers and were planning to take the metro to the RER C and then the RER to Versailles, but now it seems that we might as well rent a car in Paris and drive to Versailles.

I have used Mapquest to get general driving directions and it "seems" straightforward, but is there a preferred route that avoids the larger highways? I have already figured out that I want the "D" routes, not the "A" routes, and don't mind taking the slower scenic route, but MapQuest has us driving along the Champs Elysees and exiting off the roundabout! I would be happy to start our French driving adventure on a quieter route.

If someone could please suggest an easy starting point for renting a car in Paris in terms of ease of leaving the city and driving to Versailles (perhaps near Bois de Boulogne?), I would really appreciate it.

And if you think we should just take the RER to the car rental in Versailles at Rue des Chantiers, and avoid driving in Paris, please let me know.

Thank you so much!

Ottawa, Canada
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11. Re: Driving in Paris? Driving to Versailles?

>>>don't travel on N or D routes on a Sunday unless you have an industrial strength bladder<<<

Sorry about your discomfort but not a problem for us males! LOL When we last drove in France in 2009 from Andorra to the Loire we found most small towns we passed through had signs pointing to the public toilets. Maybe you didn't notice them.

Metro Vancouver
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12. Re: Driving in Paris? Driving to Versailles?

Not to mention that there are always lanes or secondary roads branching off a N or D road...and one can "walk" in the forest or behind a hedge...

Unless you are like my poor mom...whenever she had a "walk in the woods" some local farmer came out of nowhere...or rather a farm she had not noticed in her haste..

One time in B.C. (Canada) we were driving through the forest on Vancouver island and she told dad to stop at once. He did and, seconds later, a brown bear crossed the road not too far from us....needless to say, mom stayed in the car until we got to a small town 1/2 hr later...

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13. Re: Driving in Paris? Driving to Versailles?

Easy for you to say, young Parisamsterdam2007. We males of more mature years, with prostates the size of pomegranates, are not so fortunate, and do not LOL!


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14. Re: Driving in Paris? Driving to Versailles?

Nice TR on a road trip in France, glad you enjoyed yourselves.

Burlington, Iowa
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15. Re: Driving in Paris? Driving to Versailles?

Thanks for your detailed reply, Journeywizard!

I tend to use the train and have only rented a car once. That time we rented in Chartres and returned at Lyon airport, which was a breeze for getting around. I don't recall if we had the full insurance, but I would guess so because I wasn't very brave and booked with a travel agency. Do you mind sharing what car rental company you used? I have been looking at Sixt. I think the last time we used Hertz.

Thanks for the cash reminder and also the D & N routes suggestion. I'll look at alternate routes when I do my mapping! I'm planning a whirlwind/highlights tour for some girls, so we have quite a bit of ground to cover in just a short "American vacation". My current plan is to drop the car in (probably) Germany or (maybe) Switzerland and continue by train, but we'd have the car about 5 days.

On the GPS - did you rent the GPS from the rental company, or did you bring your own from home with European maps? We were discussing the options and we thought just getting it with the car might be best, if we do it. Last time we improved our spirit of adventure with a map. <:)

Thanks again for the tips!

Vancouver, Canada
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16. Re: Driving in Paris? Driving to Versailles?

We decided to rent with Hertz because we had previously signed up for the Hertz loyalty Gold program which resulted in lower rates than even some of the auto rental agencies mentioned in this forum. The other reason we chose Hertz is that they had a location just a short stroll from our hotel in Versailles and it was open on Saturday mornings. We rented the car and then parked it for the day and night until we needed it Sunday morning (we rented it on Saturday and returned it on Thursday so the extra night didn't cost us any more as we were in the weekly rental category).

Because there were four of us, including a rather tall teenage boy, as well as luggage, we needed a larger capacity vehicle which put us into a type of SUV (an Opel) and it was very comfortable, easy to maneuver, and had a built in GPS. Most of the time we just used the map feature but on the last day it talked to us! There were no instructions on how to use it so I was just going by instinct. The GPS seemed good at warning us about speed changes.

One important car rental mistake we made: unlike North America where one person can rent the car and the spouse or partner can be added as an additional driver at no cost, I arranged the car in my name using my credit card etc.. My husband was added as the additional driver at a cost an extra 35 euros...and I didn't drive once because I am still learning how to drive a manual shift car. We should have enrolled my husband in the Hertz Gold club and then rented the car in his name. We probably overpaid on the insurance too because our credit cards have some of the coverage, but even with my limited French I understood that without the insurance we would have been responsible for the entire car if it were stolen or totalled.

For all the driving we did (approx. 1000 kms) in our five days of touring around we only filled "Opel" up a few times (she used diesel) and it seemed to cost less than we expected, but maybe we're used to high fuel costs in Canada too... We found the fuel station attendants very friendly and helpful.

Funny the things you find interesting and wonderful about driving in France. We loved the parking garages as many of them had lights above the end of each stall so you could see at a glance if they were vacant (green light) or occupied (red). Entering the garage, there was also an indicator of how many vacant stalls were on each level so you didn't waste your time circling a level (or a row). Opel was a bit wide for some of the stalls but we were able to find larger spots most of the time.

One more thing...we found out when we got back that we were required to carry breathalyzers and safety vests in the car, something we didn't check for and possibly didn't have. You can buy both of these at many locations including fuel stations. Some rental cars will have them but many will not and it is up to you to make sure you have these things available if needed (or asked for...)

Hope you enjoy your driving adventure too!

Edited: 13 February 2014, 07:16
Tampa, Florida
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17. Re: Driving in Paris? Driving to Versailles?

safety vests and triangles are obligatory, and should be provided in the rental car (ask at the desk) -- should they not be, stop at the first gas station -- they're cheap.

Breathalyzers are an odd duck -- the law requiring them is on the books, but there is no penalty on the books if you don't have them, so many folks aren't bothering (but it's not a bad idea, especially if you're visiting wineries, as French DUI laws are strict)

Burlington, Iowa
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18. Re: Driving in Paris? Driving to Versailles?

Thanks so much for the additional tips! If you think of anything else we should know, please add.

I'll have to check out Hertz Gold. I know I get promotional info for Hertz via AAA and some other programs, but I don't often rent and haven't paid too much attention. I think I looked elsewhere because I had issues with trying to search online for rental options.

Has anyone used the google maps gas estimates (Euro) for distances? Are they at all accurate? I guess how can they be, without knowing what kind of vehicle we'll have for sure. I suppose I have ways to get close on that, if it's a worthwhile tool.

We are expecting to enjoy, so that should help. :) I think I am a little more nervous about them enjoying it this time, though. The last two times I organized, they didn't really have opinions and I just said where we were going and for how long... :) This is a different group and I hope they are as easy to please!

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19. Re: Driving in Paris? Driving to Versailles?

Do the rental cars cdome with GPS? And is it in English?

Terrigal, Australia
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20. Re: Driving in Paris? Driving to Versailles?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Has anyone used the google maps gas estimates (Euro) for distances? Are they at all accurate? I guess how can they be, without knowing what kind of vehicle we'll have for sure.~~~~~~~~~~~~

a far better option is www.viamichelin.com for distances, optimistic travel times - factor in the type/size of vehicle and it will provide fuel cost estimates, also - very handy will provide cost of tolls - if you plan to use toll ways.

for rental options -> Europe - use www.autoeurope.com and/or www.vroomvroom.com - both consolidators (wholesalers) - they will provide estimates for vehicles across all the big rental car providers - look for the deals that have ......"0"excess, and include additional driver and GPS

(although we prefer to take GPS from home that we are familiar with)

have a great trip!

Edited: 14 February 2014, 05:29