I thought I knew what to expect before I went to France last week, but I was wrong. So in case this might help someone else, I thought I should share my experience.
Having a brand new credit card doesn't at all mean you have a chipped credit card. I didn't really grasp what that was before I left. I called American Express before I left to tell them I was going to Europe. They wanted me to take a platinum card to avoid foreign transaction fees so I agreed to take it. They never said a word about maybe I'd need a chipped version of that card, and the one they sent me didn't seem to be chipped. Also, not many places outside of major cities take American Express so you actually can leave home without it. I haven't yet called to get a chipped credit card but I certainly will before I go back to Europe. I'd also notified my bank I was leaving for Europe and they never suggested my bank mastercard wasn't chipped, but it wasn't.
I was not able to use any of my visa/mastercard/amex credit cards at toll booths.
There are a lot of toll booths with expensive tolls on the autoroutes. The highest toll I paid at one time was €10.60.
The toll booths aren't staffed. They're automatic. So you can't just look for the lane that has a booth with a person inside of it. At least not at any of the toll locations I went through.
If they do take bills, said bills can't be larger than €20. I'd come prepared with cash money, but all €50 bills. It wasn't fun to find out the hard way I was at a toll booth that wouldn't take such a large bill nor would it take any of my credit cards.
Some toll lanes won't take paper bills. Also not fun to find out after making sure I was "prepared" with plenty of low denomination euros but not a lot of coins. In Aix, at least, you can't get any coins from a bank, and stores don't have a lot of spare coins to let you have either. Some lanes take both bills and coins but you have to pick the correct lane if you don't have a chipped credit card. They have signs above each lane with symbols for coins, paper bills and credit cards, depending on what that particular lane can accept. Until you learn the hard way, you might think that a symbol for coins just means cash period. It doesn't. Some lanes took only coins and cards. Some lanes took coins, cards and bills. You have to be in the correct lane.
Parking places in parking garages are teeny, teeny, tiny. I rented a BMW 3-series which isn't a huge car but it was sometimes challenging to park it between other cars and poles. I surely wouldn't have wanted a car any bigger than that. BTW, I rented at the Nice airport from Sixt. They were very easy to deal with coming and going. I'd requested a manual transmission since that's all I ever drove for 25 years. Upon pickup, the man I asked me if I'd rather have an automatic transmission. I said no. I don't know if he'd intended to raise the price of the rental if I'd said yes, but the car he gave me had an automatic transmission and a navigation system. I'd brought my gps with me so I actually hadn't needed either of those things but they were nice to have. I played the car's navigation system in French while simultaneously using my own garmin in English. It wasn't necessary but it was a nice crosscheck. Also, I was never offered the option of renting a toll tag. If that option does exist, I'd recommend getting it.
All of this may be very obvious to a lot of people, but it wasn't to me. Hope it helps someone else.