Car Hire in Paris
This information is correct as of April 2015
Hiring a car in Paris gives you the flexibility to do the French capital your way. Whether you’re planning lots of exciting day trips and excursions, or just need a car to get round the sights quickly and easily, you can find the best hire cars in Paris with Skyscanner.
Where to hire a car in Paris
The biggest names in car rental have pickup locations in Paris, both in the city centre and at the airports. Most of the car hire companies are clustered around the train stations. Avis and Europcar both have pick-up locations near the Gare du Nord, while Sixt and Europcar have branches at the Gare de Lyon.
Driving in Paris
Parisians are renowned for their aggressive driving style. The best way to respond is to keep a good distance between yourself and the driver in front of you and pay close attention to what other vehicles are doing. The French priorite a droite rule gives priority to any vehicle coming from the right. Although this isn’t supposed to apply on roundabouts, some people act like it does.
Public transport is prioritised in Paris, which recently experienced air pollution levels worse than Shanghai. The city has lots of dedicated bus, taxi and cycle lanes, while streets for cars tend to be a bit narrower. Rush hour in Paris is from 8am-10a.m and 5pm-8pm. It’s best to avoid driving at this time of day, especially on the Boulevard Périphérique which suffers from rush hour congestion.
Whatever you do, don’t take on the Etoile. This huge roundabout at the head of the Champs Elysees is really not for the faint hearted. You won’t be able to admire the Arc de Triomphe as you drive past as you will really need to keep your wits about you. Cars enter the roundabout from a whopping 11 different directions. There are urban legends about cars being abandoned by terrified drivers.
Parking in Paris
Paris has pay and display machines (horodateurs) instead of parking meters. To use them you need to buy a carte de stationnement, which can be purchased from most tabacs. They’re available in €10 (about £7.20) and €30 (about £21.60) denominations. Parking is free after 7pm, on weekends, and during the month of August when most people flee the city for the coast.
On-street spaces can be hard to come by, but thankfully there are plenty of car parks in the city centre too. The Saint-Germain Auxerrois car park is within walking distance of the Louvre, Parking Notre-Dame is ideal for visiting the famous cathedral, and Parking Pullman Tour Eiffel is the closest to the Eiffel Tower.
Prices subject to change
Great day trips from Paris
Disneyland Paris is a 40 minute drive from Central Paris, making it a great choice for a day out with the kids. There’s something for Disney fans of all ages, whether you’re more excited about bumping into Anna and Elsa or are saving your enthusiasm for Belle and Jasmine. Meet stars like Mickey and Minnie, take on white-knuckle rides like Space Mountain, and enjoy the magical ambience of the park.
The Palace of Versailles
An absolute must-visit, this breathtaking royal palace is probably most famous as the location where the Allies signed a peace treaty with the Germans, arguably ending the First World War. The palace itself has plenty of connections to French royalty: it was built by Louis XIV, and Marie Antoinette used to spend time in the nearby Queen’s Hamlet: a fake village where she could relax and escape the bustle of palace life. Try to arrive as early as possible to beat the queues.
It only takes an hour or so to drive to Giverny, but during spring and summer you’ll be richly rewarded with some of the most beautiful gardens France has to offer. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a Monet painting, which is unsurprising as this is where he found the inspiration to paint his classic Water Lilies series.