Tepee or not tepee – how to lease a car in France
Leasing a car for this séjour was just about the easiest part of my planning process. Once I learned the advantages of leasing vs renting, it was a pretty easy decision.
The most common cars available for lease in France are Peugeot, Renault and Citroen. You may not be familiar with these brands, but you don’t need to over think this decision. Here are the main issues to consider:
- size matters – Europe isn’t set up for a giant Costco-sized SUV. If your leased car is too big, you’ll never be able to park it. Get a car that’s just big enough to hold your luggage.
- manual vs. automatic –In some cases an automatic may not be available. If an automatic is available, you’ll likely pay a higher price for it. Learn how to drive a stick!
- gasoline vs diesel – Diesel is far more common in Europe than in the US. You’ll find diesel at most petrol stations, and it’s usually a little less expensive.
- pick up the phone and call– Sure, you can do everything online. But talking to a leasing agent can be really helpful – especially if you aren’t that familiar with the process.
- international drivers permit – Although technically not always required, it’s a good idea to have one. It’s super easy to get – just go to any AAA office, have your picture taken and fill out an application. There’s no test or anything – it’s basically a translation of your license into several languages. (You don’t have to be a AAA member.)
Companies to use – Each of these companies have US-based customer service reps available to answer questions. That’s a big plus if you’ve never done this before.
- Peugeot via AutoEurope – easily my top choice. They have what I’m looking for in a car lease company: a good track record and excellent customer service.
- Renault via EuroDrive – apparently a very good option. I’ve read many positive reviews about this company and people apparently have had very good experiences. Unfortunately, when I called to get advice and information, the customer service rep was less than helpful.
- Honorable mention: Europe by Car –Rick Steves recommends this company, so it must be pretty good. Europe by Car offers leases from both Renault and Citroen.