Leasing vs. Renting a Car in France


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Staying in France for seventeen days or longer? You may want to consider leasing a car in the US before you go. Leasing a car makes good sense if you plan on visiting various regions in France and possibly other European countries. This especially makes sense if you want to stay at B&Bs out in the countryside. Technically when you leave a car, you’re buying the car outright. On delivery, you’ll receive a ‘carte grise’ which means you own the car for the time you’re using it. Then the leasing company ‘buys it back from you’. Actually the procedure is very simple. And hassle free. We’ve been doing this for a number of years.

The company we’ve used is Kemwell which is affiliated with Peugeot Sodexa in France. There’s a Kemwell branch in Portland, Maine (Tel. 1 800 678 0678). (If you call Kemwell, ask for Gerry – he says he’s the best.)

We like leasing because the cars are brand new. If you ever have any problems like fender benders, etc. the insurance is built into the leasing price so there’s no hidden costs. What you pay up front covers everything. It may seem expensive, but the lack of hassle is definitely worth it.

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Just to give you an idea of a what a seventeen day lease might cost – if you were to lease a Peugeot 307 (a mid-size) car (automatic) with air conditioning, the cost would be app. $1287 with unlimited mileage. You can drive from one end of Europe to another (there may be some limited insurance in certain countries). If you stay in France for three months, or if you exceed a certain amount of mileage you’ll be asked to take the car in for its first 5000 km ‘check up’ this also is easy to do and there’s no charge.

To date, we’ve never had any problems – and when we did have one fender bender,(rear-ended by an inexperienced driver on the Paris periph), there was no problem when we turned in the car (having called in the report and then filling out the forms).

You can pick up your car at the Charles De Gaulle airport, or if you won’t be using a car immediately (you don’t really need a car in Paris) you can also pick up your car at La Defense when you’re ready to leave the Paris area for other parts of France.

The best way to get to Peugeot Sodexa’s La Defense offices is to take a cab (if you take the public transport, you may never find it!). There’s tons of construction going on in La Defense area and the offices are not on a major thoroughfare. Most people pick up their cars the airport. (The Peugeot Sodexa parking lot is reached by shuttle).