I won't bore you with all the specifics of our trip but today I will share with you our experience of renting a car in Paris. My daughter had made a reservation for us to pick up a car at the Gare Du Nord in Paris and drive to the Loire Valley in France. I was hesitant about "driving" in Paris after reading about it online. Well, it worked out fine.
Here's what happened: We had a great map of Paris from our hotel in the city. We took a taxi from our hotel to the train station where we found the car rental agency in the basement of the train station. We rented from Enterprise and they were most helpful to us. We also rented a child car seat and GPS system. My daughter bargained on the price of the car and accessories and got a great deal! (We rented a Toyota hybrid which saved us a lot of money on gas!)
The rental cars are in the basement parking garage of the train station. We took an elevator to the car and loaded it with our luggage. We drove out of the parking garage onto the streets of Paris. We had the GPS going at this point and were able to get onto the peripheral road and then onto the highway heading towards Versailles.
We had taken a couple of taxi rides in the city before we rented so we had an idea of how the people drive like jamming the intersections and not staying in their designated lane. We are from Southern California where we have multi lane freeways so we were not so worried about traffic. My daughter was the driver and I was the navigator and we did just fine. We were able to negotiate out of the city and get on the main highway.
|Here's a Photo of our Little Rental Car|
The road system in France is well marked and the roads are well taken care of. It was lovely driving through the countryside and seeing the villages. We ended up at a small "gite" west of the village of Garron. We stayed there three nights and really enjoyed our time.
|Beautiful Village Scenery in France|
We drove back to Paris on a Sunday. We left early in the morning to allow time for traffic and finding our way back to the train station. Again, we had the GPS set to our location and we were doing fine until it told us to exit the highway and we ended up at Victor Hugo Square in Paris headed towards the Arc de Triomphe!
We had visited the Arc de Triomphe earlier in the week and we knew this was a HUGE roundabout with cars going every which way. Again my daughter was driving and I had the Paris map in my lap trying to figure out our location. Luckily, we were able to venture back onto the peripheral road and take the exit Porte de la Chappelle which was a straight shot back to the train station.
Again, the intersections were jammed with cars but my daughter ventured on and was even able to pull into a gas station on Rue de la Chappelle and gas up the car before returning it. Someone had written on a website that the return of the rental car is a different location that the pick up. This is not so if you are renting from Gare du Nord. We returned the car to the same parking garage which is located at 112 Rue de Maubeuge to the Vinci Parking and you continue down to floor 6 of the garage where you park the car in the designated "Enterprise" parking spot and then go upstairs to return the keys, etc.
|Lovely French Flowers|
Again, the people who helped at the car agency were so accommodating to us (and we don't speak French). Overall is was a good experience and we would probably rent again. Maybe it wouldn't be a good idea of you are not used to driving in traffic or can't read maps because the GPS was really useless in the city of Paris itself.
After returning the car we went back up to the main floor of the train station where we checked into the Eurostar to take the train back to London. I absolutely love the Eurostar - it is so easy and convenient compared to flying. It really was a fun expereince. Upon arriving in London, our hotel was just across the street from St. Pancras station where the Eurostar is located so we walked to our hotel in about 5 minutes.
When we were going through passport control in Paris there was a gentleman who was getting his picture taken with the police and guards. My daughter asked who he was and I thought he may have been a famous boxer. Well, I was wrong. There came another guy dressed the same and they again had their picture taken with him. Finally, we asked a girl in line with us and she proceeded to tell us they were the All Blacks rugby team from New Zealand. This girl in fact had come from New Zealand to watch them play. I guess it was quite exciting for them to meet this team in person. As an American, we are not familiar with rugby so the excitement was lost on us.
I hope each of you are doing well. I missed hearing from you and hope to hearing from you when you have the time.
Pat (Lilly's Mom)