Benefits Of Leasing A Car In France

If I could lease a car every time I travel in France, I would. Unfortunately, this option is only available when you need a car for 3 weeks or more. For my last trip, I needed a car for just over 6 weeks so leasing one was the best way to go. But it wasn’t just the price that made it so great.  Here are the benefits of leasing a car in France and what my experience was like.

**Contains an affiliate link to Auto Europe**

Benefits Of Leasing A Car In France vs. Renting

I decided to go with Renault based on the great reviews I had read. I did not want to go through the same problems I had encountered the year previously with a surprise hit for roadside assistance and an inferior car but more importantly, leasing was cheaper and easier.

Leasing a car appealed to me because of all the inclusions. A buy-back program simply means that in theory, you are buying a car for a set period of time, It’s your car and you’re the registered owner. However, at the end of the “lease”, Renault will take back the car. Your cost is the amount that they have determined will be for the period of time you want it and this cost ends up being cheaper because you didn’t have to pay the VAT.

This program is designed for tourists whose residence is outside the European Union. So it’s especially advantageous for Americans and Canadians, like me, spending time in France for an extended period of time! There is a maximum period of 185 consecutive European travel days and the driver must be over 18.

Leasing A Car In France: What Is Included

Dacia Sandero Stepway (J. Chung)
Dacia Sandero Stepway (J. Chung)

There were so many bonuses to leasing. Here’s what was included:

  • Brand new, air-conditioned car
  • Unlimited mileage
  • Included GPS. This GPS had “live” traffic, which my car at home doesn’t even have, so I was informed when accidents were ahead.
  • You can return the car empty (with rentals, you should return it full of gas, otherwise, the cost will be high)
  • I chose manual transmission because that’s what I drive at home
  • Fully comprehensive insurance
  • Coverage for collision and damage with zero deductible
  • Coverage for personal injuries to the driver or passengers
  • No oil change/maintenance needed and even if a warning light comes on I would have to call Renault Service and they would take care of everything, including any payments. (I was concerned about using a reputable garage.)
  • 24/7 Roadside Assistance included
  • Road tax included
  • No extra cost to drop off the at an airport or rail station (rentals have a surcharge)
  • No one-way rental surcharge
  • Windshield, lights and tire coverage
  • Theft protection:  coverage in the event of theft, attempted theft, collision or damage to the vehicle
  • No extra charge for additional drivers
  • No drop off charges
  • Don’t have to return the car with a full tank of gas
  • You can return the car with scratches and dents and you will not be charged because your insurance (ie collision) covers this (from what I understand; however, I was not prepared to try this out.)

These are two things that are not included:

  • My pickup was at the airport and I had to get there by myself after arriving by train
  • There is sometimes a charge to drop off the car in another country, but not if within France

Renting A Car In France: “Add-ons”

  • collision coverage
  • roadside assistance: 5 € a day
  • road tax (3-4 € a day)
  • the additional cost to pick up or drop off at an airport or rail station (43 €)
  • coverage for windscreen, mirrors, lamps & cutting of tires resulting from normal use of the vehicle. The approx. cost is 6.50 EUR – 18.53 EUR per day depending on the car group.
  • I’d have to bring along my own GPS (I have a Garmin) as renting one costs about 13 € a day

Cost to rent: roughly $2100 —this was more expensive and complicated due to the add-ons and extra costs (ie. road taxes, drop off charges, roadside assistance, etc).

Total Car Expenses For 6 Weeks

Enroute from Prades to Tarascon-sur-Ariege (J. Chung)
Enroute from Prades to Tarascon-sur-Ariege

The total car expenses for my 6 weeks in France surprised me. They were MUCH less than I had budgeted. I covered 3100 kilometres and saw some beautiful scenery, like the mountains and valleys in the Ariège Department (photo above).

Renault Eurodrive Buy Back Lease: $1797 (Cdn)

Gas and tolls : $730 Cdn (Budget: $1500)

  • Gas was expensive; about 1.60 € ($2.50 Cdn) per litre
  • Part of the reason the gas/tolls were less than budgeted is likely because the areas I was travelling in did not have a lot of autoroutes requiring tolls. This is something to keep in mind because the cost of tolls can really add up.

So now you know why I like leasing. $1787  to lease vs. $2100 to rent. As long as you are getting a car for a minimum of 21 days, it’s worth it. But keep in mind that the refund and cancellation periods are much more strict than when you book a rental car. (ie. 24 days or less: fee of $1400). Here’s how the leasing program works:

My Lease With Renault Eurodrive Buy-Back

Marseille Airport (j. Chung)
Marseille Airport (j. Chung)

Location Of Leasing Offices

Let me first say that Renault isn’t the only company that offers a buy-back program in France. There is Peugeot and Citroen; however, Renault had the most convenient pick-up and drop-off locations for me. You might find the other companies work out better for you based on your itinerary. [Check out Auto Europe as they offer short term leasing with different companies.] I picked mine up in Marseille and dropped it off in Bordeaux. Usually, the number of locations is not extensive. It’s primarily major cities where you’ll be able to do your pick-up/drop off.

Picking Up And Dropping Off The Leased Car

Renault Phone at Marseille Airport (j. Chung)
Renault Phone at Marseille Airport (j. Chung)
  1. You must call at least 3 days before to arrange to pick up or drop off the car
  2. I was picked up at the Marseille airport. The instructions are very clear about where to find the phone to call for a pick-up. The Renault rep drives you to the depot, has you sign some papers (you are told in advance all the things you need) and sets you up with your car. The GPS had already been programmed with the drop off location in Bordeaux and the gentleman put the audio settings to English. It was a very fast process and I was done in about 20 minutes.
  3. Dropping the car off in Bordeaux was seamless. I found the location easily, parked my car in front and waited for the representative to look at my car and record the mileage. No comments about how dirty it was or that it only had a little gas left. After signing a paper to “hand over the car”, I just waited a few minutes for a free shuttle to take me to the airport. Once there, I caught the bus into town.

Advice When Leasing A Car

  • You should receive a “Bon Voyage” email which covers the pickup and drop off of the car, 10 days before picking up the car. I got this information the same day I booked the car in March which put me at ease in terms of organizing my long trip.
  • As I was notified what car I would be getting (Dacia Sandero Stepway), I downloaded the car’s manual (in English) in advance…just in case, I’d need it. I didn’t. The car had no problems at all and ran well. I was very happy with it.
  • I added the Renault emergency numbers into my smartphone in advance.
  • Your leased car may have a red license. If so, you are pegged as a tourist and might be more prone to break-ins. So, keep a french language newspaper in the car and have NOTHING visible inside OR remove cover apron from the trunk so a passerby can see nothing is in the car.
  • Consider booking earlier than later as there could be discounts (ie before Dec 31 for next year’s bookings; I did get a discount as I booked before April 1)
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Final Thoughts On Leasing A Car Through Renault

  • The entire process to book, pick up, drive and drop off the car was easy and seamless
  • The Renault Eurodrive website is VERY thorough. I found all my answers and the information that was given was clear.
  • A smartphone holder and a portable luggage scale were left in the car for me. They were enclosed in a little pouch. It was a nice gift from Renault to begin my journey!

As I said at the beginning, if I could lease a car every time I travel in France, I would. The benefits of leasing a car in France were so much greater than renting one. The Renault Eurodrive Buy-Back Lease was one of the best things about my 2 month trip in France. No worries. Just fun driving around my favourite country.

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Benefits of leasing a car in France

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