A Travellerspoint blog

Renting a car in France

In a city, a car is a nuisance. In the countryside, it is a joy. If you have a week or two to explore, consider renting a car for at least part of your trip.


View Provence 2014 & Around France with Jean 2000 & Around France and through Switzerland 1998 & Pays de la Loire on Beausoleil's travel map.

Side street in Amboise, France

Side street in Amboise, France

We usually lease a car and if you are going for 21 days or longer, consider leasing. For shorter periods, you'll need to rent so here is some rental information.

Stop Sign in English and windmill near Bléré, France

Stop Sign in English and windmill near Bléré, France

Some rental companies won't allow drivers over age 70 or 72. Check age requirements before you rent. There are more and more agencies that rent to over-70s now that the tourist population is aging so check several rental agencies before you give up. Check below for one company that definitely does rent to over-70 folks. Lease agreements do not have an upper age limit.

There are some minimum age requirements too. It is always good to ask . . . or read the fine print. Most rental agencies have a lower age limit of 21 and some of 25 or 26. This can be difficult for young professionals but if you check several agencies, you may find one that will allow younger renters although it may be at a cost. Sometimes you can make up the price difference by renting a smaller car. You may lease at age 18 if you qualify otherwise.

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Crossing the Loire River near Château Montsoreau

Crossing the Loire River near Château Montsoreau

People are often told they can’t rent an automatic in Europe. Not true. You will pay more for an automatic but if you order ahead of time, you will have no trouble getting it. We always use an automatic. Any rental is cheaper if you order ahead. The reason you need to order ahead is that automatic transmission is not the norm in Europe so there may not be one on the lot when you check in. If you order ahead, they are prepared and will have one ready for you.

You will also want to make sure you can take the car into all the countries you plan to visit. Some countries have higher accident rates and some rental companies won't allow their cars into those countries. I suppose there are licensing and insurance problems too. Whatever the cause, you can't take some cars into some countries, so check that you can take your car into every country you plan to visit and be sure you are insured for all those countries.

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We've used the following companies for our leases and they also rent so it's a good place to start your search. Check any major companies you normally use and take the best deal you can get. Prices vary wildly so check as many as you can. Here's my list. Just click on the links.
Auto Europe web site
Kemwel web site
AutoFrance web site (generally leases)
Sixt Rental web site
Then check the usual Enterprise, Budget, National, Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo and see what they offer.

The following has been recommended by a friend and they do rent to over age 70s. Nova Car web site

In the UK we have used 1Car1 web site and Hertz web site

Get the smallest car you can cram yourselves into because fuel is expensive, streets are narrow and parking places minuscule. On the bright side, driving gives you great freedom to get out and explore.

For information about leasing a car, click here: Leasing a Car in France

Posted by Beausoleil 13:24 Archived in France Tagged transportation rental_car renting_cars Comments (1)

Leasing a car in France

Peugeot, Renault and Citroen all have leasing programs


View Provence 2014 & Around France with Jean 2000 & Around France and through Switzerland 1998 & Pays de la Loire on Beausoleil's travel map.

Leased Peugeot driving from Damvillers in France to Esthal in Germany

Leased Peugeot driving from Damvillers in France to Esthal in Germany


If you are using a car for 21 or more days (17 or more with Citroen), you should consider the buy-back (lease) program. We always do this and it is wonderful. You get the brand new car of your choice, fully insured with 24-hour roadside assistance in France. Everything is paid before you leave so there are no unpleasant surprises when you return your car as can happen with rentals. You do not pay extra for any family member to drive the car. Rentals charge for each extra driver; leases do not charge extra. It is literally your car until you return it. Some rentals also have upper and lower age limits that are quite limited, as much as a minimum age of 25 or 26 and upper age of 70. Leases do not. The minimum age is 18 with no upper limit so if you are a younger or older driver, this can been a big help. You may lease for 175 days over a period of 12 consecutive months and you may not work for pay while leasing. In other words, this is a program for tourists. There are some exceptions to the time limit so check the web sites below.

Leased Peugeot parked in Domme

Leased Peugeot parked in Domme

We use the Peugeot 208 automatic for ourselves and also when we have one of our daughters with us. When we have both daughters, we usually get a Peugeot 308 although in 2016 we used the 208 with both daughters and the four of us managed quite nicely. Generally, four people would need the 308 or 508 depending on how much luggage you have.

We've also had the Peugeot 308 diesel and it worked well and got great gas mileage. We've used the Renault once and friends have used it for years. It works well and they have since used Peugeot and liked it. At this point, we both shop for price and are happy with either Peugeot or Renault. The only negative I've heard is when we were returning our Peugeot one year, there was a couple who were returning a Citroen and they said they would not use Citroen again. We've never used Citroen so I can't comment on it. They may have just had a bad experience. We've been happy with Peugeot so will continue to use them unless the Renault is appreciably cheaper.

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Another leased Peugeot parked in Domme

Another leased Peugeot parked in Domme


We always pick up and drop off in France so we don't have to pay extra charges but you can get the car nearly anyplace in Europe if you are willing to pay the pick up and drop off charges and in some cases forego the 24-hour roadside assistance.

On one trip someone managed to back into our parked car and put a huge dent in one side. Another time on the very last day driving to the airport a truck ahead of us snapped a stone into our windshield and cracked it. Both times we told the Peugeot folks when we returned the car and they said not to worry about it. We were impressed.

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We have used Auto France the last few times but AutoEurope.com and Kemwel.com also have the Open Europe Lease Program with Peugeot. Here are web sites we have used with the exception of the last one, Citroen, which we have not used. Just click on the links for more information.
Auto France web site
Auto Europe web site
Kemwel web site
Renault Eurodrive web site
Citroen Euro Pass web site

I can highly recommend the Peugeot program because we've used it so many times and love it. If you live in the US, you can call AutoFrance at 1 (800) 572-9655 toll free for an estimate. If you live elsewhere, you can visit the autofrance web site I gave above and get a phone number or e-mail them.

You may not be an EU citizen to use this program unless you are living abroad and can prove it. This is strictly for foreign visitors to Europe. There are some time limit exceptions for students and missionaries. These are listed on the respective web sites.

For information about renting a car in France, click here: Renting a Car in France

Posted by Beausoleil 13:29 Archived in France Tagged lease peugeot renault lease_cars Comments (0)

Names of Fish in French - not always found in dictionaries

Most food names, including fish, are not included in dictionaries. Here are some we have collected over the years. Feel free to copy, paste, print and take to France with you.

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Names of Fish in French (difficult to find in dictionaries)
Please feel free to copy, paste and print these to take with you to France. Even English speakers in France don't always know the translations of the various fish so you can't rely on the waiter to help you all the time. We have a couple fish we don't care for and were careful to learn their names. You may want to do that too.

aiglefin, aigrefin, eglefin are haddock
aiguille is needlefish, garfish
allache is large sardine
ange de mer, angelot are angelfish (like skate, a very stringy fish and not a favorite of ours)
anguille is freshwater eel
araignée de mer is spider crab
à l’Arlésienne is with tomatoes, onions and olives
à l’Armoricaine is with brandy, white wine, herbs, tomatoes and onions
badèche is sea bass
bar, badèche, cernier, bézuque, loup de mer are sea bass
barbue is brill (turbot, a flatfish like flounder)
barbue de rivière is catfish
baudroie or lotte de mer is monkfish (texture & taste like lobster)
belon is breton oyster
bézuque is sea bass
blanchaille is whitebait
bonite is bonito (like tuna)
bouillabaisse is a fish stew
bourride is a white fish stew
brandade de morue is salt cod mousse
Bretonneau is turbot
brochet is pike
brochet de mer is barracuda
cabillaud is cod
canneberge is sardine (and are usually fresh, not canned or dried)
cardeau, celan is plaice (flounder)
cernier is sea bass
colimaçon is snail (escargot is also snail)
colin is hake (a firm, tasty white fish) Delicious . . .
coquillages is shellfish
Coquille St.-Jacques are scallops
cotriade is a fish stew w/ onions, potatoes and cream
crevette is shrimp, prawns
cuisses de grenouille are frog legs
darne is a thick fish steak
daurade, dorade are sea bream (another firm, tasty white fish)
à la Dieppoise is fish, often sole, in white wine sauce
eglefin is haddock
ecrevisse is crayfish, crawdads
encornet is squid
escargot is snail
espadon is swordfish
esprot is sprat (a species of herring / small oily fish)
esquinade is spider crab
exocet (poisson volant) is flying fish
flétan is halibut
grenouille are frog legs
hareng is herring
homard is lobster
hûitre is oyster
lotte de mer, baudroie are monkfish
loup de mer is sea bass
maquereau is mackerel
merlan is whiting
merlu is hake or whiting
merluche is hake
mouclade is mussel stew
moules are mussels
palourde is clam or cockles
plaice is flounder
plie is plaice (flounder)
pochade is a freshwater fish stew with carrots and raisins
pouple is octopus
praire is clam
quenelle is a poached, chopped fish or white meat fixed like dumplings
raie or ray is skate, a very stringy fish; you like it or you don't (we don't)
rouget is red mullet
silure is catfish (also barbue de rivière)
sprat is a species of herring (small, oily fish)
thon is tuna
truite is trout

Posted by Beausoleil 20:46 Archived in France Comments (3)

French Names for Foods - restaurant help

Most French dictionaries do not have translations of foods you see on your menu. Here are some we have collected over the years. Copy, paste and print to tuck in your purse or pocket.

Café de France in Lacoste with Bonnieux in the distance

Café de France in Lacoste with Bonnieux in the distance


Foods in French (not always in dictionaries)
Please feel free to copy, paste and print this to take with you to France. Also feel free to make additions in the Comments section.
Keep in mind that you will not get your bill until you ask your waiter for "l'addition" because they have been trained not to disturb you. The table is yours until you are ready to leave. You can also catch his eye and mime writing on your hand to indicate you need the bill but, "L'addition, s'il vous plaît" is easy enough to say and very polite. If you are in a hurry to catch a tour, movie, etc., let your waiter know at the beginning of the meal.

General terms in restaurants
l'addition = bill
assiette = plate
bio/bilologique = organically grown
chaud = hot
compris = included (as in service compris or tip included)
comptoir/zinc = counter/bar
couteau = knife
cuillère = spoon
dégustation = tasting or sampling
entrée = starter/appetizer
formule = set-price 2-course meal (also called a Menu or Special du Jour)
fourchette = fork
froid = cold
gratuit = free
menu = set-price 2 or 3-course meal
service compris = tip included (you may just see SC on your bill)
plat (du jour) = main dish (of the day)
prix-fixe = fixed-price
Salé/sucré = savory/sweet
madame / monsieur = server (not garçon)
serveur/serveuse = server (not garçon)
serviette = napkin
tiède = warm
verre = glass

La Ferme Restaurant in Angers

La Ferme Restaurant in Angers


Drinks = boissons
acidulés = acidic/sour
apéritifs = pre-meal drinks
alcool/ non-alcoolisé = alcohol/non-alcoholic
bière = beer
blonde/brune = lager beer/dark beer
boire/boissons = to drink/drinks
café = coffee
un café (espresso) = small black coffee
café crème = large coffee with frothy milk
café au lait = coffee with hot milk on the side
noisette = small coffee with dot of milk froth
chocolat chaud = hot chocolate
digestifs = after-dinner drinks
eau (du robinet) = water (tap water)
une carafe d’eau = carafe of tap water (yes, you can drink the water)
infusion/tisane = herbal tea
lait = milk
limonade = 7-Up or Sprite (pronounced “lee-mon-ade”)
citron pressé = lemonade (do it yourself style)
pression = draught beer
thé (glacé) = tea (iced tea)
tilleuil = linden flower tea
verveine = verbena tea
viennois = with whipped cream
vin = wine

Friendly Family-owned Restaurant In Montmartre

Friendly Family-owned Restaurant In Montmartre


Food à manger = foods to eat
abats = offal (guts)
agneau = lamb
agrumes = citrus fruits
aigre doux /douce = bittersweet / sweet
ail = garlic
aïoli = garlic mayonnaise
ananas = pineapple
anchois = anchovies
andouille (andouillette) = tripe sausage / chitterlings
aubergine = eggplant
bar = sea bass
bavette = undercut of sirloin
betterave = beetroot
beurre = butter
bifteck haché = hamburger
bifteck = steak
bisque = seafood soup
boeuf (bourguignon) = beef (with red wine)
bouillabaisse = fish and shellfish soup
brochette/kebab = served on a skewer
brouillé = scrambled
brûlé = toasted
caille = quail
campagnarde = country/provincial
canard = duck (see also magret de canard)
carré d’agneau = rack of lamb
cassis = blackcurrant
cassoulet = bean and meat casserole
cerises = cherries
champignons = mushrooms
charcuterie = cold meats / cold cuts
chèvre = goat cheese
choucroute = sauerkraut
choufleur = cauliflower
choux = cabbage
citron = lemon
cochon = pig
compote = stewed fruit
concombre = cucumber
confit de canard = preserved duck (always tender)
confiture = jam
consommé = clear soup
coq / au vin = rooster / cooked in red wine
coquilles St. Jacques = scallops
cornichons = pickles
crêpe = flat pancake
crevette = small shrimp
croque-monsieur = toasted ham and cheese sandwich
croque-madame = toasted ham and cheese sandwich with an egg on top
crudités = fresh, raw vegetables w/ dressing
crustacés = shellfish
cuisse = thigh
cuit = cooked, bien cuit = cooked well (not necessarily well done, just cooked well)

Daube = meat & vegetable stew in wine
daurade = sea bream
dinde = turkey
entrecôte = rib or rib eye steak
épaule = shoulder
epicé = spicy
épinard = spinach
escalope = boneless chop
escargots = snails
farcie = stuffing
faux-filet = Sirloin steak
filet mignon = tenderloin
foie de veau = calf's liver.
foie gras = goose liver
au four = oven baked
fraises = strawberries
framboises = raspberries
frites = fries, i.e. French fries
friture = whitebait
fromages = cheeses
fruits de mer = shellfish/sea food platter
fumé = smoked (as in saumon fumé)

galette = buckwheat crêpe or pancake (not sweet)
gamba = large prawn
gaufres = waffles
gelée = frozen
gésier = gizzard
gigot = leg
gingembre = ginger
glace = ice cream
parfum = flavor of ice cream
boule = scoop of ice cream
gras = fatty
grillades = grilled meat
grillé = grilled
haricots = beans
haricots verts = green beans
homard = lobster
huître = oyster
jambon (cru) = ham (cured)
jus = juice
langouste = crawfish/rock lobster
langue = tongue
lapin = rabbit
lardons = bacon bits
légumes = vegetables

magret de canard = duck breast
confit de canard = double cooked preserved duck leg and thigh
cuisse de canard = duck leg and thigh
mesclun = mixed salad leaves
miel = honey
mille feulles = layers of puff pastry
morceaux = pieces
moules marinières = mussels in white wine
oeuf = egg
oie = goose
os (de moelle) = bone (marrow)
pain au chocolat = chocolate croissant
pain au Levain/ l’Ancienne = sourdough bread
pain aux noix = walnut bread
pain campagne = country-style bread
pain de mie = sliced bread
panier = basket
parfum = flavour
persil = parsley
piment = pepper or chili
pintade = guinea hen
pistou = pesto
poisson = fish
poitrine = brisket (of beef)
pomme = apple
pomme de terre = potato
pot-au-feu = beef and vegetable stew
potiron = pumpkin
poule au pot = chicken & vegetable stew
poulet rôti = roasted chicken
poulpe = octopus.
Provençal = with garlic, olives, tomatoes, onions (and sometimes anchovies)

ris d'agneau (de veau) = sweetbreads of lamb (or veal)
rognons = kidneys
rôti = roasted/rotisserie
rumsteck = rump steak
sanglier = wild boar
saumon = salmon
soja = soy
soupe de poissons = fish soup
Suprême de volaille = chicken breast in white sauce
tapenade = black olive and caper paste
tartare = minced raw steak, salmon, or tuna (not cooked)
tartine = buttered baguette or open sandwich
terroir = regional specialties
tête de veau = veal’s head
thon = tuna
tripes = tripe
truffle / truffles = gourmet black mushrooms
truite = trout
vapeur = steamed
veau = veal
velouté de tomates = cream of tomato soup
velouté de volaille = cream of chicken soup
viande = meat

Please see separate page for fish in French

Posted by Beausoleil 20:44 Archived in France Tagged food drinks menu Comments (4)

Restaurants are different in France - Good, but different

Don't leave home expecting things to be the same everyplace else.

An Island in the Seine

An Island in the Seine

Restaurants in France are required to post their menus outside. The French cruise the menus. You can do that too. Walk up and down the streets and check menus until you find what you want at a price you like. If you can't read the French and there is no English outside, step into the restaurant and ask to see the English menu. They nearly all have at least one English menu and will be happy to show it to you. If you don't see something you like, simply say thank you (merci) and leave. It's okay.

Reflections - Paris

Reflections - Paris

Most waiters in France are very professional and very proud of doing an excellent job no matter what the prices in the restaurant. On the other hand, don't expect French waiters to introduce themselves to you when they arrive at your table. "Hi, I'm Jacques. I'll be your server today." It just won't happen. They will take your order. You will receive your order. No one will come back (when your mouth is full) and ask if everything is okay. They expect you to have enough sense to tell them if something is wrong. If there is a problem, tell them and they will fix it. You will not see them again unless you call them. They think it is impolite to interrupt your meal so they leave you alone to enjoy it . . . nearly forever unless you realize you won't get the bill until you ask for it. What many people regard as poor service is just a cultural difference. They will not try to hurry you. The table is yours until you ask for the check. If you don't ask for the check, you can sit there all night. Funny! Conversely, if you have a reservation for a concert, tour or activity, tell the waiter and he will make sure you get to your destination in time.

Restaurant La Treille in Roussillon

Restaurant La Treille in Roussillon

A menu in France is called a carte. The word Menu refers to a selection of courses at a fixed price that are listed on the carte. (This can also be called a Formula or Special du Jour.) There are usually two or three choices at different prices. When you order, you simply ask for the 15 Euro Menu (or Formula or Special). If there is a choice of appetizers or any other courses, the waiter will ask your preferences, but the cheaper the Menu, the fewer your choices will be. If you like the fixed choices, it's a great bargain and one we often use. If you are in a really inexpensive restaurant, the Special du Jour will probably be the best thing on the menu. It is what the local customers will get and the owner can't afford to serve them poor meals. We've had bad meals in France but we have never had a bad Special du Jour.

Restaurant Le Medieval in Tourrettes-sur-Loup

Restaurant Le Medieval in Tourrettes-sur-Loup

If you don't order a Menu, you order a la Carte (or off the menu card) and it can be more expensive depending on how many courses you choose and their price. It can also be cheaper if you only want a salad for lunch.

St. Paul de Vence laverie, fountain and Restaurant La Fontaine

St. Paul de Vence laverie, fountain and Restaurant La Fontaine

Once in Brittany we walked into a little country restaurant and without thinking asked for the menu. After a decent interval, the waitress brought out a starter. We were quite surprised as we expected a printed menu to make our choice, i.e. the carte. This was followed in due time by a wonderful roasted chicken dish and a lovely tart. We noticed most of the people in the little restaurant were eating the same thing and that they all knew each other. Our waitress didn't speak English; she wasn't used to dealing with tourists as all the patrons were local and to her, the menu that we asked for was the "Special Menu" of the day. They didn't have a choice of menus at different prices. Each day there was a special and that was your choice unless you ordered a la carte. Fortunately, we loved the meal . . . and quickly realized we were back in France!

Posted by Beausoleil 16:02 Archived in France Comments (1)

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