Rent a Car France
France car hireOur France car hire services can be found across the country to facilitate a fast and efficient check-in and drop off wherever and whenever you decide to visit. We have services in all the major airports, as well as offices conveniently located at each of the Eurostar destinations and at the Port of Calais. Whether arriving by air, sea or land, rest assured there will be one of our France hire car services nearby to assist you.
Whether calling on its many historic cities, enjoying a sojourn in the romantic French capital or breezing around the balmy Côte d’Azur, a hire car in France grants guaranteed access to the country’s varied landscapes, rich culture and spectacular sights. With more than 86 million visitors a year, it’s ranked as the world’s most popular destination, and our efficient teams will ensure you join its winding roads and open highways tout suite so you can get on and enjoy it.
Embarking on a one-way journey across France in your hire car? Please let us know your desired destination in advance. Our efficient teams will ensure your rental vehicle drop-off is seamless, wherever you decide to meet us.
Popular airport locations in France
- Ajaccio Airport
- Bastia Airport
- Bordeaux Airport
- Lyon Airport
- Marseille Airport
- Nice Airport
- Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
- Paris Orly Airport
- Toulouse Airport
- Montpellier Airport
- Strasbourg Airport
- Figari Airport
- Biarritz Airport
- Calvi Airport
- Beziers Airport
- Rennes Airport
- Toulon Airport
- Carcassonne Airport
- Bergerac Airport
- Nimes Airport
- Dinard Airport
- Grenoble Airport
- Perpignan Airport
- Nantes Airport
Plan your trip in FranceWith an extensive history that dates back to the Celts and Gauls in the 5th century BC, and spans the Iron Age, Middle Ages and the Renaissance, France houses a multitude of age-old ruins, world-famous museums, priceless artwork and stately chateaux, as well as fields of poppies to commemorate its battles in the First World War.
France’s north tends towards a cooler climate with four clearly defined seasons. The south enjoys balmy Mediterranean temperatures for most of the year, with summer being the most popular time to visit. August in the French Riviera sees temperatures settling at a beach-friendly 30°C.
Every corner of the country has a unique appeal. St Tropez, Monaco and Cannes glitter with high-end boutiques, chic bars and buzzing clubs – not to mention the beaches, while Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament, is defined by its imposing Gothic and German architecture.
Avid skiers and fans of the great outdoors will enjoy the scenic roads out to the Pyrenees, Mont Blanc and the Alps and the spectacular Jura Mountains. If food is more your thing, you’ll relish France’s cosmopolitan capital Paris, home to 70 Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as the multitudes of independent bistros, restaurants and cafés across the country.
There are vineyards a-plenty for oenophiles seeking out France’s finest vintages, farmers’ markets for those with a penchant for fromage, and a rich peppering of sleepy rural villages offering a sample of true laid-back vie en rose.
Bordered by Belgium in the north, Germany and Switzerland in the east and Italy, Monaco and Spain further south, the country is also a gateway to several other desirable destinations.
Many of the country’s charming towns, historic chateaux and rolling vineyards are accessible only when you have your own vehicle. Hire a car with Avis to experience the very best of France.
Road trips in FranceMontpellier to St Tropez
Our recommended route takes you through Provence and showcases the beauty of the southern coast of France.
Start in Montpellier and head north east to Nîmes, an important outpost of the Roman Empire and full of well-preserved monuments such as the Arena, an incredible Roman amphitheatre built around 70AD, that is still used for concerts and bullfights today.
From Nîmes, head east toward Aix-en-Provence, birthplace of the painter Paul Cézanne. This route takes you past the amazing views of the Provence countryside. Jump onto the A51, and head towards the south coast of France and past the breath taking Massif des Maures. Stop off for a coffee or a meal in any one of the friendly cafes in the bustling seaside town of Toulon, before continuing your coastal journey to the beautiful port town of St Tropez.
Gateway to the French Riviera, St. Tropez was an artists' colony for many years ,before becoming known in the 1960s as a playground for the rich and famous, due to its amazing beaches and nightlife.
Bordeaux to Biarritz
This fantastic road trip runs alongside the incredible Bay of Biscay and takes you right to the Spanish border.
Starting your journey from Bordeaux, we recommend taking the route through the Parc Naturel Régional des Landes de Gascogne, a national park famed for its scenery and abundant birdlife.
You have two options when you leave the park, you can either head west towards the ocean and drive along the coast to the town of Biarritz, or you can head straight there, both have their merits. The coast road is a beautiful drive and the beaches are incredibly popular with surfers from all over the world. Why not take the opportunity to stop off and enjoy a picnic? The drive straight is also scenic but not nearly as beautiful as the coastal route. But you will arrive in Biarritz about 40 minutes earlier, giving you more time to enjoy this elegant resort and all its attractions.
France’s Secret Swimming Spots
Cool off away from the crowds in these hidden coves and swimming holesA sunny day, a stretch of sand, and no one in sight. For many, finding a serene and uncrowded swimming spot is the ultimate holiday goal and, when you’re driving around the French coastline in peak season, one that often feels frustratingly just out of reach. Perhaps, just around the corner, behind that rocky outcrop ...
Head a little off the worn path, though, and you might find what you’re looking for. From sand or pebble beaches tucked below limestone cliffs to secluded lagoons and thermal springs, these are the idyllic swimming spots that dreams are made of.
We can’t promise there will be no one else there, but you definitely stand a better chance of blissful solitude – or at least a far more interesting dip – than driving straight to the sandy sprawls of the Côte d’Azur.
Pont du Gard’s riverYou can swim or kayak in Gardon River, which flows underneath Roman aqueduct the Pont du Gard. Pick your way over slippery rocks in the shallows to bathe in the gentle currents and gaze up at the arched, architectural masterpiece, built around 19BC.
The water isn’t warm but, because it’s relatively shallow, it’s comfortable – particularly so during the swelteringly hot summers.
For the best chance of finding a swimming spot to yourself, avoid school holidays and weekends – or kayak a little further downriver where, unseen by crowds flocking to the Pont du Gard, you’ll be able to bathe in peace.
Lac d’Annecy’s thermal springsWhile crowds typically flock to the coast, sometimes there’s simply nothing lovelier than a lake beach, its sand-and-gravel mix the texture of an unbaked crumble topping. There’s no tide to worry about, the water feels fresher and there’s no threat of salt stinging the eyes.
At Lac d’Annecy, with views of the Alps, the waters are warmed by thermal springs so you can bathe comfortably even on chillier days.
Grassy areas and small beaches are tucked around the water’s edges, with Bout du Lac and La Brune among the prettiest. Explore a little, though, and it’s possible to find tiny coves and corners you can swim from.
Les Calanques’ hidden baysLong a favourite escape for Marseille locals, this national park is named for the calanques – steep-walled inlets carved into limestone – which form inviting saltwater pools around its coastline.
Some of the coves are easily accessible. To take a dip at Calanque de Morgiou or de Sormiou, just park up and take a short stroll to the water’s edge. To float happily on your back without bumping heads with other pleasure-seekers, though, you might have to put in a little effort and head out to Calanque de Port-Miou. It can only be reached by a challenging half-hour hike or via kayak, but that just means you’ll feel extra-smug when you finally immerse yourself in those teal waters.
Jura’s lakes and waterfallsGlacial Lac d’Ilay is the largest of a chain of small mountain lakes or tarns in the Jura region in eastern France, and it’s pinch-yourself pretty. Shingle and stone beaches lead into limpid waters, edging the deep, inky heart of the water.
Hike through thick alpine forest to reach smaller lakes where, often, there won’t be another soul in sight.
If that wasn’t enough, Cascades du Hérisson – 31 waterfalls within walking distance of each other – are just a short drive away, many of which feed refreshing swimming holes.
Gorges du VerdonWith its creamy turquoise hue, Gorges du Verdon looks a little like a landscape artist’s paintbrush water after painting the sky.
It’s actually part of a river that, over millions of years, managed to force its way through limestone to create what is arguably one of Provence’s most beautiful sites. And, in the land of grapevines, olive groves and lavender fields, it has pretty stiff competition.
The result of all that slow sculpting is a river canyon whose waters are flanked by dramatic, pine-forested cliffs. The corniche road around the gorge’s rim makes for a breathtaking drive, but don’t expect to be content just gazing at this beauty from above. Hike down to take a dip or rent a kayak or canoe to paddle around the quieter spots.
For a more remote, yet just as beautiful, enclave, drive out to the Western Pyrenees and Gorges Kakuetta, with ropes and ladders dangling from the cliffs and into the inviting pools below.
On the Scent Trail in France: Seeking out the finest French Perfumes
Pick up a car and follow your nose to the country’s sweet spotsWith its picturesque towns and villages, hillsides striped with grapevines and famously beautiful people, France is pretty hot stuff in the looks department. So it’s maybe no surprise that it smells great, too, with French perfume being among the best in the world.
The birthplace of Coco Chanel and home to Grasse (pictured right) – where a fragrance museum traces how it became the world’s perfume capital – this is a country with heady scents at every turn. And there’s no need to sniff out the most fragrant spots, because we’ve done the work for you. From lavender gardens to elegant perfumeries, here are the best spots to stop and smell the tuberoses.
Perfumeries in ParisThe chic capital has dozens of posh perfumeries dotted about its broad boulevards and steep cobbled lanes. Find a niche, handcrafted fragrance (likely to be one that none of your friends wear) at French perfumer Nicolaï, whose selection plays on the country’s natural scents with layers of lavender, fig, bergamot and lemon.
Or visit Liquides, a tucked-away perfume bar tended by a sensory expert. Rather than mixing an Old Fashioned cocktail, they use their skills to craft the perfect perfume based on your tastes and personality. Le Studio des Parfums takes the personalisation a step further, helping guests craft a unique fragrance by selecting and blending from hundreds of notes.
The House of Creed, born in London before moving to its Parisian home in the 8th Arrondissement in 1854, blends perfumes beloved by royalty. Creed was the official supplier to Queen Victoria’s household, and crafted a fragrance to mark Prince Rainier of Monaco’s marriage to Grace Kelly.
Make time for a stop at Chanel’s flagship store, opened in 1918 on Rue Cambon. Tour the gleamingly stylish interior, browsing racks of designer gear and, of course, perfumes. If you truly want to follow in the designer’s slingback-heeled steps, head around the corner to the Ritz Paris. Coco lived on the enormous second-floor suite for 34 years.
A 45-minute drive outside of Paris is Versailles’ Osmothèque, a museum dedicated to the memory of scents. See and sniff perfumes of the past, present and future in this incredible archive.
Blooming gorgeousLandscapes don’t come much more evocative than Provence’s lavender fields, which lay out thick-pile purple carpets and scent the air from June to August. The best spots are the Luberon, Mont Ventoux and Sault regions, where you’ll also find shops and farm stalls selling lavender soap, oils and honey.
Nearby Menton – which wonderfully describes itself as the ‘city of lemons’ – has become a hothouse of botanical gardens thanks to its sub-tropical microclimate. Wander among rare plants and poolside blooms at La Serre de la Madone, and admire Monet-esque ponds dotted with giant lily-pads at Val Rahmeh.
On a smaller scale, but still bursting with scents, Fontana Rosa is the garden of famous Spanish writer, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. The eclectic grounds are a charming mélange of bold ceramics, intricate mosaics and memorials to other authors.
To really immerse yourself in perfume, stay at Clos du Peyronnet, a Belle Époque villa built in 1897. The serene gardens, with leafy archways, bright blooms and hidden nooks, are a feast for eyes and noses. Its wrought-iron gates occasionally open to the public, too.
Capital of fragranceTucked in the hills north of Cannes, you can smell this French Riviera town from miles off. In a good way, because Grasse is considered the birthplace of modern fragrance. Some of the most iconic and timeless scents were curated right here by Coco Chanel and François Coty.
Terraces and gardens overspill with blooms around the city. Look out for the entrance pavilion of Hugues-Aîné, a 19th-century French perfume house built into the old town walls.
Many still-operating perfumeries offer free guided tours. A behind-the-scenes lab tour in Galimard, which also has a tiny museum and vintage production equipment, is a lovely place to start. You can also book a perfume-making class and take home a bespoke, signature scent. Or just potter about and follow your nose – there are tiny fragrance shops and labs everywhere.
The town isn’t shy about wafting its evocative scent around. Grasse’s International Perfume Museum traces the history of perfume, reaching back to ancient Egypt with exhibits of bottle designs and how manufacturing has evolved. Its gardens are the true treasure, though, with plants arranged in scent profiles including citrus, floral, wood and musk.
You’ll want the heady mix of jasmine, lavender, tuberose and orange blossom to linger in your nostrils forever. And you’ll never dab your wrists in the same way again.
Driving rules in FranceWhich side of the road?
In France, please drive on the right side of the road.
Country driving laws
- Mobile phones may only be used with a hands-free device. Do not use headphones or earpieces
- In towns and rural areas, on minor roads and where there is no clear indication of right of way, it may be prudent to give way to traffic coming from the right (“priorité a droite”)
- Bus lanes are reserved exclusively for buses, taxis and bicycles
- It is recommended that drivers use dipped headlights at all times
All speed signs will be in km/h.
For a standard Avis rental vehicle with no trailer:
- Urban areas: 50 km/h (31 mph)
- Rural areas: 90 km/h (55 mph)
- 4-lane expressways (rural areas): 110 km/h (68 mph)
- Motorways: 130 km/h (80 mph)
Unless indicated by road signs. Be aware of changes to speed limits displayed on road signs due to adverse weather conditions.
Child safety / Seatbelt laws
- It is compulsory for the driver and all passengers to wear a seatbelt
- Children aged under 10 and weighing less than 36kg must be seated in appropriate child restraint
- Children weighing up to 9 kg must travel in a rear-facing car seat, in the back of the car only
Please note - It is the child’s parent / guardian or vehicle renter’s responsibility to fit the child seat.
This road rules information is for provided for general guidance only. We endeavour to keep the information up to date and accurate, but any reliance you place on this information is at your own risk.