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Costs of a One Week Driving Tour in France

the-open-road

So what does it really cost to rent a car in Western Europe for 8 days? I’m here to share all the costs. When my mom came to join us in France we decided to rent a car for 8 days and do a whirlwind tour of France, essentially doing a huge loop around the country. We never considered using trains instead (for the convenience factor) but I was always curious which method would actually be cheaper. What’s your guess?

Below are the train costs for each leg of our route (skipping Roussillon though which does not have a train station).

train-style-travel

Train Costs (tickets for 3 people, 2 12-25 tickets and one 26+ ticket):

Day 1: Paris – Saumur 119.70 euros

Saumur – La Rochelle – 84.30 euros

Day 2: La Rochelle – Bordeaux 49.50 euros

Day 3: Bordeaux – Carcassone 84 euros

Carcassone – Marseille 111 euros

Day 6: Marseille – Nice 79.50 euros

Nice – Cannes 19.80 euros

Cannes – Marseille 72 euros

Day 7: Marseille –  Lyon 102  euros (no trains to Roussillon so that beautiful town would have to be skipped on a train route)

Day 8: Lyon – Paris 90 euros

Total: 811 (works out to 33.8 euros a day each) 

With the cheapest train tickets bought one month in advance the cost to replicate the route via train would be 811 euros. Realistically this amount would probably be higher as train tickets vary at different times of day and it is unlikely the cheapest tickets would be the most convenient. Since several of the places we went were side trips for the afternoon if we took trains we would have to pay to store our bags in lockers everywhere and pay more for public transportation to get to the sights/accommodation from the train station.

renting-a-car-in-france

Car Costs:

Car Rental: 213 euros (for an automatic car)

Extra Insurance: 80 euros

Tolls: 172.40 euros

Gas: 224.60 euros

Parking: 35 euros

Total: 725 (works out to 30.2 euros a day each) 

 

The verdict:

It was cheaper for us to rent a car than take trains during our 8 day trip

To my own surprise it was actually cheaper to rent a car than travel by train for 3 people around France. For us the costs for the car rental were especially high since we had to rent an automatic car which is significantly more expensive than a manual and since we were short on time we took a lot of highways (instead of side roads) and so had to pay for some outrageous tolls.

If you’re covering less ground and can drive a manual the rental car works out to be even cheaper. And that’s not even mentioning the freedom that comes with having your own car instead of rushing to catch a train multiple times a day. No need to drag your bags everywhere or pay for lockers at the train station. Load your bags into the trunk and you’re free for the day.

You also don’t need to take public transport as much when you have a car and don’t need to drag your bags from the metro to your accommodation every day. Yes parking can be a nightmare sometimes and in Marseille with the narrow streets and steep hills it was downright frightening but with a little bit of patience we were always able to find a spot, and usually a free one.

In France it was simply amazing just to drive through the countryside and be able to stop in the little towns or even slow down for a picturesque landscape shot (or to spot a full rainbow).

rainbows-on-the-road

When you have a limited amount of time, want to see a lot of places and make several mini afternoon stops having a car really seems to be the best option.

And then when you top that off with the car rental being cheaper than taking the train it’s a win win for everyone.

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11 Responses to Costs of a One Week Driving Tour in France

  1. Great cost comparison! We did the same with a week for three in Italy. I had looked into train schedules and costs and it got to be a logistical nightmare. I imagined the pain of lugging luggage through cities and on public transport to get to the train stations – or the cost of taxis – and the solution seemed clear. Rented a car and never looked back. It was one of our best holidays yet. 🙂

    Stacy August 15, 2013 at 4:18 AM Reply
    • As you said planning train routes and connections over a short action packed trip really can be a logistical nightmare and renting the car really eliminated the lugging around of the luggage all over the city. Absolutely love renting cars!

      Vicky August 16, 2013 at 9:57 AM Reply
  2. Thanks for this, and I’m really surprised. While I admit I’ve never been to Europe, the trains are so well spoken of, I had the opinion they were also dirt cheap. Good info to know here!
    Oh, and might I ask what the car was? The interior looks familiar, but I can’t quite place it. As a car-lover, I find many European (not in the US) cars just fascinating!

    Jon Patrick August 15, 2013 at 10:28 AM Reply
    • The trains systems are well developed here but they are still pretty expensive! I think the car was one of the newer Volkswagon sedans (can’t remember exactly what it was though : / I have noticed many models that are not available in the US though!

      Vicky August 16, 2013 at 9:59 AM Reply
  3. I’d personally rather go on a train than to drive by myself cause it saves both time and energy. Apparently I’m not the kind of person who sacrifices comfort lol. What a great post you wrote thou.

    Nico August 15, 2013 at 10:36 AM Reply
    • Thanks! With the three of us and the route we wanted to take it was definitely easier to take the car – no need to look up train schedules and time connections and allowed us the freedom to spend as little or as long as we wanted in each place. Definitely depends on the type of traveler you are though. Some times trains really are perfect!

      Vicky August 16, 2013 at 10:00 AM Reply
  4. Thanks for this. Will be heading back to France next year for the Le Mans 24 Hour race and have been looking forward to your budget info. We will definitely look into renting a car for part of the trip.

    Mark C August 15, 2013 at 11:10 AM Reply
    • Enjoy your trip – we absolutely love love loved France and a driving tour around a region seems to be a great way to explore the lesser known places. Our France wrap up post will be up within the next week so stay tuned! Let me know if you have any more specific questions about the places we went in France.

      Vicky August 16, 2013 at 10:03 AM Reply
  5. Not too bad of a difference but I could easily pick up a manual. To only bad put is that I usually get stuck driving and would miss out on the scenery. With a car though you can stop wherever and whenever you want which is worth the added expense if the car would have been more expensive. France is surely on the hit list of places to visit on the family travels.

    Thomas | Jus Getaway August 15, 2013 at 3:29 PM Reply
    • Being able to just stop if an area or villages looked picturesque really was a huge plus (can’t do that on the trains)! Neither my mom nor Dave wanted to deal with learning how to drive an manual on the spot so we went with the automatic – but it’s about time we learn how to drive a manual!

      Vicky August 16, 2013 at 10:04 AM Reply
  6. Wow! such a useful information I’m always wanted to now!
    but let me ask a question, what about caravans!? living a whole week or two in caravan doesn’t seems easy, but looks pretty romantic! :)))

    Hamidreza August 2, 2015 at 6:07 AM Reply

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