Are Paris Car Rentals Worth the Trouble?

We Weigh the Pros & Cons

Is renting a car in Paris worth the hassle?
••• Is renting a car in Paris worth the hassle?. Ulli Seer/Look Photo/Getty Images

Are you considering renting a car while you're visiting Paris? Before you book, we advise that you first consider whether you'll really need a car during your Paris vacation.

Here's why: Paris is not a particularly car-friendly place, especially for visitors who may be unaccustomed to local customs and road regulations. Traffic is often dense, drivers can be aggressive by many standards, and parking spaces can seem as elusive as Shangri-La, or the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

So unless you have certain special needs and travel plans, you'd probably be better off just using the metro, or other forms of public transportation in the capital. These are, on the whole, extremely reliable and efficient, as well as remarkably safe. 

For all of these reasons, we generally advise against renting a car in Paris, unless you have the following special needs or travel plans:

You want to take several day trips from Paris

You're planning on embarking on several day-long escapades outside of the capital, and cannot or prefer not to rely on the extensive rail system. Do keep in mind, however, that trains can easily take you to popular day trip destinations like Disneyland Paris, the Chateau de Versailles and Fontainebleau.

You or one of your traveling companions has extremely limited mobility

The Paris metro is not particularly kind to users who have trouble walking for long stretches, or climbing numerous stairs.

Some stations are well-equipped for travelers with limited mobility and disabilities, but these are sadly still few and far between. Nevertheless, buses can represent a good alternative for some visitors: either the Paris city bus system or hop-on, hop-off bus tours of Paris can work well for those who find the metro challenging.

 If none of these options meet your needs, then consider renting a car in Paris.

Read related: Is Paris Accessible for Visitors With Limited Mobility?

You're staying in a remote area with poor links to public transport

Even in the outer suburbs, public transport in the Paris region is generally excellent and reliable. However, you may have found lodging in a more remote area where you can't easily commute into the city. In this case, a rental car may be practical-- but I advise parking it at the train station closest to your hotel and using public transport to get to and travel around central Paris. I can't stress enough what a headache it can be to find parking in the city center-- and even those very comfortable with driving abroad may find road conditions stressful.

Still Want to Rent a Car in Paris?

Companies including Hertz and Avis rent cars from several pickup points in and around Paris and the city's main airports, Roissy Charles de Gaulle and Orly.

In addition, since October 2011, a self-service car rental scheme, Autolib', allows you to rent an electric car for short trips around the city. A subscription is required, however, so it's really only a viable option if you're going to be in the city for a longer stretch of time (two weeks at the very minimum).