Launched in October 2011, the Autolib' car rental scheme represents Paris' latest efforts to become a more environmentally sustainable city, with a stated goals of reducing carbon emissions in the city 20% by 2020. Boasting an enormous fleet of electric-powered "bluecars" and more than 6,000 rental stations around the city and greater Paris region as of April 2018, the rental program is the city's most ambitious program since it launched bike rental scheme Velib'.
It allows users who have subscribed to the scheme to borrow a car for short trips in the city of lights and the greater region: offering flexibility and close to zero carbon-emissions travel.
You can rent a care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and once subscribed, the rental scheme is entirely self-service.
Is it Worth the Expense and Learning Curve?
If you're in Paris for an extended stay (more than two or three weeks) and need to get around the city by car on select occasions, you might consider taking one of the "blue cars" for a spin, and encourage more sustainable travel in the city along the way. If you're only in the city for a short time, subscribing isn't likely worth the time and effort and may even be impossible, since you'll need to wait several days to receive the pass in the mail. We'd suggest using Paris's excellent public transportation-- metro or buses-- instead. In addition, see our page on the pros and cons of renting cars in Paris.
Likewise, if you want to rent a car to take a day trip outside the city or to otherwise have a vehicle at your disposal for a longer period of time, traditional rental car services are likely your best bet. Autolib' is designed primarily for shorter trips of two to three hours maximum-- and prices start getting very high if you take a car out for longer stretches.
See our complete guide to renting a car in Paris to decide whether going with traditional agencies might be a better choice for you.
How it Works: A Step-by-Step Guide
To rent an Autolib' car stress-free, you'll need to carefully follow the following steps:
- You'll first need to subscribe, either by visiting the central office (recommended) at 20 Quai de la Mégisserie (1st arrondissement, Metro/RER Chatelet), or by applying using an electronic verification system at one of the stations listed here. You will need a European or international driver's license, a valid form of personal identification (a passport is recommended), and a credit card (Visa or MasterCard). As of 2018, you'll also need to provide an address where your pass can be sent. However, if you need to use a car right away, you can ask for a provisional badge or use a Navigo transportation pass.
- Receive your pass in the mail, generally 7-8 days later.
- Once you're equipped with your personal membership badge, find a station nearby in Paris, searching by metro or area (see this page for a list ahead of time).
- After finding a station, choose one of the available Bluecars and place your badge over the sensor; this should succeed in unlocking the car (you will see a green light come on if the badge works; if not, a red light will flash, prompting you to try your badge again.
- Next, unplug the connected cable and make sure that it recoils properly before you shut the recharge unit's lid.
- Once inside the car, snap the ignition key. It's recommended that you verify the battery levels and the car's general condition before heading off. If and when you do note any issues, call the Velib' support center from the rental station before beginning your trip.
- To return the car, choose any station (not necessarily the one you rented from initially). You will need your badge again to check the car back in. Finally, unwind the connection cable and plug it back in to the car. That's it!
- If you have any further questions on how the system works, or encounter a problem you can't solve yourself, visit the FAQ page at the official site (in English).
Subscriptions, Prices and Contact Information
Subscriptions are available for a day, week, or a year.
For a current list of Autolib' rental prices, visit this page.
Showroom and Welcome Center: 20 Quai de la Mégisserie, 1st arrondissement (Metro/RER: Chatelet, Pont Neuf)
Tel: The call center is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, and the number is toll-free from within France. +33 (0) 800 94 20 00.
Visit the official website to see FAQs (in English)