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Old 03-30-11, 03:43 AM   #1
Camel
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Renting a 7person AUTOMATIC transmision in France?

Howdy,

Has anyone rented a 7 passenger minivan/suv with an automatic transmission in France?

Just starting to look online, and dang it's proving difficult. To top it off we are hoping to rent one way and drop it off in Naples/Rome Italy. Pickup is flexible (Paris, Nice/Provence etc).

-The trip is for 5 adults +luggage. Most 5person minivans/wagons don't look like they really have room for 5 peoples luggage. -Maybe I'm wrong.

-Not bike related whatsoever...

Thanks!
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Old 03-30-11, 07:30 AM   #2
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I have no direct information but I'm struggling to imagine just how BIG a 7 person campervan would be. Imagine providing 7 seats for travel AND 7 beds for sleeping. It would be HUGE. It definitely WOULDN'T be a minivan. It would have to be a truck or bus requiring a higher level license. See if you can get a 5 person with a trailer.

EDIT: Do you need to sleep people or just drive somewhere? I'm struggling to imagine that its that hard to find a Toyota HIACE bus in France.

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Old 03-30-11, 09:01 AM   #3
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OP said minivan, not campervan. My mom's Honda minivan seats 7 just fine, or 5 plus luggage. It's perfectly fine for day travel, but I wouldn't want to sleep everyone in it. On the other hand, finding an auto in Europe may be harder.
A quick look around shows that most places 1) Require you to pick up and drop off in the same country and 2) Don't have large minivans. I did find a Nissan Pathfinder, which may work. However, it was way more than the other rentals, you're going to pay through the nose on fuel, and I'm not sure if it was available as an auto. Perhaps call a travel agent? Altenatively, user Travelmama seems to know about stuff like this.

Last edited by jccaclimber; 03-30-11 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 03-30-11, 10:07 AM   #4
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Camel- provide me with a bit more information (dates and locations of pick up and drop off) and I will try to help you out.
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Old 03-30-11, 10:26 AM   #5
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Hi,

Yeah we're just looking for a rental minivan/suv to drive around 5 adults reasonably comfortable with luggage. The 5 person models I've seen online(Citroen Grand Picasso C4/Nissan Pathfinder/BMW-VW suv's/Mercedes wagons) seem almost-allrite for us comfort wise, but I doubt they will have enough room for us and luggage(2 weeks vacation). -I drive a 1990 Pathfinder SE, and we could possibly make do with a similar sized new model. Better would be a 7 passenger vehicle, using the extra room for luggage.

I can find plenty of suitable sized vans,minivans etc online but they are all manual transmission so far. I'm the only one who can drive standard, and it's been 10 years, and I haven't driven in Europe. Everyone else has driven in Europe, and there descriptions of driving in Italy have me concerned. If we were just traveling in France I'd just designate myself as the driver and get one of the manual transmission rentals.

Another part of the problem does seem to be finding pick up in France, and drop off in Italy. Pretty expensive, which is allrite (within reason), but some companies just don't allow it. I've considered pick up/drop off in Provence region (Nice etc), TGV/regular train from Paris, pick up the vehicle & enjoy the vaca, and a couple of us drive back and drop it off & train back to Paris fly home. Still couldn't find a rental to make that worthwhile (yet).

Ideas are welcome/appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 03-30-11, 10:28 AM   #6
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I have used europcar and ezcar, don't know about finding an auto though.

Now I'm wondering about buying a stickshift minivan in Europe and bringing it back to the US...
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Old 03-30-11, 10:42 AM   #7
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You are correct about the high drop off fees outside of France and the driving to be a bit nerve wrecking in Italy however, it is not that bad on a manual transmission. Just drive very slow. Europcar and AutoEurope may be of help for you. I checked the Renault site and saw there is are automatic transmission 7 and 9 passenger vans available for rent however, there is a $300 or 300 Euro drop off fee outside of France. Your idea of dropping off in a southern city then hopping on a train seems cheaper than renting a van. Is it not possible for you all to rent two smaller cars to save some money?
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Old 03-30-11, 10:44 AM   #8
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Hi Travelmama,

We are thinking pick up the rental

5-18 early morning in Paris and drive to Nice (lost day). Or Train to Nice and pick up the rental. Seems a near wash expense wise for 5 people. Also seems more rental options available in Paris (I haven't searched Marseile/Aixe etc rental options yet). Not too keen on the Nice train station (perhaps overly so).

5-19 Nice/Provence

5-20 Nice/Monoco

5-21 Venice

5-22 Florence

5-23 Florence-Tuscany

5-24 Florence

5-25 Rome

5-26 Rome/surrounds

5-27 Positano

5-28 Positano

5-29 Flight from Naples-early rental drop off.

Thanks!
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Old 03-30-11, 10:51 AM   #9
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I will continue to pick my brain on this but is it not cheaper for you all to purchase cheap airline tickets from Paris to Nice, fly, sleep and be ready for the next day rather than spending hours in a car after flying over? How about renting a car for two days in Nice? A few days in Provence then over to Italy by train sounds reasonable then renting a car in Italy. From the itinerary you have laid out, it seems more reasonable to rent a car in Italy because you will need it to see the beauty of the coasts. You know that you can't do that buy plane or train.
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Old 03-30-11, 10:52 AM   #10
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2 cars is a great idea but would prefer 1.
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Old 03-30-11, 10:52 AM   #11
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Backtrack...how do you expect to see Venice in a day from Monaco then head down to Florence? It is not possible. Please rethink that one.
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Old 03-30-11, 10:59 AM   #12
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oops-

I forgot to mention we arrive Paris Sat 5-14. Tour group up to Normandy 5-15 (train then bus tour-then train back). Paris 5-16. Versaille 5-17. Leave Paris 5-18 for Nice.
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Old 03-30-11, 11:01 AM   #13
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Looking at that, I would just fly to Venice (connect through Paris to Mestre) and forget the Riviera entirely. There is more drive time in your schedule than you are allowing.
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Old 03-30-11, 11:05 AM   #14
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Backtrack...how do you expect to see Venice in a day from Monaco then head down to Florence? It is not possible. Please rethink that one.
Argh! I know! My brother was thinking stay out by the Venice ?Airport and watertaxi in late evening/morning, so more like late eve no to minimal crowds/early morning then onwards.
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Old 03-30-11, 11:11 AM   #15
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-Offline for the day. Must sleep. Please keep the ideas coming, very much appreciated!
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Old 03-30-11, 11:36 AM   #16
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Driving a large van down medieval sized roads is nearly impossible.
I would highly recommend two smaller vehicles.
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Old 03-30-11, 11:47 AM   #17
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Large group, tight schedule, long distances. Sounds like a VERY stressful situation to me, not my kind of vacation. I hope it goes well for you all.
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Old 03-30-11, 07:54 PM   #18
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Large group, tight schedule, long distances. Sounds like a VERY stressful situation to me, not my kind of vacation. I hope it goes well for you all.
Not too large of a group. Just 5 of us. My brother & I, our parents and a friend.

Tight schedule, long distances for sure. Stress? Not so much. Definitely not my kind of vacation either, but am very much looking forward to this one.

Travelmama: the Renault Espace 7 seater from Eurodrive would be perfect at 2/3 the cost. It's a pretty good deal if folks are thinking of a longer vacation, as the minimum price is a 3 weeks rental. (Cycling content: would be very handy as a comfy SAG wagon for an extended credit card tour)
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Old 03-30-11, 09:59 PM   #19
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I think you should reroute this trip to save time and money. Flying around may be the best way to travel rather than renting a car because that is a fortune and a half.
Your itinerary: 5-18 early morning in Paris and drive to Nice (lost day). Or Train to Nice and pick up the rental. Seems a near wash expense wise for 5 people. Also seems more rental options available in Paris (I haven't searched Marseile/Aixe etc rental options yet). Not too keen on the Nice train station (perhaps overly so).

5-19 Nice/Provence

5-20 Nice/Monoco

5-21 Venice

5-22 Florence

5-23 Florence-Tuscany

5-24 Florence

5-25 Rome

5-26 Rome/surrounds

5-27 Positano

5-28 Positano

5-29 Flight from Naples-early rental drop off.

Thanks!

I think you all should do this:
May 19 fly from Paris to Nice on Easyjet. ( 51 Euro per person ) Rent a car wherever you can find one to suit your group or two check out Aix en Provence – Not much going on in Nice
May 20 Drive to Monaco and spend the day
May 21 Skip Florence and fly to Rome on Easyjet (51 Euro per person)
May 22 Rome
May 23 Positano by train or coach
May 24 Positano overnight in Naples
May 25 Train to Florence – 3 hours ($70 or so per person)
May 26-29 Tuscany
May 28 overnight in Pisa
May 29 flight from Pisa to Paris (70 Euro per person)

I have checked and cars are going for $800-$1400 for a number of days so it is best to leave a lot of the driving to others.

Last edited by travelmama; 03-30-11 at 10:16 PM.
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Old 03-31-11, 06:14 AM   #20
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I think you should reroute this trip to save time and money....
Since you've broached the subject of changing plans completely, here's my two cents:
I've visited France and Italy on business and spent many weekends there. I prefer to spend more time in a single place so I can really understand the region and it's culture/traditions. I'd spend a week in south France (Aix, Nice, Marsallies) or a week in Milan/Como/Venice/Florence. Trying to see everything means you see nothing. Your tour looks like torture to me, just when everyone gets comfortable it's time to leave.
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Old 04-01-11, 11:46 AM   #21
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Man, my wife has traveled all around Europe several time alone, with friends, and with family, and it was all trains and planes; no cars (except one extremely odd exception including her dad--doesn't really apply here).
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Old 04-01-11, 02:01 PM   #22
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Large group, tight schedule, long distances. Sounds like a VERY stressful situation to me, not my kind of vacation. I hope it goes well for you all.
+1000

While the distances in europe are not far driving them can take a long time. Also factor in costs of toll roads and gasoline. You are looking at a very expensive whirlwind tour where you will get to see the country from the window of a vehicle...fun fun fun

I've never seen an automatic in France, but I guess they exist. Renting a car there ain't cheap either.
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Old 04-01-11, 02:11 PM   #23
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Since you've broached the subject of changing plans completely, here's my two cents:
I've visited France and Italy on business and spent many weekends there. I prefer to spend more time in a single place so I can really understand the region and it's culture/traditions. I'd spend a week in south France (Aix, Nice, Marsallies) or a week in Milan/Como/Venice/Florence. Trying to see everything means you see nothing. Your tour looks like torture to me, just when everyone gets comfortable it's time to leave.
Exactly!
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Old 04-02-11, 03:18 AM   #24
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Hi-thanks for the tips everyone. Greatly appreciated!
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Old 04-02-11, 04:14 AM   #25
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Driving around europe for the sake of a road trip is good fun (I've done it) but just for getting from place to place I'd either fly or take trains. The international rail network in western Europe is very good, whereas France levies tolls on many of its Autoroutes, and the Italian Autostrada are all controlled. Automatic transmissions are rare this side of the Pond, and rarer still in hire cars. I would totally rule out driving into any of the major cities as traffic can be terrible. You are far better off using public transport to get about, and maybe hiring some scooters or bicycles at various points if you want a bit more freedom.
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