|Subject: Re: Driving in France and Italy|
Each time, we rented from Auto Europe, with no complications. They
have a user-friendly website, frequent specials &very efficient
online/e-mail booking. http://www.autoeurope.com As someone else mentioned,
you will save money on the rental if you can drive a manual
transmission and, depending on the month of your visit, forego AC.
Italian rentals carry a mandatory insurance charge for loss to the
vehicle; otherwise, you might be able to avoid other optional
coverages, depending on your own auto insurance situation, which you
should check out in advance + investigate the protections your credit
card may offer. The Auto Europe agency operates under its own name
at times; other times, it is a broker for another, e.g., when we
picked up in a small French town last summer, it was a Budget. We
never had any problem getting gas, and we don't speak either language-
-learn a few appropriate phrases in case you need help, but your
credit card and the signage will get you through the process. Gas is
sold by the liter, of course, and the prices will be higher than back
home. Tolls may frequently be paid by credit card, but make sure you
have some cash before you start out.
Invest in Michelin regional maps before you go over, and you will have no problem. French signage and road conditions in the area we traveled (Paris west to/all over Normandy) were excellent. In Italy, we drove, roughly, Milan-Venice-Florence-Riviera-Milan. The signage is a bit more of a challenge there, IMHO, and the driving habits associated with the fast lane of traffic are a little unnerving til you get the hang of it! (There have been many discussions on the Zine specifically about driving in Italy--do a search.) However, don't for a minute let that scare you off! Exploring Italy by car is a joy.
You definitely want to be rid of the car for any major city. And training is a blast--we utilize trains to traverse long distances + even shorter distances to provide a no brainer break in our trip. Sometimes, it's nice to sit back and let someone else do the driving!
Have a wonderful trip!
Diana Ball Houston, TX