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Old 28.08.2012, 17:40
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Excursion into France - where to hire a car?

(Searched for a similar topic but found nothing relevant.)

During our upcoming vacation in Switzerland during (second week in September), my wife would like to make an excursion to Chamonix, where we'll stay for two nights. Having never been there, I need to ask all the experts out there about transportation. Our plan is to use rail wherever possible, and practical, but I've heard that Chamonix is a good place to have a rental car. If that is indeed the case, would you recommend getting it in Switzerland (Geneva area), or crossing over into France on rail, then changing to a car? If the latter, if you can recommend a good town to rent from (considering the drive that we may be able to enjoy on our way to Chamonix), I would certainly appreciate it.

Thanks very much in advance.

Bob
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Old 28.08.2012, 17:46
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Re: Excursion into France - where to hire a car?

Will you be arriving at Geneva airport? If so, it has 2 sectors, Swiss side and French side. Hire from French side, it is cheaper, but if you drive on Swiss motorways you might have to buy a Vignette - which is a pass you stick on the front windscreen. The car you get might have one, or might not. It is only 40 CHF (Swiss Francs).

Never a good idea in winter, as cars on French side are not equipped for snow- but fine in September.
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Old 28.08.2012, 17:56
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Re: Excursion into France - where to hire a car?

I always seem to leave out critical information ... We'll actually be flying in to Zurich the day before (I made the air-travel arrangements a half year ago), then coming in by rail. Seems through Geneva is the best way to go, and this route will allow us to see a part of Switzerland we wouldn't otherwise see (from Chamonix, we'll come back in via Martigny, then onto Zermatt). So our transportation to the edge of Switzerland (got a different recommendation than Geneva?) will be by rail.
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Old 28.08.2012, 20:43
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Re: Excursion into France - where to hire a car?

I have used autoeurope quite a lot. Prices have been quite ok.
http://www.autoeurope.ch/
http://www.autoeurope.fr/
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Old 29.08.2012, 11:28
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Re: Excursion into France - where to hire a car?

Swiss Rail is not exactly budget especially when traveling in couple/family.

I would suggest you land and rent a car, then drive wherever you need to go. I have been using Sixt for the past 4 years and find them good value and little hassle. They have an office on the Swiss side of arrivals at GVA airport but I would suggest you book online in advance: the sole reason being that more often than not, you will be upgraded to a better class vehicle.

Before you decide what to do, I recommend you factor in all the pro/con: saving 30 bucks on ride fare (or train tickets) may cost you hours in transfers, little flexibility or higher cost of renting a car at your arrival point. Personally, I would keep it simple and rent a car at GVA
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Old 30.08.2012, 00:35
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Re: Excursion into France - where to hire a car?

Thanks defcon. As it turns out, we secured a four-day flex rail pass in a two-for-one deal that's offered for outsiders from September 1 - (I think) the end of October. We'll probably still supplement this with a rental car for part of the time.

I typically get "caught" with driving duties (even when we've visited the UK, and I had to adjust to left-driving, though my wife is British!)... she's just traditional, so that's my role. I'm certainly okay with that, but for a place with rail service that's the envy of the world, I'm looking forward to being able to see the countryside as a passenger. Another novelty is the fact that public transportation where we live (Southern California) is all but non-existent, so to see how it could be is something I look forward to.

I've already been looking at Auto Europe for rentals along the way. I've gone with them twice in the UK, and have been pleased both times. I'll also check out Sixt, as has also been recommended.

Bob
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Old 30.08.2012, 00:52
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Re: Excursion into France - where to hire a car?

Don't forget that you want to do a circular trip, and if you hire the car in Geneva then you have to bring it back there. Maybe hiring in Lausanne might be a better idea?

But there is public transport for the route Geneva - Chamonix - Zermatt
12 routes are here, journey time about 7h 30 mins
http://fahrplan.sbb.ch/bin/query.exe/en?seqnr=2&ident=js.011793206.1346280449&REQ0Hafas ScrollDir=2&WT.i_event_cat=fp_resultat&WT.i_event_ act=fruehere_vrb

Probably easiest to stop overnight near Chamonix and enjoy the mountain.

I am sure you would rather take the train and look out the window, than drive on French mountain roads!
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Old 30.08.2012, 01:16
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Re: Excursion into France - where to hire a car?

Here here on not being a driver through the French Alps (I am cyclist, and dutifully watch the Tour de France yearly... beautiful roads to ride on - when they're closed to traffic - but I would not want to drive them).

Good tip on keeping pick-up and drop-off as the same point. As it is now, I think we may get a rental car once we arrive in Chamonix. We may also do the same when we hunker down for a week in Lauterbrunnen so we can get to places where public transport may not go.

Bob
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Old 30.08.2012, 01:33
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Re: Excursion into France - where to hire a car?

I would totally agree with some previous replies. Swiss rail especially when you don't possess any discount cards is remarkably expensive. If you use GVA you can try sixt. I think their prices are somewhat lower when compared with other companies e.g. Hertz. Try also to pick up and return the car at the same location if possible as it will be much cheaper.
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