From the moment you arrive it's obvious that The Highway Code isn't a big seller and that when it comes to road sense; the French really do vivre la difference. Parisian roads switch form sweeping Le Mans style boulevards, to suspensions-hammering cobbled streets; all seemingly designed to give your nerves a good work out.
While most Europeans see their cars as a means to get from A to B, Parisians view their vehicles as an extension of their apartment; hence it's not unreasonable to read a copy of La Monde, breakfast or even shave while behind the wheel. To make matters worse finding a parking spot is notoriously difficult (ensure that you have plenty of change for the hungry meters) and getting lost in the maze of poorly signposted roads is just a matter of time.
On the upside Paris has one of the best public transport systems in the world, taxis are reasonably priced and as the city is just 12km in diameter many of the sights can be visited on foot. However, if you're planning to visit some of Paris' nearby attractions then renting a car makes good sense; The forests of Fontainebleau, Disneyland, Louis XIII's magnificent chateau at Versailles and Chartres' cathedral are all within striking distance.
If you're planning on hiring a car you'll find all the big-name rental agencies represented at both airports, however some of the best deals are available over the Internet and you'll make substantial savings if you book in advance. International driving licenses aren't required (even for US visitors) just bring your normal documentation and your credit card details as security. If you're aged between 21 and 25 you'll have to pay a daily supplement of € 17.
For anyone wanting to brush up on their defensive driving skills and pick up a few colloquial French expletives hiring a car in Paris is a must.
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