The countryside is another matter, though. Bike riding means you cover little territory per day while you cannot rely on public transportation because it is often non-existent. Getting from one village to the next is problematic unless you rent a car.
But which car rental company offers the best deal?
A 23 January 2012, e-mail article on Budget Travel suggests using a car consolidator. In the article, "Can You Spot the Travel Rip-Off?" (Click here if you'd like to take the quiz.), the author says, "...many agencies act as consolidators, or legitimate brokers, for rental-car brands. These include Argus Rentals, Auto Europe, Kemwel (a sister company to Auto Europe), Nova, and Tiger Car Rental. Because consolidators buy deals in bulk, the savings they're able to offer can be dramatic."
I agree with Budget Travel that this has often been true in the past, but the advice doesn't seem to be on target this year.
|A three-wheeler car in Italy|
David and I will be renting a car this spring in Vernon, France, a little town just south of Paris, but we found very different prices for our car rental. Online, Auto Europe wanted $502 for a compact car eleven-day rental while Avis charged only $380. I found the same discrepancy in prices yesterday when I was helping a friend locate a car for his May visit to the Tuscany region of Italy. Auto Europe wanted $200 more than Avis for the same car!
So, if you're planning to rent a car in Europe, do your homework and check all the companies--the ones you're familiar with in the United States: Avis, Budget, and Hertz--as well as the consolidators.
Join the membership club if the car rental company offers one. It's free to join and you'll save money on your rental.
In my experience, on-line prices were significantly lower than prices quoted over the telephone.
Note that you probably do not need extra insurance since your credit card company will cover that for you if you use your card for the entire rental transaction. Do check with your credit card company first, though, to make sure.
In addition to the amount you have been quoted, all companies add a "road tax," although it's called various names, at the end of the rental. Since the amount can vary from 2-3 € per day, you'll want to make sure you choose a company with the lowest rate.