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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a few questions/requests about car ownership in France:
1. My wife arrives in France 6 weeks before me (August 16th). I was hoping she might be able to get a car before I arrive. Is this a bad idea? I just thought it might be better than 6 weeks of renting a car.
2. I like Peugeots but wonder about car recommendations. I am looking for a 4 door (I like the 308).
3. I have AVIVA home owner insurance and I will ask my agent about adding a car. Any recommendations with respect to insurance?
4. It sounds like we should have an AAA International license and a record search (ie infractions) from our insurer. Is this correct?
5. Any recommendations for good sites or ways to do research from the US on car purchasing in France?
6. We have not decided new or used but any comments on that subject would be great!
Thanks so much!! Brian
 

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Moving you to a thread of your own, since your questions are pretty specific and this might attract a few more responses.

First of all, you're going to run into a couple of issues if you try to buy a car immediately on arrival. In order to register a car (the famous "carte grise") you have to have proof of residence (i.e. utility bill or something similar proving that you are "resident" at your address). If you're staying in temporary digs (or a hotel) this may simply not be possible and in any event, getting the necessary type of bill will take some time.

Secondly, if you buy a new car, it generally takes a good six weeks to get delivery of the car unless you buy something off the lot (in which case you don't get your choice of options, color, etc.).

Peugeots and Citroens are basically the same thing (or made by the same company anyhow). My take on things is that you may want to get familiar with the local dealership/garage and consider buying whatever they are selling once you've determined they have a solid reputation. My husband has dealt with the same local dealership for a few decades now and when he needs a new car or repairs to his current one, it really helps having a "personal" relationship with the dealership. (It's also convenient to be able to use the local dealership rather than having to get a sick car to a particular dealership 20 or 30 km away.)

Is your AVIVA insurance for France or for the US? Not sure if they can set up insurance cross border like that - but if they can, certain go for it!

Having an international license to go with your existing US licenses is not a bad idea (and cheap - last I knew AAA issues the international license for about $10 most places). It's nothing more than a translation of your license into "international" terminology, but if you need to show a license, anything that makes it easier for the official is a big plus. The insurance record may or may not be useful - in some cases you may need some sort of document from the license issuing agency rather than from the insurance. But play it by ear. (In France, extra paperwork always comes in handy at some point!)

Not sure what sort of car purchasing research you want to do - but what I would recommend for a first purchase would be to go through a dealer (perhaps the local dealer you want to "try out"). Dealers have both new and used cars - and if you buy through them, they handle all the paperwork for registering the car. They also have to buy a certain number of new vehicles every year, so generally have LOTS of "almost new" cars available at decent discounts. You'll find similar vehicles for cheaper prices going direct to the seller (and you still have to have a recent inspection certificate to transfer ownership) but for a first purchase in France, it's worth it to pay a bit more and have the dealer handle the paperwork for you. (They'll also warn you if your paperwork isn't adequate to register the car - which may be the case on arrival for you.)

In any event, google the brand name of the cars you're interested in to find the dealerships near where you'll be living. (Concessionaire is the word for dealership) They should have a display of the "slightly used" vehicles they have available so you can get a feel for pricing, options and whatever else. And be aware that most cars these days are probably manual transmission (though automatic is getting more popular). I'd stay away from the diesels (also "most" of the current population of vehicles) as they are going to be phased out possibly sooner rather than later.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I've bought 3 cars in France, and I echo Bev's comments.

Go for a French car...easier / cheaper for service, spares etc.

Go to a local dealer and be known....it really counts in France. Put it another way...dealers, garages etc give priority to their regular customers at the expense of foreigners (from the next town!)

At the risk of stating the obvious it might be a good idea to get a copy of the road laws...le code de la route, or search the internet for US to France driving hints. France does have some odd road signs and the priorities at junctions in towns can be "exciting"...speed limits can catch you out too.

You will almost certainly need proof of address ( for nearly everything in France!), so it's probably better to hire until you get the necessary paperwork together.

Welcome to France..tell us how you get on?

DejW
 

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You also need a bank account.....because you can't pay cash. Has to be a cheque.

Buying new is relatively the same as buying nearly new if you haggle the price.

Not sure I would buy a French car.

Vag is a good option in France......especially Skoda.
 

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OOOOps, Smeggie, forgot the bank account..as usual, you are right.

As for car brands....it's all very personal. My son in law is the boss of a large Land Rover agency in the UK. Selling cars is in his blood...one of his favourite expressions is "Look sir, lovely car, just right for you...wheel at each corner and sit on seats".

DejW owner of big dirty diesel...how can I hold my head up in public?

You also need a bank account.....because you can't pay cash. Has to be a cheque.

Buying new is relatively the same as buying nearly new if you haggle the price.

Not sure I would buy a French car.

Vag is a good option in France......especially Skoda.
 

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Ooh, forgot about the bank account issue! Good point, Smeg.

I admit that I'm not overly fond of French brand cars, either. (DH like Citroens - but I think that has as much to do with the dealer as anything else.) However with a bit of research you'll find that there are car manufacturers who make their cars in France. The one I know of is Toyota, which makes the Yaris for the European market in France - and advertises that fact.

But it is definitely worthwhile to cultivate a relationship with a local dealership.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Lots of great advice!
I do have a bank account and will plan on paying by check. Though I would love to use my Delta Amex card and get lots of frequent flyer miles!!
I have a notaire signed/stamped deed to my home.
AVIVA is local insurance so my agent is there in Menton/Roquebrune.
I like Peugeot because the fighting lion on the front is COOL looking! ?
All I need now is knowledge!
A Carte Grise - does that come with the car or do you have one for each driver?
I was thinking it was kind of like a car registration.
Thanks!!
 

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Peugeot and Citroen are not the same thing - at least the vehicles aren't :D Renault, Peugeot and Citroen are however all part of the PSA Group (which also makes other vehicles) - I believe it's the 10th biggest car manufacturer in the world.

You will generally have no problem with service on VW and Opel vehicles across France (provided they are standard EU models).

Toyota, Honda, and others can be difficult for service if, for example. you break down and are not close to a town.

Make sure you get breakdown cover with your insurance - you can choose various options to suit your potential needs.

Your insurer will need a statement from your US insurer(s) re your claims history - I think for the past 5 years - without that they won't give you a no claim bonus (same thing with your driving record, although I didn't have to supply that to my insurer here, it was only required for me when I exchanged my driver's llcence).

Note: I suspect Buford already has a residence in France and that's his associated home insurance, and likely a non-resident bank account.

Edit: I agree it's a particularly good idea to choose a dealer near you - it makes service etc so much easier, but that can restrict the make of car available to you :)
 

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Lots of great advice!
I do have a bank account and will plan on paying by check. Though I would love to use my Delta Amex card and get lots of frequent flyer miles!!
I have a notaire signed/stamped deed to my home.
AVIVA is local insurance so my agent is there in Menton/Roquebrune.
I like Peugeot because the fighting lion on the front is COOL looking! ?
All I need now is knowledge!
A Carte Grise - does that come with the car or do you have one for each driver?
I was thinking it was kind of like a car registration.
Thanks!!
My post crossed with yours :)

Carte grise is indeed your car registration - just one per car. A car doesn't need to be checked for roadworthiness until it's 4 years old, so the carte grise on a new car is valid for that time. Most dealers will look after getting the carte grise, especially if you are buying a brand new vehicle - documents required for that are listed here https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/N367
 

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Just a couple caveats.

Though I would love to use my Delta Amex card and get lots of frequent flyer miles!!
I'm not so sure you'll be able to maintain your US Amex card once you establish residence here. Amex France works under the banking laws here in France, and doesn't have all the fancy "extras" you get with some of the US Amex cards. I know when I moved to Germany, the Amex person I spoke to in the US assured me they could simply "transfer" my card to Germany, but that wasn't at all the case. Had to open a brand new Amex card with the German branch of Amex - and to do that, you have to attach your card to a local bank account. I believe it works very similarly for the French Amex - they attach the card to your account and simply take the payment at the end of each month. (And no frequent flyer miles on any French card I know of.)

I like Peugeot because the fighting lion on the front is COOL looking! ?
Cool lion or no, if the local dealer is a PITA or the "local" dealership/garage is 30 to 50 km away, you may want to consider other brands. But that's your choice. You get 4 years on a new car, but after that the inspections are every 2 years.

Depending on the type of car, you may find that it's handy to take your car to the dealership for the annual/regular maintenance and have them take care of the controle technique. (They don't do the inspection, but they will take it to the local center and have it done.) It definitely focuses their efforts if they do the maintenance and then the car doesn't pass the inspection for any reason (and the inspection here is much more stringent than anything in the US). This is part of the relationship building process with your local dealer.

And while I'm not sure about Hondas, I can tell you that I've never had a problem finding (or even needing) service for my Toyotas in 20+ years here. This is where the breakdown cover on your car insurance comes in super handy. We've had a few occasions to use it over the last few years, and I'm really impressed with how well it works. (Don't "save money" by minimizing this part of your car insurance.)

And while the paperwork on your home may work in proving residence (not sure on that one), you will undoubtedly need your "titre de séjour" (or visa) - as your identity document. Depends a bit on the local prefecture, but the dealer you buy the car (new or used) from will be able to advise you. They have LOTS of experience dealing with the local prefecture and know how to cover their bases so they won't have to make two trips!
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Peugeot and Citroen and Renault share many platforms and engines (Peugeot Partner/Citroen Berlingo/Renault Kangoo, Peugeot 106/Citroen Saxo etc). I've been using a Peugeot dealer for my Citroens for years with no problems, he knows them inside out.
 

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Peugeot and Citroen and Renault share many platforms and engines (Peugeot Partner/Citroen Berlingo/Renault Kangoo, Peugeot 106/Citroen Saxo etc). I've been using a Peugeot dealer for my Citroens for years with no problems, he knows them inside out.
And across even more platforms outside the EU :D
 

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Just a couple caveats.


I'm not so sure you'll be able to maintain your US Amex card once you establish residence here. Amex France works under the banking laws here in France, and doesn't have all the fancy "extras" you get with some of the US Amex cards. I know when I moved to Germany, the Amex person I spoke to in the US assured me they could simply "transfer" my card to Germany, but that wasn't at all the case. Had to open a brand new Amex card with the German branch of Amex - and to do that, you have to attach your card to a local bank account. I believe it works very similarly for the French Amex - they attach the card to your account and simply take the payment at the end of each month. (And no frequent flyer miles on any French card I know of.)


Cool lion or no, if the local dealer is a PITA or the "local" dealership/garage is 30 to 50 km away, you may want to consider other brands. But that's your choice. You get 4 years on a new car, but after that the inspections are every 2 years.


And while I'm not sure about Hondas, I can tell you that I've never had a problem finding (or even needing) service for my Toyotas in 20+ years here. This is where the breakdown cover on your car insurance comes in super handy. We've had a few occasions to use it over the last few years, and I'm really impressed with how well it works. (Don't "save money" by minimizing this part of your car insurance.)

And while the paperwork on your home may work in proving residence (not sure on that one), you will undoubtedly need your "titre de séjour" (or visa) - as your identity document. Depends a bit on the local prefecture, but the dealer you buy the car (new or used) from will be able to advise you. They have LOTS of experience dealing with the local prefecture and know how to cover their bases so they won't have to make two trips!
Cheers,
Bev
I still I have my Aussie Amex card, although I haven't used it for a while, but when I do (usually for overseas purchases) I pay via my Aussie bank account and in any case doing so means I don't have to do a double exchange, given all my income comes from Australia. Amex Australia told me I would be able to change it to a French one here - haven't done so, can't remember exactly why but it certainly was not the same thing :)

There are certainly places in France where you won't find some to service within on various brand, including Toyota and Honda, at least 50 km - that's also why I mentioned the breakdown insurance and checking the options. I guess it depends to some extent on the places you choose to drive to :)

This will work, especially if you have eg. a utility bill as well. I believe you can now apply for the carte grise online (a recent change), so I assume that also applies to the dealers.
 

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You can lease a brand new Renault Megane for 170 days for around $4100 (€3500) that includes Unlimited Miles, Free GPS, Zero-deductible Insurance, and 24/7 Road Side Assistance from Renault Eurodrive, short term Car Lease Program in France and in Europe, Car rental in France and in Europe, Long term car Lease in France and in Europe, Discount car rental in France and in Europe, One way car rental, One way car lease, France, Euro.

It might be a good idea to get you off and rolling.

Citroen and Peugeot have similar programs.

Of course, it might not be available to you if you're a permanent resident...
 

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We moved to France nearly 4 weeks ago and bought a used (3 year old) car which we collected last Friday.

Points to note:

Used cars are expensive in France, especially compared to the UK

We paid with a Bank Transfer, which was easier, although a cheque is the norm.

Insurance, 3 years proof of insurance is required. We were lucky because we thought proof of no claims bonus would be enough, but it wasnt and we had to provide proof of three years insurance (for each drive). Luckily we were with the same insurer for 3 years so we could prove via renewals insurance emails. If we had know this before, we would have come with Insurance Cerrtificates going back for as long as we could provide them. Also, discounts on insurance in France is different from the UK and any accidents that are your fault will go against you (no NO CLAIMS PROTECTION).

We searched across a 200km region for a Car. Worth checking Le Bon Coin, LeParking.fr, autosphere and autoscout.

We finally bought a German Car from a main dealer for 'Peace of Mind' with a 2 year guarantee. Carte Gris costs are high and if you move house, you have to get a new one and pay again (300 to 700 euros for this).

In relation to French Cars. Owned a Peugeot 3008 for 4 years in the UK and a very practical car, however, avoid French Autos and they are nothing on German Autos or VAG (recommend Skoda).

Hope this helps.
 
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