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Plan - Pack - Go - Enjoy
The Brellie Way

photo of Brellie

Benefit from this advice from experience about how to:
Rent a Vacation Getaway Home
Lease or Buy a Car in France

Rent a Vacation Getaway Home

HomeAway connects you directly with the property owner, so no middleman to pay. And the French version, Abritel, does the same.

France is French

It's such a romantic dream to live in France just like a French person. Knowing just a little about a French rental cottage helps keep the romance in that dream, rather than it becoming a nightmare.

DO NOT EXPECT U.S. standards in France. U.S. standards and convenience are not part of the French culture.

Practical and Necessary

ABSOLUTELY ask how everything works as soon as you exchange money and keys. Hardly anything in France works the same way as in the U.S. Find out about:

Finally, get an emergency contact number and learn how to call it. You may need to find the nearest public phone and learn how to use it. There is usually a phone outside the Post Office (La Poste). If you need a phone card, you may need to buy one at the tobacco shop/newsstand (Le Tabac/Presse). Your U.S. cell phone probably doesn't work in France, unless you made special arrangements.


Do you need your own linens for the bed, bath and kitchen? Probably. Are they available at a cost? Possibly. Ask the landlord or rental manager WHEN BOOKING. What other items might cost extra? Utilities, Security Deposit and Taxes.

You can generally expect these to be provided:

Check if there is heat. If available, is there an extra charge to use it? Some older vacation homes have no heat and are only open in season. Nights can sometimes be chilly in these areas.

Cleanliness will vary in French rentals. It is likely that the prior renter cleaned the place before departure. You will be expected to do this when you leave.

Do expect

Do NOT expect

Shop for Essentials

See the Shopping section of this website for links to large supermarkets that have all the items you will need.

Don't forget

You need a euro or special token for the shopping cart. Bring your own shopping bags; they have none. Your euro or special token is returned when you put your cart back.

Propane Tanks

Your cooking is probably fueled by a portable propane tank, just like your outdoor grill at home. Use matches to light it; don't expect electronic ignition. Problems? First, make sure that you opened the tank valve. Otherwise, you probably need another tank of propane. Contact the landlord or rental manager to replace it.

Traditional French Markets

THIS is why you are renting in France! Long lines at a particular vendor indicate quality. You need euros. This is the place to buy butter, cheese, meats, fish, seafood and local specialties. Although some vendors accept credit cards, they may only accept chip-and-PIN cards and can't handle U.S. credit cards with only a magnetic strip. See Finance for details. Do not expect anyone to speak English. Market days are posted at the town limits. The market is usually near the church at the center of the town. A Chevalier butcher deals exclusively in horse meat.


You just bought some fresh, delicious French market products. Let's cook! What temperature do you use for the oven? On the dial, you have either Celsius or gas marks. See our Measurement Units section under France→Before You Go→Language for conversions.

Lease or Buy a Car in France

Investigate the Temporary Transit option in France. This allows you to have the car for up to six months without paying Value Added Tax. Available only to non-EEC citizens.

Brellie has used all three of the featured companies at one time or another. Compare their prices! Recently, she is very happy with Mary Beth at AutoFrance. Brellie and her Momy strongly recommend AutoFrance for their reliability and customer service. They include a 0-deductible comprehensive auto insurance policy with minimal exclusions and a discount for repeat customers. In addition, a recent and innovative service is that you can order your car fully fueled. This convenience leaves Brellie stress-free. Otherwise, with only a couple liters of gas, the first jet-lagged task is finding a gas station that is open with an attendant.

How does Buying a Car Work?

Start with contacting one of the companies that lease and sell the cars through the Temporary Transit program. The paperwork is initiated in the United States and you will sign an agreement to buy the car and the insurance. Also, there will be official paperwork for the car registration and insurance in France. Payment is made in advance and can be made in installments. As long as you return the car as indicated on the contract, you only pay for the time you use it.

Where do You Pick Up Your Car?

There are many pick-up locations in cities throughout the country. Brellie uses her arrival airport location. Upon arrival, she dials the toll-free number from an airport phone and the Peugeot Open people pick her up directly at the airport in their shuttle bus. The shuttle bus takes her and her luggage to the car location where paperwork is completed in less than 5 minutes and then she is on her way. And yes, they are BRAND NEW CARS! You are the first owner. The carte grise is the title to the car. Guard it with your life.

Hint: You get the best deal with a manual transmission!