Lease and Thank You

Everyone dreams of owning a house in France. But how many of us realise that even if that is impossible, we can at least still own a French car? Well, for a little while, anyway.

That’s what we did on a recent trip to France, after we discovered a clever scheme – one that helps everyone. Just a few minutes of paperwork and we had become the proud owners of an ultra-sophisticated tax-free Renault Megane.


There we were, dangling the keys from our fingers – well, not exactly. This vehicle was so advanced it came equipped with a credit card-sized piece of black plastic that, even if it was in our pockets or bags, unlocked the car and allowed us to turn on the ignition. Either of us was allowed to  drive it too and if we had brought any ‘direct descendents’ along with us, they could have as well.

On this trip to France we had planned to stay for several weeks and to travel extensively around the country. We’d heard of special schemes for visitors to France who stay more  than 21 days, and so we contacted Renault Eurodrive.

Paul Hodges, the company’s Managing Director has been matching up Renaults and tourists for 15 years. Taxably, the scheme is attractive to the car company, which offers brand-new vehicles available direct from the assembly line.

“They are actually registered to the customer’s name then shipped to the pickup point,” says Hodges. “No one else will drive them before you do.”

Because of this, one of the very few downsides of leasing is that clients cannot alter the dates for which they have booked. “You can’t go – Oh, I think I’ll stay another few days in London and pick the car up then,” he adds.

Bookings need to be made about a month ahead, too, in order to allow the car to be ordered  and registered in your name. A good idea is to go to a local Renault dealer beforehand and compare the models with those shown in the brochure. That way you can know for sure whether your luggage will fit.

Renault leases vehicles from 21 to 175 days. Drivers must be fully licensed – an International Driving License is recommended – and over 18. No maximum age applies, which is sometimes a complication with rental companies. You must also be a tourist and not a resident of the EU.

Currently the cost of leasing a smallish Renault Clio (ideal for two people) for 42 days (an average term) is $2195, or around $50 a day. That includes five free days. Past Renault customers receive an extra three days gratis.

Extra incentives include the fact you know you will be setting off in an absolutely brand new car which is covered by full insurance, with no excess. And Renault Eurodrive now leases only diesel vehicles. This ‘Renault Eco 2’ scheme fits snugly with French eco-laws and has a spin-off for drivers. Diesel is cheaper than petrol in France, and there is better fuel economy.

For us it worked well to pick up and return the car to Paris, but there are 34 depots throughout Europe, including provincial France. So if your trip takes you into Paris and out of Rome, for example, you can still take advantage of this scheme, albeit with an extra fee to account for the vehicle being shipped back.

 “You can even take the TGV to Avignon, for example, then tour Provence,” Hodges says. “Many people now spend longer in Europe, renting apartments or houses and using them as a base.”

Most vehicles now come with GPS, but if you plan to drive outside of France, you may need to buy your own discs, or take your own GPS. Or (this is radical) use a map.

If something happens to the car – stolen, badly damaged, or a breakdown – the outlook is often better than it would be at home. Renault Eurodrive offers 24-hour roadside assistance and there are Renault dealers and garages in most towns and cities in France. If for some reason the car is undriveable, depending on the length of time remaining on the lease, you will be offered a replacement vehicle or a rental car.

After the lease agreement is finalised, the company automatically agrees to buy back the car. So there’s no hanging around the airport with a hand-lettered sign, trying to offload the vehicle.

For us after six stress-free weeks driving around France it was as simple as returning a rental car, handing over the keys and papers in the Eurodrive office at Charles de Gaulle airport. The company’s shuttle vehicle deposited us and our luggage at the terminal and all we had to do was wave goodbye.

renaultl   Toll free: 1300 551 160

•Renault Eurodrive’s Spring Special ends with bookings before May 29, 2009, and offers seven free days for bookings over 21 days, 50 percent discount off delivery and return fees, and an extra three bonus free days for those who take delivery of a Megane Berline diesel before May 15, 2009.


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