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Car Rental at Geneva (GVA) Airport - This is How it Works

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Westminster...
posts: 8
reviews: 174
Car Rental at Geneva (GVA) Airport - This is How it Works

This summer my wife & I had a wonderful holiday in Switzerland. We flew in/out of Geneva and after much deliberation decided to rent a car at the airport instead of taking the train. Because the airport straddles Switzerland and France, and thus there are car rental agencies on both sides, we searched and searched in vain for current, accurate information on how this worked. We found a few somewhat helpful tips, but ultimately we had to figure it out for ourselves once we arrived. For those in a similar situation, here is current advice as of summer 2011.

At the time of our booking (late June 2011) we found the best rates on the French side (in Euros) versus the Swiss size (Francs). We were concerned about drop charges, differing policies given these were the same agencies but in different countries, insurance, etc. And also how were we to get from the Swiss (where our international flight arrived) side to the French side (where we rented our car, from Hertz).

Hertz offered substantially different rates at the Swiss counter (much higher, factoring in the USD conversion) than at the French counter.

To get from the Swiss side of the airport to the French side is extremely simple: follow the signs, go through a couple of corridors and voila, you are there. No guards, passport checks, nothing. And if you go back to the Swiss side and then want to go back to the French side, it's similarly extremely simple and easy too.

Renting the car on the French side was a breeze and we saved hundreds of dollars versus the train pass and also renting on the Swiss side. Hertz was easy to work with, no hassle/pressure to buy insurance (which we didn't need and verified w/our insurance carrier in the USA and credit card company too) and we were off to the car in about 10 minutes.

Best part was they gave us printed directions, in color, with photos of exactly how to get out of the airport to Switzerland and back - never had any car rental company anywhere in the world do that!

So if you are contemplating a similar Swiss vs French side rental at the GVA airport, relax and don't worry, it's easy and we wished we had known this before we left.

52 replies to this topic
Martigny...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
posts: 18,263
reviews: 119
1. Re: Car Rental at Geneva (GVA) Airport - This is How it Works

Glad it worked otu for you - but had you asked the question on the TA site you would have been told in detail exactly how it works and would not have had to figure it out for yourselves!

In fact I do it whenever I need to come from a French or Italian port (getting off a cruise) to Switzerland. It avoids huge drop charges which can total close to 1000frs!

To add to what you say - it is VERY important that any renter of a car in France including the French side of the airport, buy an autoroute vignette for switzerland before using any Swiss autoroute. Failure to do so can result in a 650fr fine, which is payable immediately. Since the vignette costs 40frs this is very important to know.

Richmond, Virginia
posts: 2
reviews: 1
2. Re: Car Rental at Geneva (GVA) Airport - This is How it Works

I'm travelling to France via Geneva airport in three weeks and just checked with my agent...I was told that the Hertz office is on the Geneva side, not the French side. Is the above post a typo or is Hertz giving me bad info?

Martigny...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
posts: 18,263
reviews: 119
3. Re: Car Rental at Geneva (GVA) Airport - This is How it Works

hertz has a rental office on BOTH sides. If you want to find a Hertz French side location you need to do this;

Go onto the Hertz site

Click on "reserve a car"

Click on "Help me find a location"

Click on "France"

Then click on "Geneva"

This is the Hertz Geneva airport FRENCH side office. Rent and return your car there and you get your quotes in EUR and you pick up and return on the French side.

Remember to add the cost of the Swiss vignette if you are going to drive on our autoroutes - 40frs. Hertz doesn't sell them and neither does the garage near the Customs point at Ferney-Voltaire. But the Customs do and they take either EUR or CHF or Credit cards.

Richmond, Virginia
posts: 2
reviews: 1
4. Re: Car Rental at Geneva (GVA) Airport - This is How it Works

Thanks - this was helpful! I checked with Hertz on the French side and they only offer compacts with manual transmission and Mercedes at the other end of the spectrum. Since Im arriving from the Usa in coach, I need automatic and something less expensive than a Mercedes. So Im going with the Swiss side, which will also mean quicker access to the motorway.

Martigny...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
posts: 18,263
reviews: 119
5. Re: Car Rental at Geneva (GVA) Airport - This is How it Works

And you will not need to buy the vignette since the car will already have one. So 40frs saved.

As for automatic. These are not very common here, so make sure Hertz knows that it is essential that you have one. And be prepared for them to substitute another category of car than you have booked to satisfy this requirement!

France
posts: 1,992
reviews: 9
6. Re: Car Rental at Geneva (GVA) Airport - This is How it Works

The Geneva airport website also has pdf maps and a set of links to each car hire company.

www.gva.ch/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-72/

Istanbul
posts: 2
reviews: 1
7. Re: Car Rental at Geneva (GVA) Airport - This is How it Works

I am arriving in Basel, exiting to France and hiring a car.

After several days, I shall be in Geneva for the last night before my EasyJet flight back.

What is the best way to get from Geneva to the airport, so that I can return the car to the French side of the airport? How long would it take to get there? Is it complicated?

Martigny...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
posts: 18,263
reviews: 119
8. Re: Car Rental at Geneva (GVA) Airport - This is How it Works

It isn't overly complicated, but it rather depends on where in Geneva you are that night as to the best route to the French side of the airport.

You need to cross into France at the Ferney-Voltaire border post, near Grand Sacconnex in Geneva. I suggest you use Google maps and put in your Geneva address, then "Ferney-Voltaire". This will give you the route to take which might be the autoroute and might be normal roads.

As soon as you cross the border turn LEFT. You will then be behind a chain link fence. Follow this road to its end. It curves around the end of the runway. Then follow Rental Car Return signs and return the car.

Be sure you have a Swiss vignette for your French-hired car before going onto any Swiss autoroute. You can buy these at the border crossings. They cost 40frs and must be stuck on the windscreen.

Leysin, Switzerland
posts: 97
reviews: 2
9. Re: Car Rental at Geneva (GVA) Airport - This is How it Works

"Failure to do so can result in a 650fr fine, which is payable immediately. Since the vignette costs 40frs this is very important to know."

The fine is 100 chf plus a new vignette, that's for not having one or tampering with it which includes trying to remove it from one car to place on another. The federal council voted in August to raise the fine to 200 chf from December this year.

It would also have been worth mentioning that cars rented on French side often come without the winter tyres which are standard on the Swiss side. Winter travellers might want to factor that into any price comparison.

Martigny...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
posts: 18,263
reviews: 119
10. Re: Car Rental at Geneva (GVA) Airport - This is How it Works

This is not what the TCS (Touring Club Suisse) printed in their magasine a couple of years ago when they did an article on fines in general. And it may well be that there is a Federal and a Cantonal fine (this happens here in the Valais) so maybe that is what they referred to...

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