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Should French car hire firms provide winter tyres or chains?

We look at how the requirement to properly equip cars in mountainous areas works with rental vehicles

A reader asks whether car hire firms automatically fit vehicles with winter tyres or provide snow chains, or whether it is the renter’s responsibility Pic: LeManna / Shutterstock

Reader Question: How does the enactment of the new Loi Montagne work for rental vehicles? I often rent a car in Toulouse and drive to our second home which is within 2km of a ‘winter tyre’ area, where the nearest supermarket is located. Is it the rental company’s responsibility to provide chains or tyres or that of the renter, and do we have to ask for this or is it standard? 

Between November 1 and March 31 every winter, people driving in many mountainous regions of France must make sure that their cars are equipped with winter tyres, or have snow chains or fabric ‘socks’ in their boot. 

Read more: Winter tyre rules enforced in French mountains from November

Some 48 departments are allowed to impose this rule, but only 34 have (so far) decided to apply it across all or some of their area, with affected zones indicated by signs. So, it is possible that the supermarket is not actually in an affected area, though you should look out for the signs.

Read more: MAP: where in France do you now need winter tyres or snow chains?

People not respecting the rules risk a fine of €135, but the government has said that no one will be punished for non-compliance before the end of 2022 at least. 

If you are renting a car, you should be aware that unless you say otherwise, you will generally be provided with a vehicle which does not have winter tyres or chains, even if the car hire firm is situated in an area where the requirements apply. 

It is always the driver of the car who is responsible for making sure that the vehicle is properly equipped. 

Avis states on its website that: “You are responsible for any driving offence committed during the hire period, and must pay any charges accrued as a result. 

“If Avis has to settle any costs imposed by the authorities, they will be passed on to you, in addition to any associated towing or impounding fees.” 

Car rental firms will provide the equipment on request, with one Avis branch telling Caradisiac that the tyres or chains come at an additional charge of €36 for a three-day hire. 

Other firms quote more expensive rates, some cheaper, and some only have a limited supply of chains or socks. 

Sometimes, customers who request winter equipment will be able to hire a car which is already fitted with winter tyres, but they need to make this clear when they reserve the vehicle. 

Related articles 

Are all-season tyres allowed during winter in France?

Winter tyres, 90km/h: Five November updates for drivers in France

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