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
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Reader Question: How does the Loi Montagne work for rental vehicles? I often rent a car in an area where the rules are partially in place to drive to our second home from the airport. 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.

In the 2023/2024 year, 34 departments decided to apply it across all or some of their area, with affected zones indicated by signs. It is possible that the no communes you drive through are in affected areas, though you should look out for the signs indicating where the Loi Montagne is applicable.

Read more:MAP: The French areas that require snow tyres this winter

People not respecting the rules risk a fine of €135, but as of the 2023/2024 season, a decree to fine those without tyres has not yet been passed.

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 (a French car rental company) 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.

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