Swiss Vs French – Which Side of Geneva Airport Should You Rent a Car From?

Here’s a question asked thousands of times every year – is it better to rent a car from the Swiss side of Geneva Airport or outside the other exit in France?

A Unique Position

There really is no airport in the world quite like Geneva – it’s the only transport hub that exists in both France and Switzerland. The vast majority of flights land on the Swiss side, which also happens to be the largest part of the airport by quite a margin. The French area is much smaller in size and operates far fewer flights, but both sides offer ample car hire opportunities – hence the aforementioned question.

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As you are looking at different countries you are looking as different laws, different road rules and various other differences, meaning it’s in your best interests to choose wisely. And the good news is that it doesn’t matter which of the sides of the airport you land at or where you’re going – you can still pick between French and Swiss car hire.

Destination Decisions

Getting down to the nitty gritty now, if you are travelling onward to a destination in France including any of the ski resorts of the French Alps, you would probably be better off hiring a car from the French side of the airport. With all cars hired on the French side of the border you’ll be supplied with a free breathalyser kit, which you must carry by law in order to drive on French roads. Choose to hire on the Swiss side and you’ll have to bring or buy one yourself.

That being said, it’s very important if you’re heading into the mountains to check that your French car hire company includes things like snow tyres and chains if necessary, as if they don’t you might also have to fork out for these yourself.

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If on the other hand you are looking to make trips via the Swiss motorways, you need to make sure that the car has a small sticker on the windscreen that’s a bit like the tax disc you’ll be used to – called a vignette. This is again a legal requirement in Switzerland and therefore comes as standard with Swiss hire cars, but not with French. If you have to buy one, it’s an additional cost of €33 no matter how long or short your trip is.

And then of course comes the small matter of driving to Italy – which to choose? Well, given the fact that the fastest way into Italy means driving the Swiss motorways, you’ll probably be better off going for the Swiss car hire with the vignette included. You could always take the scenic route and avoid the motorways altogether, but chances are you’ll wish you hadn’t!

And the Price?

On the whole, the price for both French and Swiss car hire at Geneva Airport is about the same – don’t fall for anyone telling you there’s a huge difference either way. That being said, Switzerland doesn’t use the Euro but instead its own Swiss Franc, so depending on the exchange rates at the time you could make pretty big savings either way, depending on the strength of the respective currency.

Photo sources: world-guides.com – flickr.com/photos/jacek_nl

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