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Geneva car hire...Swiss or French?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
After some advice on which side to hire from.

Arriving in Geneva at 8.45am and need to get to La Clusaz as quickly as possible, as ski trip is only 2 days long.

What are the advantages/disadvantages/rules that i should be aware of for hiring from either side of the airport please.
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Swiss gives you winter tyres. Well worth it. French cars in the terminal and MIGHT be cheaper.
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@mikeycharlton, If you do a search there are plenty of threads which will help you and discuss this topic from many angles - in short, I would suggest hiring from the Swiss side for a 2 day break in La Clusaz. The car hire desks, the journey itself (French side-La Clusaz v Swiss side-La Clusaz), snow tyres/winterisation issues, vignette etc etc are all factors to consider and when time is of the essence it is imo far easier from the Swiss side.
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cheers, so hiring from the French side adds on roughly how much driving time?

@pam w, you say 'French cars in the terminal'.....what do you mean by that? Are the Swiss ones not in the terminal? Yes French side is coming up about 30% cheaper. Appreciate Swiss side will come with winter tyres.

What is a vignette? Embarassed
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@mikeycharlton, Vignette is the annual windscreen ticket which must be displayed to drive on Swiss motorways. Included in Swiss car hire. I don’t know about French side. Swiss hire cars are in a building a couple of blacks from the terminal. Shuttle bus takes you but we find it easier to walk.
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Vignette is to allow you to drive on the Swiss motorway - the fastest way to La Clusaz via the border post at Bardonnex. Yes, that's a useful point. The swiss cars are down the road from the terminal - short walk or shuttle bus. You don't want to be finding your way off the motorway given you are in a hurry to get there - some hire cars from the French side will have the vignette but if not they're 40 swiss francs. If it's forecast to be at all snowy you're best renting on the Swiss side, really.
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Ok so a Vignette is mandatory for Motorways. Does the route via Bardonnex involve a motorway? Assuming yes?

It looks like there is another route via the A40. Is that a motorway too? Does the 'A' prefix of the road number mean it's a motorway?

Also are there any tolls on the route?

I've been to Geneva plenty of times, just never hired a car, hence being utterly clueless.
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Yes, vignette mandatory. A prefix means motorway. There are tolls on the route. Just one before you turn off for La Clusaz I think. But particularly when time is of the essence it's the way to go. The alternative is to drive via Geneva town and that can be quite busy and confusing. One thing to be aware of is that signage for motorways in Switzerland is green and in France it's blue (like in the UK).
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@pam w, ok thanks.

Roughly how much does it cost in each direction, and do you just pay cash or debit card?

Any hidden extras that I should consider when hiring car?
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You can pay cash or credit card - it'll only be a few euros. Cost of a beer. A bargain compared to what you'll have paid from the airport to Bardonnex. wink Have you hired cars elsewhere? It can be well worth taking out an insurance policy against all the excesses - somewhere like https://www.insurance4carhire.com
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@pam w, ...through Quidco for cash back. Never renew always get a new policy


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Sat 16-02-19 16:55; edited 1 time in total
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pam w wrote:
A bargain compared to what you'll have paid from the airport to Bardonnex. wink


I've lost you there!?

No, not hired cars elsewhere. I'll have a look at the link, thanks.

Cheapest price coming in at £85 (48 hours rental) on holiday autos. Are there any other sites worth looking at?
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Quote:

I've lost you there!?

You have to pay for the Swiss vignette even to drive a few miles to Bardonnex - which makes it expensive!
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mikeycharlton wrote:
Cheapest price coming in at £85 (48 hours rental) on holiday autos. Are there any other sites worth looking at?
Do you know which rental provider that would be booked with? All the main car rental companies seem to be based in the terminal (with a short bus ride or a 10 minute walk to get to the car rental garage), but some of the cheaper ones I think aren't so convenient and might add to the time it takes to collect the car.
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pam w wrote:
Quote:

I've lost you there!?

You have to pay for the Swiss vignette even to drive a few miles to Bardonnex - which makes it expensive!


ah right, so the vignette only applies to Swiss motorways, not French ones. So the road from the airport to the Bardonnex is a motorway right?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Yes and Yes. Bardonnex is the border where you cross into France. From the airport (and it's far easier from the Swiss side) follow signs for "France", Annemasse and Chamonix Mont Blanc on the A40 (green signposting). But you can also go to Chamonix and Annemasse off the motorway (there is always an alternative to the toll roads) so keep wits about you!
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@rob@rar, it's with Dollar.
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@pam w, ok so head to Bardonnex regardless and then use either A40 or A41 - depending on real time traffic on the day.
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mikeycharlton wrote:
@rob@rar, it's with Dollar.
They're based in the terminal. If time is of the essence I'd say hiring via the Swiss part of the terminal is much the better option, even if it costs a little more. Your car will definitely come with winter tyres, which is not guaranteed if you hire on the French side, which might make your drive to resort a bit smoother if you arrive when it is snowing.
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Always worth getting a benchmark hire price through the Geneva Airport Car Hire pages. These drop you onto the Swiss ‘.ch’ pages of the hire companies, as opposed to the corporate ‘.com’ pages. The former sometimes have rates and vehicles not shown on the corp pages.

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

If you join the Hertz Gold Club (it’s free) you may receive special offers and you’ll get fastrack, upgrade if possible and 2nd driver free. Also check that your employer's travel agent or your professional association etc. don't have special discount deals with a preferred hire company. My previous employer was a multinational whose travel agency happily made personal reservations at a big discount (it's all good business for them). As a member of the IoD I get a discount with Hertz - on top of the Gold membership this means I usually book with them, although occasionally someone else does have a better offer. I also always hire from the Swiss side. I usually manage to get a car for around £24/day all-in. Last upgrade was to a new, 5-door, BMW 118d xDrive from a Fiesta (although we have the luxury of always being able to travel weekdays off-peak, and neve go in school hols, so no surprise we can get a good rate).

Also, make absolutely sure you're collecting and returning to Cointrin. A friend of mine got caught with 'a really good deal' and failed to notice the return was all the way out at Ferney Voltaire. He took the car back to P51 at GVA where he'd collected it, and was told he had to take it to FV, which is a long way away. No problem if you have factored the time in but he hadn't.
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ok cheers guys.

So no extra hidden charges for taking the car across the border?
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mikeycharlton wrote:
So no extra hidden charges for taking the car across the border?
No.
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I almost always end up renting from the French side. The savings can be quite large (but sometimes the Swiss side is cheaper- check). Having the car pick up just by the terminal means for me it is more convenient and with just hand luggage the ability to just drop the car off and walk straight through security is a real boost.
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@johnE, but isn't the journey out of/ and then back into it (when returning) the French side a bit of faff if avoiding the motorway? I presume you avoid the motorway due to lack of vignette?
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There's a distinction between the 'French Side' at the airport itself, and the 'French Side' at Fernay Voltaire. FV is beyond the airport perimeter to the north of the site and a long walk. Sometimes there is a shuttle bus. Sometimes not. Sometimes people pick up at the airport but find they have to drop-off back at FV is the airport parking is full. Using the French Side usually means no Swiss autoroute vignette and so you have to work out the route to/from France avoiding this (CH police are very hot on picking up cars without vignettes). As long as you know what's happening and can factor in any extra time that's fine, but you need to check. The main problem with the French Side arises if you don't know what's involved, hence the advice to make sure what you're actually doing both on pickup and drop-off.
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Keep in mind that you can’t take a luggage trolley between the French and Swiss side of the airport which makes it very challenging if travelling with kids or a lot of luggage/skis. Caught me out a few weeks ago, dropped off hire car on the French side with 3 weeks worth of luggage, skis, two car seats, two kids under five etc, when you get to the French/Swiss boundary inside the terminal there are bollards that stop the luggage trolley, you then need to navigate around a passageway past Swiss customs and down an escalator without a trolley to get to Swiss arrivals (where you can pick up a trolley again - same luggage trolley company and cost on both sides so not sure why they make it so difficult) and then up to Swiss departures - fine if it’s just you at the border point but would not do that again with children and luggage.
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Swiss side.
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We would be doing it with hand luggage only.

For the sake of about £15 extra (only hiring car for 2 days) it seems much easier to use the Swiss side. I also don't really fancy navigating myself via back roads for a few miles just to avoid the motorway - particularly as I've never done the journey before. And presumably if i'm using a sat nav it will try to direct me via the motorway which i'd then have to ignore. Seems like a bit of ball ache, especially when i'm trying to get to La Clusaz as soon as possible.

What are traffic conditions like around Geneva at 8am on a weekday when trying to get back to the airport?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
That's a good question. The queues at Bardonnex can be long as a lot of people commute into Switzerland to work. Leave plenty of time.
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Am I the only one who has got lost on the Swiss side? I missed the motorway going out and ended up having to do a U turn on a busy main road to get back. Then missed the entrance to the car hire on the way back.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@johnE, You certainly see plenty of confused returners missing the poorly signposted car hire return entrance.
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@johnE, no, I've missed the motorway on the way out too. The turning looked like a bus lane until it was too late to dive down it. Took a while to turn around and get back.
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Matt1959 wrote:
@johnE, You certainly see plenty of confused returners missing the poorly signposted car hire return entrance.


It’s a good game of dodgems
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Have done both and the first time we hired on the French side cost us an extra hour and a half and €200 in call roaming from using google maps to find our way in CH. We had snow in chatel on the way back and driving without winter tyres and avoiding the Swiss motorway was a major pain. If there is not a lot in it and you are pressed for time I would hire on the Swiss side
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@mikeycharlton, most definitely Swiss side. The in-terminal feature of the French side is not really a big advantage. Swiss desks are in terminal - turn right as you exit and not very far, and the carpark is no more than 4 minute easy walk away - ignore the bus. I have only done French once with hand luggage which involved walking in the terminal to the French area upstairs and arriving,IIRC, at a small rental desk area with queues. Didn’t seem as straight forward as Swiss - not to mention route finding when driving back to the airport.

Also get a hertz gold membership as per @LaForet, which gets you priroty checkin and was includes Dollar car rental. I personally avoid Avis/Budget as they try to charge extra for chains eventhough they are already spoken in the boot of 2wD cars.
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I rent from GVA 2-3 times a season and would always do it on the Swiss side. I book through Holiday Autos, taking the QuidCo link first (saving an extra 6%). Typically I end up renting from Budget and I find them very efficient. I never get the addition insurance as if you look at the exclusions it's rarely worth it.

I also never catch the bus to the car hire car park, always walk with the baggage trolley and it never would have been quicker to take the bus. On the way back I fill up again at the petrol station right next to the car hire carpark, but I have managed to fill up in the first motorway service station after Annecy, then driven prudently and it still looked full when they checked it after drop off.

I never pay extra for chains. That could come back to bite me, but all the Budget cars I have had have had snow tyres and have been good enough to get me out of Val d'Isere in heavy fresh snow.
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When you take the bus between the terminal and the garage with the hire cars it seems a long way because it treks round a bit of a one-way system. It isn't a problem to walk.
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GVA newbie here too.

is the car rental entrance and exit on the airport side of the car park or the E25/E62 motorway side of the car park?

Many Thanks
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@springer222, Hi Springer. The entrance and exit are on a one way road that runs parallel and adjacent to the E25/E62 motorway, heading south west.

If you zoom in on Google Maps you can see the P51 Longue Duree car park. The ground floor is where you pick up & drop off your cars.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Mon 18-02-19 17:00; edited 1 time in total
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Brill, thank you
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