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Driving out of Geneva Airport

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
After deliberating while on which type of transfer to use, went for the private car. The other options were a mess

Couple of questions:


    We've hired from the French side, spent a while looking into the logistics of it. Would you recommend buying the Swiss vignette to make use of the motorway?

    If not, should one drive through Geneva or around Swiss via D884.

    Lastly, Enterprise apparently charge for cross border travel. How will they know?


FYI, I know there's a few threads on transfer options. The car cost me £400 for 8 days, resort parking at Les Arcs 2000 is £75, petrol & tolls about £75. £550 all in I reckon.
The bus to Bourg was around £100 return pp. Private transfer were £700 at least!
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viciousvulture wrote:
If not, should one drive through Geneva or around Swiss via D884.

Through Geneva is faster, in my experience. The D884 itself is fast but you go through a lot of small villages after Collonges.
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@viciousvulture, The train is the least expensive transfer option.

Quote:

Lastly, Enterprise apparently charge for cross border travel. How will they know?

The Swiss vignette may give it away. I haven't noticed any other companies charging for cross border travel, but I have noticed that the car hire companies recently are asking if I intend to cross an international border.

The hire car may have a vignette in it allready, otherwise it can be bought at the border. They do not normally check the vignette crossing from Switzerland to France but do check on returning from France on the motorway. To avoid that go via Saint-Julien-en-Genevois

A a total cost of £550 is about the same as driving from the UK all the way, but you will still have to pay for car parking.
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viciousvulture wrote:
Lastly, Enterprise apparently charge for cross border travel. How will they know?


They’ll know
- if you breakdown and use their breakdown service or try to use it.
- if you buy their insurance, have an accident and try to claim
- if you incur a traffic offence in France as it will be sent to them as the owner

Each, although unlikely, might have unpleasant consequences for you? Up to you if you risk it.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Quote:

Up to you if you risk it.

Up to you if you risk not having snow tyres, too. If it's very snowy, as you hope it will be, make sure you've mastered the chains. And remember that however great your technique, they'll not help if they're the wrong size......
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@viciousvulture You're 'hiring from the French side' but can you clarify exactly where you're picking-up and dropping-off the rental car? Will it be Ferney Voltaire? I ask because some Snowheads have rented from the French side but ended-up doing the pickup/drop-off at the Swiss side of the airport.

I'd echo the warning that some French-side rentals don't include winter tyres, which to my mind is a major no-no if you plan to drive into the mountains. Or you get stung for an extra charge for winters and chains when you check-in at the rental desk. It's unwise to travel on Swiss autoroutes without a vignette - the police are hot on picking-up vehicles without one.

Your post implies that you're also considering driving down all the way in your own car. You're probably familiar with the logistics but if not, I wrote a blog piece about driving to the Swiss Alps and although it's aimed at the Quatre Vallées as a destination, a lot of the advice and links are generic.


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Mon 19-09-22 12:50; edited 1 time in total
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LaForet wrote:
@viciousvulture You're 'hiring from the French side' but can you clarify exactly where you're picking-up and dropping-off the rental car? Will it be Ferney Voltaire? I ask because some Snowheads have rented from the French side but ended-up doing the pickup/drop-off at the Swiss side of the airport.

I'd echo the warning that some French-side rentals don't include winter tyres, which to my mind is a major no-no if you plan to drive into the mountains. Or you get stung for an extra charge for winters and chains when you check-in at the rental desk.


Good question.

https://www.enterprise.co.uk/en/car-hire/locations/france/geneva-airport-french-sector-f584.html

That's the operator, clearly says french side. And they have another office that's just referred to as Geneva Airport, so presumably Swiss side.

I'm planning on taking snow chains from home, I hope I don't have to use them!

Honestly, the transfer to these French resorts is a nightmare, and a bit of a put off.
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LaForet wrote:
@viciousvulture Your post implies that you're also considering driving down all the way in your own car. You're probably familiar with the logistics but if not, I wrote a blog piece about driving to the Swiss Alps and although it's aimed at the Quatre Vallées as a destination, a lot of the advice and links are generic.


Apologies for the confusion, we're flying to Geneva Airport and then hiring a car.
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No problem. But how will you know what size the wheels will be on your rental car? Also be aware that some cars - typically AWD and SUVs - may not take chains. The rental arrangement only guarantees a car in a particular category. I'd say it's 50:50 that they won't fit. I've often got upgraded at GVA into a higher category but that's not been an option - all the cars in the category I booked were out. Quite a few Snowheads have rented and then bought chains locally once they know the tyre/wheel size, but I'm not sure many/any have taken chains with them.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Mon 19-09-22 13:01; edited 1 time in total
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LaForet wrote:
No problem. But how will you know what the wheels will be on your rental car? The rental arrangement only guarantees a car in a particular category. I'd say it's 50:50 that they won't fit. I've often got upgraded at GVA into a bigger category and that's not been an option - all the cars in the category I booked were out. Quite a few Snowheads have rented and then bought chains locally once they know the tyre/wheel size, but I'm not sure many/any have taken chains with them. Also be aware that some cars - typically AWD and SUVs - may not take chains.


Thanks, lots to think about for sure. It's a shame car rental companies operate like the wild west.

I'll have a look at weather forecasts closer to the time and plan accordingly.

We went to Italy in March but didn't bother with them as it was fine weather.
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Quote:

Also be aware that some cars - typically AWD and SUVs - may not take chains.

Gulp! If that is the case I would not advise using them in the alps
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
OK, just be aware that Ferney Voltaire is a long way out from the airport, so you just need to leave a bit of extra time margin on returns, even if there's a shuttle running. And just double-check what exactly the shuttle service is between French GVA and Ferney - the link you posted doesn't say exactly how you get there and back. I mention this because a friend of mine ended up having to walk around the airport perimeter after a return at Ferney and almost missed his flight as a result.
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LaForet wrote:
No problem. But how will you know what size the wheels will be on your rental car? The rental arrangement only guarantees a car in a particular category. I'd say it's 50:50 that they won't fit.

I wouldn't be so optimistic, TBH, with the range of tyre and wheels sizes in use on ordinary cars such as you'll get at a rental. As you imply, my experience is that it's quite rare to get the car you clicked on when booking, and even if you do there's no guarantee of them being fitted with any given size wheels and tyres.

So I'd rule this idea, bringing chains from home, right out; either rent the chains with the car or buy some cheap ones the right size in a decent-sized French supermarket or Brico and hope they're easy enough to use should you need to. And in any case you should ensure that winter tyres are fitted.

As for the airport, I'd just add that getting into or out of it at the moment is a complete mess of roadworks, roads all over the place, signs contradicting satnav and each other, taking you onto the motorway even when you don't want to or vice versa, and generally making it very difficult. If you're genuinely picking up from France (if so there will be a shuttle bus required) you'll be fine and able to skirt the Swiss motorway to St. Julien, but if not I strongly suggest you bite the bullet and make sure you have a vignette. All else apart I reckon this would save up to half an hour, especially once you factor in the extra five minutes you'll take when you get lost trying to find the right road into Geneva. When, not If, and hope it's only one detour. Confused
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It's quite interesting because if you Google Enterprise french side, the listing is shown in Ferney Voltaire and if you also look up the address (Geneve Apt France, FERNEY VOLTAIRE, Ferney Voltaire Cedex, V, FR, 01216) it shows up in Ferney Voltaire.

However there is a google review, left only a few days ago which goes as follows "We dropped off our rental car here - the Google Maps pointer is in the wrong place; trust me, it's actually at the airport, not in the middle of Ferney-Voltaire itself"
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
johnE wrote:
Quote:

Also be aware that some cars - typically AWD and SUVs - may not take chains.

Gulp! If that is the case I would not advise using them in the alps

Typically, you'll be told "They aren't needed." at the rental desk. Which is often a lie. The real reason is that without a change to a narrower wheel and tyre the default wheel+tyre size is too big to take chains. r you'll be told "Srry, we've run out of chains, but it's a 4x4 with winter tyres, so you should manage OK." Well, yes, you should manage, but the reason you can't have chains is because they won't fit (and they knew this when they rented the car to you). All of which becomes an issue if the Gendarmes makes them mandatory or you simply need them to get up that slope.

And yes, there's a lot of ambiguity around some of the French car rental arrangements because, as you say, in some cases pick-up is at the airport. But as my friend found, that was fine, but drop-ff was in Ferney. Which he didn't discover until he turned up where he picked-up (at the airport) and was directed to go all the way over to actual Ferney.

Basically, I suppose it's not an issue if you've allowed enough time. Worst-case scenario, the passengers and luggage get dropped-off at the terminal, and the driver just has to make their way back from Ferney - perhaps an extra half an hour or so.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Mon 19-09-22 13:21; edited 1 time in total
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
johnE wrote:
Quote:

Also be aware that some cars - typically AWD and SUVs - may not take chains.

Gulp! If that is the case I would not advise using them in the alps


Honestly, with winter tyres and 4WD you will never need chains. That's why the recent rule change explicitly states Winter Tyres OR Chains must be fitted/carried.

There are some chains, such as the Steg Centrax ones I still have, despite never needing them for 20-odd years driving/living in the Alpes, which mount onto the wheel nut and can indeed be fitted and used in such vehicles.

Not that this is relevant for a rental car, unless you've got some that can easily be adjusted for various different tyre sizes - mine can be changed, I think, to add or remove extra links, but it's a bench job, not a roadside quick-fix.
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Ok, so I'm thinking forget taking the chains from home, waste of time.

Buy from over there, can return them if unused I suppose.

It is now law to have chains or WT so best have them present.
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LaForet wrote:
The real reason is that without a change to a narrower wheel and tyre the default wheel+tyre size is too big to take chains.

IME it's the clearance on the inside of the wheel that's the issue, so it's not the tyre size per se, but that size on that vehicle, and in many cases other sizes are not available as standard equipment. I first came across this on a Volvo V70XC back in 1999, which clearly stated that you should no use chains with any of the allowed wheel sizes, including the smaller steel rims and winter tyres I bought once we'd moved over here.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Mon 19-09-22 13:25; edited 1 time in total
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Chaletbeauroc wrote:

Honestly, with winter tyres and 4WD you will never need chains.

Sorry but I have to disagree 100% with this. There's no way you can guarantee everyone on Snowheads that no journey ever to the Alps in winter in a 4WD will need chains. Yes, it's unlikely that an AWD vehicle with winters will need chains, but there is still a distinct possibility.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Mon 19-09-22 13:32; edited 1 time in total
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How do I ensure winter tires are fitted.

None of the french providers have this option at check out.
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@viciousvulture, No idea in practice, but in principal you contact them in advance and demand that they are fitted, otherwise you'll cancel the booking.

Good luck with that. The problem is that we really don't know how they'll be dealing with the new law, so only time will tell.
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Chaletbeauroc wrote:
LaForet wrote:
The real reason is that without a change to a narrower wheel and tyre the default wheel+tyre size is too big to take chains.

IME it's the clearance on the inside of the wheel that's the issue, so it's not the tyre size per se, but that size on that vehicle, and in many cases other sizes are not available as standard equipment.

Yes, that's right. And what I said, basically. The tyre size doesn't give you any idea at all as to whether the chains will fit. On many cars, they will, but on many performance cars, SUVs and 4x4s the wheels fitted as standard don't leave enough room behind the wheel for chains to safely rotate, especially if they're a bit loose. You can only know by looking in the Owners Manual and checking against the wheels and tyres fitted.

The OPs strategy is one that some Snowheads do take successfully, especially late in the season: wait 'till you've actually got the car and then get some cheap chains if the weather is looking dodgy. The risk is that the setup may not be able to take chains at all, or you may have a problem finding some the right size. You'll also have to work through an Owners Manual in a foreign language just to check, although that's probably manageable.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
LaForet wrote:
Chaletbeauroc wrote:

Honestly, with winter tyres and 4WD you will never need chains.

Sorry but I have to disagree 100% with this. There's no way you can guarantee everyone on Snowheads that no journey ever to the Alps in winter in a 4WD will need chains. That's irresponsible.


I'm only speaking from my own experience, in all snow (and ice) conditions, in a variety[1] of 4WD vehicles (and one front-wheel drive) over 20+ years since moving here, and extrapolating that to justify why it's considered acceptable to have such vehicles on which traditional chains are unable to be fitted. Not intending this as generic advice, especially given that we're talking about car rental here, not own car ownership.

[1] From low-slung sports cars like my wife's Audi TT Roadster to my current LR Defender.


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Mon 19-09-22 13:33; edited 1 time in total
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LaForet wrote:
Chaletbeauroc wrote:

Honestly, with winter tyres and 4WD you will never need chains.

Sorry but I have to disagree 100% with this. There's no way you can guarantee everyone on Snowheads that no journey ever to the Alps in winter in a 4WD will need chains. That's irresponsible.


Been going to the Alps every year by car for over 15 years and never needed chains. Currently have a 4 x 4 with all season tyres (so not full winter tyres) and previously had a Mercedes’ estate (rear wheel drive) with winter tyres and never needed chains. Of course nothing guaranteed but I can’t see what the point is of covering every eventuality . . . . . The risk of an accident skiing on the slopes is much higher but that doesn’t stop us skiing.

Risk of travelling without snow chains is way overblown. Much higher risks in terms of likelihood and impact exist elsewhere in a skiing trip before you worry about snow chains. If forecast looks really bad you have a few days warning if you are that concerned. All season tyres / winter tyres have always fixed it for me
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I don't doubt your experience. But as a resident you can pick and choose when you travel. Most locals in our village do the same and avoid extreme conditions. But the OP has no choice but to travel on the days they do, given their flights. You usually see at least one 'Snowmageddeon' event each year when the weather is particularly bad and coincides with a major change-over holiday weekend.

The "I've been going to the Alps since the Late Jurassic and I've never needed chains." is an irrelevance. It's just one person's sample of events. I travelled to the Alps for twelve years on summer tyres and would have said the same. Then the year I got winters the snow started at Besançon and we made it across the Jura when even local cars were getting stuck. You can't extrapolate from personal experience because it's either too small a sample, or as with residents, the situation isnt the same.

So the argument is about probabilities: my point is that the probability isn't zero, it's something. You're going skiing on snow. You anticipate there will be snow. It's entirely possible it will be snowing on the day you're forced to transit between the airport and your destination. Extreme weather has coincided with transfer days regularly in the past. So what's the probability you'll need those chains? I think that like insurance, chains are worth it to cover a situation that will be a lot of trouble without them. But of course, others will decide differently.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Mon 19-09-22 14:43; edited 3 times in total
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LaForet wrote:
I don't doubt your experience. But as a resident you can pick and choose when you travel. Most locals in our village do the same and avoid extreme conditions.

I have never avoided any extreme conditions. The only restricting factors have ever been being able to dig out enough snow-ploughed snow to get low cars onto the road. Other than that, if the road's open I'll drive it. There was a time when my wife had a front-wheel drive Peugeot 206 which I would indeed be cautious about driving in severe snow, but with the AWD cars it's never been a consideration.
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viciousvulture wrote:
How do I ensure winter tires are fitted.

None of the french providers have this option at check out.

Rent from the Swiss side.

Are you experienced in driving on mountain roads in the snow? It's not necessarily an easy drive. I'd not have got up and down the mountain in some of the conditions I've seen on the transfers up to the higher resorts like Arcs 2000.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
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So will you be happy to give the OP your contact details so you can help retrieve them when they get stuck? Becasue they followed your advice? No, I didn't think so. Just like I won't refund the OP the cost of their chains if they don't ever need them.

I could be completely wrong. The consequence of my being so for the OP is that they spend money unnecessarily. If you're wrong, and they need those chains, then they are either denied access to the mountain road by the police, so have to sit it out until they are allowed through, or get stuck. With all the consequences that entails.


Last edited by So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much on Mon 19-09-22 14:44; edited 2 times in total
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@Chaletbeauroc, I’m with you. 14 winters with AWD and good snow tyres on a car that couldn’t accept chains. Never owned any. Ans almost every weekend in themountains.
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Quote:

OK, just be aware that Ferney Voltaire is a long way out from the airport, so you just need to leave a bit of extra time margin on returns, even if there's a shuttle running.

I'm confused by this, and also concerned as I'm renting a French side car for a trip next month. I've not flown into Gva for a few years and perhaps the whole set up has changed, but last time I rented on the French side the cars were in the terminal building - actually more convenient than the Swiss side, where you need a bit of a walk or a shuttle bus. Granted there was a bit of a mess of road works and stuff getting out - but it was "follow your nose" out to the end of the entrance road right by the Ferney border post.

Granted also that any journey round there relying on a satnav is likely to end in tears. Or divorce.
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@under a new name I just think that no one can tell another that they 100% will not ever need snow chains on a winter drive to/from the mountains. Yes, the probabilities are low, especially with winter tyres fitted. But for everyone on Snowheads who posts that they've never needed them, there are as many who have said they did, including myself, more than once.

One thing I will come close to guaranteeing is that if the OP does fork out for chains, it virtually guarantees that the weather will be clear and brilliant. Whereas if they don't, it will start out bright and then dump the night before they leave and freeze in the morning. It's a variant of Murphy's Law, I think.


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Mon 19-09-22 14:11; edited 2 times in total
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@pam_w I think that the situation's confusing because yes, in many cases the 'French' rental cars are located inside the terminal. But there seem to be other cases where people have either found that their car is at Ferney itself, or been told to drive over there to drop it off even when it was picked up at the terminal. In the latter case, they were handed a pre-printed map of the route so it's obviously not just a one-off.

I suppose that my advice for a French rental is to (a) make sure that the pick-up and drop-off is explicitly at the terminal (and where*) and (b) allow a contingency for where the terminal space is full and the car has to be driven over to Ferney (although this is probably only a risk on very busy days).

*At P21 if you look at the Streetview photo below. This is next to (under?) the P20 public car park.


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Mon 19-09-22 14:37; edited 8 times in total
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pam w wrote:
Quote:

OK, just be aware that Ferney Voltaire is a long way out from the airport, so you just need to leave a bit of extra time margin on returns, even if there's a shuttle running.

I'm confused by this, and also concerned as I'm renting a French side car for a trip next month. I've not flown into Gva for a few years and perhaps the whole set up has changed, but last time I rented on the French side the cars were in the terminal building - actually more convenient than the Swiss side, where you need a bit of a walk or a shuttle bus. Granted there was a bit of a mess of road works and stuff getting out - but it was "follow your nose" out to the end of the entrance road right by the Ferney border post.

Granted also that any journey round there relying on a satnav is likely to end in tears. Or divorce.


You can see where the French cars are parked here:

"https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@46.2319611,6.1096443,3a,77.1y,101.4h,84.54t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1snVT_-AE7iOet4GRNbzekpA!2e0!6shttps:%2F%2Fstreetviewpixels-pa.googleapis.com%2Fv1%2Fthumbnail%3Fpanoid%3DnVT_-AE7iOet4GRNbzekpA%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D194.00516%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656"

Copy and paste the whole URL
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Quote:

I'm confused by this, and also concerned as I'm renting a French side car for a trip next month. I've not flown into Gva for a few years and perhaps the whole set up has changed, but last time I rented on the French side the cars were in the terminal building - actually more convenient than the Swiss side, where you need a bit of a walk or a shuttle bus. Granted there was a bit of a mess of road works and stuff getting out - but it was "follow your nose" out to the end of the entrance road right by the Ferney border post.

There are always some car hire companies that say they are at the airport but in fact you need a shuttle bus to get to them. I had one in Venice just recently, though in fact due to other reasons I was switched to one at the airport.

Unless there has been a dramatic change vey recently car hire from the French side is at the terminal. You need a shuttle bus for the Swiss side.
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@johnE We usually walk from the rental desk to P51 - it's less than 10 minutes and I reckon you can just about beat the bus there even if it's about to leave. But I'd get the shuttle bus if I had heavier luggage. I'm assuming the Swiss side rental desks and pickup/drop-off at P51 is still the same?


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Mon 19-09-22 14:50; edited 2 times in total
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pam w wrote:
Quote:

OK, just be aware that Ferney Voltaire is a long way out from the airport, so you just need to leave a bit of extra time margin on returns, even if there's a shuttle running.

I'm confused by this, and also concerned as I'm renting a French side car for a trip next month. I've not flown into Gva for a few years and perhaps the whole set up has changed,


Yes, the whole setup has changed. The only French side exit from the airport building is directly into an underground car park; I've not personally rented cars but this is the only area used for all transfers, off-site/valet parking and as far as I am aware also for car rental shuttle buses. There is nothing else there, no desks, no offices, nothing. Above ground is currently (last month, but it's been like this for a year or two now) several km of one-way around the airport before you could get to a french road border.

You need to check with your rental company,
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Quote:

The only French side exit from the airport building is directly into an underground car park

Yes, that's the way it was. The rental cars were in that underground car park - and yes, a tortuous way out to the Ferney border post, just a breeze in a car, but would be an unpleasant walk (my sister did it once, to stay in that "Stars" hotel which used to be a F1). That border post is very close to the airport - you go through it and straight under the runway. I was perplexed by suggestions that Ferney Voltaire had moved far away from the airport......

Perhaps somebody who HAS rented a French side car recently has reliable information. But even if the set up has changed, and it takes a shuttle bus (which actually I doubt) it won't be a problem for me. French shuttle bus or Swiss shuttle bus - not much difference either way.
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I rented from French side on Thursday, it’s a breeze & the drive through Geneva rather than round it is fairly easy as well, just head for the UN then past lake.
As Pam W says it’s a good 5 minutes drive from rental car pick up to actually leaving the security fence & I would be astonished if you were even allowed to walk it.
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Thanks @Jonny996, that's exactly as I remember it. My sister walked it in the dark having dropped me off on the international side of the airport, then driven round to drop off rented car. Her flight was early next morning so we thought we'd save the extra day's rental. But the road was more straightforward then, though still those high intimidating wire fences. The nice French manager of the grotty F1 was so horrified that she'd walked (with her case) that he gave her a lift back into the airport the following morning.

I've driven through Geneva and round the lake a few times without problems, but also encountered heavy traffic once or twice.
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Quote:

There is nothing else there, no desks, no offices, nothing. Above ground is currently (last month, but it's been like this for a year or two now) several km of one-way around the airport before you could get to a french road border.

I don't understand. The rental desks etc are in the terminal beside the little cafe. The hire cars are on the ground floor of the underground car park. Just take the lift down and walk out the door. I'm not sure what use the turning circle is put to now.
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