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Fuel crisis
Renting a car in fuel-starved France? No need to panic
Photo: AFP

Renting a car in fuel-starved France? No need to panic

Oliver Gee · 27 May 2016, 11:59

Published: 27 May 2016 11:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 27 May 2016 11:59 GMT+02:00

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Tourists - especially those from abroad - can be forgiven for worrying about France's fuel shortage. As lovely as the French countryside is, getting stuck with an empty tank in the middle of it is enough to ruin your weekend. 
And with (unofficial) reports saying that over 5,000 fuel stations are empty or running low, it's no wonder that The Local has had emails, tweets, and comments on our Facebook page from would-be car renters.

After all, how can you return a car with a full tank of petrol if there isn't any petrol to be found? (as the tweeter below asks).
What's worse, some companies can charge whopping fees for having to refill cars returned with empty tanks, which would incidentally be another way to ruin a good weekend.
But rental agencies across France, however, have been quick to stress that there is nothing to worry about.
A spokesperson from the offices of Hertz said the fuel shortages haven't affected business. 
"Everything is as normal. You can find information about where to re-fuel, it's just a matter of doing it in advance," she told The Local.
"People are still returning with full tanks of fuel just as they usually do. We've had no problems."
At car rental company Sixt, a desk worker said that her company had fielded calls from France and abroad from people concerned about the strikes. 
"But the situation is better now, and if people rent a car with a half-full tank, then they only have to return it with a half-full tank," she told The Local.
In northern France, which has been particularly badly hit by the crisis, some agencies aren't renting cars out with full tanks anymore at all, reported Europe 1. 
But a Hertz worker in Deauville, Normandy, said that they’re not doing anything differently.
"At the moment there’s no problem," he told The Local, adding that they’re still renting cars with full tanks of gas.
For the weekend ahead, the general consensus is that things are going to improve. Frédéric Plan, the spokesperson for French fuel union FF3C, told BFM TV that "the worst has passed".
While motorists may have to queue to get fuel, there are still enough petrol stations open with plentiful supplies.
Nevertheless all the uncertainty has been enough to prompt holiday cancellations. 
"My parents wanted to hire a car from Marseille on Saturday and the company wasn't able to guarantee a car with a full tank of petrol, so they ended up cancelling their holiday," British man Angus Brown told The Local.
Story continues below…
"They were very concerned that they could end up in Marseille and not have the transport they had planned, plus they felt very unsure about whether they'd be able to find petrol when they were there."
The couple, in their seventies, had planned to spend two weeks in the south of France driving around the villages. 
"They're very disappointed. They're regular visitors to France and were very excited. This is the first time they've ever had to cancel a holiday, so it's been quite a bit of a shock," Brown added.
If you are coming to France, breakdown companies have given The Local some useful advice to help you avoid running out of fuel (see link below).
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