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Readers' tips: Where is the best place in France to buy a car?

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Readers' tips: Where is the best place in France to buy a car?
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15:42 CEST+02:00
Each week The Local asks its readers to share their tips about various aspects of living in France. This week we asked their opinion on the best place to buy a car in France and why. There was a clear winner and it wasn't what we were expecting.

So where is the best place to buy a car in France?

Although there are many places to buy cars in France, such as classic dealerships or via Le Bon Coin website there was one all-out winner in our reader poll.

Our readers overwhelmingly voted the best place to buy a car in France is in fact… the UK!

Why do our readers prefer buying cars in the UK?

Price is the main factor. Readers Annette Woodbine and Tony Jones both agreed that “ the prices of used cars here (in France) are absurd!”

Kate Harris also hasn't had much luck buying in l'Hexagon. She's “been looking for a second-hand car and very surprised at how expensive they are in France.”

It might seem counter-intuitive for buyers to cite the UK as the best place to buy Euro-friendly left-hand drive cars, but there are dealerships dedicated to selling them throughout Britain.

For many Brits moving to France a major advantage of using a UK dealership is that they are often more than willing to exchange left-hand drives (LHD) for right-hand drives.

Alastair Chaffey recommends the Left Hand Drive Place in Basingstoke for reliable vehicles, saying “I bought a low mileage LHD French registered Peugeot at the Left Hand Drive Place in Basingstoke, Essex and nine years later it's still running perfectly.”

He adds that as the car already had it's French license plates and it's French paperwork in order, all he had to do to transport it to France was get a local French insurer to cover it for the trip and then he brought it over on the ferry.

"We did the new CT (contrôle technique or ‘MOT') here and transferred the registration at our local sous-Prefecture," says Alastair Chaffey.

While another benefit of buying a car in the UK rather than in France might be that all the paperwork is in English, ultimately all vehicles brought into France need to be registered and fitted with French license plates.

Annette Woodbine is in the process of importing her second car from the UK to France and thinks the online registration process in France “appears simple as long as you have very good French.” 

However, reader John Wands cautions “we faced a horrendous (and costly) inspection on our Volkswagen that we imported from the US and eventually ended up shipping it back to the states.”

So, is there anywhere you can go in France to buy a car?

It seems like there are some good deals on cars out there in France. After John Wands shipped his Volkswagen back to the US, he “ended up going to a VW dealer and purchasing a one-year-old Volkswagen for a very reasonable price.”

Sandy Bletcher suggests looking on Facebook Marketplace for cheaper prices, although she notes “you'll need to “do your homework” before you buy anything.

For those who prefer to try before they buy Christopher Tyle suggests contacting a trusted car rental agency on the off chance they have cars for sale. He did so in Bergerac when he bought his used car from rental agency, Buggs.

“Buying from Buggs simplified it for me as I knew they spoke English and likely would be good to deal with as I had been a rental customer of theirs before,” he said.

Another recommended option was leasing a car. If you don't have much spare cas to splash on a car and don't want to get a loan out then leasing a car from a dealership is an option many seem to go for.

It all depends on the deal you get of course and some involved paying a lump sum up front. But a plus point is that any repairs that are needed should be covered as part of the deal.

If you would like to ask The Local's readers a question to hear their tips on life in France, email us at evie.burrows-taylor@thelocal.com.

by Joanna York

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