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

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 in France to buy a car?
Photo: AFP

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, Hampshire 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.

The registration process has since changed however with everything being done on line now.

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 [email protected].

by Joanna York

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Readers reveal the worst places in France for pickpockets… and tips to avoid them

If you're someone who has had their holiday to France ruined by a pickpocket, then you're certainly not alone. And it isn't only in the French capital that you have to watch out.

Readers reveal the worst places in France for pickpockets... and tips to avoid them
One reader said that people should watch out for pickpockets at Lyon train station (pictured above). Photo: AFP
A recent report revealed that 2019 has seen a surge of cases of pickpocketing on the Paris metro. But the French capital isn't the only place in France where you need to watch out for petty crime. 
We asked our readers who know France well to tell us where else in the country you need to be that extra bit cautious about your handbag, wallet or phone and for any advice on keeping possessions safe.  
Unsurprisingly many of the places mentioned by readers were in cities with high levels of tourism. 
One of the places that came up again and again was the eastern French city of Strasbourg, with readers noting that thieves tend to operate around the train station, old town and the very popular Christmas markets. 

Photo: AFP

“I was targeted by pickpockets in Strasbourg walking near the old town. Two women – a 40-year-old woman with a 20-year-old girl — walked very close behind me, as I was walking very fast, and tried opening a small shoulder bag,” said Greg Moore from the US. 
Another reader said that they “watched a group of girls working the crowd at the Christmas markets.”
The beautiful southern French city of Nice was also highlighted by several readers as a place where it is wise to keep a close eye on your belongings. 
One reader noted that there are “pickpockets in abundance” and that the city in general “is horrible for pickpocketing”. 
“My credit and debit cards were stolen and used when we visited there a few years ago,” they said. 
Lyon, the capital city in France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, is very popular with tourists who are drawn to the city for its architecture, culture – and of course the world famous cuisine. 
But while it's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security by beautiful surroundings, Lyon was also highlighted by readers as a place to be cautious. 
Linda Martz, who has lived in the city for three years, told us that a pickpocket stole her wallet while she boarded a train. 
And another reader Sandra Beard told us that drivers should be particularly careful due to “scam artists” targeting people with cars.      
There are “scam artists who “help” you at parking ticket machines while they palm (and take) your credit card (and tells you the machine took your card),” she said.
“They have your PIN after looking over your shoulder,” she said, adding that when this happened to her the man “withdrew €5,000 from three banks before we froze our account (within 10 mins).”
Photo: AFP
It might not be so surprising that the resort town of Cannes on the French Riviera, which has a reputation as a bit of a playground for the rich, was also on readers' lists, with one saying that his brother was pickpocketed as he stepped onto a train at Cannes train station. 
Meanwhile reader Leslie White, who lives in Paris, said she and her husband were “hit with the 'bird poop scam'” while strolling in the grounds of the Domaine de Chantilly in northern France. 
“A plop of green goop landed on my head. A helpful couple walking behind us helped to clean us off with disposable wipes. My husband somehow had some on him too. They also cleaned out his wallet and of course it was they who had thrown the 'poop' at me in the first place. We didn’t figure it out until the next day,” she said. 
Other readers mentioned Tours train station and tram stop, the market in Arles – where reader Sue Byford said her gold necklace was snatched from her neck – and Disneyland, where one person told us they had their new phone stolen, as specific places where pickpockets operate.  
Police around France are aware of the high levels of pickpocketing in certain cities and have offered advice on how to avoid becoming a target, including avoiding the “temptation to make valuables, such as expensive handbags and jewellery, too visible or easy to take”. 
They have also advised caution when sitting on the terrasse of a bar or café. 
It's important to be “very vigilant, do not leave a wallet or phone on a table, in front of everyone” or leave your valuables in your jacket if you leave it slung over a chair,” the Rouen police previously told the French press. 
Our readers also had some suggestions of their own, including using zip ties on bags and neck pouches for credit cards and your phone. 
One reader said they take the extra precaution of putting mini-locks on all the zippers on their backpack. 
Two readers pointed out that unfortunately it is “necessary to be wary of friendly people”.
“Any distraction is an opportunity,” said one.