One of the things you can’t take with you when moving to France from the US is your car. (It doesn’t really pay to bring electronics either but at least you can get power converters if there’s something – say, a coffee maker – you can’t live without.)
That means you need to buy one shortly after you get here. (Note: rental cars ain’t cheap here.) Because one of us – and I’m not naming names – doesn’t drive a stick, we needed to look for an automatic, which greatly reduces your selection here.
After searching for a while (God bless the internet!), we found a dealership that had a few options to pick from. Because I had good luck with an Audi A4 last time here, I wanted to get another Audi. They had an A3, a slightly smaller version of the A4, but it had over 110,000 klicks and the price they wanted was too much in our opinion. So we test drove a 2015 VW Golf with less than half the mileage, er, kilometerage and liked it.
Note: the transmission was something called a ‘rob double embray,’ where apparently ‘rob’ stands for ‘robot’. When getting our insurance, our agent referred to this as a ‘semi-automatic’. Go figure.
Now, I wasn’t sure about this, but you can haggle with car dealers here. We got some euros knocked off and both parties were happy.
Here’s where things get a little different. Previously, we had bought our cars from individuals so we unsure of the process for dealers. We had had our rental for a while and the fees were adding up, so we wanted the car ASAP, as in like today, which was Tuesday. So when the salesman asked when we wanted the car, I said, “The sooner the better.” He started looking at his calendar – not a good sign. I interjected, “How about Thursday?” He frowned and said, “Pas possible.” So I respond, “Friday?” The frown lessens and he says, “Apres-midi?” (The afternoon?). “Sure. Let’s do it,” I say.
I then go to the bank on Wednesday morning to get a cashiers check. I give them the details and the receptionist says it’ll be ready in two days, which is Friday so I’m good.
Friday afternoon, the lovely missus and I get the check and then pick up the car. At closing, in a true French touch, the salesman brings us a bottle of champagne. One for the road, I suppose.
So, two questions:
- Why did it take three days for our car to get ready? They replaced the front tires, but still. When we got the paperwork from the salesman, there wasn’t anything different from what you’d get in the US.
- Two days to get a cashiers check? Ohhhhhh-Kaaaaay. Their computers know we have the money and they certainly have printers there. At least I was smart enough to go in advance to make the request.
Henry Ford would’ve approved. After all, he’s the man who allegedly said, “You can get your car in any color you want, just as long as it’s black.” In France, 90% of cars are black, white or gray (split the difference). It makes it a challenge sometimes when you’re trying to find your car in a parking lot or garage.
But our car is Pacifique Bleu. ‘Tis pretty. And it stands out in a parking lot.