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Which Side of Geneva Airport Should I Rent a Car From?

If you are travelling to Geneva Airport and looking for car rental you may be a little confused to see 2 options available to you, Swiss Side or French Side? Depending on your onward destination or experience will affect which side of Geneva Cointrin International  Airport is the most suitable for you to collect your rental car. As the airport sits on the border of France and Switzerland, it is possible to collect a rental car from the French side or the Swiss side and there are a few things you need to know about both.
As with most things, price is a factor here and it is widely regarded that renting from the French side of Geneva Airport is the cheaper option and like for like quotes will often support this. So why is there a difference in price between the French and Swiss side and which one should you opt for? The following table shows which items are included as standard.
  French Side Swiss Side
Vignette NO YES
Easy Access To Motorway NO YES
Breathalyzer Kit YES NO
Vignette - this is the equivalent of the Swiss motorway tax disc and is compulsory on all class 1 and 2 roads in Switzerland. All cars from the Swiss side include this so you can travel on the motorway network in Switzerland, perfect for those wanting to join highway 1 and head south to Geneva, or the nearby Alpine ski resorts. Rental cars collected from the French side do not include the vignette, so if you plan to drive on the Swiss motorway network you will need to purchase one. These can be purchased from participating petrol stations in Switzerland or can be ordered before travel and cost 33 Euro (2012) and are valid for the calendar year in which they are purchased.
Easy Access To Motorway - The motorway network (1) runs adjacent to the Swiss side of Geneva Airport and signs / directions are easily followed. If collecting your rental car from the French side however, navigating to the motorway is not so easy and many find a sat nav useful. Of course, if you are familiar with the area this should not be a problem
Breathalyzer Kit - A new French law that came into force on 1 July 2012 requires any car travelling on French roads to have a breathalyzer kit in the car, read more here. If you are travelling from Geneva Airport into France, cars collected from the French side will have this included as standard. Cars collected from the Swiss side will not and you will have to ensure you either purchase one at the airport or before travelling onto French roads. Whilst these are relatively cheap to purchase, you will need to make arrangements to ensure you have one.
The final decision is yours, however we hope the above gives you some insight into the pro's and con's of renting from either side and will enable you to make an informed decision.
Either way, you will be pleased to know that Rhino offers the cheapest car hire at Geneva Airport no matter which side you choose, so you why not get a quote today by visiting our Geneva Airport car hire page.
Kellie Hodge
Posted: July 04, 2012 by Kellie Hodge 5 comments
About the Author -

Travel writer, customer service guru, Kellie knows the ins and outs of car rental and always happy to share her knowledge on our blog. Favourite country to visit: Spain.

Last updated: Monday, September 11, 2017
I am flying into GVA but want to hire a car from the French side. Can I pass through to the French side at the airport or do I need to take a taxi from Swiss side to French side? I will have the car hire documentation with me.
1/20/2022 1:11:18 PM
I am travelling to les 2 alpes which side is best to hire from I have a Sat Nav
11/22/2015 3:51:57 PM
Peter Lewis
The major issue in renting a car from the French side of the airport is that most people arrive on the Swiss side (unless arriving from a French airport). Support, and availability of cars, is much better on the Swiss side, and you don't have the hassle of collecting baggage & family from the French side, which is quite time-consuming. The French side is cheaper, but often a lot more hassle. If you're going to use any Swiss motorways, the vignette is essential (& you'll have to pay CHF40.- to get one).
11/1/2015 1:05:13 PM
Peter Lewis
The Breathalyzer issue is a bit of a red herring.Whilst French law says that you should have one, there is no penalty for not having one. This was because sufficient numbers couldn't be supplied (& renewed, as they have a limited life). In fact, most French cars don't have them! (I know - I live in France, close to GVA airport.)
11/1/2015 12:58:31 PM
Hi, I am flying into Geneva and travelling to Germany for a few days. I will then be travelling to Annecy for a week. I will then return to The airport. Which side do you recommend I hire a car from?
3/5/2015 10:21:59 PM