When I lived in France and needed a good laugh I used to look at second-hand cars on garage forecourts. I did both - bought a French car and hired a garage near Carcassonne airport. But when I had to change I bought a RHD in the UK and exported it. Despite the additional costs it was still a lot cheaper than buying in France. Unless you are a persistent overtaker on small country roads driving a RHD car is not difficult. In the end, I think it will come down to financial outlay.
I used a company called LHD cars. The paperwork was in the name of the previous owner. You can find them easy enough doing a web search for lefthand drive cars. There are several companies in the UK doing it. Whoever you go with have a long chat with them first and make your requirements very clear. Ask lots of questions and if you want to get the vehicle RAC checked befor committing to buying it make sure they understand that. Sorry don’t mean to be condescending, I’m sure you know all this. Make sure you know what all the correct documents are. There is tons of info on this site. Good luck with whatever choice you make.
My concern would be with the new change of ownership system introduced a few months ago. I doubt it was designed to cope with car sales outside of France, it currently seems to be struggling to cope with certain sales that take place in France. I would make a point of asking the garage EXACTLY how the change of ownership process will work if you buy through them. French garages have direct access to the system (or did under the previous system) and they can do the change of ownership for you, all you need do is give them proof of ID. I can’t see any garages outside of France being authorised to process carte grise changes.
May be a little late in the day, but we have a car in France which we bought five years ago when our daughter was a teaching assistant in France. We own it and the carte grise (log book) is for our french address. We have had the Controle Technique (MOT) and servicing done on a regular basis and there seems to be no issue with ownership. Our insurance is also based on our French address. The car is parked long stay at Toulouse airport for around €575 pa which isn’t a great deal when you look at the costs of hire cars etc. Car insurance in France seems quite a bit cheaper than the UK, but servicing the car can be very expensive. Worked for us. No reason why it wouldn’t work for you!
Since 2004 I have transferred several UK-registered vehicles to French registration (immatriculation), and my insurers (AXA France) have always assisted me with this.
Yes, you will need a Certificate of Conformity, and with most cars this can be obtained from the vehicle manufacturer - although some charge quite heavily for this - in excess of £200. However, I have found a UK company that will supply such a Certificate for £65 for most vehicles (this price was correct in May 2017, the last time I dealt with them). They are Eurocert, 58 North Street, Bristol, BS3 1HJ, run by a very nice chap called David Williams, email address: dvlaadvice.co.uk, telephone 0117 902 8656.
You will also need to obtain a Quitus Fiscale from your local tax office in France, who will require to see your purchase invoice for the car, plus current UK MOT, your passport or other suitable proof of ID, Certificate of Conformity, the UK registration Certificate (V5) and proof of your address in France (a recent utility bill usually suffices). I have never had a problem with this and have never been charged a fee. You will then have to obtain a Controle Technique pass certificate and then have to fill in the French application for Immatriculation and send it together with the appropriate supporting documents to your local Prefecture, who will advise you of the fee payable for Immatriculation and the issue of the Carte Gris (this now includes a pollution tax, so diesels tend to cost more to register, as do big-engined cars. Once you pay, the Carte Grise is issued.
However, recently the registration system changed and it is now all supposed to be done online. Sadly, the website for this purpose malfunctions, and there is a huge backlog of unprocessed applications. However, I understand that some Prefectures will still, pending the website and backlog being sorted out, accept applications in person or by post.
A happy new year and Good Luck.
I must say the idea of purchasing a LHD car is appealing, particularly if it originated in France as should then come with the certificate of conformity.
I shall soon have to face this issue. What bothers me, believe it or not, is driving a LHD car - I actually find driving a RHD car on French roads easier than driving in the UK - I’m left-handed and for some reason it seems easier to drive RHD on the right…Learning to co-ordinate gear changes with my right hand could be tricky after 35 years of driving RHD. You probably think I’m being silly, but to me it’s similar to having to write with the “wrong” hand.
I have driven in Spain, it was a little daunting at first. I had to think about the “moves” i was going to take…before i did them. ie was is 2nd nature in the uk, i had to pre think, driving in Spain.
The gear changes were the same…had to think of the steps… there were times when my left hand disappeared into the door pocket searching for gearstick.
It is also easier where there is less traffic…in a maelstorm of traffic quite stressful. But if that is the worse case scenario…it gives you confidence for all the rest, and then a piece of cake.
It’s surprising how easily you adapt. I had been driving RHD vehicles for 40 years but found I became comfortable with the change very quickly. Indeed, after 10 years driving LHD here in France, I think I might now struggle more with a RHD vehicle in the UK.
there are a few compaines in england who specialise in cheep french cars
Its not the gear changes that were a problem for me … It was getting into the RH side and finding the steering wheel wasn’t there! I used to pretend I was searching for something before getting out and nonchantly climbing behind the wheel in the (right) LH side
Nope… I cannot cope with LHD…and I have tried, but my brain goes into melt-down. I like being alongside the fosse…
Better than being in it
Ha ha… I am prepared to go in gently if necessary…
The downside of buying a car would be missing the lottery of what car you will get this time at the Car Hire Desk at the airport …
…oh the excitement of which colour Fiat Panda will we get this time!
Can’t you stipulate?
I’ve never hired a car… but our friends who used to hire and now lease…they seem to get what they want…
I am sure if you go to the nice shiny car hire desks you can stipulate but we always go to the one that serves you the quickest (and happens to be pretty cheap also) - so the choice seems to be limited to Fiat Pandas.
We seem to hire a car about one every 6 weeks just for the weekend from either Bordeaux or Bergerac Airports - it always seems to work our well.
When work at our house was fully underway we did request a van to collect from the airport - this did get us some puzzled looks at the car hire desk - it did work very well indeed and was cheaper than a car also for the weekend.
Aha… I thought you meant they "fobbed you off " with one… sounds ideal for a quick flit…
Before using dvlaadvice do a search on various expat forums. There are a lot of very unhappy people out there who are out of pocket after receiving a worthless bit of paper, not the manufacturers’ CoC that they required. Despite using the name DVLA the company has no connection to the official agency. It might not even be up and running as they were involved in several court cases.
Reminds me of the story about the Gendarme who at a controle pulled over a car and went into auto mode sticking the device through the open window telling the recipient to blow… the result came back positive - well positive as I recall.
The person providing the specimen was just about to be arrested when the Gendarme realised it was a rhd car and he had just tested the passenger (the driver was still ok though)