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In my last post, I wrote about how something from our world trip would suddenly pop up in our Canada lives.  Well, that was proven again this week when we received a speeding ticket taking by radar in France.  We may be home but we are still on the hook for 45 euros ($67.50 Cdn).  Boo hoo!

We suspected we’d be getting this in the mail – we saw the flash as the picture was taken, we were going too fast, and our CS friends told us that they had received such a ticket in the mail months after their infraction.  As I was paying the fine online, I got to thinking about the great van we had over in France and the topic for today’s blog post was born: Peugeot Achat Rachat.


Ouch.  Our ticket arriveth…

Say what?  Well, in English, the program is called Peugeot Open Europe Buyback Car Lease.  I presume you are still going, “Say what?”.  This program is available to non-EU citizens or EU expats living outside Europe and is a fantastic way to drive in Europe.

To participate in the program you have to lease the car for a minimum of 17 days, up to a maximum of 175 days.  You have to promise not to engage in any paid employment during that time.  The Peugeot deal really works for travellers who have at least three weeks and want to do a lot of driving.  This program has been going on for ages.  Word on the street is that it started after WWII to encourage tourists to come to France but I haven’t been able to ascertain whether there is any truth to this.  I do know that we have several friends that have done this in the past and rave about it.  Now that we’ve done it, we’ve joined the ravers.

Our final mileage - over 18,000 km!

Our final mileage – over 18,000 km!

To be honest, if we hadn’t known a few people that had done this, we probably wouldn’t have risked it.  It sounds too good to be true and you get a weird and scary contract to sign.

The way it works is that you agree to “buy” a brand new French car (Peugeot or Renault only).  You keep it for a while and then the dealer agrees to “buy” it back from you.  Somehow, they calculate the resale value up front and you just pay them the difference between the sale and re-sale prices.

In our case, we chose the largest vehicle available (8 passenger van) for the longest amount of time (175 days – almost 6 months).  The booking was made in Canada through the official partner, Europauto. The cost was $8630.00 Cdn, all in.  A pretty penny fer shur.  But less than sending a kid to private school and also less than $50/day.

Our new van - so clean!

Our new van – so clean!

Less than $50/day is very reasonable if you think of the cost of transporting 7 or 8 people (the number of people we had) via another method like train.  This is where the vehicle pays off if you are going to be driving a lot.  In our case, we drove 18,000 km in 17 countries so I think we did pretty well.  The car allowed us to save money by picking accommodations in rural places and let us get places we never would have been able to get to without wheels.  Like the remotest corner of Wales or spelunking in rural France (below).

Zombie family arrives in Wales

Zombie family arrives in Wales

Our last picnic in our car...

Our last picnic in our car…

Originally we were going to ship our Canadian vehicle over to Europe but ran into trouble with how to insure the damn thing so we could drive it.  We also worried about potential repairs on an old Toyota on a continent where that make is rare.  Which brings me nicely to the advantages of the Peugeot buy back program.

You get a brand new car.  Yes.  How many budget backpackers have ever owned a brand new vehicle?  Not many because any time they have that kind of moolah they take off to some exotic destination.  Our van had 11 kilometres on the odometer when we drove it off the lot.

Only 11 km on the Odometer

Only 11 km on the Odometer

The price includes everything: tax, all insurance, unlimited miles, all damage, theft, total roadside assistance, GPS.  Plus you can pick it up in one city in France and return it to another for free.  You can also pick the vehicle up or drop it off in other European cities for a nominal fee.  You are allowed and insured to drive in any country in Europe except Albania.  There is no penalty for young or old drivers and no charge for extra drivers.

peugeot damage

Despite best intentions, we damaged the van.

Despite best intentions, we damaged the van.

peugeot damage3For these reasons, the buy back program is superior to a car rental.  It is completely stress free.  Because the car is brand new it is under warranty so if your back hatch stops opening, you just bring it to a Peugeot dealer in Croatia and Bob’s your uncle.   That’s what we did.  (NOTE: Depending on the issue, you might have to stay in one place long enough to have a part ordered.  We convinced them to order a part and send it to another dealer in Croatia but it was a hard sell.)

We were careful with the van but there was damage.  Someone keyed one side of it, Fahbio backed into a post, and we dinged it in a few places.  When we dropped it off, they just signed the return papers and wished us a safe journey home.  We know someone who got into an accident in Portugal: Peugeot arrived with a second brand new vehicle to trade with the write-off and our friend was on the road again!

If you decide to keep that car for longer than you agreed, you can do so at anytime as long as you don’t go over the 175 days.  We contemplated returning the car a week early and they told us that they would reimburse us for the days we didn’t use.  In the end, we stuck with the van for the 175 days.

Our answer to pretentious car stickers - us as a zombie family.  Plus one dog Lastborn fell in love with in Normandy.

We personalize our Peugeot.

So you’re saying, “Come on, there have to be some disadvantages, right?”.  Nope.  There is more paperwork.  You won’t get air miles or loyalty points.  You need to contact the company with your details to get a quote.  I wouldn’t call any of these a disadvantage, per se.

No wait, there is a disadvantage: you agree to pay all fines and tickets!  But in the words of Edith Piaf, “Je ne regrette rien…”