Who is not excited to visit France? France is officially known as French Republic and the capital of France is Paris. Baroque architecture and Gothic Art are said to have been born in this incredibly interesting and historic land. French language, french fashion and french wine are world-famous and you should explore this classic country at least once in life. Read on to know more about France…
Before planning a trip to France, get a detailed weather update, especially the cities you plan to cover. Find their rainiest months, average temperatures etc.
While in bigger cities such as Nice or Paris you may get away with English, but in rural areas it is slightly difficult if you have no knowledge of French. Generally, French people regard it to be rude if you address them in English, they may not respond or pretend not to know English. So, do know the few basic and important words and carry a English to French dictionary.
– Most people would make Paris synonymous with France. Please note that apart from Paris, there are whole lot of interesting and beautiful places you may include in your itinerary-e.g. Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux etc.
– Choosing the correct rail pass is very important-it differs depending upon the number of passengers or countries or places within France that you intend to visit and save money accordingly. There is a wide variety to choose from, a brief list of which is given below- select as per your need:
a) France Single-Country Rail Pass
b) France Saver Pass
c) France Youth Pass
d) France Senior Pass
e) Point-to-point Ticket
f) Rail ‘N Drive Pass
g) France ‘N Italy and France ‘N Spain Pass
h) Eurostar (for London)
i) Eurail Select (for adjoining 3 to 5 countries) Pass or Eurail Pass (For 17 countries).
France is undoubtedly very pretty, but be prepared to encounter and accept their negatives as well. It is fairly common to find dog litter in France-it could be the parks, sidewalks anywhere- so be careful while treading on foot.
– Carry minimal Euros from your hometown. In France you may avail them from the numerous ATMs which provide generous and best rate of exchange, you may use your credit card for the same purpose. However, do confirm it with your bank beforehand about the usability, withdrawal limit, any surcharges on foreign withdrawals etc. Never go to the moneychangers, they charge exorbitant commissions and their exchange rates are horrible.
- Banks are open from 9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. with maybe a couple of hours break in the afternoon.
- Make sure that your ATM pins are not over four digits as French system may not accept them. Also, they should be numbers and not letters.
- Do carry a Five-Language Translator preferably the talking one. French is absolutely must here especially if you are on your own and need help for routes, menus etc.
- The Electricity runs on 220 volts. Make sure you are carrying a Voltage transformer as well as an adapter.
- In France minimum age required to drive is 18. Carry your license and proof of insurance coverage and certificate.
– Get refund on your vat payments on purchase of 1200 francs or more. The stores would furnish the forms which you deposit with the custom officials on departure. Your credit cards are refunded the amounts between 13 to 19.6 percent or you shall receive it via mail in a few days. (To avail this benefit the stay in France should be less than 6 months in case of U.S. citizens.)
- For international calls from France first dial 00 followed by country code, area code and then the telephone number. Use calling cards or bank cards to call from public booths. Calling cards are easily available in Metros, hospitals, airports etc.
- Using a public washroom in France is no mean task. It is slightly difficult to locate one in the first place and they can be difficult to handle ( if it is not out of service). Carry change of 5 or 10 centimes as you have to insert it in the slot for the door to open and then shut behind you automatically. Make sure you come out within 15 minutes or the doors would open automatically. Although it may be wet and slightly dirty, it is disinfected after each use.
– Better option therefore is to use a cafe (save their receipts, they have a code to let you enter the rest rooms)or mall restrooms. Now, French toilets do not have flushing at the rear- it could be a foot pedal, a chain hanging from above, at some places maybe one or a couple of buttons on top (both have to be used in order to flush) or it could be a rectangular block on the wall behind with either a pull or push option.
- While you take a tour of France, enjoy the local food with the famous french wine.
French wine and food
- Since tips are assessed for taxation purpose under French Laws, restaurants, cafes and others levy a 15 percent service charge to your bill. You may leave additional tip of 5 to 10 percent for a pleasant dining experience. Taxi drivers expect a 10-15 per cent tip on the fares. Also tip the porters on per bag basis and room maids on per day basis.
– A comprehensive travel insurance is advised for all travelers. Travelers can either purchase it from their respective countries or from the Insurance agencies in France. Remember, doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.
In case of any emergency, call 112
(Reference sources: http://www.worldtravelguide.com, http://www.discoverfrance.net/France/DF_tourism.shtml, http://www.intransit-international.com/services_french_immigration_france.html)