It is exciting to plan a trip to France. Here are 25 things to know before you visit France we learned about travelling in France that can help you to save time and money as well as making your trip more enjoyable.
- Obviously, French. English is not generally spoken outside the major cities.
- We found that if you initially address someone in basic French, they are more likely to speak a little English to help you out. A short travel French course before your trip to France is not only fun but will really help
- Carry a French phrase book to help out with menus and navigating transport if you are not fluent in French.
- The Euro is the currency throughout France.
- Either purchase your Euros from your bank before you leave, or use an ATM. Airport cash exchange and money exchanges can be very expensive.
- Credit cards, debit cards and travel cards are widely accepted.
- ATMs may not be readily available in smaller towns, so you will need to carry some cash if you are travelling in rural areas.
- Many businesses are closed on Sunday and Monday. If you are planning a visit to a specific attraction, it is well worth checking their opening days when planning your itinerary.
- Most things shut for lunch from around 12 noon until 3pm, so you will need to plan your day around this. You will usually be able to find a restaurant to relax in during the siesta, or else grab some bread, cheese and wine from the corner store and plan a picnic in the countryside.
- Reusable shopping bags are generally not available. You will need to bring a tote bag for your groceries.
- Understanding prices can be confusing. Carry a small notepad and pen and ask them to write down the price.
- Driving is the best way to get around in the more regional areas, however you will need to be confident driving on the right hand side of the road.
- If travelling into a major town, you will find it easiest to “park and ride” on one of the trams or buses outside the town centre.
- Trams, buses and trains run in the larger centres and between major towns.
- Euro-rail runs an extensive rail network across Europe, which can be a very ecconomical way to travel.
- An interrail pass can be booked on line and save you up to 15 per cent on rail travel if you are planning to travel by train.
Food and Drink
- When ordering at a restuarant, the “menu” as we know it in Australia is a set meal at a set price, whereas “a’la’carte” is a choice of dishes on offer “menu as we know it”. A “Menu” can be a very economical way of enjoying an excellent French meal.
- The legal drinking age is 16 in France. If you are travelling with a teenager, it is worth having a discussion before you travel.
- Expect to tip 5-10 per cent at a restaurant.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes when visiting villages and older towns. The cobblestone streets are not kind on your feet. Don’t even think about high heels.
- Carry a pashmina or shawl at the bottom of your tote bag to cover up when entering churches or villages if necessary. It can be useful to keep of the chill of a late afternoon breeze.
- wearing singlet tops, short skirts, short shorts or low cut dresses may be considered offensive in smaller villages churches and other cultural sites.
- Free public toilets are not widely available. You will need to keep a few euros in coin in case you need to “spend a penny”
- Be aware of scams. Scammers will target free attractions such as churches, holding a box for you to place a few euros in for “entry”.
- If someone tries to hand you a wallet, piece of jewellery etc and asks if it is yours, do not take it – they will then demand a “reward” for returning your lost property.
If you have enjoyed this post and would like to learn more about planning a trip to Europe, click on the Amazon link at the bottom of the page, where you will find a range of travel guides which we found helpful. We do earn a small commission from any sales at no additional cost to our readers.