Travel Tips for France
 
      Smart Pack | Handling Money | Trasport | Communication | Eating | Tipping | Electricity | Personal Safety | Language

Online Travel Tips for France

 
Smart Packing Tips

Luggage Packing Travel Safety Tips for France

The fashion capital of the world, France can get you thinking twice about what to pack before coming. But really, just do it your own way and be as comfortable as you can. Keeping in mind the climate and the time of your visit of course. The area along the Atlantic coast has cool summers but is humid. North and Central France, which include Paris, experience cold winters and hot summers. The same goes for Alsace-Lorraine & Rhone-Alps regions. Southern France however has milder winters. What you pack depends on where you are headed for during which time of the year. Winters would mean packing in good cozy warm clothes, summers make luggage lighter.
 
Handling Money Tips
They call it French Franc. 1FF=100 centimes. Paper notes come in denominations of FFr500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins come in denominations of FFr10, 5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes.

Even though the Euro was introduced on January 1st, 1999, it won?t be issued until January 1, 2002. So don?t expect to see any Euros in any of your transactions. You will still receive French Franc everywhere. The only difference is that the value of the Franc is not fixed to the dollar, its fixed to the euro. Therefore, the number of Franc you can get for your dollar will be based on the value of the euro to the dollar.

Currency exchange can be done at some first-class hotels as they are authorized to do so. Shops and regular hotels are prohibited from accepting foreign currency. Look for the signs Credit Mutuel or Credit Agricole, banks that have longer operating hours. In fact, as you arrive at the airport, its not a bad idea to make part of your money exchanged there itself. However do check with your own bank for the current rates and details.

If you have to use credit cards note that American Express, Diners Club, Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Travelers checks are accepted almost everywhere too. You can avoid additional exchange rate charges by taking travelers checks in French Francs.
 
Transport Tips
 
Subways
Transport is never a problem in France. Public transport is fast, efficient and most convenient. Especially when in Paris the subways take you just about anywhere. It does involve a bit of walking but its great walking here too. In fact, you?ll need taxis only when you are at the airport! The subways are much safer than perceived everywhere. The Paris subways can be classified as - the Metro, the RER, the SNCF. The Metro and RER run through Paris and surrounding areas. The SNCF is the countrywide train system. You can buy a Metro map and find your way through the web. The map may look intimidating at first but just get comfortable with it and you?ll find it?s quite simple and straight. Also each train has a map of its own line above its doors. So there?s no way you can go wrong with directions.

Tickets for the subway are based on the zones one has to cover. Zone 4 takes you to the most popular places in Paris. You may consult a subway zone map to pick which zones you wish to cover. The rail tickets can be used on the buses too. Second class travel is pretty comfortable and easy on the wallet. First class may get you larger seats and a few more amenities you may not need. They are identified by a large ?1? written on the inside of the doors. On the RER the cars have a yellow stripe above and on the outside of the doors.

This might be unexpected but the train doors do not open automatically. You?ll have to fiddle with the handle to open them.
Air Travel Tips for France
 
Boat
Tourist boats ply regularly on the Siene. But then there’s the Batobus, a relatively less expensive way to travel the Seine than the tourist boats. It operates from April to September and has fixed stops at Eiffel, Musee d’Orsay, Quai Malaquais (across from Louvre), Notre Dame, and Hotel de Ville.

Bus
The metro rail tickets can be used on buses too. However the bus routes are divided differently - into fare stages. Within Paris one ticket covers up to two fare stages and two cover two or three stages or more. There are no buses in the middle of the night. The first starts at 0600 in the morning and the last bus is at 2100 in the evening. There are certain lines where they run till 0030. You’ll find timetables posted at bus stops and in bus shelters.

Driving
The minimum age for driving is the regular 18 years. A valid driver’s license from your home country is enough to let you out on the roads. Seat belts are mandatory in both front and back seats. At intersections, the driver to the right has the right of way, unless you are in a traffic circle. It’s common for drivers here to scale 140km/hr in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Nothing much to be done about it, just keep your senses extra alert. Just assume the right of way and do not yield until you are really cornered. French drivers are uncomfortably aggressive and love to see fear on a hapless driver’s face!

Biking
France can be seen by bicycle too. There are bike rental companies that rent out good solid bikes on an average 130 ff per day. The traffic in Paris itself restricts bike-riders. But don’t let that discourage you. The rental companies provide guided and unguided tours too. You may get place specific information from tourist offices and the SNCF. The RER trains and other trains plying the countryside allow you to take bikes on weekends and on weekdays too but not during rush hours. Metro trains don’t allow bikes, never. Within Paris, the Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne are large parks with excellent paths for riding bikes. You may take the help of pamphlets that have biking routes and other details, from the tourist offices and SNCF. There’s another wonderful thing that SNCF does. It rents bikes from the point of departure of some amazing bike routes. So that saves you the hassle of lugging the bike everywhere. You may just return the bike before heading for Paris. Some wonderful places to ride are the forests of Rambouillet, Saint Germain-en-Laye, Senart, Fontainebleau, L’Ile Adam, Montmorency, and so on. There are also paths marked for mountain bikes.

 
Communication Tips

Phones
It's better to have phone cards than to rely on coins as most public telephones only accept phone card, not coins. You can purchase a phone card from a post office or a café-tabac. They come in different denominations or units (unites).

Emergency numbers:
24 hour ambulance: 15
Police: 17
Fire: 18
(Within Paris) English language crisis line: 01.47.23.80.80

Post Office
The post office or La Poste is open 9-6 daily and just Saturday mornings. The one at Paris metro station Louvre is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are quite functional handling money orders, and other financial transactions. They even have faxes and phones. The post boxes are colored bright yellow and will be easily found in public places and definitely in post offices. Stamps can of course be purchased in the Post Offices but are more easily found at Tabacs. A Tabac is a tobacco shop that also sells newspapers, telephone cards and other handy stuff.

Internet
Post offices here have taken on themselves to provide this service in a big way. In major cities especially, you can access Internet at Post Offices. Browse or access your mailbox on brand new Imacs. A card of 50 ff will give you one hour of Internet. Every extra hour after that come for 30 ff. A most wonderful thing about this system is the card can be used in Post Offices all over the country.

Eating Tips
Eating Travel Tips for France

French Fries is not the only good thing you get in France. French cooking makes the food delicious and inviting. Also expensive than the other types available. Probably because its got an air about it. You’ll find menus pasted in front of restaurants. A good idea as you’ll know just what’s served inside and decide there and then instead of settling down and realizing this is not the place you should be.
France is a hot tourist destination and understandably there is no

dearth of restaurants here. Especially Paris. It has restaurants everywhere. Try the Champs D'Elysees for a wide assortment of types of food. Quick is great for fast foods. They are a French chain, and have excellent food.

If you want to go in for beef, do not forget to specify that you want it cooked well and crisp, if you want it that way that is. Because the French way of cooking beef is leaving it undercooked. They relish it that way. So do ask or specify. Eggs come by default in many dishes and so you need to ask about that too.

Water is almost always mineral water. The French make coffee good nice and strong. Plenty of caffeine if you don’t mind it. Formal meals are almost always accompanied by wine.
Tipping Tips
You’ll have to look for the fine print as almost all restaurants include tax and a 15 percent service charge with the bill. But again it’s up to you. If you really appreciate the service, a tip of about FF 10, or small change left from your bill would suffice. If service charge is not included in the bill, a 15% tip is customary.

Bellmen and housekeeping in hotels are happy with FF 10. Taxi drivers reserve about 10% to 15%, hairdressers 10%. A FF 5 tip is fine for washroom attendants, coatroom, ushers, museum tour guides and bus drivers and tour guides get tipped after an excursion. Whew! That’s a lot to remember. Doesn’t it seem like this is tipping country?!
 
Electricity Tips
Appliances in France run on 220 volt, 50 cycle AC current. If yours don’t match this, you will have to go for transformers and plug adapters.
 
Personal Safety Tips
France being a hot tourist destination gives thieves ample opportunity to prey on them. Unsuspecting and often gullible, tourists become vulnerable targets. So be wary in touristy places. The rail link from Charles de Gaulle Airport to downtown Paris is a target area with gangs of thieves and thugs in action. Avoid it or just be very very careful.

In Paris, the Number One Subway line that covers some major tourist attractions is again notorious for thefts. Be equally careful in major department stores; do not leave your wallet on the table while transacting.

Nice-Antibes-Cannes area, and Montpelier and Marseille car thefts are common. It’s uncomfortable but things can be under control with a little bit of care and common sense. While in a car, keep money purses and other valuables out of reach and out of sight. Walking with shoulder bags should also be avoided. Not so much at risk but just in case.
 
Language Tips
Hello, my name is Pierre. What is your name ?
Bonjour. Je m'appelle Pierre. Comment t'appelles-tu ?
 
My name is Peter.
Je m'appelle Peter
 
Where do you come from ?
D'où est-ce que tu viens ?
 
Where is the post office?
Où est la poste?
 
How much do I pay for this?
Combien est-ce que je paye ceci?
 
How do I go there?
Comment est-ce que je vais là?
 
Can you help me please?
Pouvez-vous m'aider à satisfaire?
 
I don't want this.
Je ne veux pas ceci.
 
I want to get down here.
Je veux descendre ici.
 
I don't understand you.
Je ne vous comprends pas.
 
Where is the washroom?
Où est la salle de toilette?
 
My bag got stolen.
Mon sac obtient volé.
 
I come from Sydney.
Je viens de Sydney.
 
I don't know much French.
Je ne sais pas beaucoup français.

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