What’s not to love about France! Paris is known as the city of love, but there’s more to France than that. France offers great palaces and castles, museums and art galleries, cafes and delicious French food, architecture, and so much more. But before you jump on that plane, there are just some things to know before you go and we cover that in our travel guide to France.
Before any trip, you should always research the country, including how to stay safe, the currency, the language and so much more. In our travel guide to France, we help you have the best holiday, by providing details on when to travel, visa requirements, how to stay safe, staying on budget and more.
Travel Guide to France
In this travel guide to France, we will cover everything you need to know before you head off on that adventure.
When to travel
The weather in France is seasonal with regional variations. During the winter towards the north of the country and the French Alps it can get cold. Most regions in the winter will be off season, with reduced numbers in tourism, apart from Christmas and in the Alps. In the southern regions will see milder temperatures with a more Mediterranean climate.
The Summer months can get hot with increased tourists. But if you still want to visit France, or Europe during the summer months, then check out these 18 best summer destination in Europe.
To get the right balance on when to travel, we would recommend the shoulder months. The weather will be warmer, while tourism in the country will still be quiet.
You do not require any jabs or vaccinations before travelling to France. However, we might recommend that you are up to date with any of your booster jabs.
Health care is readily available, should you require medical treatment. Standard over the counter medical supplies such as painkillers, cold and flu remedies etc., can be purchased in pharmacies.
We would recommend obtaining an EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) before you travel. EHIC cards can only be obtained by European citizens and covers most medical care and non-emergency treatment.
EU (European Union) and EEA (European Economic Area) citizens on a short stay or holiday do not require a visa. However, you will need to provide your passport or identity card at immigration. To find out more about living and working in France, head over to the local government website.
Citizens of Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand and a number of other countries do not require a visa to visit as a tourist of up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer, then please contact your nearest French embassy or consulate.
If you are between the age of 18 and 30 and a citizen of one of the above countries, you can apply for a working holiday visa. This allows you to work to fund your travels for a period of 12 months.
All non-EU, EEA citizens will require a visa before entering France. To find out more about visa’s and if you require a visa, head over to Ministery of European and Foreign Affairs website.
The currency used in France is the (€) Euro.
We would recommend purchasing the currency before travelling to France and always make sure you have enough for your trip, and in the event of an emergency. Please check with your bank prior to departure about using a debit/credit card and if any charges will apply. It may turn out that using an ATM or your cards whilst travelling in France may not be that expensive, just as we found out.
Packing is essential when going on holiday, but you have to be smart about what to pack.
Depending on the time of year, you’ll need the right clothes, such as summer, you’ll want nice cool clothing, but in winter, you’ll need warm if not thermal underlayers.
It isn’t just the clothing you need to consider; you’ll need to pack the correct documents such as passport and visa if this is required, money, driving licence, insurance, first aid kit, camera phone, phrase book, bum bag, snacks, and water.
You also need to be aware of the weight restriction you’ll encounter with the airline. Only pack the essential items and do not over pack. If you take all of these tips into account, you’ll be effective at packing and have everything you need before you travel to France.
The official language in France is French. In most large cities and tourist locations, the French can speak English. But you will find in some rural locations that they are not able to speak English. Should this be the case, then a phrase book could come in handy.
Before any trip to France, you will need to set a budget, this is so you do not overspend, you can keep control of your finances and don’t return home with a hefty bill to pay back.
In our experience, we found that Paris was expensive, especially when it came to accommodation, food and sightseeing. Take this into account when planning your trip to France.
To get a better idea on budgeting costs, we have included a table to help you to budget.
Staying safe in France
Overall, France is a safe place to visit. But it would be wise to continue vigilance at all times.
Watch out for pick pockets, especially on public transport and other tourist spots. We nearly had our belongings stolen on a busy underground metro train in Paris. Luckily, we had an anti-theft bag which prevented them from actually taking anything, as the zip is on the inside and can’t easily be seen.
To get further tips on how to stay safe in France, then check out our post on How to stay safe while travelling. In this we provide in depth tips on staying safe.
In our opinion the best way to get around France is via car on a road trip. We did a short road trip to Dunkirk from the UK via the ferry and would highly recommend it.
If you do not wish to travel by car, then there’s public transport within the large cities and connections to other areas of the country. Here are some of the ways to get around France:
There’s a number of large airports that transfer passengers internationally and within Europe. The smaller airports will connect France with other European destinations.
As mentioned previously, driving is a great way of getting around France. A road trip, is ideal to get you out of the city and into the rural areas to explore.
You can hire vehicles from within France, either at the airports, or other areas around the country. If you intend to hire a vehicle from outside of France, always check you are covered by the hire company, as some companies may not allow the vehicle to leave the country you have hired it in.
Vehicles from the UK and Ireland are right hand drives and will need to make sure that deflectors are placed on the headlights, to prevent other road users from being dazzled by the lights.
We have written a post on Tips on how to drive in France, to help you should you bring your own vehicle or hire a vehicle.
France has a great train service connecting large towns and cities with other areas of the country as well as other European countries such as the UK via the Eurostar, Spain, Italy and Germany to name a few.
Paris has a great network of underground train services, that offer great connections around the city of Paris and the outskirts.
Buses are a way to get around the localised area. Tourists looking to get to more rural locations may find it difficult to take the bus, a car could be a more favourable way to get around France if you are looking to get to more rural areas.
The Eurolines bus connects France with other European cities.
Walking is our most favoured method to getting around the city. Not only is it free, but it is environmentally friendly and great for your health. But walking allows you to take in the area and the sights, which you could miss if using public transport.
Major ferry services such as Brittany Ferries, P&O Ferries and DFDS connect France with the UK, Ireland, and Italy.
This would be a great way to bring your own vehicle, however some services will allow for foot passengers.
Food and drink
There’s a variety of different cuisines in France, that are warm, hearty and tasty. Here are some of the dishes you’ll find in France:
A hearty fish stew, often accompanied with croutons and rouille (garlic and chili mayonnaise).
France is famous for its wine and wineries, so having a drop or two of their famous brews is a must.
Could you ever imagine having a cheese fondue? This hot cheese is normally found in the French Alps.
You will now have a good idea on how to stay safe, how to get around France, how you can budget for your trip and more with this travel guide to France: Everything you need to know before you go. We hope you enjoy France as much as we did and it won’t be long before you’ll want to be visiting again soon. We can’t wait to get back out there and explore more of France.
Where have you visited in France? What was your favourite place? Do you have any tips of travelling to France that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know, by leaving a comment below.
Continue your French travel planning, with these useful posts:
- Hotel Ibis Gare du Nord Hotel Review, Paris
- Eurostar Review
- Things to do in Paris
- Ryanair Review
- European Bucket List
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