France as a nation of liberty, equality, fraternity, and revolution. It is also a symbolic country of romance. One of the three biggest countries in Europe, following Russia and Ukraine.
French history, arts, culture have been loved by people world-widely. Not only the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum are the attractions for tourists. The distinctive aspects of each region in France are attracting more and more people from other countries.
LANGUAGE : French
AREA : 5,490 million 8,700㏊
RELIGION : Catholic, Muslim, Protestantism, Judaism
CURRENCY : Euros
VOLTAGE : 220V
COUNTRY CALLING CODES : + 33
France has been a country with strong national power. As a result, there are many attractive places around the country. Not only in Paris. In the middle of France, the southern and western part of France, there are numerous spots that you have seen in movies or where you might feel yourself being the main character of series or animation.
1) PARIS : Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum, Eiffel Tower, Marais district, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees avenue, River Seine, Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris, Montmartre, Conciergerie, Grand Palais, Alexandre III bridge, Concorde square, Invalides museum, Garnier Opera, Rodin museum, Luxemburg park, Sorbonne University, Pantheon
1-2) CITIES NEAR PARIS : Versailles Palace, Fontainebleau castle, Auvers-sur-Oise, Metz, Giverny, Provins, Chantilly castle, Vaux le Vicomte castle, Chambord castle
2) MONT SAINT MICHEL : Saint Pierre church, LA MERE POULARD's souffle omelet, narrow and ancient roads & walls
3) SAINT MALO : Saint Vincent gate, islands (Grand be, petit be), Chateaubriand's tomb, The Quebec house, Crepe restaurant, Cidre, Sanchez icecream
4) AVIGNON : Papal Palace, Saint-Benezet bridge (Avignon bridge), Private art museum of Yvon Lambert, Avignon festival on July
5) NICE : Pebble beach, Castle park, Castle hill, Old town of Nice, Cours Saleya market, MAMAC Nice, Massena square, Chagall Museum, Nice Carnival, Eze village
6) AIX EN PROVENCE : Cezanne atelier studio, Statues of Cezanne, Saint Sauveur cathedral, Le Rotonde fountain, Vasarely foundation museum, Caumont art center
7) STRASBOURG & COLMAR : Cathedral of Notre-dame, BATORAMA cruise ship, Petite-France (Little France), European Parliament, Couverts bridge & Maison Pfister, Petit Venice (Little Venice), Unterlinden Museum, Colmar indoor market
In general, there are four seasons but the weather in France is usually capricious and unpredictable for each day. As its continent is large, each region has different daily weather. So, it is better to check the weather right before departing.
A warm sunny spring March-May, A clear sky autumn September-November
From mid-February, as the sun begins to stay longer, you can enjoy the trip in the warm weather. It is warm during the day but sometimes it could be chilly at night. In case of unexpectable rains, the temperature may become lower than expected, so it is recommended to take long cardigans and umbrellas during the trip.
Summer vacation July-September
The summer in France is hot but not humid. The sun is usually strong enough so don't forget your sunglasses and suncream. And there may be some stores that might be closed over the holiday season in France, especially in August.
Good season for indoor sightseeing, December-February
In the late fall and winter, it rains frequently and it is often cloudy. But it is not too cold in which the temperature doesn't go down under zero degree. Also, it is a season when you can enjoy the night view more easily because the sun disappears relatively faster. It is recommended to have a hat or mini-umbrella during your stay.
The price in France seems to be higher than in other European destinations. Especially in Paris, fees for accommodation and meals are expensive. However, there are many sites where students can get discounts for visiting galleries or cathedrals. You can expect to spend around 120-170 euros per day per person in Paris, excluding accommodation.
French cuisine is known for its classic and luxurious culture. And it is also very diverse from each region. The MICHELIN GUIDE was published for more than a century in France which can give you some dynamic guide for a new gastronomic experience.
1) CONFIT DE CANARD : Duck meat dish from the southwestern region of France. In the past, it was cooked to keep the meat for a long period.
2) GALETTE : It is in the similar shape of the CREPE that we usually eat as a dessert or street food. It is originated from the Britanny region. You can choose the ingredients what to put in the galette such as egg, bacon, beef, cheese, onion, fish, etc.
3) CHOUCROUTE : A traditional dish of naturally fermented cabbage. It is mainly eaten with Alsace meat, fish, beer and white wine.
4) FOIE GRAS : A popular dish to eat on the French holidays. It is made of goose liver or duck liver. It is common to eat as an appetizer with baked bread or you can eat as a main dish of baked steak.
5) ESCARGOTS : The most symbolic dish of France, snail dish. It usually can be ordered in six or twelve units. When it is served, special tweezers are given to separate snail meat from its shell. But, in fact, the meat is removed from the shell to be cooked, spiced and then put into the shell back again before being served.
6) SOUPE A L'OIGNON : Onion soup is cooked with onions, bread slices, and cheese. It is a dish originated from Roman times. It could be a great appetizer during the cloudy and windy day to warm you up.
7) RACLETTE : Raclette is a traditional dish from France and Switzerland. You can taste the fantastic combination of warm and melted cheese, boiled potatoes and cucumber pickles.
8) BOEUF BOURGUIGNON : One of the typical homemade dishes in the Burgundy region. It is a beef stew dish, cooked with red wine and meat broth. Carrots, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and herbs are added to enrich the taste. These days, you may find easily the Boeuf bourguignon in almost every region of France as well as Burgundy.
9) MAGRET DE CANARD : A duck breast dish which is very famous in France. It goes well with red wine from Bordeaux.
10) BOUILLABAISSE : Traditional fish stew dish from Marseille. Usually, soup, bread, and sauce are served first, and fish is served on a large plate separately.
11) VIN FRANCAIS : French wines are recognized not only by European locals but also by people around the world. If you visit France, you can enjoy a better tasting of French wine. You can ask the waiter for a recommendation about which wine goes well with the dish that you ordered.
12) DESSERT : Luxury dessert MACARON, one type of choux ECLAIR, MILLE FEUILLE, CREPE.
French public transportation generally costs about 2 euros per trip but it could be varied by region. Metros and buses run regularly on weekdays, but on weekends and public holidays, there are less circulating metro and bus. Also, there are some bus lines that do not operate during those days so you have to check on a daily base. From the time that the normal circulation service ends, around 12 am, night bus called NOCTILIEN operates.
1) TRANSPORTATION IN FRANCE BETWEEN CITIES
TRAIN : The French national railway company SNCF offers two types of transportation service; a slow-speed train TER that runs a short distance and a high-speed train TGV that runs a long distance between cities. Tickets can be purchased on-site or online. If you have booked on the Internet, it is convenient to print out a ticket or download SNCF application on your smartphone. Official booking site https://en.oui.sncf/en/
BUS : There are several intercity bus companies in France (FLIXBUS, OUIBUS, ISILINES, etc.), Using GOEURO platform is the easiest and the most convenient to search and find the accurate routes. https://www.goeuro.com/
2) TRANSPORTATION IN PARIS
The main public transportations in Paris are metro, bus, and tram. The bus is recommended if you want to enjoy the scenery of Paris calmly during the journey. Or you can use the subway if you rather prefer moving faster toward your destination.
TICKET t+ : You can use one TICKET t+ (1.9 euros) for one ride of metro, bus, and tram. It is easy to buy them at the metro station with ticket machines which offers several language services. If you don't have a ticket and you need to get on the bus, don't worry. You can ask the bus driver to buy a ticket on the spot. And if you are planning to use public transportation often, getting CARNET (10 t+ tickets at once, 14.9 euros) or MOBILIS (unlimited 1-day pass, price difference depending on accessible zones - for 1,2 zones 7.5 euros) could be a good idea.
NAVIGO : NAVIGO is very useful if you are planning to stay in Paris for more than a week. There are two types: one-week pass (22.8 euros) and one-month pass (75.2 euros). But you should be noted that each pass means that the service is starting from Monday and on the 1st of the Month. It doesn't mean that you can use it for one week or one month starting from a random day such as Wednesday to next Wednesday. Additionally, you must stick a photo of your face in NAVIGO card. If you don't, it is considered an illegal use. If you don't have your photo, go to some big metro stations in the city center and you may find a machine that you can take a photo of yourself quickly.
HOW TO GET TO THE CITY CENTER FROM PARIS CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT
AIRPORT BUS : ROISSY BUS runs from the airport to OPERA GARNIER from terminal 1, 2, 3. It takes about 1 hour and costs 11 euros. If you have NAVIGO or Paris Visits card, it is also available for the free ride of the airport bus.
TRAIN RER : You can easily get into the city center on the ride of metro line RER which is connected to the airport terminal. You can buy the ticket easily with your credit card by choosing the name of the metro station on the train ticket machine. If you want to buy them in cash, you have to go to the ticket office. For adults, it costs 10.3 euros. For children aged 4-9, 7 euros. In case of express RER, it takes about 40 minutes to Chatelet-Les Halles station.
TAXI OR UBER : Taxi or Uber that will take you from the airport to the city center runs on a flat rate depending on the destination's location. There is little chance of fraud because they implemented a new system of a flat rate. But, just in case, it is better to prepare the exact amount of change in advance to pay the exact amount. For the destination located in the north part of the Seine river, it costs 50 euros and for the south part, it's 55 euros.
HOW TO GET TO THE CITY CENTER FROM PARIS ORLY AIRPORT
AIRPORT BUS : ORLYBUS runs from the airport to DENFERT-ROCHEREAU station. You can take the bus from the exit C of South terminal or the exit D of West terminal. It takes approximately 30-35 minutes and it costs 8.3 euros. But if you have NAVIGO, you can use it for the free ride.
TRAIN : By using an unmanned metro ORLYVAL, you can go to ANTONY station and then take RER B line to go to the city center. The total price is 12.5 euros. Or instead, you can take the shuttle bus to PONT DE RUNGIS, from the exit C of South terminal or the exit G of West terminal. Then from PONT DE RUNGIS you can take metro RER C line. This journey costs 6.25 euros.
TAXI OR UBER : Taxi or Uber from Orly Airport is also operated on a flat rate. The ride costs 30 euros or 35 euros depending on your destination.
3) Near Paris - Places that you can go with NAVIGO
Versailles Palace : Take the metro RER C line to GARE DE VERSAILLES CHATEAU RIVE GAUCHE station, from where you can walk toward Versailles Palace for 10 minutes. Or you can take the bus 171 from PONT DE SEVRES station.
Auvers-sur-Oise : From GARE DE NORD, you can take line H to GARE DE PERSAN BEAUMONT and from there change to line H-TSOL which will bring you to GARE D'AUVERS SUR OISE (1 hour)
Chantilly Castle : From GARE DE LYON, CHATELET-LES HALLES, or GARE DU NORD, you can take RER D toward CHANTILLY-GOUVIEUX station. (45 mins)
Vaux le Vicomte castle : From GARE DE L'EST, take the line P of Transilien and get off at VERNEUIL-L'ETANG station (35 mins). At the station, you can take the shuttle bus Châteaubus which will take 20 minutes. The tickets for shuttle bus are only for a round trip and can only be purchased in cash.
Provins : From GARE DE L'EST, take the line P of Transilien and get off at GARE DE PROVINS. (1.5 hours)
Fontainebleau : From GARE DE LYON, take the line R toward GARE DE MONTARGIS and take off at FONTAINEBLEAU AVON station. (40 mins)
4) Day trip or Overnight trip from Paris
Mont Saint Michel : You can take a train TGV from MONPARNASSE station which takes 3 hours. Or you can take OUIBUS, FLIX BUS for a cheaper option (5 - 6 hours). Alternatively, there are some tour operators such as PARIS CITY VISION in which you can choose various types of services such as transportation, transportation & accommodation, transportation & accommodation & personal guide, etc. When you get in the region, there are three ways to get into Mont Saint Michel. 30 minutes of walk, free shuttle bus which runs every 5-10 minutes, or bicycles rental from the hotels.
Saint Malo : Take the train TGV from MONPARNASSE station (3 hours). It takes 20-30 minutes on foot from the station to the old town. Or you can take a bus ride of 7 minutes. Saint Malo is a recommendable destination to travel with Mont Saint Michel as it is located in an hour away from Mont Saint Michel.
Rouen : Train ride from SAINT LAZARE station to ROUEN station (1 hour 10 mins)
Deauville : Train ride from SAINT LAZARE station to TROUVILLE-DEAUVILLE station (1 hour 30 mins)
Strasbourg - Colmar : To get to Strasbourg, you can take a train TGV from GARE DE L'EST (2 hours) or OUIGO from PARIS CHARLES DE GAUELLE AIRPORT Terminal 2 (2 hours). Or you can take a bus which will take at least 7 hours. For Colmar, you can take TGV from GARE DE L'EST (2.5 hours) or a FLIXBUS at BERCY station (9 hours). If you are planning to go to Colmar from Strasbourg, the train from GARE DE STRASBOURG to GARE DE COLMAR will take 30 minutes. There is also OUIBUS which you can get at PLACE DE L'ETOILE.
5) Transportation in South France
To move from Paris to the southern part of France, you can use train TGV or bus. For the train, you can take it from GARE DE LYON (4-5 hours). Or the bus could be a relatively cheap option which will take at least 7-8 hours. In Marseille, Avignon, Nice and Aix en Provence, there aren't many buses like Paris. Therefore, many travelers usually rent a car to visit places. If you can't drive, you can just check the bus schedule in advance. The bus usually operates at 30 minutes to 1 hour intervals.
HOW TO GET TO THE CITY CENTER FROM MARSEILLE PROVENCE AIRPORT
AIRPORT BUS : The bus runs every 20 minutes from the airport to SAINT CHARLES. You can take it from platform 2 after buying the ticket. The price is 8.3 euros for an adult, 5.8 euros for 12-25 aged youth, and 4.15 euros for children. The journey will take 40 minutes.
* There is also an airport bus to Aix en Provence directly.
If you are a student, prepare the international student ID card as there are many discount benefits for students in France. Before paying for the ticket, check if there is any discount for student and present your ID card. Also, if you have a student card of a university located in EU and you are less than 26 years old, you can get a free entrance to many places.
Since France is a tourist attraction that is loved by all over the world, there are many visitors during the high season, especially summer. Therefore, once you have decided on your itinerary, you can start pre-booking and printing out your own tickets which will enable you to avoid the long queue.
Paris Museum Pass is a free pass that allows you to enter 60 attractive sites of Paris, including Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum, Versailles Palace, Arc de Triomphe, etc. Because there is no limit of use, it is possible to revisit a place and enter the sites quickly without waiting for a long line to buy a ticket. When you use this pass, make sure to write down your name and the date.
The currency in France is euro, thus, if you are traveling in Europe, you do not have to exchange the money twice. Often in some restaurants, they only take cards. So you need to bring your card just in case.
1) LAULHERE Beret: Symbolic image of France, beret. LAULHERE's beret is a free size so you can adjust it to suit your size. Taking a picture with your new beret might generate more unforgettable memory.
2) Striped shirts SAINT JAMES : Striped shirts are another symbolic product of France. It will suit well regardless of age or gender.
3) GIEN Monument Mini-plates : A famous French traditional tableware brand, GIEN. Almost 200 years ago, in 1821, GIEN was opened as a first French manufacturer of luxury pottery. Even with the small size of tableware, you may make the dining atmosphere more luxurious with these items.
4) Soap : Especially soaps that are made with French natural resources are famous such as SABON de Marseille.
5) Little Prince items : There is a collection of various souvenir items depicting the character of the novel <Little Prince>. Pencil case, pouch, mug, pencil, bag, baby t-shirts, snowball, etc.
6) Cosmetics : The cosmetic products from Avene, Bioderma, Uriage, Nuxe, Eucerin, Darphin are well-known. You can find all of these products at fairly affordable prices at Monge Pharmacy in Paris, Aix en Provence and Cannes. (OBONPARIS coupon)
7) MARIA FRERES : You can buy various types of tea products and the items to keep tea leaves.
8) KUSUMI Tea : World famous tea brand. There are specially packaged products with which you can remember your trip in France. And you can buy tea cups, tea-spoons and other items that you can use to enjoy your tea time.
9) FAUCHON : Several types of artistic and delicious snacks: madeleine, cookie, galette, dessert, tea, and wine
10) REPETTO : Women flat shoes, famous for its convenience. At first, the brand was launched to manufacture ballerina shoes. So, the brand currently emphasizes the flexibility and laddishness of their products.
11) Lavender products from South France : Skin care or body care products, lavender oil sticks which are good for migraine, lavender soap, lavender spices, lavender candles, etc.
12) French wine : France has a greatly appropriate natural condition for viticulture. France boasts the best wine production with Italy.
13) Articles of food from Aix en Provence : Various types of olive oil (truffle olive oil), Jam (raspberry, chocolate, chestnut), Dietary apperium APERITIF, Camargue salt with black truffle.
In France, the minimum price spent should be over 175 euros to get tax refund. As it is basically a system of refunds from the French government, the process is quite strict.
To get a tax refund, you should be more than 16 years old and you haven't been in Europe for more than 6 months. Also, you need to be available to present the purchased products to customs.
Firstly, you must ask for tax refund documents when you purchase the product at the store. There are two main ways to get refunds: immediate cash refunds at the airport or card cash transfer which will take an average of one month.
If France is your last destination in the European Union, you should proceed with the tax refund procedure before checking your baggage. Because if you send your baggage first, you may have trouble to show the products to customs. To get tax refund approval, you need to go to the customs office in the airport where you will get a stamp on each receipt. With stamped documents, go to REMBOURSEMENT DETAXE VAT REFUND and get a refund directly.
In case of card cash transfer or prepaid tax refund, you can just use a blue machine called PABLO at the Charles de Gaulle airport to get an approval. By using the barcode on the tax return documents, you can get the approval immediately and put them in a mailbox immediately. There is no need to get a customs official stamp from the office.
It would be better you to be arrived at the airport 3-4 hours before departure time, as the waiting line of tax refund might be considerably longer depending on the situation.
There isn't a special tipping culture in France. Instead, the service fee is already included in the receipt. But sometimes local people leave some small changes when they consider that they had a great dining experience. You can ask for the bill (L'ADDITION) at the table to make payment at restaurants, like in many other European countries.
As more and more tourists are visiting France, it seems that the number of pickpockets is increasing. So you have to be careful with your belongings such as smartphones and expensive cameras. You need to take attention at metro gates, inside of metro, crowded waiting lines, and terrace restaurants. It is better to avoid Montmartre, East station and North station in Paris at night.
There are many metro stations that do not have elevators or escalators installed so that if you have big baggage to carry, it would be better to use the bus.
You have to charge for the use of public toilets in France, like in the United Kingdom. And many of them are not clean. Therefore, it is recommendable to use the toilet at restaurants or museums after your visits. In case of McDonald's or Starbucks, make sure you get the receipt because the password is printed on it.
Useful French Expression
Hello : Bonjour
Thank you : Merci
Sorry : Pardon, Je suis désolé.
Yes / No : Oui / Non
Good / Very good : Bien / Très bien
What is the most popular dish? : Quel est le plat le plus commandé dans ce restaurant?
Bill, please : L'addition, s'il vous plaît.