Travellers usefull tips
Things to know about France
Religion: Most people confess Catholicism. However, the country has other religious denominations – Islam, Protestantism, Judaism, Orthodox Church, which have several millions of followers.
Official language is French, but each district has its own dialect. Basque is popular in the district near the Pyrenees; Catalan is widely spread in Roussillon; the dialects of the Italian language are used on Corsica; in Alsace people speak German and in Western Brittany – Breton.
Climate: France has 4 types of climate. In the west of France near the Atlantic coast, temperate maritime climate dominates. It is characterized by soft winters and fresh summers. At the same time, it’s quite humid there – the territory receives 800mm of precipitation per year. The central part of France is notable for a continental climate. Frost winters and hot summers are typical for that territory. In the south-east of the country, the highlands have a harsh mountain climate. It’s characterized by prolonged snowy and frosty winters. Mediterranean climate is predominated in the south-eastern Mediterranean coast of France. Warm winters and hot summers are typical for that area.
The average temperature in Paris:
Currency: Euro. International sign – EUR or €. Circulated banknotes are in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros, and coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, 1 and 2 euros.
Means of payment: Credit cards are widely used in the country. Visa and MasterCard are the most popular cards in France. When you withdraw money from an ATM, you’ll pay a high commission, that’s why payment by credit card is more profitable than in cash. However, a small amount of cash is useful to leave tips. Some souvenir shops and roadside cafes accept foreign currency.
Currency exchange: you can exchange foreign currency in banks, which are usually open from 9:00am to 4:30pm, except days off and national holidays. Special exchange offices “Bureaux de change” work late and they are also available on weekends. Most exchange offices in France take a 15% commission. Exchange at airports has unprofitable exchange rate and high commission, that’s why you’re advised to find special offices with “No commission” sign, which don’t take any commission.
Calls to France from other countries
To call to France from other country, you should dial an international exit code – international dialling code of France (33), then – necessary area code and phone number itself.
Calls from France to other countries
To make a call from France, you should dial international phone code – international dialling code of the country – area code and phone number. Public phone boxes serve calls from France to any country in the world. Such payphones work with phone cards. If you are in a town or in a village and can’t find a payphone, you’re advised to find a private house with the inscription “Telephone publique”. There you’ll be able to make a call for some cash. Local phone conversation from a payphone costs 20 cents. There are various time tariffs in the country.
Useful phone numbers in France:
Inquire office – 12
Police – 17
Ambulance – 15
Lost and Found department – 4531 14 80
Urgent call a doctor – 47 07 77 77
Poison help – 40 37 04 04
Time zone: UTC / GMT +1 hour
UTC / GMT +2 hours – daylight saving time
There is no limit to the amount of currency you can bring in and out of France. However, if sum of your cash is more than 7000 euros, it’s prohibited to import it.
You can bring duty-free items for personal use:
- up to 200 cigarettes and 1 block of cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 250 grams of tobacco,
- alcohol beverages: up to 2 l of dry wine, which is not more than 22°.
- up to 5 gr of perfume; up to 250 ml of cologne;
- up to 500 gr of coffee;
- medicine intended for 1 person;
In case you travel with pets, they must be vaccinated against rabies. You must have a certificate of vaccination written in French.
Shopping in France
In France, all shops have their own work hours. Most of them are open from 9:00am to 7:00pm, on Saturday – from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Shops are usually closed on Sundays, during national, religious and local holidays. Some stores have a delivery service, so they can bring purchases to your hotel room.
Transport in France
a) Public transport
1. Subway is located in such cities as Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Paris, Rennes and Toulouse. Rouen has a rapid tram system, which is a partially underground. Including distant suburbs, there are eight tariff zones in Paris. The first and second are zones of Central Paris. The third zone includes suburbs such as Vincennes, Saint-Denis, La Defense and others. The fourth and fifth zones have two capital airports, and also Versailles and Disneyland. To go by metro, you should buy a ticket worth about 1.30 euros.
2. RER or RESEAU EXPRESS REGIONAL (regional express system)
Within the city, this type of urban rail transport runes under the ground, lower than the metro; and outside the city – on the ground. RER has only 5 lines, which are marked by letters A, B, C, D, E. Trains run according to the schedule. They are especially popular during rush hours. Trains stop more rarely than subway, but RER trains are faster. You won’t be able to leave the train without a ticket. Price of a single RER ticket is about 1.4 euros.
3. Buses run due to the schedule, but such transport isn’t very popular in the country. In Paris, there are night buses “Noctambus”, which depart from Chalett Square (place du Châtelet). Such buses run within the first four Paris zones from 1:00am to 5:00am. You can buy bus tickets at metro stations, tobacco and news stalls. A single daily ticket costs about 1.4 euros, a night single ticket – about 2.7 euros.
4. Taxi. Each taxi is equipped with a taxi-meter and a flag in the area of the windshield. When the flag is up, the taxi is available, when the flag is down, the taxi is occupied. The fare outside the city goes up by 40%, so you’re advised to arrange payment in advance. People usually leave some tips a driver, it’s about 10% of the total amount. You’d better call a taxi on the phone, because it’s not easy to catch it in the street.
5. Cable car
You can use a cable car to get to Montmartre, one of the hills located in Paris. Ticket price is the same as in other urban transport – about 1.4 euros.
b) Long-distance transport
1. Railways. France is a country where the TGV, a high-speed railway system considered one of the fastest in Europe, operates. Standard tariffs of the railway services are quite high. Tariffs for first-class trains are one and a half times higher. Tickets should be punched before boarding the train. A system of various discounts is available in the country: discounts for those who go there and back and stay one night from Saturday to Sunday, a tour around the country only for 25 euros, buying a ticket for a month in advance etc. Night trains operate in France too, thus ordinary trains, as well as Service Nuit and TGV de nuit trains are available.
2. Aircraft. France has a strong network of domestic flights, which are operated by national and regional airlines. An average domestic round trip starts from 100 euros. Domestic flights are between Avignon, Bastia, Bordeaux, Calvi, Cannes, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Rouen, Rodez, Strasbourg, Toulon, Toulouse and other big cities.
Car rental in France
Rental business is well-developed in France. International and budget-oriented car rental companies are represented there. To rent a car, you must show an international driving license either in English or in French; your passport and a credit card issued in your name. Most car companies require from a driver experience of driving at least a year. Your age must be at least 21 years old. Insurance is mandatory in France. Renting of a compact car will cost about 250 euros per week. The French Riviera and Corsica have higher prices, they start from 350 euros.
Some traffic rules:
1. All passengers must fasten their seatbelts.
2. Talking on mobile phones while driving is prohibited.
3. Children under the age of 10 must travel in the back seat or in the front seat in special child safety seat.
4. Allowable level of alcohol in blood is 0.5 per millilitre.
5. France determines speed limit – 50 km/h in the city. Outside the city, drivers can increase speed up to 90 km/h; on superhighways – up to 110 km/h.
6. In France, high-speed roads are toll roads, where you are allowed to go 130 km/h. Vehicles pulling into roundabout “carrefour and sens giratoire” have a priority on the road. Lots of roads that are out of a town are charged. If roads are free of charge, they are indicated in green colour.
Water transport in France
Paris has water buses, which run along the Seine from Austerlitz Station and in Maisons-Alfort, a town located in the suburb of Paris. A trip costs 3 euros. Water buses depart every 20 minutes according to the schedule.
In France water transport is presented by ferries that connect the main part of the country with Corsica Island. Numerous ferries depart from the port in the French Riviera.
Hotels in France
All hotels are divided into 6 types: without stars, 1*, 2*, 3*, 4* and 4*L (first-class). An average price of a double room ranges between 28 and 188 euros. Summer camping vacation is very popular in France. There are about 9 thousands of tent cities in France. An average price of such accommodation for 4 people, including parking place for a car or a trailer and electricity supply, ranges between 10 and 30 euros. Apartment and house rental is very popular among tourists too. Usually they are located not far from sights or metro stations.
Tipping in France
France is considered to be a country where the highest tips in Europe are given. In cafes and restaurants, service is included in the bill, where the line “service compris” means “service included". As a rule, it’s about 15-16%. Moreover, in France, you’re advised to leave about 1 euro on a round saucer, on which waiters bring the bill. In the south of France waiters get only tips for their work.
National holidays in France:
1 January – New Year
March/April – Easter
1 May – Labor Day
8 May – Victory Day
12 May – Ascension Day
23 May – Whit Monday
14 July – Bastille Day
15 August – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1 November – All Saints Day
11 November – Armistice Day
25 December – Christmas
France is a part of Schengen zone. That’s why visa is not required for citizens of such countries as Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Vatican, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San-Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, Estonia. Citizens of other countries wishing to visit France must apply for a visa.
Electricity in France
Mains voltage – 240V and frequency – 50 Hz. Hotels have sockets of European standard, that’s why you need to have an adapter.
Health service in France: Vaccination isn’t necessary for visiting France. You can use tap water for drinking and cooking.
Behaviour rules in France
The French appreciate etiquette very much. Usually they say “Bonjour” to greet a person. But you’d better say “Bonjour, Monsieur” to a man, or “Bonjour, Маdame” to a woman. It’ll be a demonstration of good manners. For the French, good manners show social hierarchy, which is not official, but still inherent modern French society. If you know a few words in French, you can expect friendlier attitude of the French. As a rule, you should apologize, even if you aren’t guilty. In France, 8:00pm is time for supper. Despite the French are friendly, they rarely speak to strangers, and don’t have eye contact during the conversation. Also, you’re not advised to smile a person you see for the first time.