travel guide

France travel guide

France is the largest country in Western Europe in terms of area. It borders Belgium and Luxembourg to the northeast, Germany and Switzerland to the east, Italy to the southeast, and Spain to the southwest. In the Pyrenees, between France and Spain, is the dwarf state of Andorra. In the south the country is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea.

On the Mediterranean coast of the Côte d’Azur, it also encloses the miniature state of Monaco. In the west France has a long coastline to the Atlantic, while in the north the English Channel separates the United Kingdom.
With its countless attractions, France is one of the most popular travel destinations on the European continent. The country’s gastronomy (mainly wines and cheese) is well known, but also history, culture and fashion. France is a founding member of the European Union.

International flights serve Paris and various provincial cities and seaside resorts. Channel crossings by sea and air for passengers and cars are numerous; they are mostly all-year services. There is a rapidly growing network of internal air services as well. Orly and Chares De Gaulle, the main Paris airports are more central and more efficient than the smaller like Le Bourget. French trains are fast, clean, and punctual, and on many long-distance routes they carry cars. There are good long-distance buses; but local bus services are less frequent than in many countries, and this can make local touring difficult if you lack a car. Taxis are a little cheaper than in Britain; but in Paris they are relatively hard to find.

British and American visitors need a valid passport and, for a car, a national driving licence, the car’s registration certificate, and a green card for insurance. Third-party insurance is compulsory, and, in the absence of the green card, temporary insurance can be taken out at the frontier for periods of two, seven, or twenty-one days. The car will not need a customs document for a stay of under six months. Caravans need a separate document.

Europe’s top travel destination has the fabric of legendary movie stars and remains timeless and popular all year round. Everything here is described in the superlative, from history and monuments to the arts and gastronomy.

Paris is the “Gioconda” that enigmatically swears at the Louvre, the luxury of Versailles, the trendy right bank and the bohemian Bastille, the hangouts of Chartres but also the modern bistros and so much more that you will surely forgive her for insisting on talking to visitors only its language.

But France is not just Paris. In the south the cosmopolitan C Αte d’Azur roars loudly every summer, with Cannes, Nice, Monaco and Saint-Tropez competing for jet setters, while in the winter in the French Alps, centered on Courchevel and Chamonix, batons catch fire.

The multicultural Marseille with its rich history is in a creative frenzy, as it will be the European Capital of Culture in 2013, Bordeaux will make you drunk with the Wine Routes, while the mystical Lyon will take you on a gastronomic safari to the markets and restaurants you will find wandering in the characteristic narrow passages of traboules.

The harmony of the French nature will captivate you, as you will look for the next fairytale castle in the valley of the Ligira, as well as the special landscape with the steep cliffs to the sea of ​​Normandy. Finally, Brittany with its Celtic roots, its own language and picturesque fishing villages with its famous seafood but also Corsica with its wonderful coasts and rich inland experience add their own touch to the French palette, as well as the -so French and German – Strasbourg in the wine-loving province of Alsace.

france
THE EIFFEL TOWER IN FRANCE

Facts about France

LAND

Area: 543,965 sq km
Capital : Paris (population., 2,153,600 ).

POPULATION

Population (2007 est.): 60,876,136
Distribution 74% urban, 26% rural.
Annual Growth:0.588%

LANGUAGE

: Official language: French.
RELIGION: Major religion: Roman Catholic.

EDUCATION

Literacy : 99% of adult population.
Universities : 72.

HEALTH

Healthcare establishments 3,171
Hospital beds 4,857,698 .
Life expectancy:: women 82 men 74, Average 79.73

The Frech people

The volatile, sun loving Meridional French are different from the stolid Normans or Lorrainers, or the whimsical Bretons. Parisians at times can be brusque towards tourists, as they are to each other. The further you go from Paris, the more sure you are of a welcome. But they prefer you to speak French.
For the most part, they are a Latin people living mainly in a northern climate, but some of them have non Latin origins. The Bretons are Celtic the Basques are a strange ancient race all on their own; and in the N. and E. there are Flemish and Teutonic influences.

Urbanisation

Since the Second World War, more than 3,000,000 people have left the countryside to live in the towns. But there are still fewer large towns than in Britain or Germany. Apart from the Paris region, the only sizeable conurbations are the Lille-Roubaix industrial area, Lyons and Marseilles, and the coast around Nice. Average provincial capitals like Rennes, Nancy, or Dijon tend to have a population of about r 50,000, and few suburbs.
The French character varies from region to region.

Regions

The Île-de-France – with the capital Paris at the center and around 11 million inhabitants, is the largest metropolitan area in the country.
The north – the region in which the two world wars left many traces. It includes the Hauts-de-France sub-region and Normandy.
In the northeast, the merging of French and German cultures is particularly evident. Sub-regions are Grand Est and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.
The west is a climatically and culturally Atlantic region where the ancient Celts left their influence. Brittany, Normandy and the Pays de la Loire belong to the west of France.
Central France is a mainly agricultural region with river valleys, castles and historic towns. This region includes the Center-Val de Loire, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.
The southwest is characterized by both Atlantic beaches and the high mountains of the Pyrenees on the border with Spain. The Occitanie region belongs to the southwest.
Southeast – next to Paris the most important tourist region in the country. Here the blue sea suddenly alternates with the high peaks of the Alps.
Region: Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
Corsica the largest French island in the Mediterranean
Overall, France is divided into 18 regions

Climate

France belongs to its position in the central part of the temperate zone and its favorable mountain and sea conditions produce on the whole a very temperate and uniform climate which is on the average pleasant and beneficial to health.
Thanks to its location on the ocean, the influence of which is not impaired by high coastal mountains, extremes of heat and cold do not occur, although due to the northern and southern slopes, western or eastern location, the nature of the soil, existing standing water, higher or lower sea level significant modifications of the climate are caused. If there is more dry heat on the whole southern slope, more moist heat is shown on the north-western slope; there the climate is Mediterranean.

The actually warm areas are on the south side of the mountains on the Mediterranean, where the summers are Italian. In the rest of France there is mostly mild air with moderate winter cold, even in the northern regions the proximity of the sea prevents a high degree of cold. In contrast, the north winds often prevailing in the southeastern provinces, Mistral (northwest wind) and Bise (northeast wind), are cold and sharp; there are land winds here and sea winds on the oceanic slope.

There are seven climatic regions can be distinguished in France:
The central highlands, which also has an average climatic position;
Brittany with an extraordinarily even, humid climate, similar to the south-west of England;
The Seine basin, which is relatively little rain and a middle position between Brittany and Lorraine, which the latter is already very close to Germany in terms of temperature extremes;
The Rhône region, which with its very different and changing but somewhat milder climate between Lorraine and
The Mediterranean region of the French Riviera, Provence and Languedoc conveyed while the climate
of the Garonne basin with higher winter warmth but greater moisture forms the transition from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean landscapes.

Shopping and prices

The official currency has been the Euro (€). Prices are inclusive of all taxes (TTC).Be careful, depending on the country you come from, France can be an expensive country. For example, a dish of the day at a restaurant costs between 9 and 15 € or sometimes more depending on the dishes and the restaurants. A kebab costs between 3 and 5 €, a cinema ticket between 5 and 9 €, a metro ticket around 1.50 € (depending on the city)
Note that Paris is 33% more expensive than the rest of France. Favorite destination for tourists for shopping, France is also home to many great shopping tips & discounts, particularly through organizations distributing promo codes. On the strength of this growth in shopping, France continues to develop local commerce in order to attract more and more tourists and visitors.

Eating in France

French gastronomy (agricultural products such as cheeses, wines, etc.) has been part of UNESCO’s intangible world heritage since November 2010. The French often spend time at the table and meals are one of their favorite social occasions, at the restaurant or at home. Business meals are also a French institution that often confuses Anglo-Saxon visitors.

In the restaurant, the prices mentioned on the menu include taxes (5.5%) + service (15%). While there is therefore nothing to add to the final mark, it is nonetheless common practice to leave a room or two if the service has been appreciated.

In many restaurants, you can request a pitcher of water for free. The water served is then that of the tap which is often of very good quality. Bread is usually provided with the meal. It is possible to request a carafe of water or bread again.
France is renowned for being the country of gastronomy all over the world. Here are some specialties:

Visas and customs
As a part of Schengen and the European Union citizens of the EU and Scengen do not need visa to enter France like in all other countries of the European Union . Non EU visitors that have visa from another Schengen country they can use it in France as well.
At the customs, if you come from outside EU, you may bring in up 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars. Export rules are generous, though you will need a special licence to take out an original work of art of any value.

Opening times
Banks are often open from Monday to Friday from 9 am. to 17.00 pm, there are ATM’s and most hotels and many shops and restaurants will cash travellers’ cheques or foreign bank-notes. Museums and monuments are closed usually Mondays or Tuesdays, administrative offices close at 17.00, Shops are in general open from Monday to Saturday and close around 19.00 pm.

Traffic and Transport
Traffic in France drives on the right, as in all Continental Europe. Traffic signs are standard European. You can buy a copy of the French highway code (Code de la Route) at most frontier posts. The main point to watch is that, at a road junction, cars coming from the right always have priority unless there is a road sign to the contrary. This is always the rule at cross-roads of equal importance, notably in towns, and it is essential to keep glancing right. If you are coming to a main road where you do not have priority, you will be warned by signs. If you are on a main road where you do have priority over a minor road to your right, a sign will say Passage Protdge.
The speed limit in built-up areas is 37 m.p.h. On the open road, you will sometimes be warned of a speed limit where there is a dangerous curve or road works. The French themselves tend to drive fast, but not recklessly. Their reactions are quicker than an Englishman’s, and they use their brakes a great deal.
The French prefer amber headlights. Though foreign cars with white lights are not obliged to change, it is a friendly gesture to put amber discs on your lights. The French sound their hooters often, though they are practically banned in the Paris region and some other towns, except in an emergency. Traffic lights are as in Britain. Zebra crossings give priority to pedestrians. A second type of pedestrian crossing, the passage cloute or double line of studs, is recommended for pedestrian use in towns, but does not give them priority.

River travel

One of the most extraordinary waterways in the world, the Canal du Midi was built in the 17th century to link the Mediterranean to the Atlantic by establishing a connection with the side canal of the Garonne which links Toulouse to Bordeaux. It is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Canal connects Toulouse to the Etang de Thau, near Sète, and stretches over 240 km of waterways; it is therefore perfect for river tourism. The Canal is very picturesque, often calm and its course is shaded, being tree-lined for most of its length. Several impressive works of art line its course, including the Fonseranes locks near Béziers, birthplace of Pierre-Paul Riquet, founder of the Canal.

Respect and behavior

France, although welcoming immigrants and being the number one tourist destination in the world, the racial field is not a subject that can be easily broached because there are sometimes very embarrassing political connotations.
Likewise, don’t bring up these taboo topics with people you don’t know: Salary and money in general – Religion – Politics – Sexual orientation – Favorite sports team The person will somehow end the conversation, if she feels it’s too awkward.

Always use the “you” when speaking to people you know little about. (This advice is mainly intended for Belgians and Canadians, who sometimes say “you” even in these cases.) If you become close with someone, they will tell you to make friends with them or do it directly to you. It is always better to use “you”, even if it seems awkward at first, rather than using a “you” in a bad situation, which can be offensive to the person you are talking to. The only exception is if the person talks to you or tells you to, you will have to act like them.

Even if the Frenchman is sometimes grumpy about his own country, he is still proud to be French. Criticism of one’s country or of French behavior is to be avoided. Even if the subject is launched by French people, keep any negative criticism to yourself, especially if the subject concerns gastronomy.

Communications

Internet – Mobile Hot Spots
You won’t have a hard time finding an internet café in the big cities to connect to the Internet, on the other hand, this is not the case in the countryside. With the deployment of ADSL, that is starting to change.

In order to connect in complete safety for visitors passing through France, it is possible to rent for a very affordable price latest generation mini 4G mobile wifi routers allowing the connection of up to 10 devices (smartphone, tablets) with a quasi-connection. unlimited from MIOWIFI [2] which offers attractive prices and covers more than 110 countries around the world or from Bienvenue Telecom [3] or even via My Webspot. The boxes are then delivered to your home before departure, to the vacation spot or made available at the main airports.

Cellphone
France is now very well covered by 4 main mobile telephone operators (Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free). Second and third generation networks (GPRS, Edge, UMTS (3G)) are widely used, but are already present throughout the country. Please note: the three incumbent operators (Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom) have succeeded in forming an oligopoly and in maintaining very high prices. However, new low-cost packages have appeared since the arrival of Free on the market.

Phone booths
They are becoming increasingly rare in front of the extension of the mobile phone but it is still possible to find at least one by municipality, whatever the municipality (that said, not say that it works). In the villages, remember to look around the town hall and in the cities, you are sure to find them around the stations.

White pages
The White Pages is the name of a telephone directory in several countries. It allows you to find a person’s phone number from their name and city, provided they are not on the red list. This directory is intended to identify individuals, for companies it is necessary to look in the Yellow Pages.

Taxiphone
The taxiphone, unknown to many people, is an establishment which, like a cyber-café, allows you to go on the Internet, allows you to make calls wherever you want, you pay for the call after your phone call. This can come in handy if you can’t find a public booth.

Safety

At present, increased controls and security measures in travel are to be expected in France. There are increased baggage and personal controls at train stations and airports. Handbags may also be checked at entrances (e.g. museums). Rail travelers should ensure that their luggage is marked with their name and address. In many train stations there is no longer any possibility to store luggage.

It is recommended that motor homes and caravans only drive to guarded campsites. Overnight stays at rest areas, especially along the motorways in the north-south direction to the south of France or to Spain and throughout the south of France, are strongly advised against due to the activities of organized gangs.

Attacks on vehicles in road traffic are reported in particular from the regions of Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Languedoc-Roussillon, Midi-Pyrénées, Aquitaine and the island of Corsica. As a preventive measure, it is recommended to keep valuables out of sight in the vehicle, even while driving, and to keep the vehicle locked.
In all the tourist strongholds of France, attacks on foreign visitors with the aim of stealing their valuables are increasing.

Driving and traffic:

Traffic in France drives on the right, as in all Continental Europe. Traffic signs are standard European. You can buy a copy of the French highway code (Code de la Route) at most frontier posts. The main point to watch is that, at a road junction, cars coming from the right always have priority unless there is a road sign to the contrary. This is always the rule at cross-roads of equal importance, notably in towns, and it is essential to keep glancing right. If you are coming to a main road where you do not have priority, you will be warned by signs. If you are on a main road where you do have priority over a minor road to your right, a sign will say Passage Protege.

The speed limit in built-up areas is 37 miles . On the open road, you will sometimes be warned of a speed limit where there is a dangerous curve or road works. The French themselves tend to drive fast, but not recklessly. Their reactions are quicker than an Englishman’s, and they use their brakes a great deal.
 The French prefer amber headlights. Though foreign cars with white lights are not obliged to change, it is a friendly gesture to put amber discs on your lights.

The French sound their hooters often, though they are practically banned in the Paris region and some other towns, except in an emergency.  Zebra crossings give priority to pedestrians. A second type of pedestrian crossing, the passage cloute or double line of studs, is recommended for pedestrian use in towns, but does not give them priority. Mechanics are generally competent, and it is possible to get even quite major repairs done quickly on a Sunday. Best take a phrase-book, though, and spare parts if your car is not French.

There are few weather hazards for drivers, except through fog and ice on mountain roads in winter (where it may be wise to carry snow-chains). Many of the passes in the Alps, and some in the Pyrenees, are closed in winter, but enough roads remain
open for detours to be possible. When the Mont Cenis is closed (usually November to April), the rail tunnel from Modane in France to Bardonecchia in Italy provides an alternative. A new toll-road tunnel under Mont Blanc links Chamonix in France to Courmayeur in Italy.

Getting to France

By Air
France has many airports that serve international and local flights with a network of internal air services from various provincial cities and seaside resorts .International flights to and from Paris are served from the two main airports of Paris Charles De Gaul and Orlyt, about 50 miles from Paris is another airport for budget airlines the Beauvais airport

By sea
Channel crossings for passengers and cars held from several UK Ports with ferries from Dover to Calais, Boulogne, Le Havre, Dunkerque, they are mostly all year around services. The port of Marseilles is one of the biggest in the Mediterranean and together with Le Havre in the La Manche are the main ports for import and export with cargo ships, containers and tankers.

By Train
French trains are fast, clean, and punctual, and on many long-distance routes they carry cars. Paris international train stations are Gare De Lyon for directions to central, east and south east Europe, like the Balkans and Greece via the former Yugoslavian countries and further to the East Turkey, Gare du Nord serve destinations north west Europe i.e. Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia, from Gare du Nord departs Eurostar to London and Brussels. From Gare de Bercy there are departures to South France and Italy.

Buses
There are good long-distance buses, but local bus services outside of Paris and other main cities in France are less frequent than in many countries and this can make local touring difficult if you lack a car. Taxis are a little cheaper than some other European countries like the UK.
Entering France: Visitors from countries outside of the EU need a valid passport and, for a car, a national driving licence, the car’s registration certificate, and a green card for insurance. Third-party insurance is compulsory, and, in the absence of the green card, temporary insurance can be taken out at the frontier for periods of two, seven, or twenty-one days. The car will not need a customs document for a stay of under six months. Caravans need a separate document.

Geography facts

The northern half of the country is mainly flat or rolling, the South is largely hilly or mountainous, especially in the Massif Central and towards the Alps and Pyrenees. There are few lakes of any size, but several mighty rivers such as the Loire , Rhone, Seine and Saone . The Brittany coast is rocky and rugged, that of Provence steep and luxuriantly lovely. There are several huge forests, notably S. of Bordeaux. Wild flowers abound, especially in Provence. France is among the most richly cultivated countries in Europe.

What to were

Your newest, smartest clothes. The sort of thing you would wear in any large city at home. Don’t wear white shoes on the street. You’ll need a raincoat, a suit, walking shoes, evening clothes if you plan any gala night life. Men should dress as in any city. Dinner jacket is a necessity for a man. If you go to the Riviera, take your newest sports clothes, evening clothes and a fur jacket, beach clothes. Men need slacks, sport shirts, bathing trunks and robes. For skiing what you would wear at a good resort at home, or buy your ski things abroad.