This France Travel Guide aims to provide you with simple and stress-free travel planning information and inspiration for planning a trip to France.
On this regularly updated page you will find links to useful posts on The Trusted Traveller, budget information, details on types of accommodation available, information on getting around the country and more useful links to resources around the web.
Currency: € Euro which is made up of 100 cents. Coins come in 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1 and €2 denominations and notes in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 denominations.
Electricity: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs with two round pins are standard. Outlets for 110 volts for small appliances can be found in most hotels.
France is the largest country in Western Europe and is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Andorra as well as the Mediterranean Sea, English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean.
The country has a diverse landscape from the mountain ranges of the Alps and Pyrenees in the east and south, flowing rivers and flat countryside in the central interior and northern region, to the beaches in the south and west.
France has a moderate continental climate which brings warm summer days and cold sunny winters.
Best Time to Visit
France is a year-round destination and you should plan your visit based on the types of activities you wish to enjoy.
June to August (summer) sees lots of sunshine and low rainfall making it the perfect time for hiking in the mountains and exploring the bigger cities. However, because of this, crowds at popular attractions and along the coast can be a bit difficult to handle.
From December to March (winter) it is cold with plenty of snow in the mountains, perfect for those wanting to take part in winter sports such as skiing. It is also a nice time of year to visit some of the smaller villages on the edge of the Alps because of the festive spirit and spectacular scenery.
Shoulder seasons, (March-May and September-October) are my pick for the best time of year to visit because the crowds are less than in summer and the weather is still mild and sunny, perfect for sightseeing. It is also a cheaper time of year to visit.
It is always recommend to have a mixture of cash and bank/credit card with you when you travel anywhere in the world and this is no exception in France.
ATM’s are found in all major towns and cities across the country. As well, credit cards are widely accepted although some establishments such as small hotels and shops may only accept cash.
Getting to France from surrounding European countries is simple, quick and cheap by bus or train. You can find out more about rail travel in Europe, including purchasing tickets, on the Rail Europe website; and about bus travel on the Eurolines website.
France is also well-connected by air with flights arriving in Paris, and other cities from all across Europe and the UK and parts of the US, Middle East Africa and Asia. A flight from London to Paris will take around one hour and fifteen minutes and a flight from New York to Paris about seven hours.
I use and recommend Expedia for researching and booking flights all around the world.
It is also possibly to arrive by boat along across the English Channel from England.
France has an excellent network of transport that connects virtually the entire country.
Europe’s excellent network of trains means that getting around France and in fact to/from other European countries is the most timely and cost-effective way to travel. All the major cities are connected to one another and you will find that most regional areas are well-connected to at least one of two of those major cities.
There are two classes on the trains, 1st and 2nd class, with the only real difference being slightly more leg space and room to move about in 1st class.
Most trains you can just show up at the train station and buy your ticket on the day while a few (mostly high-speed intercity trains) may need a seat reservation to be made in advance. This can be done either at any train station in the country or online through a ticketing agent in your home country. Here are a few that I recommend depending on where you are from:
- Rail Europe for residents in USA, Canada & Mexico.
- Rail Europe for residents in Australia, New Zealand, UK, Europe and other select parts of the world.
Eurolines operates services bus services around the country and they are a cheaper alternative to train travel but will take longer to get from a to b.
You’ll be able to collect a hire car from all major airports and cities with most allowing you to pick up in one location and drop off in another, which makes sense if you’re road tripping around the country.
The roads in France are well maintained and easy to navigate because they are well signposted. During the winter months remember that weather conditions can change rapidly especially on roads going through the mountains. Be sure to obey all signs and drive with care in slippery conditions.
I use and recommend Expedia for researching and booking car hire all around the world.
Where to Stay
France caters for everyone when it comes to accommodation. Here is a list of the types of accommodation you’ll find:
- Camping/Cabins – With France being a very outdoorsy country you’ll find lots of camp grounds that offer tent sites and basic cabins as low costs. And as with a lot of other European cities, you’ll also find large camp sites on the outskirts of big cities like Paris that you can stay at cheaply and commute each day into the city for sightseeing.
- Hostels – You’ll find hostels in abundance in the France’s bigger cities and one or two in most other regional areas as well.
- B&B’s/Pensions – Small family run style accommodation like B&B’s or pensions can be found all over the country in big cities, small towns and popular rural locations. Accommodation is simple yet comfortable and the experience usually comes with friendly hosts and a home cooked breakfast each morning.
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- Hotels/Apartments – You will find both chain hotel/apartments brands and independent hotel/apartments to be in abundance in cities across the country. The good thing about this type of accommodation is in most cases you know what you are going to get, a clean, comfortable and modern room with a decent array of facilities in the room and on the property. Apartments are great for longer stays as they allow you a bit more space and the option to self cater.
I use and recommend Booking.com for researching and booking hostel, motel, hotel, apartment and resort accommodation around the world.
- Luxury Hotels & Resorts – France has its fair share of 5 star properties, some of which have been named in top lists of accommodation around the world. These will offer you brilliant service and a top location, sometime with incredible views of the surrounding area.
France has a variety of eating options that will suit all budgets and tastes. While you will find the majority of its restaurants and cafes serve local and European dishes, the country is expanding and becoming more multicultural with its cuisine offerings.
- Supermarkets/Markets – Save money and shop in supermarkets and local markets for snacks, picnic lunches and even ingredients to make a whole meal in your self catering accommodation.
- Fast Food / Take-away – Chain fast food stores are in all major centres of the country and along highways as well. If you’re looking for a cheap and tasty fast food meal, look to where the locals are, usually getting snacks and light meals from food trucks and stands on the side of the street. A popular street food snack is a crepe, served both savoury or sweet, and you’ll find stands selling them everywhere.
- Cafes – The French’s love cafes and some of the world’s most well know can be found in the country. Coffee, delicious sweets and tasty French bread sandwiches will be on offer for sit down or takeaway.
- Restaurants – Walk away from the tourist strips to find the best and most authentic of restaurants. The French pride themselves on their food so there are some real gems to be found if you take the time to look.
- Fine Dining – France has it’s fair share of the worlds best restaurants so if it is fine dining experiences you are after then you won’t be disappointed.
Useful France Posts
Things to Do
Other France Travel Planning Resources
Here is a constantly growing collection of resources from around the web to help you plan you dream trip to France.
- The official France Tourism website is a great place to start planning your trip.
- The authority in all things travel, Lonely Planet has an extensive section all about Austria. Or why not buy the France Lonely Planet Guidebook in hard copy or as an eBook.
- For tips on travelling with a students budget in France, check out Bel Around the World. You’ll find lots of good info on Paris, day trips and some of the countries top regional destinations.
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