Delicious wine and cheese, beautiful nature, diverse culture, and outstanding sightseeing, a France tour will surely be one to remember. To help get ready for your trip, we have put together some handy recommendations, tips, as well as some information which is good to know before you go, such as how it is better to pay for something in France, what to take with you, etc.
Weather & clothing
What to pack and when to travel
Weather in France varies depending on the season and the location of the destination you're heading to. As such, Paris has warm summers and chilly winters, with average temperatures of about 23°C (about 72°F) in July and August and approximately 5°C (about 41°F) in December and January. Northern France tends to be colder and windier with more annual days of rainfall than the rest of the country. The southern towns, on the other hand, for instance, those on the French Riviera, boast hot summers and mild winters.
What's for packing tips, since many of your sightseeing tours will require a big deal of walking, taking a pair or two of comfortable shoes is a must. It might be windy, so a light wind and water-resistant jacket won't hurt. If you're planning to go to France in the summer months, put some sunscreen as well as a hat or cap in your suitcase. In case your trip is planned for spring or early autumn months, taking an umbrella would be a good idea.
Weather averages in Paris
Weather averages in Lyon
Weather averages in Nice
Money & ATMs
Situation with currencies & cash
The France currency, just as in many other EU countries, is Euro. Previously, France used Francs as their currency, but this changed in 2002.
In terms of payment options in France, you are free to use your debit card. Nevertheless, keep in mind that there may be bank fees for making transactions in other currencies and, therefore, it is wise to contact your bank prior to departure to learn about the policies and conditions for making payments in foreign currencies.
What is more, it is good to know that not all places in Europe will accept your credit card as debit cards are more common in use.
For small purchases, such as when you're buying souvenirs or a bottle of water, it is advisable to have some cash with you, about 40 to 50 euros per person. You can also withdraw cash in one of the many ATMs which are very easy to find in France; such ATMs are modern and usually offer a language choice, including English.
If you'd like to exchange your currency to Euros, head down to a bank or currency exchange office. Mind that a small bank fee may apply for exchanging cash.
Average cost of meals
National French cuisine is distinguished by its diversity and extraordinary combinations of flavors so eating out in France is definitely worth giving a try. As a rule, prices on meals depend on the city you are staying at and it’s natural that costs in Paris, Lyon, Cannes, and Nice greatly exceed the ones in smaller towns.
If you plan to taste French specialties in a mid-range restaurant, then a meal of three courses without wine for two people will cost you about 50-55 Euros. An average price for a salad in a French restaurant is about 7-9 Euros, for a main dish - 15-20 Euros, dessert - 3-5 Euros. Of course, a menu in a gourmet restaurant can be a bit more expensive.
As you know, France also boasts some amazing sorts of wine which you can’t miss. As such, a bottle of wine at a shop costs about 3-5 Euros while a bottle ordered in a bar or restaurant usually starts from 10-15 Euros.
Giving tips to guides & drivers
Well, it is always quite confusing to figure out how much and who to tip when you are abroad. In any case, we want to highlight that tipping in France is not an obligatory procedure, but a gesture, indicating your appreciation of the good service or quality. If you want to thank waiters or waitresses in a casual cafe, you may leave 3 Euros, or 5% of the whole bill in a fancier restaurant. However, be attentive by having a look at the bill when it arrives as the words “service compris” indicated on the check mean that the tip has already been included in the total price. A good tip for drivers and guides in France is usually 10% of the fare or tour price, again this is completely up to you and isn't a must.
How to blend in with the locals
France is among the most touristic destinations in Europe, so you can rest assured that many locals speak English, thus, you shouldn't worry that no one will understand you. In any case, going to a foreign country and knowing a couple of words in the local language is always a bonus. So when it comes down to French, here are a couple of phrases which you can learn.
Greet someone by saying "Bonjour" (pronounced bonzhoor) and say "bye" in French "Au revoir" (ah revwar). "Yes" and "no" are simple as well, "Oui" (wee) and "Non" (no). And two more handy phrases are "Please" and "thank you" - "S'il vous plaît " (see voo play) and "Merci" (mersee).
Charging your phone & devices
As a rule, French sockets meet European standards and deliver power at 220V, which means that you may need a special plug adapter if the plugs differ in your home country. But don’t worry, buying one won’t be a problem, adapters are available for purchase in many small shops in France. Of course, if you have the chance to get one before you travel, that's always great. However, keep in mind that 220V is much stronger than an average American socket which usually delivers only 120V. So be careful and check on the characteristics of your devices you take on your trip as a French socket may simply ruin some of your 120V electrical devices.
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