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France, Europe – Travel Guide

France, Europe – Travel Guide

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Paris
Location
France in its region.svg
Flag
Flag of France.svg
Quick Facts
Capital Paris
Government Republic
Currency Euro (€)
CFP Franc (XPF) (Pacific overseas territories)
Area total: 643,801km²
water: 3,374km²
land: 640,427km²
Population 64,667,374 (January 2009) in non-overseas France
Language French, some regional languages and dialects
Religion Christianity 45 %

Atheism 35 %
Not stated 10 %
Other religions 6 %(Judaism 1 %)
Islam 3 %
Buddhism 1 %

Electricity 220..230V, 50Hz. Outlets: CEE7/5 (protruding male earth pin), accepting CEE 7/5 (Grounded), CEE 7/7 (Grounded) or CEE 7/16 (non-grounded) plugs
Country code 33
Internet TLD .fr
Time Zone UTC +1

France is a country located in Western Europe. Clockwise from the north, France borders Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland to the east, Italy to the south-east and Spain to the south-west, across the Pyrenees mountain range (the small country of Andorra lies in between the two countries). The Mediterranean Sea lies to the south of France, with the Principality of Monaco forming a small enclave. To the west, France has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline, while to the north lies the English Channel, across which lies the last of France’s neighbours, England (part of the United Kingdom).

France has been the world’s most popular tourist destination for over twenty years (83.0 million in 2012) and it’s geographically one of the most diverse countries in Europe. Its cities contain some of the greatest treasures in Europe, its countryside is prosperous and well tended and it boasts dozens of major tourist attractions, like Paris, the French Riviera, the Atlantic beaches, the winter sport resorts of the French Alps, the castles of the Loire Valley, Brittany and Normandy. The country is renowned for its gastronomy (particularly wines and cheeses), history, culture and fashion.

Understand[edit]

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” — Antoine de Saint Exupéry, from The Little Prince

Climate[edit]

A lot of variety, but temperate winters and mild summers on most of the territory, and especially in Paris. Mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean and in the southwest (the latter has lots of rain in winter). Mild winters (with lots of rain) and cool summers in the northwest (Brittany). Cool to cold winters and hot summer along the German border (Alsace). Along the Rhône Valley, there is an occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as the mistral.

Cold winters with lots of the snow in the Mountainous regions: Alps, Pyrenees, Auvergne.

Terrain[edit]

Mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south west, Vosges , Jura and Alps in east, Massif Central in the mid south.

When to travel[edit]

If possible, try to avoid French school holidays and Easter, hotels are very likely to be overbooked and road traffic awful.

  • Holidays: search internet for [french school holidays], as they vary from region to region. Mostly, the winter holidays are 10 Feb-10 Mar. The spring holidays are often 10 Apr-10 May.

Winter gets very cold, sometimes freezing. Make sure to bring appropriate clothing to keep you warm while visiting.

Hotels are very likely to be overbooked and road traffic awful during the 1 May, 8 May, 11 Nov, Easter Weekend, Ascension weekend too.

History[edit]

France has been populated since the Neolithic period. The Dordogne region is especially rich in prehistoric caves, some used as habitation, others are temples with remarkable paintings of animals and hunters, like those found at Lascaux.

Rise and fall of the Roman empire

Written History began in France with the invasion of the territory by the Romans, between 118 and 50 BC. Starting then, the territory which is today called France was part of the Roman Empire, and the Gauls (name given to local Celts by the Romans), who lived there before Roman invasions, became accultured “Gallo-romans”.

With the fall of the Roman empire, what was left were areas inhabited by descendants of intermarriages between gallo-romans and “barbaric” easterners (Mainly the Franks, but also other tribes like the “burgondes”).

The legacy of the Roman presence is still visible, particularly in the southern part of the country where Roman circuses are still used for bullfights and rock and roll shows. Some of the main roads still follow the routes originally traced 2,000 years ago, and the urban organisation of many old town centres still transcript the cardo and the decumanus of the former Roman camp (especially Paris). The other main legacy was the Catholic Church which can be, arguably, considered as the only remnant of the civilization of that time

Middle-Ages

Clovis, who died in 511, is considered as the first French king although his realm was not much more than the area of the present Île de France, around Paris. Charlemagne, who was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 800, was the first strong ruler. He united under his rule territories which extend today in Belgium, Germany and Italy. His capital was Aix-la-Chapelle (now in Germany, known as Aachen).

The country was under attack by the Vikings who came from the north and navigated upstream the rivers to plunder the cities and abbeys, it was also under attack from the south by the Muslim Saracens who were established in Spain. The Vikings were given a part of the territory (today’s Normandy) in 911 and melted fast in the Feudal system. The Saracens were stopped in 732 in Poitiers by Charles Martel, grand father of Charlemagne, a rather rough warrior who was later painted as a national hero.

Starting with Charlemagne, a new society starts to settle, based on the personal links of feudalism. This era is named middle age. Although generally seen as an era of stagnation, it can more be described as a very complex mix of periods of economic and cultural developments (Music and poems of the Troubadours and Trouveres, building of the Romantic, then Gothic cathedrals), and recessions due to pandemic disease and wars.

In 987, Hughes Capet was crowned as king of France ; he is the root of the royal families who later governed France. In 1154 much of the western part of France went under English rule with the wedding of Alienor d’Aquitaine to Henry II (Count of Anjou, born in the town of Le Mans). Some kings of the Plantagenet dynasty are still buried in France, the most famous being Richard I, of Walter Scott’s fame, and his father Henry II, who lies in the Abbaye de Fontevraud. The struggle between the English and French kings between 1337 and 1435 is known as the Hundred Years War and the most famous figure, considered as a national heroine, is Joan of Arc.

Reading up

Before you leave you may want to read a book like French or Foe by Polly Platt or Almost French by Sarah Turnbull — interesting, well written records from English speaking persons who live in France. For the adult reader interested in the famous reputation enjoyed by Paris for romance and sensuality, try “SENSUAL PARIS: Sex, Seduction and Romance in the Sublime City of Light” by Jonathan LeBlanc Roberts


The making of a modern state nation

The beginning of the 16th century saw the end of the feudal system and the emergence of France as a “modern” state with its border relatively close to the present ones (Alsace, Corsica, Savoy, the Nice region weren’t yet French). Louis XIV who was king from 1643 to 1715 (72 years) was probably the most powerful monarch of his time. French influence extended deep in western Europe, its language was used in the European courts and its culture was exported all over Europe.

That era and the following century also saw the expansion of France on the other continents. This started a whole series of wars with the other colonial empires, mainly England (later Britain) and Spain over the control of North America, the Caribbean, South American, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

The French Revolution started in 1789, leading to the overthrow of King Louis XVI of the House of Bourbon and the creation of the First French Republic. Although this period was also fertile in bloody excesses it was, and still is, a reference for many other liberation struggles. In 1791, the other monarchies of Europe looked with outrage at the revolution and its upheavals, and considered whether they should intervene, either in support of the deposed King Louis XVI, or to prevent the spread of revolution, or to take advantage of the chaos in France. The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European Monarchies from 1792 to 1802.

Napoléon Bonaparte seized power in a coup d’état, reunited the country and declared himself Emperor of the French, he crowned by Pope Pius VII as Napoleon I of the French Empire, on 2 December 1804 at Notre Dame de Paris. His militaristic ambition which, at first, made him the ruler of most of western Europe were finally his downfall. In 1815 he was defeated in Waterloo (Belgium) by the Seventh Coalition – United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Hanover, Nassau, Brunswick, and Prussia. He is still revered in some Eastern European countries as its armies and its government brought with them the ideas of the French philosophers.

20th and 21st centuries

1905 saw the separation of the Church from the State. This was a traumatic process, especially in rural areas. The French state carefully avoids any religious recognition. The Church was badly hurt and lost half its priests. In the long run, however, it gained autonomy—for the State no longer had a voice in choosing bishops. In the early 21st century, the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) 2009 study, based on self declaration in percentage of total French population, 64.4% of the population identified as Catholic with only 15.2% regularly attending or occasionally attending Mass, and 4.5% attending Mass weekly.

The First World War (1914-1918) was a disaster for France, even though the country was ultimately a victor. At first many welcomed the war to avenge the humiliation of defeat and loss of territory to Germany following the Franco-Prussian War. However very high losses and almost no gain on the Western Front change opinions of the war. A significant part of the male workforce was killed or disabled and a large part of the country and industry destroyed. When World War II (1939-45) was declared there was little enthusiasm and much dread in France at the prospect of enduring another major war. In the spring of 1940 Hitler’s army invaded France, the army and government of the Third French Republic collapse and France surrendered in June of 1940. With British troops fleeing France an atmosphere of humiliation and defeat swept over the country. On the other hand, the French Resistance conducted sabotage operations inside German-occupied France. To support the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, various groups increased their sabotage and guerrilla attacks.

Since the end of WWII France went through a period of reconstruction and prosperity came back with the development of industry. The Fifth Republic (1958-present) emerged from the collapse of the French Fourth Republic (1946-58), replacing the prior parliamentary government with a semi-presidential system. It is France’s third-longest-enduring political regime, after the pre-French Revolution Ancien Régime and the Third Republic. France began the process of decolonisation after a rise in nationalism following WWII. In 1963 France and West Germany signed the Élysée Treaty, known as the Friendship Treaty, the treaty established a new foundation for relations that ended centuries of rivalry between them. France would play a role in what would eventually became the European Union. One of the most visible consequence being the introduction in 2002 of the Euro (€), the common currency of sixteen European countries.

In 2013, France is a republic with a President elected for a 5-year term. Some current main issues are the further integration of the country into the EU and the adoption of common standards for the economy, defence, immigrant rights, and so on.

The ban on religious symbols of 15 March 2004 in public schools is an application of French policy of laïcité (secularism) under which religious symbols such as Muslim veil, Jewish Kippah and Sikh turban has been banned from schools. This has meant that the guarantees for freedom of religion have been curtailed for faith groups in France. Although France is extremely safe, still anyone from an openly religious faith community may need to exercise care when travelling in France.

Electricity[edit]

Electricity is supplied at 220 to 230V 50Hz. Outlets are CEE7/5 (protruding male earth pin) and accept either CEE 7/5 (Grounded), CEE 7/7 (Grounded) or CEE 7/16 (non-grounded) plugs. Older German-type CEE 7/4 plugs are not compatible as they do not accommodate the earth pin found on this type of outlet. However, most modern European appliances are fitted with the hybrid CEE 7/7 plug which fits both CEE 7/5 (Belgium & France) and CEE 7/4 (Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and most of Europe) outlets.

Plugs Travellers from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and other countries using 230V 50Hz which use different plugs simply require a plug adaptor to use their appliances in France. Plug adaptors for plugs from the US and UK are available from electrical and “do-it-yourself” stores such as Bricorama.

Voltage: Travellers from the US, Canada, Japan and other countries using 110V 60Hz may need a voltage converter. However, some laptops, mobile phone chargers and other devices can accept either 110V or 230V so only require a simple plug adaptor. Check the voltage rating plates on your appliances before connecting them.

Regions[edit]

France is divided into 22 administrative regions, which themselves can be grouped into seven cultural regions:

Regions of France

Île-de-France
The region surrounding the French capital, Paris.
Northern France (Nord-Pas de Calais, Picardy, Normandy)
A region where the world wars have left many scars.
Northeastern France (Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne-Ardenne, Franche-Comté)
A region where wider European culture (and especially Germanic culture) has merged with the French, giving rise to interesting results.
Great West (Brittany, Pays de la Loire)
An agriculture-based oceanic region with a culture greatly influenced by the ancient Celtic peoples.
Central France (Centre-Val de Loire, Poitou-Charentes, Burgundy, Limousin, Auvergne)
A largely agricultural and vinicultural region, featuring river valleys, chateaux and historic towns.
Southwestern France (Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrenees)
A region of sea and wine, with nice beaches over the Atlantic Ocean and young high mountains close to Spain.
Southeastern France (Rhône-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Corsica)
The primary tourist region of the country outside of Paris, with a warm climate and azure sea, contrasting with the mountainous French Alps.

Chantilly gardens, Paris, Île-de-France

St Joseph’s Church by August Peret, Le Havre, Normandy, Northern France

Hotel de Ville decorated to celebrate its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Le Havre, Normandy, Northern France

Place du General de Gaulle, Lille, Nord-Pas de Calais, Northern France

Each administrative region is divided into a number of departments. Each department is allocated a 2 digit number. This number forms the first 2 digits of the 5 digit French postcode.

Overseas departments[edit]

  • Mayotte — voted to become a departement, effective 1 January 2011

Overseas territories[edit]

  • New Caledonia (Nouvelle Caledonie) — long-shaped island in Oceania

The following overseas territories are remote possessions kept as natural reservations:

A very limited form of tourism is available in the TAAF islands.

Cities[edit]

France has numerous cities of interest to travellers, below is a list of nine of the most notable:

  • Paris — the “City of Light”, romance and the Eiffel Tower
  • Bordeaux — city of wine, traditional stone mansions and smart terraces
  • Bourges — gardens, canals and a cathedral listed as a UNESCO heritage site
  • Lille — a dynamic northern city known for its handsome centre and active cultural life
  • Lyon — France’s second city with a history from Roman times to the Resistance
  • Marseille — Third French city, big harbour and the heart of the Provence, hosting the European Capital of Culture in 2013
  • Nantes — the “Greenest City” and according to some the best place to live in Europe
  • Strasbourg — famous for its historical centre, and home to many European institutions
  • Toulouse — the “Pink City”, for its distinctive brick architecture, main city of Occitania

Other destinations[edit]

  • Camargue — one of Europe’s largest river deltas and wetlands
  • Corsica — the birthplace of Napoleon, a unique island with a distinct culture and language
  • French Alps — home to the highest mountain in Western Europe, the Mont Blanc
  • French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) — Mediterranean coastline of France with plenty of upper class seaside resorts, yachts and golf courses
  • Loire Valley — the world-famous Loire Valley, best known for its wines and chateaux
  • Luberon — the stereotypical Provence of picturesque villages, joie de vivre and wine
  • Mont Saint Michel — second most-visited sight in France, a monastery and town built on a tiny outcrop of rock in the sand, which is cut off from the mainland at high tide
  • Verdon Gorge — beautiful river canyon in a turquoise-green, great for kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing or just driving around the limestone cliffs

France Visa Agency[edit]

To Get to France you need to contact a travel agent or visa service center. They will help you get the France visa.[1]

Get in[edit]

Entry requirements[edit]

Minimum validity of travel documents

  • EEA and Swiss citizens, as well as non-EU citizens who are visa-exempt (e.g. New Zealanders and Australians), need only produce a passport which is valid for the entirety of their stay in France.
  • Other nationals who are required to have a visa (e.g. South Africans), however, must have a passport which has at least 3 months’ validity beyond their period of stay in France in order for a Schengen visa to be granted.

View of Mont Saint Michel from the causeway carpark, Normandy, Northern France

Yachts moored in Honfleur, Normandy, Northern France

The French impressionist painter Claude Monet’s house in Giverny, Normandy, Northern France

Interior of Bayeux Cathedral, Normandy, Northern France

Half-timbered facades in old town Strasbourg, Alsace, Northeastern France

The cathedral at Reims, Champagne-Ardenne, Northeastern France

The coast at Quiberon, Brittany

Place de la République in Rennes, Brittany

Boats in the harbour at St Malo, Brittany

Saumur, Pays de la Loire

The main street of old city of Le Mans, Pays de la Loire

The Saint-Julien Cathedral in Le Mans, Pays de la Loire

The Saint-Michel gate in Guerande, Pays de la Loire

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre in Nantes, Pays de la Loire

France is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented this treaty – the European Union (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs checks but no immigration checks (travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country) or you may have to clear immigration but not customs (travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country).

Please see the article Travel in the Schengen Zone for more information about how the scheme works and what entry requirements are.
Citizens of Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Israel, Macedonia, Mauritius, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Taiwan and Uruguay, as well as British Nationals (Overseas), are permitted to work in France without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay. All other visa-exempt nationals are exempt from holding a visa for short-term employment if they possess a valid work permit and can present this work permit at the port of entry, with limited exceptions. However, this ability to work visa-free does not necessarily extend to other Schengen countries. For more information, visit this webpage of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign nationals who are not visa-exempt (e.g. South Africans) must make a ‘declaration of entry’ (déclaration d’entrée) at a police station or to border inspection personnel if they arrive in France directly from another country of Schengen Area (e.g. Italy), unless they hold a long-term visa or residence permit issued by a Schengen member state. Their passports will be endorsed by the authorities to prove that such a declaration has been made.

If you intend to stay in France for longer than 90 days, regardless of purpose, an advance long-stay visa is always required of non-EEA or non-Swiss citizens. It is almost impossible to switch from a “C” (visitor) entry status to a “D” (long-stay) status from inside France, and you must apply for a long-stay visa in-person at the consulate responsible for your place of residence.

As of 2009, certain categories of long-stay visa, such as “visitor” (visiteur), family (vie privée et familiale), “student” (étudiant), “intern” (stagiaire) “scientist-researcher” (scientifique-chercheur), “salaried worker” (salarié), and “short-term worker” (travailleur temporaire), do not require persons to obtain a separate residence permit (carte de séjour) for the first year of stay in France. However, the long-stay visa must be validated by the Office Française de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII) within the first three months of entering France to be valid for longer than those three months. This is done by sending in a form to the OFII received along with the visa with the address of residence in France, completing a medical examination, and attending an introductory meeting to validate the visa. The tax required for validation (€58 for students and interns; €241 for workers except those under the short-term worker category, scientists, visitors, and family) is, as of February 2013, collected at the end of the validation process inside France. This validated visa will serve as a residence permit and, likewise, allow travel throughout the other Schengen countries for up to 90 days in a 6-month period. To stay in France after a validated visa expires, however, and/or if you hold a visa which states carte de séjour à solliciter dès l’arrivée, a carte de séjour (residence permit card) must be obtained at the préfecture responsible for your place of residence within two months of entry into France or two months before the visa expires. Please consult the OFII for more information.

French overseas departments and territories are not part of the Schengen Area and operate a separate immigration regime from mainland France. As such, if you intend to visit them, you will need a separate visa (if required for your nationality).

By plane[edit]

Flights to/from Paris[edit]

The main international airport, Roissy – Charles de Gaulle (IATA: CDG) is likely to be your port of entry if you fly into France from outside Europe. CDG is the home of Air France (AF), the national company, for most intercontinental flights. AF and the companies forming the SkyTeam Alliance (Dutch KLM, Aeromexico, Alitalia, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air,) use Terminal 2 while most other foreign airlines use Terminal 1. A third terminal is used for charter flights. If transferring through CDG (especially between the various terminals) it is important to leave substantial time between flights. Ensure you have no less than one hour between transfers. Add more if you have to change terminals as you will need to clear through security.

Transfers to another flight in France: AF operates domestic flights from CDG too, but a lot of domestic flights, and also some internal European flights, use Orly, the second Paris airport. For transfers within CDG you can use the free bus shuttle linking all terminals, train station, parking lots and hotels on the platform. For transfers to Orly there is a bus link operated by AF (free for AF passengers). The two airports are also linked by a local train (RER) which is slightly less expensive, runs faster but is much more cumbersome to use with heavy luggage. AF has agreements with the SNCF, the national rail company, which operates TGVs (see below) out of CDG airports (some trains carry flight numbers). The TGV station is in Terminal 2 and is on the route of the free shuttle. For transfers to the city centre of Paris, see Paris. Paris Star Shuttle offers transfers from CDG into Paris.

Some low-cost airlines, including Ryanair and Volare, fly to Beauvais airport situated about 80km northwest of Paris. Buses to Paris are provided by the airlines. Check schedules and fares on their websites.

Flights to/from regional airports[edit]

Other airports outside Paris have flights to/from international destinations: Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Toulouse have flights to cities in western Europe and North Africa; these airports are hubs to smaller airports in France and may be useful to avoid the transfer between the two Paris airports. Two airports, Bâle-Mulhouse and Geneva, are shared by France and Switzerland and can allow entry into either country.

Many airlines operate flights between regional airports in the UK and France:

British Airways flies direct from the UK to Angers, Basel (Mulhouse), Bordeaux, Chambéry, Geneva, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Quimper and Toulouse.

Cityjet flies direct from the UK to Avignon (Provence), Brest (Brittany), Brive (Dordogne), Deauville (Normandy), Nantes, Paris Orly, Pau (Pyrénées) and Toulon (Côte d’Azur).

easyJet flies direct from the UK to Basel (Mulhouse), Biarritz, Bordeaux, Geneva, Grenoble, La Rochelle, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Nice, Paris CDG, Paris Orly, and Toulouse.

Flybe flies direct from the UK to Avignon (Provence), Bergerac, Béziers, Bordeaux, Brest (Brittany), Chambéry, Clermont-Ferrand, Geneva, La Rochelle, Limoges, Nantes, Nice, Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Pau (Pyrénées), Perpignan, Rennes, Toulouse and Tours.

Jet2.com flies direct from the UK to Bergerac, Chambéry, Geneva, La Rochelle, Nice, Paris CDG and Toulouse.

Lydd Air [2] operates a short shuttle flight across the Channel between Lydd in Kent and Le Touquet.

Ryanair [3] flies direct from the UK to Bergerac, Béziers, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Dinard (Saint-Malo), Grenoble, La Rochelle, Limoges, Lourdes, Marseille, Montpellier, Nîmes, Perpignan, Poitiers, Rodez, Toulon (Côte d’Azur) and Tours.

By boat[edit]

France is served by numerous services from England to France:

Prices vary considerably depending on which route you choose. Generally the cheapest route is the short sea route across the English Channel which is Dover to Calais, so it is worth comparing prices before you decide which is the most suitable route to France.

Passengers travelling from Dover by ferry to France go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before boarding, rather than on arrival in France. Passengers travelling from all other UK ports to France go through French passport/identity card checks on arrival in France.

There are also connections from Ireland to France:

  • Brittany Ferries [7] – operate ferry services from Cork to Roscoff

Numerous companies now act as agents for the various ferry companies much like Expedia and Travelocity act as agents for airlines allowing the comparison of various companies and routes. Two well known brands are Ferryonline [10] and AFerry.co.uk [11].

By train[edit]

The French rail company, SNCF, provides direct service from most European countries using regular trains. French train tickets can be purchased directly in the US from RailEurope [12] a subsidiary of the SNCF.

  • Eurostar [13] runs high-speed trains to France from the United Kingdom and Belgium. Passengers travelling from the UK to France go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before boarding, rather than on arrival in France. Passengers travelling from Brussels to Lille/Calais/Paris are within the Schengen Area. Eurostar operates the following routes from France:
Paris (Gare du Nord) direct to London (St Pancras International) (2h 15min), Ebbsfleet and Ashford and via Lille to Brussels (Zuid-Midi).
Lille (Europe) direct to London (St Pancras International) (1h 20min), Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Brussels (Zuid-Midi)
Calais (Fréthun) direct to London (St Pancras International) (1h 2min; 2-3 daily), Ebbsfleet (44min; 3-4 daily), Ashford (35min; 1 daily) and Brussels (Zuid-Midi) (1h 9min; 2-3 daily) Note: Although Brussels Midi-Calais Fréthun can’t be purchased on the Eurostar website, it is available on the Belgian Railways website [14]
  • Thalys [15] or [16] service uses high-speed TGV trains [17] to connect Paris to Brussels and onward to cities in the Netherlands and Germany. It can be a bit expensive compared to normal trains.

By bus[edit]

France has several Eurolines-hubs, [18].

By car[edit]

Several weekends each year in France its Black Saturday (Samedi noir) because of the start or end of school holidays and the coinciding traffic jams on the French roads. When possible it is wise to avoid these black days. See for the actual forecast the website of the French traffic service [19].

See Driving in France.

See the ‘By boat’ section above for information on car ferries to France from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

From Belgium[edit]

  • As according to an agreement with the CFL, the Belgian railways are directing all passenger trains to France through Luxembourg (thus causing an extra unnecessary border crossing), it may be useful to cross the border directly, on foot. The terminus of the French railways in Longwy can be reached from the Belgian train station of Halanzy (the line operates only on work days, however), or from the bigger Belgian stations of Arlon or Virton. Between these two stations there’s a bus operated by the TEC company which stops at Aubange Place, a good point of departure/arrival for the walking tour. The path leads almost exclusively through inhabited areas in the community of Mont-Saint-Martin (yet partially in a forest if you go to/from Halanzy) and takes some 7 km. The city of Longwy itself is quite steep in some of its parts, so pay attention to this when planning your route.
  • There are domestic Belgian trains that terminate in Lille (station Lille-Flanders).
  • Between the De Panne terminus of the Belgian railways (and the Coast tram – Kusttram) and the French coastal city of Dunkerque, there is a bus line run by DK’BUS Marine: [20]. It may, however, be operating only in certain time of the year. It is also possible to take a DK’BUS bus which goes to the closest possible distance of the border and then cross it on foot by walking on the beach and arriving at a convenient station of the Coast tram, such as Esplanade.

Get around[edit]

By plane[edit]

The following carriers offer domestic flights within France:

  1. Air France [21] (Ajaccio (Campo Dell Oro Airport), Annecy-Meythet Airport, Avignon-Caum Airport, Bastia (Poretta Airport), Biarritz Parme Airport, Bordeaux Airport, Brest (Guipavas Airport), Caen (Carpiquet Airport), Calvi (Sainte Catherine Airport), Clermont-Ferrand (Aulnat Airport), Figari (Sud Corse Airport), Lannion (Servel Airport), Le Havre (Octeville Airport), Lille (Lesquin Airport), Limoges (Bellegarde Airport), Lorient (Lann Bihoue Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Marseille Airport, Metz/Nancy (Metz-Nancy-Lorraine Airport), Montpellier (Mediterranee Airport), Mulhouse/Basel (EuroAirport French), Nantes Atlantique Airport, Nice (Cote D’Azur Airport), Paris (Charles De Gaulle Airport), Paris (Orly Field), Pau (Uzein Airport), Perpignan (Llabanere Airport), Quimper (Pluguffan Airport), Rennes (St Jacques Airport), Rodez (Marcillac Airport), Rouen (Boos Airport), Strasbourg (Entzheim Airport), Tarbes Ossun Lourdes Airport, Toulon (Hyeres Airport), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
  2. Hop! [22] (Aurillac Airport, Bastia (Poretta Airport), Beziers Vias Airport, Bordeaux Airport, Brest (Guipavas Airport), Brive-La-Gaillarde (Laroche Airport), La Rochelle (Laleu Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Mulhouse/Basel (EuroAirport French), Nantes Atlantique Airport, Paris (Orly Field), Poitiers (Biard Airport), Rennes (St Jacques Airport), Saint Nazaire (Montoir Airport), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
  3. Air Corsica [23] (Ajaccio (Campo Dell Oro Airport), Bastia (Poretta Airport), Calvi (Sainte Catherine Airport), Figari (Sud Corse Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Marseille Airport, Nice (Cote D’Azur Airport))
  4. Twin Jet [24] (Cherbourg (Maupertus Airport), Marseille Airport, Metz/Nancy (Metz-Nancy-Lorraine Airport), Paris (Orly Field), Saint Etienne (Boutheon Airport), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
  5. easyJet [25] (Bastia, Biarritz, Brest, Lyon, Nantes, Nice (Côte D’Azur Airport), Paris (Charles De Gaulle Airport), Paris (Orly Field), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
  6. Ryanair [26] (Marseille to/from Bordeaux/Brest/Lille/Nantes/Paris Beauvais/Paris Vatry/Tours; Paris Beauvais to/from Beziers/Marseille)
  7. Eastern Airways [27] (Dijon to/from Bordeaux/Nantes/Toulouse)
  8. Hex’Air [28] (Le Puy (Loudes Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Paris (Orly Field), Rodez (Marcillac Airport))
  9. Air Austral [29] (Lyon Satolas Airport, Marseille Airport)
  10. Heli Securite [30] (Cannes (Croisette Heliport), Nice (Cote D’Azur Airport))
  11. Nice Helicopteres [31] (Cannes (Croisette Heliport), Nice (Cote D’Azur Airport))

By car[edit]

See also: Driving in France

France has a well-developed system of highways. Most of the freeway (autoroute) links are toll roads. Some have toll station giving you access to a section, others have entrance and exit toll stations. Don’t lose your entrance ticket or you will be charged for the longest distance. All toll stations accept major credit cards although may not accept foreign credit cards, or you can use the automatic booth, but only if your card is equipped with a chip.

Roads range from the narrow single-lane roads in the countryside to major highways. Most towns and cities were built before the general availability of the automobile and thus city centres tend to be unwieldy for cars. Keep this in mind when renting: large cars can be very unwieldy. It often makes sense to just park and then use public transportation.

France drives on the right.

A French driver flashing headlights is asserting right of way and warning you of intentions and presence. Do not use it to mean thanks. Flashing headlights can also mean, “Watch out as there’s a police speed-check ahead of you!” Horns should be used only in legitimate emergencies; use of the horn in urban areas outside such circumstances might win you a traffic ticket. Parisian drivers were notorious for honking their horns at anything and everything, though increased enforcement has greatly reduced this practice.

Renting a car[edit]

Once you land in France you may need to use car hire services. Most of the leading companies operate from French airports and there is good merit in booking car hire in advance. It is a regular experience at smaller French airports to not get the type of car you booked online but an alternative model. Sometimes the alternative model is quite different so check carefully before accepting the vehicle and stand your ground if it does not match your booking request and is not suitable to your needs.

Most cars in France are equipped with standard transmissions, a fact that derives equally from the preferences of the driving public and the peculiarities of French licensing laws (automatic transmissions are generally only used by the elderly or those with physical disabilities). This extends to vehicle categories that in other countries (read: the US) are virtually never equipped with a manual transmission, such as vans and large sedans. Accordingly, virtually all of the vehicles available for rent at the average car hire will be equipped with a manual gearbox. If you do not know how to drive a car with a manual transmission and don’t have the time to learn before your trip, be certain to reserve your rental car well in advance and confirm your reservation. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a car that is much larger than you can afford (or with no car at all).

It is a good tip when travelling in numbers to get one member of the party with hand luggage to go straight through to the car hire desk ahead of everybody else, this will avoid the crush once the main luggage is picked up from the conveyor.

For short term rentals, you will find numerous familiar big name agencies (Hertz,SIXT,Avis,Alamo) which you can book through a number of online portals and compare prices side by side (Orbitz,Kayak,Expedia). All of the above rental agencies usually have similar pricing, vehicles and rental policies. Although it not recommended, one will usually be able to wait until near last minute to book online and still get a car when it comes to short term rentals. In fact, there has been a recent surge in the last-minute car rental market, with an increasing number of start-ups promoting low-cost car hire services in different ways. One of these growing trends is car-pooling, which has exploded in the last decade. In fact, most of the biggest names in the market, such as BlaBlaCar and Covoiturage, are originally from France, though they have now expanded in neighboring countries. Another novelty in this market, which is attracting a lot of attention, is renting cars for one-way trips around France, for one symbolic euro. Indeed, French startups such as DriiveMe now offer one-way, city-to-city car rentals for one euro net by putting in relation the logistical and car-conveying aspect of the car hire business to the demand side. These innovative solutions and growing trends highlight a growing market and new possibilities for people to travel cheaply throughout France.

However, for rentals exceeding three weeks in duration, it is often advantageous to use a “short term” lease buy back programs in which you need to book at least a few weeks in advance before departing. The lease buy back programs are uniquely French and offer a tax-free alternative to car rentals that can often have an overall lower cost and better value than a traditional car rental. The programs are typically run by the big three French auto makers Peugeot, Renault, and Citroen. Short term leasing offers clients a brand new vehicle, full insurance, unlimited mileage, and flexible driving rules compared to traditional car rentals. You must be a NON European resident to take part in this and one downfall is that you must have need for a car for more then three weeks in order to benefit from the service. Only certain agencies are authorized to sell these leases to US residents. Some of them include; Auto France, Inc. Peugeot(US), Citroen Europass (US), Renault USA (US).

By thumb[edit]

France is a good country for hitchhiking. Be patient, prepare yourself for a long wait or walk and in the meantime enjoy the landscape. A ride will come along. People who stop are usually friendly and not dangerous. They will like you more if you speak a little French. They never expect any money for the ride.

Remember that getting out of Paris by thumb is almost impossible. You can try your luck at the portes, but heavy traffic and limited areas for stopping will try your patience. It’s a good idea to take the local train to a nearby suburb as your chance of being picked up will increase dramatically.

Outside Paris, it’s advisable to try your luck after roundabouts. As it’s illegal to hitchhike on the motorways (autoroutes) and they are well observed by the police, you may try on a motorway entry. The greatest chance is at toll plazas (stations de péage), some of which require all cars to stop and are thus great places to catch a lift. Some tollbooths are really good, some not so good. If you’ve been waiting for a while with an indication of where to go, drop it and try with your thumb only. And also, you can try to get a ride to the next good spot in the wrong direction.

Note, though, that hitching from a péage, while a common practice, isn’t legal and French police or highway security, who are normally very tolerant of hitchhikers, may stop and force you to leave. You can get free maps in the toll offices – these also indicate where you can find the “all-stop-Péage”.

By train[edit]

Trains are a great way to get around in France. You can get pretty much from anywhere to anywhere else by train. For long distances, use the TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse – High-Speed Train) on which reservations are obligatory. But, if you have time, take the slow train and enjoy the scenery. The landscape is part of what makes France one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

The French national railway network is managed by Réseaux Ferrés de France, and most of the trains are run by the SNCF [32] (Société nationale des chemins de fer français). For interregional trains you can get schedules and book tickets online at voyages-sncf.com [33]. For regional trains, schedules can be found at ter-sncf.com [34] (choose your region, then “Carte and horaires” for maps and timetables). Booking is available in two classes: première classe (first class) is less crowded and more comfortable but can also be about 50% more expensive than deuxième classe (second class). Note that if your TGV is fully booked, step aboard seconds before the doors close, and look for the guard (“contrôleur”). He will find you a seat somewhere.

There are a number of different kinds of high speed and normal trains:

  • TER (Train Express Régional): Regional trains and the backbone of the SNCF system. TER are slow but do serve most stations. Available on Eurail and InterRail passes.
  • Intercités: As of 2012, the bundling of the former Corail services. Includes trains with compulsory reservation (former Téoz and the Lunéa night trains) and those for which reservations are optional (former Intercités). The reservation-optional trains are what one will often use on passes. Some trains go to regions that the TGV services don’t, namely in Auvergne.
  • TGV (Trains à Grande Vitesse): The world-famous French high-speed trains run several times a day to the Southeast Nice(5-6h), Marseille (3h) and Avignon (2.5 h), the East Geneva (3h) or Lausanne, Switzerland and Dijon (1h15) , the Southwest Bordeaux (3h), the West Rennes (2h), Nantes (2h), Brest (4h) and the North Lille (1h). Eurostar to London (2h15) and Thalys to Brussels (1h20) use almost identical trains. Reservations are compulsory.

If you’ll be doing more than about 2 return journeys in France and are younger than 26, getting a “Carte 12-25″ will save you money. They cost €50, last a year, and give anywhere from a 25% to 60% discount depending on when you book the ticket and when you travel.

Booking tickets online can be quite a confusing process as it is possible to book the same journey through a number of different websites (in different languages and currencies). The fares are not always consistent so it pays to check the same trip on a number of sites.

  • www.voyages-sncf.com [35] This is the French language booking website of the SNCF.
  • www.tgv-europe.com [36] English language version of the SNCF site. Confusingly this site has a completely different layout and style from the French language version. There are a few strange quirks. The booking window requires you to enter your “country”, and if you select France (as someone already in France is likely to do), you are directed back to the French language site.
  • www.raileurope.com [37][38] [39] The RailEurope sites are booking agencies owned by the SNCF. Fares will often be more expensive on these sites than on the “official” sites, however they are generally easier to use than the SNCF sites.

Both TGV-Europe and Voyages-SNCF frequently report errors in booking attempts; one of the workarounds is to call SNCF to book over the phone (00.33.892.35.35.35 “from outside France” per [40]). The most attractive internet-only rates are not available there, but still it secures you a seat, and likely cheaper than if you buy in ticket office upon arrival.

If you’ve booked online on Voyages SNCF [41], you can pick up your ticket when you get to the train station. Contrary to a common misunderstanding, this web site allows you to order even if you live in the US; it is not concerned where you live, but where you will pick up the tickets or have them sent; thus if you wish to pick up the tickets at a SNCF train station or office, answer “France”. When at the station, just go to the counter (“Guichet”) and ask to have your ticket issued (“retirer votre billet”). You can ask “Je voudrais retirer mon billet, s’il vous plait”, or ‘zhe voo dray ruh teer ay mon bee yay, sill voo play’ and then hand them the paper with the reference number.

To find your train, locate your train number and the departure time on the departures board. There will be a track (“Voie”) number next to the train and departure time. Follow signs to that track to board the train. You will have a reserved seat on TGV trains. On other long-distance trains, you can optionally make reservations (at least one day in advance); if you do not have one you may use any unused seat not marked as reserved. To find your reserved seat, first look for the train coach number (“Voit. No”). Pay attention to the possible confusion between track number (Voie) and coach (voiture) number (abbreviated Voit) As you go down the track, the coach number will be displayed on an LCD screen on the car, or maybe just written in the window or right next to the doors.

The reserved seat rules are lax; you are allowed if you switch seats or use another seat (of the same class of course) if it is empty because the TGV is not fully booked or the other person agrees to switch with you. The only requirement is not to continue using a reserved seat if the person holding the reservation claims it.

On the main lines, TGVs often run in twos. There are two possibilities: either the two TGVs are considered as one train with one train number (in this case each coach has a different number); or the two TGVs are considered as separate trains which run together during a part of their journey, with two different train numbers (in this case, the two trains may have two close numbers such as 1527 and 1537), and each train will have its own coach numbering. So be sure you are in the right train (the train number is shown on the LCD screen, with the coach number).

If you are early, there is often a map somewhere on the track that will show how the train and car numbers will line up on the track according to letters that appear either on the ground or on signs above. That way, you can stand by the letter corresponding with your coach number and wait to board the train closest to your coach. You can easily go from one coach to another, so if you are very late, jump in any coach of the same class before the train starts, wait until most people are seated, then walk to your coach and seat number.

Beware: To avoid any form of fraud, your ticket must be punched by an automatic machine (“composteur”) before entering the platform area to be valid. Older machines are bright orange, newer machines are yellow and gray. The machines are situated at the entrance of all platforms. Failure to punch the ticket may entitle you to a fine even if you are a foreigner with a limited French vocabulary, depending on how the conductor feels, unless you approach the conductor as quickly as possible and request that your ticket be validated. Likewise if you step aboard a train without a ticket, you must find the conductor (“contrôleur”) and tell him about your situation before he finds you.

French information booths, especially in larger train stations, can be quite unhelpful, especially if you do not understand much French. If something does not seem to make sense, just say “excusez-moi” and they should repeat it.

Night train services also exist. These include couchettes second class (6 bunk beds in a compartment), first class (4 bunks) and Reclining seats.
Wagon-lits (a compartment with 2 real beds) were totally withdrawn from French overnight trains. However, you can ask for a “private room” (in first class). Night trains have occasionally been targeted by criminals, though this is not a widespread problem.

Troc des trains[edit]

As it is cheaper to book and purchase train tickets, especially those with reservations, in advance, there is a relatively lively trading of non-exchangeable and non-reimburseable train tickets on the Internet. See http://www.trocdestrains.com/recherche-billet-train.html and http://www.kelbillet.com/billet-de-train-pas-cher/

By bus[edit]

Intercity bus service is a relatively new concept in France. Eurolines [42], Megabus [43] and iDBUS [44] all offer domestic French tickets as part of their international networks.

Elsewhere, intercity coaches can only be found in departmental/regional service. So check for the peculiarities of bus service in the region you are in.

Tickets for local service are usually affordable, i.e. in the region of Île De France generally cost €1.60 (10 cents more if purchased from the driver).

By Riverboat[edit]

You can cruise down one of the French canals on a river boat to see the sites of the local countryside and moor by a local town/village to try the local produce and visit the cafes and bars. One of the most popular rivers being the Canal Du Midi located in the south of France in the departments of Hérault, Aude, and Haute-Garonne. Many boat charter companies offer this service.

Taking a dog[edit]

Dogs are allowed on trains in France. Dogs that fit in a carrier (maximum 55 x 30 x 30 cm) travel for €6, while larger dogs travel for 50% of the full adult fare. Ouigo and IDTGV have a set fare of 30 euros and 35 euros respectively each way for larger dogs. For more information on where to go in France with your dog, how to get there and where to stay check out France: A Woof Guide by Paul Wojnicki.

Talk[edit]

L’anglais et les Français

Yes, it’s true: while most people in France under the age of 60 have studied English, they are often unable or unwilling to use it. This is not necessarily linguistic snobbery, but is usually due to lack of practice, or fear that their little-used-since-high-school English will sound ridiculous. If you really must speak English, be sure to begin the conversation in French and ask if the person can speak English, as assuming someone can speak a foreign language is considered very rude. Please note that British English, spoken with the carefully articulated “received pronunciation”, is what is generally taught in France; thus, other accents (such as Irish, Scottish, Southern US or Australian accents) may be understood with difficulty, if at all. Try to speak clearly and slowly, and avoid slang or US-specific words or phrases. There is no need to speak loudly (unless in a loud environment) to be understood; doing so is considered impolite. Don’t forget that French people will really appreciate any attempts you do to speak French.



See also: French phrasebook

French (français) is the official language of France, although there are regional variations in pronunciation and local words. For example, throughout France the word for yes, oui, said “we”, but you will often hear the slang form “ouais”, said “waay.” It’s similar to the English language usage of “Yeah” instead of “Yes”.

In Alsace and part of Lorraine, a dialect of German called “Alsatian”, which is almost incomprehensible to speakers of standard High German, is spoken. In the south, some still speak dialects of the Langue d’Oc (because the word for “yes” is oc): Languedocien, Limousin, Auvergnat, or Provençal. Langue d’Oc is a Romance language, a very close relative of Italian, Spanish, or Catalan. In the west part of Brittany, a few people, mainly old or scholars, speak Breton; this Celtic language is closer to Welsh than to French. In parts of Aquitaine, Basque is spoken, but not as much as on the Spanish side of the border. In Corsica a kind of Italian is spoken. In Provence, Provençal is most likely to be spoken, especially along the Riviera.

However, almost everyone speaks French and tourists are unlikely to ever come across regional languages, except in order to give a “folkloric” flair to things.

Hardly anybody understands imperial units such as gallons or Fahrenheit. Stick to metric units (after all, French invented this system!).

The French are generally attached to politeness (some might say excessively) and will react coolly to strangers that forget it. You might be surprised to see that you are greeted by other customers when you walk into a restaurant or shop. Return the courtesy and address your hellos/goodbyes to everyone when you enter or leave small shops and cafes. It is, for the French, very impolite to start a conversation with a stranger (even a shopkeeper or client) without at least a polite word like “bonjour”. For this reason, starting the conversation with at least a few basic French phrases, or some equivalent polite form in English, goes a long way to convince them to try and help you.

  • “Excusez-moi Monsieur/Madame”: Excuse me (ex-COO-zay-mwah mih-SYOOR/muh-DAM)
  • “S’il vous plaît Monsieur/Madame” : Please (SEEL-voo-PLAY)
  • “Merci Monsieur/Madame” : Thank you (mare-SEE)
  • “Au revoir Monsieur/Madame” : Good Bye (Ore-vwar)

Avoid “Salut” (Hi); it is reserved for friends and relatives, and to use it with people you are not acquainted with is considered quite impolite.

Some travel phrases:

  • Où est l’hôtel? – Where is the hotel?
  • Où sont les toilettes? – Where can I find a restroom?
  • Où est la gare? Where is the train station
  • Parlez-vous français? Do you speak French?
  • Parlez-vous anglais? Do you speak English?

Note that French spoken with an hard English accent or an American accent can be very difficult for the average French person to understand. In such circumstances, it may be best to write down what you are trying to say. But tales of waiters refusing to serve tourists because their pronunciation doesn’t meet French standards are highly exaggerated. A good-faith effort will usually be appreciated, but don’t be offended if a waiter responds to your fractured French, or even fluent but accented, in English (If you are a fluent French speaker and the waiter speaks to you in English when you’d prefer to speak French, continue to respond in French and the waiter will usually switch back – this is a common occurrence in the more tourist-orientated areas, especially in Paris).

Please note that some parts of France (such as Paris) are at times overrun by tourists. The locals there may have some blasé feelings about helping for the umpteenth time foreign tourists who speak in an unintelligible language and ask for directions to the other side of the city. Be courteous and understanding.

As France is a very multicultural society, many African languages, Arabic, Chinese dialects, Vietnamese or Cambodian could be spoken. Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and even Romanian are comprehensible to a French speaker to a reasonably wide extent, as they are all mutually intelligible through most words and come from the same family tree, but you should stick to French unless you’re in a large city.

The standard sign language in France is French Sign Language, locally abbreviated LSF. Whenever an interpreter for the hearing-impaired is present at a public event, LSF will be used. Whether a user of a foreign sign language will be able to communicate in France depends on the user’s specific language. For example, users of American Sign Language (also used in Anglophone Canada), Irish Sign Language, and Quebec Sign Language may be able to communicate to some degree. These languages are derived from LSF to a significant extent, and share a good deal of vocabulary and syntax. Languages in the LSF family also have one-handed manual alphabets that differ slightly from language to language. On the other hand, users of British Sign Language, New Zealand Sign Language, and Auslan will have great difficulty. These languages differ significantly in vocabulary and syntax from LSF, and also use the same two-handed manual alphabet.

Finally, foreign TV programmes shown on local or national TV networks are dubbed into French. Similarly, the audio of news interviews where the interviewee gives a response in another language is superimposed with a French translation. For foreign films shown in a cinema however, audiences, particularly in larger cities, usually have an option to watch the film in its original language (with French subtitles) or whose audio is dubbed into French.

See[edit][add listing]

Thinking of France, you might imagine the iconic Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe or the famous smile of Mona Lisa. You might think of drinking coffee in the lively Paris cafés where great intellectuals lingered in past times, or of eating croissants in a local bistro of a sleepy but gorgeous village in the countryside. Probably, images of splendid châteaux will spring to your mind, of lavender fields or perhaps of vineyards as far as the eye can see. Or perhaps, you’d envisage the chic resorts of the Cote D’Azur. And you wouldn’t be wrong. However, they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to France’s many sights and attractions.

Cities[edit]

Paris. the “City of Light” and the capital of romance has been a travellers’ magnet for centuries and a real must-see. Of course, no visit would be complete without a glance at its world famous landmarks. The Eiffel Tower is hard to miss, especially when it is lit beautifully at night, but the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and Sacré Coeur are both famous and stunning sights too. With no less than 3,800 national monuments in and around Paris, history is literally around every corner. Stroll through the city’s spacious green parks, with the Luxembourg Gardens as one of the favourites, and make sure to spend some time on the famous banks of the river Seine. Also, don’t miss the magnificent Palace of Versailles, the most grand reminder of the Ancient Regime located just 20 km away from the capital.

Bordeaux is famous for its wine but is also a bustling city with lots of historic sights to discover. It is listed as a World Heritage Site for being “an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble”. Lyon, the country’s second largest city, is listed too, and boasts a beautiful old centre as well as a number of Roman ruins. Strasbourg, one of the EU headquarters, has a character of its own, with clear German influences. Montpellier is one of the best places in the south, with lots of monumental buildings and nice cafés. In the west there’s the beautiful historic city of Nantes, home to the Château des ducs de Bretagne and many other monuments. The Capitole de Toulouse is situated right at the heart that famous university city’s street plan. Last but not least, don’t overlook Arles, with its World Heritage Listed Roman and Romanesque Monuments.

French Riviera[edit]

And then there are the magnificent cities of the Côte d’Azur, once the place to be for the rich and famous but now equally popular with a general crowd. Its sandy beaches, beautiful bays, rocky cliffs and lovely towns has made it one of the main yachting and cruising areas in the world as well as popular destination for land-bound travellers. There’s bustling Nice, where some 4 million tourists a year enjoy the stony beaches and stroll over the Promenade des Anglais. Avignon with its splendid ramparts and Palais-des-Papes was once the seat of popes. Although Saint-Tropez gets overcrowded in summer, it’s a delightful place in any other season. The same goes for Cannes, where the jet-set of the film industry gathers each year for the famous Cannes Film Festival. From there, you can hop on a boat to the much more peaceful Îles de Lérins.

Much smaller in size but just as gorgeous (and popular) are the perched villages of Gourdon and Èze, which is located on a 427 meter high cliff, much like an “eagle’s nest”. Both offer some stunning panoramic views. From Èze, its a very short trip to the glitter and glamour of Monaco. For the world’s millionaires and aristocracy, the green peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is an old time favourite with the impressive Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild full of impressionist art as its main sight. A bit more inland but well-worth a visit are the towns of Grasse, famous for its perfumeries, and Biot, known for its glass blowers. The huge city and arts-hub Marseille is usually not considered part of the Cote D’Azur, but is very close. It has plenty of historic sights and nearby are the stunning Calanques, a series of miniature fjords it shares with Cassis.

Countryside & villages[edit]

You haven’t seen the best of France if you haven’t had at least a taste of its amazing countryside, dotted with wonderful medieval villages and castles. There are great examples in any part of the country, but some 156 small towns have been identified as the most beautiful villages in France[45]. The country’s landscapes vary from the snow-covered peaks of the Alps and the Pyrenees with their many winter sports resorts to lush river valleys, dense forests and huge stretches of farmland and vineyards. The Provence, backing a good part of the Côte d’Azur, is one of the most beloved regions. It has a typical Mediterranean atmosphere and is famous for its lavender fields and rosé wines. It’s also home to the stunning Verdon Gorge, one of the most beautiful gorges in Europe. The rolling riverine landscape of the Loire Valley is home to many great castles, of which Châteaux Amboise, Château de Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau, Chambord and Châteaux du Pin are some of the finest examples. The western region of Brittany reaches far into the Atlantic and boasts many megalith monuments such as those near Carnac. The beaches of Normandy, also on the Atlantic coast, are famed for the D-Day Allied invasion on June 6, 1944. Although the humbling Normandy American Cemetery and countless museums, memorials and war time remains keep memory of those dark days alive, the region is now a pleasant and popular destination. Its picturesque coast line includes both long stretches of beach and steep limestone cliffs, such as those near Étretat). The region is also home to the splendid and World Heritage listed Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay. The lush hills of the Dordogne form another region famous for its castles, with over 1500 of them on its 9000 km2 area.

Art museums[edit]

As the French have a real taste for art, the country has numerous art galleries and museums. Several of them are widely considered to be among the finest museums in the world of art, art-history, and culture. The grandeur and fame of the Musée du Louvre in Paris can hardly be matched by any other museum in the world. It boasts a fabulous collection of art from antiquity to the 19th century and is home of the Mona Lisa and many other renowned works. At just a 15 minute walk from there is the Musée d’Orsay, another world class museum that picks up roughly where the Louvre’s collections ends. It’s located in an old railway station and houses the national collection of art works from the 1848 to 1914 period. Its excellent collection includes some of the best French Impressionist, post-Impressionist and Art Nouveau works, including Degas’ ballerinas and Monet’s waterlillies. The Musée National d’Art Moderne in Centre Pompidou, still in France’s capital, is the largest museum for modern art in Europe. The Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon has an excellent collection varying from ancient Egypt antiquities to Modern art paintings and sculptures. In Lille you’ll find the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, one of the country’s largest museums. Its varied collection is second in size after the Louvre and boasts anything from antiquities to modern art. Smaller but still outstanding are the collections of the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi and the Picasso Museum in Paris. Marseille has many galleries and its Musée Cantini has a good collection of modern art associated with Marseille as well as several works by Picasso. Fondation Maeght houses modern art too and is situated in Saint-Paul de Vence.

Parks & natural attractions[edit]

Disneyland Resort Paris is by far France’s most popular park, visited by families from all over Europe. The country’s national parks have quite some visitors too though, due to their splendid scenery and great opportunities for outdoor sports. Vanoise National Park is the oldest and one of the largest parks, named after the Vanoise massif. Its highest peak is the Grande Casse at 3,855 m. The impressive natural landscapes of Parc national des Pyrénées are right on the southern border of France and extend well into Spain, where they are part of the Parc National Ordesa y Monte Perdido The whole area is listed as UNESCO World Heritage. In the French part, the glacial cirques of Gavarnie, Estaubé and Troumouse are some of the best sights, as is the wall of Barroud. The again mountainous Cévennes National Park covers parts of the Languedoc-Roussillon (including te popular Ardèche), Midi-Pyrénées and the Rhône-Alpes regions. Its headquarters is in the castle of Florac, but there are towns all over the park. Donkey rides are available and the Cave formation of Aven Armand is one of the parks’ best sights.

Not yet under a protective status but highly popular is Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe and attractive for climbing, hiking and skiing. From the French side, it is mostly explored from Chamonix, a well known resort on the foot of the mountain.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
  • Stroll grand Parisian Boulevards
  • Climb Montmartre Hill in Paris
  • See a managable amount of art in the Louvre, or see the art in the Orsay Museum, in a former train station
  • See the modern architecture in the business district of La Defense
  • See the Science Museum in Villette Park, and the other odd attractions assembled there
  • Stroll an old train viaduct on the Promenade Plantee in Paris
  • Ride the TGV, one of the fastest trains in the world, from Paris to Lyon
  • See the quaintness of the Alsace
  • Ride a bike along a section of Tour De France

Buy[edit][add listing]

Vacations[edit]

Many of the French take their vacations in August. As a result, outside of touristic areas, many of the smaller stores (butcher shops, bakeries…) will be closed in parts of August. This also applies to many corporations as well as physicians. Obviously, in touristy areas, stores will tend to be open when the tourists come, especially July and August. In contrast, many attractions will be awfully crowded during those months, and during Easter week-end.

Some attractions, especially in rural areas, close or have reduced opening hours outside the touristic season.

Mountain areas tend to have two touristic seasons: in the winter, for skiing, snowshoeing and other snow-related activities, and in the summer for sightseeing and hiking.

Money[edit]

France has the euro (€) as its sole currency along with 24 other countries that use this common European money. These 24 countries are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain (official euro members which are all European Union member states) as well as Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican which use it without having a say in eurozone affairs and without being European Union members. Together, these countries have a population of 327 million.

One euro is divided into 100 cents. While each official euro member (as well as Monaco, San Marino and Vatican) issues its own coins with a unique obverse, the reverse, as well as all bank notes, look the same throughout the eurozone. Every coin is legal tender in any of the eurozone countries.



Some foreign currencies such as the US dollar and the British Pound are occasionally accepted, especially in touristic areas and in higher-end places, but one should not count on it; furthermore, the merchant may apply some unfavourable rate. In general, shops will refuse transactions in foreign currency.

It is compulsory, for the large majority of businesses, to post prices in windows. Hotels and restaurants must have their rates visible from outside (note, however, that many hotels propose lower prices than the posted ones if they feel they will have a hard time filling up their rooms; the posted price is only a maximum).

Almost all stores, restaurants and hotels take the CB French debit card, and its foreign affiliations, Visa and Mastercard. American Express tends to be accepted only in high-end shops. Check with your bank for applicable fees (typically, banks apply the wholesale inter-bank exchange rate, which is the best available, but may slap a proportional and/or a fixed fee). If ever the merchant requires a minimum amount before purchasing, then they will post it in writing at the till or the shop’s entrance.

French CB cards (and CB/Visa and CB/Mastercard cards) have a “smart chip” on them allowing PIN authentication of transactions. This system, initiated in France, has now evolved to an international standard and newer British cards are compatible. Some automatic retail machines (such as those vending tickets) may be compatible only with cards with the microchip. In addition, cashiers unaccustomed to foreign cards possibly do not know that foreign Visa or Mastercard cards have to be swiped and a signature obtained, while French customers systematically use PIN and don’t sign the transactions.

There is (practically) no way to get a cash advance from a credit card without a PIN in France.

Automatic teller machines (ATM) are by far the best way to get money in France. They all take CB, Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus and Plus and are plentiful throughout France. They may accept other kinds of card; check for the logos on the ATM and on your card (on the back, generally) if at least one matches. It is possible that some machines do not handle 6-digit PIN codes (only 4-digit ones), or that they do not offer the choice between different accounts (defaulting on the checking account). Check with your bank about applicable fees, which may vary greatly (typically, banks apply the wholesale inter-bank exchange rate, which is the best available, but may slap a proportional and/or a fixed fee; because of the fixed fee it is generally better to withdraw money in big chunks rather than €20 at a time). Also, check about applicable maximal withdrawal limits.

Traveller’s cheques are difficult to use — most merchants will not accept them, and exchanging them may involve finding a bank that accepts to exchange them and possibly paying a fee.

Note that the postal service doubles as a bank, so often post offices will have an ATM. As a result, even minor towns will have ATMs usable with foreign cards.

Exchange offices (bureaux de change) are now rarer with the advent of the Euro – they will in general only be found in towns with a significant foreign tourist presence, such as Paris. Some banks exchange money, often with high fees. The Bank of France no longer does foreign exchange.

Do’s Put money into your checking account, carry an ATM card with a Cirrus or Plus logo on it and a 4-digit pin that does not start with ’0′ and withdraw cash from ATMs. Pay larger transactions (hotel, restaurants…) with Visa or Mastercard. Always carry some € cash for emergencies.

Don’t’s Carry foreign currency ($, £…) or traveller’s cheques, and exchange them on the go, or expect them to be accepted by shops.

Stores[edit]

Inside city centre, you will find smaller stores, chain grocery stores (Casino) as well as, occasionally, department stores and small shopping malls. Residential areas will often have small supermarkets (Champion, Intermarché). Large supermarkets (hypermarchés such as Géant Casino or Carrefour) are mostly located on the outskirts of towns and are probably not useful unless you have a car.

Prices are indicated with all taxes (namely, the TVA, or value-added tax) included. It is possible for non-EU residents to get a partial refund upon departure from certain stores that have a “tax-free shopping” sticker; inquire within. TVA is 20.0% (as of January 2014) on most merchandise, but 10.0% on some things such as books, restaurant meals, and public transport and 5.0% on food purchased from grocery stores (except for sweets and candies!). Alcoholic beverages are always taxed at 20%, regardless of where they’re purchased.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Onion soup

With its international reputation for fine dining, few people would be surprised to hear that French cuisine can certainly be very good. Unfortunately, it can also be quite disappointing; many restaurants serve very ordinary fare, and some in touristy areas are rip-offs. Finding the right restaurant is therefore very important – try asking locals, hotel staff or even browsing restaurant guides for recommendations as simply walking in off the street can be a hit and miss affair.

There are many places to try French food in France, from three-star Michelin restaurants to French “brasseries” or “bistros” that you can find at almost every corner, especially in big cities. These usually offer a relatively consistent and virtually standardised menu of relatively inexpensive cuisine. To obtain a greater variety of dishes, a larger outlay of money is often necessary. In general, one should try to eat where the locals do for the best chance of a memorable meal. Most small cities or even villages have local restaurants which are sometimes listed in the most reliable guides. There are also specific local restaurants, like “bouchons lyonnais” in Lyons, “crêperies” in Brittany (or in the Montparnasse area of Paris), etc.

Chinese, Vietnamese, even Thai eateries are readily available in Paris, either as regular restaurants or “traiteurs” (fast-food). They are not so common, and are more expensive, in smaller French cities. Many places have “Italian” restaurants though these are often little more than unimaginative pizza and pasta parlors. You will also find North African (Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian) as well as Greek and Lebanese food. The ubiquitous hamburger eateries (US original or their French copies) are also available; note that McDonalds is more upmarket in France than in the US.

In France, taxes (7 per cent of the total in restaurants) and service (usually 15 per cent) are always included in the bill, so anything patrons add to the bill amount is an “extra-tip”. French people usually leave one or two coins if they were happy with the service.

Fixed price menus seldom include beverages. If you want water, waiters will often try to sell you mineral water (Évian, Thonon) or fizzy water (Badoit, Perrier), at a premium; ask for a carafe d’eau for tap water, which is free and safe to drink. Water never comes with ice in it unless so requested (and water with ice may not be available).

As in other countries, restaurants tend to make a large profit off beverages. Expect wine to cost much more than it would in a supermarket.

Ordering is made either from fixed price menus (prix fixe) or à la carte.

A typical fixed price menu will comprise:

  • appetizer, called entrées or hors d’œuvres
  • main dish, called plat
  • dessert (dessert) or cheese (fromage)

Sometimes, restaurants offer the option to take only two of three steps, at a reduced price.

Coffee is always served as a final step (though it may be followed by liquors). A request for coffee during the meal will be considered strange.

Not all restaurants are open for lunch and dinner, nor are they open all year around. It is therefore advisable to check carefully the opening times and days. A restaurant open for lunch will usually start service at noon and accept patrons until 13:30. Dinner begins at around 19:30 and patrons are accepted until 21:30. Restaurants with longer service hours are usually found only in the larger cities and in the downtown area. Finding a restaurant open on Saturday and especially Sunday can be a challenge unless you stay close to the tourist areas.

In a reasonable number of restaurants, especially outside tourist areas, a booking is compulsory and people may be turned away without one, even if the restaurant is clearly not filled to capacity. For this reason, it can be worthwhile to research potential eateries in advance and make the necessary reservations to avoid disappointment, especially if the restaurant you’re considering is specially advised in guide books.

A lunch or dinner for two on the “menu” including wine and coffee will cost you (as of 2004) €70 to €100 in a listed restaurant in Paris. The same with beer in a local “bistro” or a “crêperie” around €50. A lunch or dinner for one person in a decent Chinese restaurant in Paris can cost as little as €8 if one looks carefully.

Outside of Paris and the main cities, prices are not always lower but the menu will include a fourth course, usually cheese. As everywhere beware of the tourist traps which are numerous around the heavy travelled spots and may offer a nice view but not much to remember in your plate.

Bread[edit]

All white bread variants keep for only a short time and must be eaten the same day. Hence bakers bake at least twice a day.

  • The famous baguette: a long, thin loaf
  • Variants of the baguette : la ficelle (even thinner), la flûte
  • Pain de campagne or Pain complet: made from whole grain which keeps relatively well.

Pastries[edit]

Pastries are a large part of French cooking. Hotel breakfasts tend to be light, consisting of tartines (pieces of bread with butter or jam) or the famous croissants and pains au chocolat, not dissimilar to a chocolate filled croissant (but square rather than crescent shaped).

Pastries can be found in a pâtisserie but also in most boulangeries.

Regional dishes[edit]

Every French region has dishes all its own. These dishes follow the resources (game, fish, agriculture, etc) of the region, the vegetables (cabbage, turnip, endives, etc) which they grow there. Here is a small list of regional dishes which you can find easily in France. Generally each region has a unique and widespread dish (usually because it was poor people’s food):

  • Cassoulet (in south west) : Beans, duck, pork & sausages
  • Choucroute, or sauerkraut (in Alsace) : stripped fermented cabbage + pork
  • Fondue Savoyarde (central Alps) : Melted/hot cheese with alcohol
  • Fondue Bourguignonne (in Burgundy) : Pieces of beef (in boiled oil), usually served with a selection of various sauces.
  • Raclette (central Alps) : melted cheese & potatoes/meat
  • Pot-au-feu boiled beef with vegetables
  • Boeuf Bourguignon (Burgundy) : slow cooked beef with gravy
  • Gratin dauphinois (Rhone-Alpes) : oven roasted slices of potatoes
  • Aligot (Auvergne) : melted cheese mixed with a puree of potatoes
  • Bouillabaisse (fish + saffron) (Marseille and French Riviera). Don’t be fooled. A real bouillabaisse is a really expensive dish due to the amount of fresh fish it requires. Be prepared to pay at least €30/persons. If you find restaurants claiming serving bouillabaisse for something like €15/persons, you’ll get a very poor quality.
  • Tartiflette (Savoie) Reblochon cheese, potatoes and pork or bacon.
  • Confit de Canard (Landes) : Duck Confit, consists of legs and wings bathing in grease. That grease is actually very healthy and, with red wine, is one of the identified sources of the so-called “French Paradox” (eat richly, live long).
  • Foie Gras (Landes) : The liver of a duck or goose. Although usually quite expensive, foie gras can be found in supermarkets for a lower price (because of their purchasing power) around the holiday season. It is the time of year when most of foie gras is consumed in France. It goes very well with Champagne.

Cooking and drinking is a notable part of the French culture, take time to eat and discover new dishes…

Unusual foods[edit]

if you are served escargots or snails, you will usually also get a slim and specialised fork to eat them with.

Contrary to stereotype, snails and frog legs are quite infrequent foods in France, with many French people enjoying neither, or sometimes never having even tasted them. Quality restaurants sometimes have them on their menu: if you’re curious about trying new foods, go ahead.

  • Frogs’ legs have a very fine and delicate taste with flesh that is not unlike chicken. They are often served in a garlic dressing and are no weirder to eat than, say, crab.
  • Most of the taste of Bourgogne snails (escargots de bourgogne) comes from the generous amount of butter, garlic and parsley in which they are cooked. They have a very particular spongy-leathery texture that is the characteristic that is liked by people who like snails. Catalan style snails (“cargols”) are made a completely different way, and taste much weirder.

Let us also cite:

  • Rillettes sarthoises also known as Rillettes du Mans. A sort of potted meat, made from finely shredded and spiced pork. A delicious speciality of the Sarthe area in the north of the Pays de la Loire and not to be confused with rillettes from other areas, which are more like a rough pate.
  • Beef bone marrow (os à moelle). Generally served in small quantities, with a large side. So go ahead: If you don’t like it, you’ll have something else to eat in your plate.
  • Veal sweetbread (ris de Veau), is a very fine (and generally expensive) delicacy, often served with morels, or in more elaborates dishes like “bouchees a la reine”.
  • Beef bowels (tripes) is served either “A la mode de Caen” (with a white wine sauce, named after the town in Normandy) or “A la catalane” (with a slightly spiced tomato sauce)
  • Andouillettes are sausages made from tripe, a speciality of Lyon
  • Tricandilles are seasoned and grilled pork tripe from the Bordeaux region
  • Beef tongue (langue de bœuf) and beef nose(museau) and Veal head (tête de veau) are generally eaten cold (but thoroughly cooked!) as an appetizer.
  • Oysters (Huîtres) are most commonly served raw in a half shell. They are often graded by size, No1 being the largest (and most expensive).
  • Oursins (sea urchins) For those who like concentrated iodine.
  • Steak tartare a big patty of ground beef cured in acid as opposed to cooked, frequently served with a raw egg. Good steak tartare will be prepared to order at your table. A similar dish is boeuf carpaccio, which is thin slices or strips of raw steak drizzled with olive oil and herbs.
  • Cervelle (pronounced ser-VELL), lamb brain.

Cheese[edit]

France is certainly THE country of cheese, with nearly 400 different kinds. Indeed, former president General Charles De Gaulle was quoted as saying “How can you govern a country which has 365 varieties of cheese?”.

Here is a far from exhaustive list of what one can find:

Bleu des Causses Livarot Roquefort
Bleu du Vercors Morbier Saint Nectaire
Boulette d’Avesnes Maroilles Salers
Brie de Meaux Munster Sainte Maure de Touraine
Brie de Melun Murol Selles-sur-Cher
Broccio Neufchâtel Saint Marcellin
Camembert Ossau-Iraty Sainte Maure de Touraine
Cantal Pelardon Tomme de chèvre
Chaource Pérail Tomme des Cévennes
Comté Picodon Valençay

Dietary restrictions[edit]

Vegetarianism is not as uncommon as it used to be, especially in larger cities. Still, very few restaurants offer vegetarian menus, thus if you ask for something vegetarian the only things they may have available are salad and vegetable side dishes.

There may still be confusions between vegetarianism and pesce/pollotarianism. Vegetarian/organic food restaurants are starting to appear. However, “traditional” French restaurants may not have anything vegetarian on the menu, so you may have to pick something “à la carte”, which is usually more expensive.
Veganism is still very uncommon and it may be difficult to find vegan eateries.

Breakfast[edit]

Breakfast in France isn’t the most important meal of the day and is usually very light. The most typical breakfast consists of a coffee and a croissant or some other “viennoiserie”, but since it implies going to the baker’s store early in the morning to buy fresh croissant, it’s typically reserved for somewhat special occasions. On normal days most people have a beverage (coffee, tea, hot chocolate, orange juice) and either toasts (“tartines” made of baguette or toast bread with butter and jam/honey/Nutella) that can be dipped in the hot beverage, or cereals with milk. People who eat healthy may go for fruits and yoghurt. As a general rule, the french breakfast is mostly sweet, but everything changes and you can have salty breakfasts everywhere today.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, the Loire Valley… France is the home of wine. It can be found cheaply just about anywhere. Beer (lager) is also extremely popular, in particular in northern France, where “Biere de Garde” can be found. The alcohol purchase age was recently raised to 18 for all drinks, but this is not always strictly enforced; however, laws against drunk driving are strictly enforced, with stiff penalties.

Wine and liquors may be purchased from supermarkets, or from specialized stores such as the Nicolas chain. Nicolas offers good advice on what to buy (specify the kind of wine and the price range you desire). In general, only French wines are available unless a foreign wine is a “specialty” with no equivalent in France (such as port), and they are classified by region of origin, not by grape.

Never drink alcoholic beverages (especially red wine or strong alcohol such as cognac) directly from a 70 cl bottle. Such behaviour is generally associated with bums and drunkards (though if you are surrounded by college students, you may be OK). Drinking beer from a 25 to 50cl can or bottle is ok.

Prices of food and beverages will vary on whether they’re served to you at the bar or sitting at a table – the same cup of espresso might cost €0.50 more if served at a table than at the bar, and €0.50 more again if served out on the terrace. Really, you’re not paying so much for the beverage as for the table spot. Do consider the bar, though – while you will have to stand, café bars are often where a great deal of public discourse and interaction happens. In any event, cafés are required by law to post their prices somewhere in the establishment, usually either in the window or on the wall by the bar. Note also that cafés in touristy areas, especially in Paris, tend to serve very expensive food of rather average quality. Unless you are dying of hunger or thirst, avoid the places that have menus in multiple languages or are near heavily-trafficked attractions. Instead, consider buying snacks and beverages from a grocery store and enjoying them in a nearby park.

There are a couple of mixed drinks which seem to be more or less unique to France, and nearby francophone countries.

  • Panaché is a mix of beer and lemonade, basically a beer shandy. (Same as “Radler” in Central Europe.)
  • Monaco is a Panaché with some grenadine syrup added.
  • Kir is a pleasant aperitif of white wine (in theory, Bourgogne Aligoté) or, less frequently, of champagne (then named kir royal and about twice the price of regular kir) and cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), or peche (peach), or mûre (blackberry).
  • Pastis is an anise-based (licorice-flavored) spirit, similar in taste to Sambuca or Ouzo, that is served with a few lumps of sugar and a small pitcher of cold water to dilute the liquor. It is traditionally enjoyed on very hot days, and as such is more popular in the south of the country but available more or less everywhere.

There is a variety of bottled water, including:

  • Évian, Thonon, Contrex, Volvic: mineral water
  • Perrier: fizzy water
  • Badoit: slightly fizzy and salty water.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Short term rentals[edit]

Travellers should definitely consider short term villa/apartment/studio rentals as an alternative to other accommodations options. Short term can be as few as several days up to months at a stretch. Summer rentals are usually from Saturday to Saturday only (July & August). This type accommodation belongs to a private party, and can range from basic to luxurious. A particular advantage, aside from competitive prices, is that the accommodations come with fully fitted kitchens.

Hundreds of agencies offer accommodation for short term rentals on behalf of the owner, and can guide you into finding the best property, at the best price in the most suitable location for you. An internet search for the location and type of property you’re looking for will usually return the names of several listing sites, each of which may have hundreds or thousands of properties for you to choose from. There are plenty of sites in both English and French, and the rental properties may be owned by people of any nationality.

France is a diverse and colourful country, and you’ll find everything from stunning log chalets in the Alps, Chateaux in the countryside and beach front villas on the Riviera…plus everything in between!

Hotels[edit]

Hotels come in 5 categories from 1 to 5 stars. This is the official rating given by the Ministry of Tourism, and it is posted at the entrance on a blue shield. Stars are awarded according to objective yet somewhat outdated administrative criteria (area of the reception hall, percentage of rooms with en suite bathroom…).

Rates vary according to accommodation, location and sometimes high or low season or special events.

As of 2004, the rate for a *** hotel listed in a reliable guidebook falls between €70 (cheap) and €110 (expensive) for a double without breakfast.

All hotels, by law, must have their rates posted outside (or visible from outside). Note that these are maximal rates: a hotel can always propose a lower rate in order to fill up its rooms. Bargaining is not the norm but you can always ask for a discount.

Hotels located in city centres or near train stations are often very small (15-30 rooms) which means that you should book ahead. Many newer hotels, business oriented, are found in the outskirts of cities and are sometimes larger structures (100 rooms or more); they may not be easy to reach with public transportation. The newer hotels are often part of national or international chains and have high standards. Many older hotels are now part of chains and provide standardized service but they retain their own atmosphere.

When visiting Paris, it is essential to stay in the city; there are cheaper tourism hotels in the suburbs, but these cater to groups in motor coaches; they will be hard to reach by public transportation.

Along the highways, at the entrance of cities, you find US-like motels ; they are very often reachable only by car. Some motels (e.g. Formule 1) have minimal service, if you come in late you find an ATM-like machine, using credit cards, which will deliver a code in order to reach your assigned room.

B & Bs and Gîtes[edit]

Throughout France, mainly in rural areas but also in towns and cities, you can find B&Bs and gîtes.

B&B’s are known in French as “Chambres d’hôtes” and are generally available on a nightly basis. By law, breakfast MUST be included in the advertised price for a “chambre d’hôte”. Bear this in mind when comparing prices with hotels, where breakfast is NOT included in the room price.

Gites or gites ruraux are holiday cottages, and generally rented out as a complete accommodation unit including a kitchen, mostly on a weekly basis. There are very few near or in the cities. Finding them requires buying a guide or, for greater choice, using the internet, as you will not find a lot of signposts on the road.

Traditionally, gites provided basic good value accommodation, typically adjacent to the owners household or in a nearby outbuilding. More recently the term has been extended, and can now be used to describe most country-based self-catering accommodation in France. Hence it includes accommodation as varied as small cottages villas with private swimming pools.

During peak summer months the best self-catering gites require booking several months in advance.

There are thousands of B&Bs and gites in France rented out by foreign owners, particularly British and Dutch, and these tend to be listed, sometimes exclusively, with English-language or international organisations and websites that can be found by keying the words “chambres d’hotes”, “gites” or “gites de france” into any of the major search engines.

There is a large number of organisations and websites offering “gites”. Literally the French word gite just means a place to spend the night; however it now largely used to describe rental cottages or self-catering holiday homes, usually in rural parts of France.

Gîtes de France[edit]

A France-wide cooperative organisation, Gites de France regroups on a voluntary basis more than 50,000 rural accommodations and was the first in France to offer a consistent rating system with comprehensive descriptions.

Despite the name, Gites de France offers B&B as well as holiday rental (gite) accommodation.

The “Gites de France” rating system uses wheat stalks called Epis (equivalent to stars), based on amenities rather than quality – though generally the two go together.

Through its website, bookings can be done directly with owners or through the local Gîtes de France booking agency (no extra fee for the traveler). Although an English language version is available for many of the website pages, for some departments the pages giving details of an individual gite are only in French.

There is no particular advantage in using Gites de France rather than one of the other online gites sites, or booking directly with a gite. The procedure is pretty standard for all gite booking sites, whether French or foreign – with the advantage that absolutely all the booking process can be done in English if you use an English-language portal, which is not always the case with Gites de France.

After making a gite booking you will receive, by post, a contract to sign (gites only). Sign and return one copy. When signing write the words “Read and approved”, and the name of your home town, before signing and dating the contract. You will normally be asked to pay a deposit of a quarter to a third of the booking fee. The rest will be required one month before the start of your holiday. When you arrive at the gite a security deposit, specified in the contact, should be given to the owner in cash. This will be returned at the end of your stay, less any fuel charges and breakages.

Another great resource for booking Gites and Villas in France is Holiday France Direct, It enables you to deal directly with the property owners and offers customers discounted ferry travel with Brittany Ferries. www.holidayfrancedirect.co.uk

Gîtes d’étape[edit]

Another possibility is gîtes d’étape. These are more like overnight stays for hikers, like a mountain hut. They are mostly cheaper than the Gîtes de France but also much more basic.

Camping[edit]

Camping is very common in France. Most campsite are a little way out of the city centre and virtually all cater not just for tents but for Camper Vans/Caravans also. While all campsites have the basic facilities of Shower/toilet blocks, larger sites tend to offer a range of additional facilities such as bars and restaurants, self-service laundries, swimming pools or bicycle hire.
All campsites except for very small “farm camping” establishments must be registered with the authorities, and are officially graded using a system of stars.

In coastal areas, three-star and four-star campgrounds must generally be booked in advance during the months of July and August, and many people book from one year to the next. In rural areas, outside of popular tourist spots, it is usually possible to show up unannounced, and find a place; this is particularly true with the municipal campsites that can be found in most small towns; though even then it may be advisable to ring up or email in advance to make sure. There are always exceptions.

In France it’s forbidden to camp:

  • in woods, natural, regional and national parks
  • on public roads and streets
  • on the seaside
  • less than 200 meters from watering place used for human consumption
  • on natural protected sites
  • less than 500 meters from a protected monument
  • everywhere where it’s forbidden by local laws
  • on private properties without the owner’s consent.

Learn[edit]

France, of course, is the best place to acquire, maintain and develop your French. A number of institutions offer a variety of courses for travellers.

Work[edit]

If you are by law required to obtain a visa or other type of authorisation to work and fail to do so, you risk possible arrest, prosecution, expulsion and prohibition from reentering France and the Schengen area.

Citizens of EU and EEA countries (save from some Eastern European countries, for a temporary period) and Switzerland can work in France without having to secure a work permit. Most non-EU citizens will need a work permit – however, some non-EU citizens (such as Canadians, Croatians, New Zealanders etc) do not require a visa or work permit to work during their 90 day visa-free period of stay in France (see the ‘Get in’ section above for more information).

If you are an EU citizen or from an EEA country and want to earn money to continue traveling, Interim agencies (e.g. Adecco, Manpower) are a good source of temporary jobs. You can also consider working in bars, restaurants, and/or nightclubs (they are often looking for English-speaking workers, particularly those restaurants in tourist areas – fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s and Quick are also always looking for people).

A lot of “student jobs”, if you happen to be in a big city, are also available for younger travelers, and foreigners are often very welcome. Such jobs include, for example, giving private English lessons, taking care of young children or many other things…check out the university buildings, they often have a lot of advertisements. An easy way to find job offers in France is to use Jobbydoo.fr [46], search engine for job offers in France.

Don’t forget that being an English speaker is a big advantage when you’re looking for a job – French employers really have a problem finding English-speaking workers. Do note, however, that it will be much easier for you if you know a bit of French, for the same reason (your colleagues are not likely to speak English). However, don’t overestimate your chances of finding work; in March 2005 unemployment is back at 10%, and a whopping 22% among under-25′s…. many of whom speak or understand English. There are a lot more people looking for jobs than there are jobs – except those unattractive jobs that no-one wants to do.

The French work market tends to operate through personal contacts – if you know someone that works somewhere, you can probably figure out quite an easy way to work at that place too. It always helps to know people living in the area you wish to work.

Stay safe[edit]

Crimes[edit]

Crime-related emergencies can be reported to the toll-free number 17. Law enforcement forces are the National Police (Police Nationale) in urban area and the Gendarmerie in rural area, though for limited issues such as parking and traffic offenses some towns and villages also have a municipal police.

France is a very low-crime area, and is one of the safest countries in the world, but large cities are plagued with the usual woes. Violent crime against tourists or strangers is very rare, but there is pickpocketing and purse-snatching.

The inner city areas and a few select suburbs are usually safe at all hours. In large cities, especially Paris, there are a few areas which are better to avoid. Parts of the suburban are sometimes grounds for youth gang violent activities and drug dealing; however these are almost always far from touristic points and you should have no reason to visit them. Common sense applies: it is very easy to spot derelict areas.

The subject of crime in the poorer suburbs is very touchy as it may easily have racist overtones, since many people associate it with working-class youth of North African origin. You should probably not express any opinion on the issue.



Usual caution apply for tourists flocking around sights as they may become targets for pickpockets. A usual trick is to ask tourists to sign fake petitions and give some money, which is a way to put pressure on the victim. Stay away from people requesting money without any organization badge.

While it is not compulsory for French citizens to carry identification, they usually do so. Foreigners should carry some kind of official identity document. Although random checks are not the norm you may be asked for an ID in some kinds of situations, for example if you cannot show a valid ticket when using public transportation; not having one in such cases will result in you being taken to a police station for further checks. Even if you feel that law enforcement officers have no right to check your identity (they can do so only in certain circumstances), it is a bad idea to enter a legal discussion with them; it is better to put up with it and show ID. Again, the subject is touchy as the police have often been accused of targeting people according to criteria of ethnicity (e.g. délit de sale gueule = literally “crime of a dirty face” but perhaps equivalent to the American “driving while black.”)

Due to the terrorist factor, police, with the help of military units, are patrolling monuments, the Paris subway, train stations and airports. Depending on the status of the “Vigipirate” plan (anti terrorist units) it is not uncommon to see armed patrols in those areas. The presence of police is of help for tourists, as it also deters pickpockets and the like. However, suspicious behaviour, public disturbances etc., may result in policemen asking to see an ID.

In France, failing to offer assistance to ‘a person in danger’ is illegal. This means that if you fail to stop upon witnessing a motor accident, fail to report such an accident to emergency services, or ignore appeals for help or urgent assistance, you may be charged. Penalties include suspended prison sentence and fines. The law does not apply in situations where to answer an appeal for help might endanger your life or the lives of others.

Controlled substances[edit]

Carrying or using narcotic substances, from marijuana to hard drugs, is illegal whatever the quantity. The penalty can be severe especially if you are suspected of dealing. Trains and cars coming from countries which have a more lenient attitude (like the Netherlands) are especially targeted. Police have often been known to stop entire coaches and search every passenger and their bags thouroughly just because they’re coming from Amsterdam.

France has a liberal policy with respect to alcohol; there are usually no ID checks for purchasing alcohol (unless you look much younger than 18). However, causing problems due to public drunkenness is a misdemeanor and may result in a night in a police station. Drunk driving is a severe offense and may result in heavy fines and jail sentences.

A little etiquette note: while it is common to drink beer straight from the bottle at informal meetings, doing the same with wine is normally only done by tramps (clochards).


Stay healthy[edit]

Tap water[edit]

Tap water (Eau du robinet) is drinkable, except in rare cases such as rural rest areas and sinks in train bathrooms, in which case it will be clearly signposted as Eau non potable. Eau potable is potable water. (You may, however, not like the taste which may be chlorinated, botteled water is common.)

Medical help[edit]

The health care in France is of a very high standard.

Pharmacies in France are denoted by a green cross, usually in neon. They sell medicines, contraceptives, and often beauty and related products (though these can be very expensive). Medicines must be ordered from the counter, even non-prescription medicines. The pharmacist is able to help you about various medicines and propose you generic drugs.

Since drug brand names vary across countries even though the effective ingredients stay the same, it is better to carry prescriptions using the international nomenclature in addition to the commercial brand name. Prescription drugs, including oral contraceptives (aka “the pill”), will only be delivered if a doctor’s prescription is shown.

In addition, supermarkets sell condoms (préservatifs) and also often personal lubricant, bandages, disinfectant and other minor medical item. Condom machines are often found in bar toilets, etc.

Medical treatment can be obtained from self-employed physicians, clinics and hospitals. Most general practitioners, specialists (e.g. gynecologists), and dentists are self-employed; look for signs saying Docteur (médecine générale is general practitioner). The normal price for a consultation with a general practitioner is €23, though some physicians charge more (this is the full price and not a co-payment). Physicians may also do home calls, but these are more expensive.

Residents of the European Union are covered by the French social security system, which will reimburse or directly pay for 70% of health expenses (30% co-payment) in general, though many physicians and surgeons apply surcharges. Other travellers are not covered and will be billed the full price, even if at a public hospital; non-EU travellers should have travel insurance covering medical costs.

Emergencies[edit]

Hospitals will have an emergency room signposted Urgences.

The following numbers are toll-free:

  • 15 Medical emergencies
  • 17 Law enforcement emergencies (for e.g. reporting a crime)
  • 18 Firefighters
  • 112 European standard emergency numbers.

Operators at these numbers can transfer requests to other services if needed (e.g. some medical emergencies may be answered by firefighter groups).

Smoking[edit]

Smoking is prohibited by law in all enclosed spaces accessible to the public (this includes train and subway cars, train and subway station enclosures, workplaces, restaurants and cafés) unless in areas specifically designated for smoking, and there are few of these. There was an exception for restaurants and cafés, but since the 1st January 2008, the smoking ban law is also enforced there. You may face a fine of €68 if you are found smoking in these places.

Smoking is banned in métro and trains, as well as enclosed stations. Subway and train conductors do enforce the law and will fine you for smoking in non-designated places; if you encounter problems with a smoker in train, you may go find the conductor.

As hotels are not considered as public places, some offer smoking vs non-smoking rooms.

Only people over the age 18 may purchase tobacco products. Shopkeepers may request a photo ID.

Respect[edit]

On the Métro[edit]

The Métro subway system is a great way to get around Paris (or Lyon, Marseille, et al.), which is readily apparent in the throngs of people that use it to go to work, school, and the like. If you do not ride the train at home, or if you come from a place that doesn’t have a subway system, there are certain points of etiquette that you may not be aware of. When boarding at the station, let those exiting the train step off onto the platform before boarding, and once aboard move to the centre of the car. If you have luggage, move it as far out of the path of others as possible (on the RER B to Charles de Gaulle airport, use the luggage racks above the seats instead). Certain stations have moving sidewalks to cover the distances between platforms – walk on the left and stand on the right! Finally, do note that the doors on French subway cars don’t generally open automatically once the train has stopped at the station; rather, most cars have a small button or lever on the doors that opens them. If you should happen to be standing near the door in a crowded car you might hear someone behind you say “la porte, s’il vous plait,” which means that person would like to get off the train and is asking you to open the door for him/her. Pop the door open and step aside (or down onto the platform) while that person exits the train – the driver will wait for you to get back on.

Loudness[edit]

It is considered very rude to be loud in a crowded place, such as a subway car or restaurant. Keep in mind that, though you may be enjoying your holiday, most people around you in the métro or other places are probably going to or back from work and may be tired and thus will react very coldly to tourists babbling at the top of their lungs. If you listen to the locals talk, you will notice that they talk rather softly.

Shopping Etiquette[edit]

In many shops/stores in France, you should ask the shopkeeper to take items from the shelf; as opposed to picking it up yourself. This applies in liquor or wine stores, clothing stores, etc. Failure to respect this policy might result in confused and/or angered reactions from the shopkeeper.

Dress code[edit]

Dress codes are fast disappearing, but if you want to avoid looking like a tourist, then avoid white sneakers, baseball caps, tracksuit pants, shorts and flip-flops (except at the beach). Generally speaking, business casual dress code is sufficient in cities and in all but the most formal occasions.

When it comes to women’s urban wear, very short skirts, largely open cleavage, or ostensibly sexy clothing in general, is considered poor taste in France, especially in the colder climates of northern France (including Paris). Women dressing this way taking public transportation or walking in the street to a club, may be heckled on the way, or get looks of disapproval.

Usual courtesy applies when entering churches, and although you may not be asked to leave, it is better to avoid short pants and halter tops.

Some restaurants will frown if you come in dressed for trekking but very few will insist upon a jacket and tie. You may be surprised by the number of French twenty-somethings who show up at a grungy bar in jacket and tie, even if obviously from a thrift-shop.

Beaches and swimming pools (in hotels) are used for getting a tan. Taking off your bra will not usually create a stir if you don’t mind a bevy of oglers. Taking off the bottom part is reserved to designated nude beaches. People on beaches are usually not offended by a young boy or girl undressed. Most resort cities insist on your wearing a shirt when leaving the beach area. Many pools will not allow baggy or “board” swim trunks, insisting on snug fitting speedo type trunks.

Breastfeeding in public is very rare but nobody will mind if you do.

Talking to people[edit]

The French language has two different forms of the pronoun “you” that are used when addressing someone in the second person. “Tu” is the second-person singular and “Vous” is nominally the second-person plural. However, in some situations, French speakers will use “Vous” for the second-person singular. While one will use “Vous” to address a group of people no matter what the circumstances, non-native speakers will invariably have some difficulty when trying to determine whether to address a person with the informal and friendly “tu” or the formal and respectful “vous.” The language even has two special verbs reflecting this difference: “tutoyer” (to address a person using “tu”), and “vouvoyer” (to address a person using “vous”), each of them carrying their own connotations and implications. Unfortunately, the rules as to when to use which form can sometimes seem maddeningly opaque to the non-native French speaker.

Generally speaking, one will only use the “tu” form to address someone in an informal situation where there is familiarity or intimacy between the two parties. For example, “tu” is used when addressing a close friend or spouse, or when an adult child is addressing a parent. “Tu” is also used in situations where the other party is very young, such as a parent speaking to a child or a schoolteacher to a student. In contrast, “vous” is used in situations where the parties are not familiar, or where it is appropriate to convey respect and/or deference. For example, an office worker might use “tu” to address co-workers that he works closely with, but he would probably use “vous” when speaking to the receptionist he rarely talks to. He certainly wouldn’t use “tu” when speaking with his boss. In that same vein, police officers and other authorities should always be addressed with “vous.”

If that’s confusing (or not confusing enough) the key thing to remember is that it’s all about distance. For example, a bartender is vous up until the moment that he or she gives you a complementary drink, at which point tu becomes more appropriate, and the use of vous would be a bit ungrateful and off-putting.

For foreigners, the best way to deal with the “tu” and “vous” problem is to address people using “vous” until invited to say “tu”, or until addressed by the first name. Doing so will look perhaps a shade old fashioned, but always respectful. In most cases, if French is not your native language most French people will overlook any such overly formal and polite language without thinking much about it anyway. Doing the opposite can be pretty rude and embarrassing in some situations, so it’s probably best to err on the side of caution.

Simplified: Use vous unless:

  • the person is genuinely your friend;
  • the person is under 16; or
  • you’ve been explicitly told to use “tu”

Sensitive topics[edit]

As a general rule, debates, discussions, and friendly arguments are something that the French enjoy, but there are certain topics that should be treated more delicately or indirectly than others:

Politics: French people have a wide variety of opinions about many subjects. Unless you really follow French news closely, you should probably steer clear of discussing internal French politics, especially sensitive issues such as immigration – you may come across as judgmental and uninformed. Reading French newspapers to get a feel for the wide spectrum of political opinions in France – from the revolutionary left to the nationalistic right – may help. That said, don’t be discouraged from engaging in political discussions with French people, just be aware of the position that being a foreigner puts you in. Also, it is considered to be quite rude to ask a person point-blank about which candidate he/she voted for in the last election (or will vote for in the next); instead, talk about the issues and take it from there.

Religion: The French seldom advertise their religious feelings, however, and expect you to avoid doing so as well. Doing so might make people feel uneasy. It is also generally considered impolite to inquire about religious or other personal issues. While France has barred religious symbols from public places including Sikh turban, Islamic hijab and Jewish kippah on grounds of secularism, this controversial topic is best avoided in polite conversations. People practicing those faiths need to be aware of the unfriendly attitudes that some in France hold to expression of religion in public places.

Money: You should also avoid presenting yourself through what you own (house, car, etc.). It is also considered to be quite crass to discuss your salary, or to ask someone else directly about theirs. Instead express your enthusiasm about how great are the responsibilities, or how lucky you were to get there, etc.

City/Rural Differences: While it is true that roughly 1/6th of the country’s population lives in the Paris region, don’t make the mistake of reducing France to Paris or assuming that all French people act like Parisians. Life in Paris can be closer to life in London or New York City than in the rest of France; just as New Yorkers or Londoners might act and feel differently than people from, say, Oklahoma or Herefordshire, so might Parisian customs and opinions differ from those found “en province.”

Contact[edit]

Phone numbers[edit]

To call a French number from abroad, dial: international prefix + 33 + local number without the leading 0.
For example: ++33 247 664 118

All french numbers have 10 digits. The first two digits are:

  • 01 for Parisian region
  • 02 for Northwest
  • 03 for Northeast
  • 04 for Southeast
  • 05 for Southwest
  • 06 for the cellphones
  • 07 for the cellphones since 2010.
  • 08 have special prices (from free to very costly) (Skype numbers start with 08).
  • 09 if they are attached to Voice over IP telephones connected to DSL modems from French DSL providers that integrate such functions.

You cannot drop the first two digits even if your call remains within the same area. The initial ’0′ may be replaced by some other digit or longer code indicating a choice of long-distance operator. Don’t use this unless explicitly told to.

When speaking phone numbers, people will usually group the digits by sets of two. For example, 02 47 66 41 18 will be said as “zero two, forty-seven, sixty-six, forty-one, eighteen” (but in French, of course). The two-digit pair 00 is said as “zero zero”, not “double zero”. for example if your phone number is 02 47 66 41 18 in France, it would be said as “zéro deux, quarante-sept, soixante-six, quarante et un, dix-huit.” If you find it too hard to follow, you may ask the person to say the number digit-by-digit (“chiffre par chiffre”). It would then be “zero, two, four, seven,
six, six, four, one, one, eight” (“zéro, deux, quatre, sept, six, six, quatre, un, un, huit”).

You can to visit Kropla to find instructions about the nationals and internationals calls.

Toll-free[edit]

There are few companies that provide toll-free numbers (starting with 08 00) but many have numbers starting with 081, for which you pay the cost of a local call regardless of where you are in the country.

Numbers starting with 089 are heavily surtaxed. They provide service to some legitimate businesses but the ones you see advertised all over the country are usually for adult services.

Emergency numbers are 15 (medical aid), 17 (police station) and 18 (fire/rescue). You can also use the European emergency number 112 (perhaps a better choice if you don’t speak French). These calls are free and accessible from virtually any phone, including locked cellphones. In case of a serious emergency, if you find a code-protected cellphone, enter a random code three times: the phone will lock, but you will be able to dial emergency numbers.

Cheap international calls[edit]

Dial-around services are directly available from any landline in France. No contract, no registration is required. Most dial-around services allows you to call USA, Canada, Western Europe and many other countries at local rate (tarif local) so you can easily save on your phone bill. They also work from payphones, though the first minute is surcharged by France Telecom.

Fixed line[edit]

To find out how to get a landline (ligne fixe) in France Just Landed gives more information on the subject of Frech landline providers . Another method, if you are staying for a long period, is to use VoIP over DSL, such as the Livebox or Freebox service (free long distance calls within France and to a number of countries).

Phone booths[edit]

Phone booths are available in train or subway stations, bus stops, near tourist attractions, etc. There is at least one phone booth in every village (look on the main plaza). Due to the widespread use of mobile phones, there are now fewer booths than a few years ago. Most use a card (no coins). France Télécom public phones accept CB/Visa/Mastercard cards but almost always only with a microchip. Otherwise, post offices, café-tabacs (recognizable by a red sign hanging outside), and stores that sell magazines sell phone cards. Ask for a “carte telephonique”; these come with differing units of credit, so you may want to specify “petit” if you just want to make a short local call or two. If you get the kind with a computer chip in it, you just have to slide it into the phone, listen for the dial tone, and dial. The US-style cards require you to dial a number and then enter a code (but with spoken instructions in French).

Mobile[edit]

France uses the GSM standard of cellular phones (900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands) used in most of the world outside of the U.S. There are 4 ‘physical’ network operators in France: Orange, SFR, Bouygues Télecom and Free Mobile. Other providers are mobile virtual operators based on Orange, SFR or Bouygues Télécom. The country is almost totally covered but you may have difficulties using your mobile phone in rural or mountainous areas. However, for emergency numbers, the four companies are required by law to accept your call if they technically can, even if you are not one of their customers, thus maximizing your chance of being helped even in areas with spotty service.

If you are staying for some time in France it is advisable to buy a prepaid SIM card for your phone so that incoming calls are free. Additionally, French businesses and individuals are unlikely to want to call an international number to get hold of you as there will be a surcharge to them. Most service providers such as (Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom) supply SIM cards in shops, but be aware that the credit expires very quickly when you do not top-up. If you want to sort out your phone before you leave, LeFrenchMobile provides a prepaid service for foreigners coming to France. You do not always need identification at the point-of-purchase but you need to be have your personal details (including an address: your hotel address will do) in-hand to activate the service, even on prepaid lines. Another company that can help you efficiently sort out your international sim card needs is TravelSim. Their prepaid sim card is one of the cheapest on the market and, since it is a callback service, your can save up to 85% on your roaming charges. Additionally, all incoming sms and Skype calls are free on TravelSim numbers. With this sim card you can easily make phone calls in France and when you go outside of the country.

Internet[edit]

Internet cafes: Internet access is available in cyber cafes all over large and medium-sized cities. Service is usually around €4 per hour.

Residential broadband: In all major cities, there are multiple companies offering residential broadband service. Typical prices are €30 a month for unmetered ADSL (in speeds up to 24 megabits per second), digital HDTV over DSL and free unlimited voice-over-IP phone calls to land lines within France and about twenty other countries (EU,US,…) with external SIP access too (the price includes a modem/routeur/switch with integrated Wi-Fi MiMo access point). Broadband services are very common in France, all over the country.

Wi-Fi: You’ll also find Wi-Fi access (in Paris) in a lot of cafés usually those labelled a bit “trendy”. There will be a sign on the door or on the wall. Also look for the @ symbol prominently displayed, which indicates internet availability. However, with most homes now wired for the internet, cyber cafes are increasingly hard to find, especially outside the major cities. In Paris, one popular WIFI free spot is the Pompidou Centre. There is talk that the city intends to become the first major European capital providing free WIFI coverage for the whole city. Public parks and libraries in Paris are also covered.

Post[edit]

Post offices are found in all cities and villages but their time of operation vary. In the main cities the downtown office may be open during lunchtime, typically 09:00-18:00. Most offices are only open on Saturday morning and there is only one office in Paris which is open 24/7 (in rue du Louvre).

Letter boxes are yellow.

Parcels[edit]

International delivery services like FedEx, UPS, are available in cities, however you generally have to call them for them to come to you as they have very few physical locations.

Another option is to simply use La Poste with a wide network around the country and the same services as its competitors.

Cope[edit]

Toilets are available in restaurants, cafés; there are also public facilities, which generally charge a fee. Note that American euphemisms such as “restroom”, “washroom” etc. will often not be understood; ask for “toilets”. In older public facilities, particularly those that do not charge or isolated rest areas, you may encounter squat toilets.




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Paris, France – Travel Guide

Paris, France – Travel Guide

TourTellus Hotel Search: Book Hotels, Apartments, Hostels & BBs in Paris

For other places with the same name, see Paris (disambiguation).
Paris is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.

Paris and the river Seine

Paris, the cosmopolitan capital of France, is, with 2.2 million people living in the dense, central city and almost 12 million people living in the whole metropolitan area, one of the largest agglomerations in Europe. Located in the north of France on the river Seine, Paris has the reputation of being the most beautiful and romantic of all cities, brimming with historic associations and remaining vastly influential in the realms of culture, art, fashion, food and design. Dubbed the City of Light (la Ville Lumière) and Capital of Fashion, it is home to the world’s finest and most luxurious fashion designers and cosmetics, such as Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, Guerlain, Lancôme, L’Oréal, Clarins, etc. A large part of the city, including the River Seine, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has the second highest number of Michelin-restaurants in the world (after Tokyo) and contains numerous iconic landmarks, such as the world’s most visited tourist site the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, Moulin Rouge, Lido etc, making it the most popular tourist destination in the world with 45 million tourists annually.

Districts[edit]

The city of Paris itself is officially divided into 20 districts called arrondissements, numbered from 1 to 20 in a clockwise spiral from the centre of the city (which is known as Kilometre Zero and is located at the front of Notre Dame). Arrondissements are named according to their number. You might, for example, stay in the “5th”, which would be written as 5e in French. The 12th and 16th arrondissements include large suburban parks, the Bois de Vincennes, and the Bois de Boulogne respectively.

You can print your own using our maps. The various tourist information centres and hotels in Paris also provide various city and metro maps for free: they have all the necessary details for a tourist.

Each arrondissement has its own unique character and selection of attractions for the traveller:

The Layout of Paris by district

  • 1st (1er). The geographical centre of Paris and a great starting point for travellers. The Musée du Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries, Place Vendôme, Les Halles, Palais Royal, Comédie-Française, and Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel are all to be found here.
  • 2nd (2e). The central business district of the city – the Bourse (the Paris Stock Exchange), Opéra-Comique, Théâtre des Variétés, Passage des Panoramas, Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens and the former Bibliothèque Nationale are located here.
  • 3rd (3e). Archives Nationales, Musée Carnavalet, Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, Hôtel de Soubise, the Former Temple fortress, and the northern, quieter part of the Marais can be found here.
  • 4th (4e). Notre-Dame de Paris, the Hôtel de Ville (Paris city hall), Hôtel de Sully, Rue des Rosiers and the Jewish Quartier, Beaubourg, Le Marais, Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville, Mémorial de la Shoah, Centre Georges Pompidou, l’atelier Brancusi, Place des Vosges, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Saint-Jacques Tower and Parisian island Île Saint-Louis can be found here.
  • 5th (5e). Jardin des Plantes, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Musée de Cluny, The Panthéon, Quartier Latin, Universités, La Sorbonne, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Église Saint-Séverin, La Grande Mosquée, Le Musée de l’AP-HP can be located here.
  • 6th (6e). Jardin du Luxembourg as well as its Sénat, Place Saint-Michel, Église Saint-Sulpice and Saint-Germain des Prés can be found here.
  • 7th (7e). Tour Eiffel and its Parc du Champ de Mars, Les Invalides, Musée d’Orsay, Assemblée Nationale and its subset administrations, Ecole Militaire, and Parisian mega-store Le Bon Marché can be found here.
  • 8th (8e). Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, le Palais de l’Elysée, Église de la Madeleine,Jacquemart-Andre Museum, Gare Saint-Lazare, Grand Palais and Petit Palais can be found here.
  • 9th (9e). Opéra Garnier, Galeries Lafayette, Musée Grévin, and Folies Bergère can be found here.
  • 10th (10e). Canal Saint-Martin, Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est, Porte Saint-Denis, Porte Saint-Martin, Passage Brady, Passage du Prado, and Église Saint-Vincent-de-Paul can be found here.
  • 11th (11e). The bars and restaurants of Rue Oberkampf, Bastille, Nation, New Jewish Quarter, Cirque d’Hiver, and Église Saint-Ambroise can be found here.
  • 12th (12e). Opéra Bastille, Bercy Park and Village, Promenade Plantée, Quartier d’Aligre, Gare de Lyon, Cimetière de Picpus, Viaduc des arts the Bois de Vincennes, and the Zoo de Vincennes can be found here.
  • 13th (13e). Quartier la Petite Asie, Place d’Italie, La Butte aux Cailles, Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), Gare d’Austerlitz, Manufacture des Gobelins, Butte-aux-Cailles and Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital can be found here.
  • 14th (14e). Cimetière du Montparnasse, Gare Montparnasse, La Santé Prison, Denfert-Rochereau, Parc Montsouris, Stade Charléty, Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, and Paris Catacombs can be found here.
  • 15th (15e). Tour Montparnasse, Porte de Versailles, Front de Seine, La Ruche and quartiers Saint-Lambert, Necker, Grenelle and Javel can be found here.
  • 16th (16e). Palais de Chaillot, Musée de l’Homme, the Bois de Boulogne, Cimetière de Passy, Parc des Princes, Musée Marmottan-Monet, Trocadéro, and Avenue Foch can be found here.
  • 17th (17e). Palais des Congrès, Place de Clichy, Parc Monceau, Marché Poncelet, and Square des Batignolles can be found here.
  • 18th (18e). Montmartre, Pigalle, Barbès, Basilica of the Sacré Cœur, Église Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre, and Goutte d’Or can be found here.
  • 19th (19e). Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Parc de la Villette, Bassin de la Villette, Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Cité de la Musique, Canal de l’Ourcq, and Canal Saint-Denis can be found here.
  • 20th (20e). Cimetière de Père Lachaise, Parc de Belleville, and quartiers Belleville and Ménilmontant can be found here.
  • La Défense. Although it is not officially part of the city, this skyscraper district on the western edge of town is on many visitors’ must-see lists for its modern architecture and public art.

Beyond central Paris, the outlying suburbs are called Les Banlieues. Schematically, those on the west of Paris (Neuilly-sur-Seine, Boulogne-Billancourt, Saint Cloud, Levallois) are wealthy residential communities. Those to the northeast are poorer communities, often populated by immigrants.

Understand[edit]

The 105 km² area of the central city is densely packed with more than 2 million inhabitants and parking is tough.

History[edit]

Paris started life as the Celto-Roman settlement of Lutetia on the Île de la Cité, the island in the Seine currently occupied by the Cathédral de Nôtre Dame. It takes its present name from name of the dominant Gallo-Celtic tribe in the region, the Parisii. At least that’s what the Romans called them, when they showed up in 52 BCE and established their city Lutetia on the left bank of the Seine, in what is now called the “Latin Quarter” in the 5th arrondissement.

The Romans held out here for as long as anywhere else in the Western Empire, but by 508 CE they were gone, replaced by Clovis of the Franks, who is considered by the French to have been their first king. Clovis’ descendants, aka the Carolingians, held onto the expanded Lutetian state for nearly 500 years through Viking raids and other calamities, which finally resulted in a forced move by most of the population back to the islands which had been the centre of the original Celtic village. The Capetian Duke of Paris was voted to succeed the last of the Carolingians as King of France, ensuring the city a premier position in the medieval world. Over the next several centuries Paris expanded onto the right bank into what was and is still called le Marais (The Marsh). Quite a few buildings from this time can be seen in the 4th arrondissement.

The medieval period also witnessed the founding of the Sorbonne. As the “University of Paris”, it became one of the most important centres for learning in Europe — if not the whole world, for several hundred years. Most of the institutions that still constitute the University are found in the 5th, and 13th arrondissements.

In the late 18th century, there was a period of political and social upheaval in France and Europe, during which the French governmental structure, previously a monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on Enlightenment principles of nationalism, citizenship, and inalienable rights. Notable events during and following the revolution were the storming of the Bastille 4th arrondissements, and the rise and fall of Napoleonic France. Out of the violent turmoil that was the French Revolution, sparked by the still known Passion des Français, emerged the enlightened modern day France.

The Paris of today was built long after the Capetian and later the Bourbon Kings of France made their mark on Paris with the Louvre and the Palais Royal, both in the 1st. In the 19th century, Baron von Hausmann set about reconstructing the city, by adding the long straight avenues and replacing many of the then existing medieval houses, with grander and more uniform buildings.

The Eiffel Tower, Paris

New wonders arrived during La Belle Époque, as the Parisian golden age of the late 19th century is known. Gustave Eiffel’s famous tower, the first metro lines, most of the parks, and the streetlights (which are partly believed to have given the city its epithet “the city of light”) all come from this period. Another source of the epithet comes from Ville Lumière, a reference not only to the revolutionary electrical lighting system implemented in the streets of Paris, but also to the prominence and aura of Enlightenment the city gained in that era.

The twentieth century was hard on Paris, but thankfully not as hard as it could have been. Hitler’s order to burn the city was thankfully ignored by the German General von Choltitz who was quite possibly convinced by a Swedish diplomat that it would be better to surrender and be remembered as the saviour of Paris, than to be remembered as its destroyer. Following the war, the city recovered quickly at first, but slowed in the 1970s and 1980s when Paris began to experience some of the problems faced by big cities everywhere: pollution, housing shortages, and occasionally failed experiments in urban renewal.

During this time however, Paris enjoyed considerable growth as a multi-cultural city, with new immigrants from all corners of the world, especially La Francophonie, including most of northern and western Africa as well as Vietnam and Laos. These immigrants brought their foods and music, both of which are of prime interest for many travellers.

Immigration and multi-culturalism continues in the 21st century with a marked increase in the arrival of people from Latin America, especially Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. In the late 1990s, it was hard to find good Mexican food in Paris, whereas today there are dozens of possibilities from lowly taquerias in the outer arrondissements to nice sit-down restaurants on the boulevards. Meanwhile Latin music from salsa to samba is all the rage (well, alongside Paris lounge electronica).

The 21st century has also seen vast improvements in the general liveability of Paris, with the Mayor’s office concentrating on reducing pollution and improving facilities for soft forms of transportation including a huge network of cycle paths, larger pedestrian districts and newer faster metro lines. Visitors who normally arrive car-less are the beneficiaries of these policies as much as the Parisians themselves are.

Climate[edit]

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) 7 8 12 16 20 23 25 25 21 16 11 8
Nightly lows (°C) 3 3 5 7 11 14 16 16 13 10 6 3
Precipitation (mm) 54 44 49 53 65 55 63 43 55 60 52 59

Being located in Western Europe, Paris has a maritime climate with cool winters and warm summers. The moderating effect of the Atlantic Ocean helps to temper temperature extremes in much of western Europe, including France. Even in January, the coldest month, temperatures nearly always exceed the freezing point with an average high of 6°C (43°F). Snow is not common in Paris, although it will fall a few times a year. Most of Paris’ precipitation comes in the form of light rain year-round.

Summers in Paris are warm and pleasant, with an average high of 25°C (77°F) during the mid-summer months. Spring and fall are normally cool and wet.

With the weather being so pleasant in the summer, it’s a great time to visit.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Paris is served by three international airports – for more information, including arrival/departure times, check the official sites.

Charles de Gaulle International Airport (Roissy)[edit]

IATA: CDG. The major hub airport to the north-east of the city. It’s notoriously confusing, so allow plenty of time for transfers. There are three terminals: Terminal 1, Terminal 2 (which is huge and subdivided into 2A through 2G), and Terminal 3 (formerly T9). The newest exception is terminal 2G which is a separate building and is only reachable via navette/bus in 10-15 min (bus leaves every 20min) so allow extra time. The free CDGVAL shuttle train connects the terminals together.
Everything at this airport is very expensive, especially food. If you’re travelling from Terminal 1 it’s also worth noting that the food court is located at the CDGVAL floor, before the security check. There are hardly any benches around. There are no public shower facilities in the airport. Air France lounges have such facilities, and the departure lounges have showers. Lounge access is included for Air France business and first class travellers. The members of the Air France and cooperating frequent flyer programs may gain access with sufficient status. There is a possibility that some lounges may grant access to travellers on their flights for a fee. If you consider paying for access to the lounge, inquire when checking in for your departure. If you must have a shower and your frequent flyer status (and charm) are insufficient to gain entry to a lounge, the airport hotels generally have rooms available (in Sep 2009, the Sheraton in Terminal 2 at the train station charged €155).
When you arrive at CDG, you should note what terminal you arrived at (2A, 2D, etc.), because when you come back to the airport to depart at the end of your trip, the RER subway train makes two stops at CDG to cover the three terminals, but there are few indications of which airlines are at which terminals. Have a close look at your air ticket to figure out which terminal you are departing from. Air France and associates leave from Terminal 2. The RER B has the airlines serviced by each terminal on a not so obvious chart posted by the door of the train.

Say that again, please?

The RER B station named “Aeroport Charles de Gaulle 1″ is a misnomer – it actually serves Terminal 3, not Terminal 1. However, the CDGVAL train (free of charge) links Terminals 1, 2, and 3.


Terminal 1[edit]

There are quite a few points with power outlets specifically for charging passengers’ laptops/mobiles, both down by the food court and by some of the gates.

Terminal 2E[edit]

VAT Tax refund: First, have your tax refund papers stamped at the tax refund counter in the main terminal area, before you check in with your airline. Although displaying purchase is officially mandatory, it’s usually only required for high priced items.

To locate the tax refund counter in the terminal, look for the signs or ask any airline employee for directions. Don’t be confused by a single queue splitting between currency exchange and tax refund office: choose tax refund if you prefer euros–while currency exchange refunds only in USD or your national currency, both buy at a robbery rate (and with no rollback to the refund window after you realize the rate).

The line can take a long time, expect several minutes per customer. At either office, you can also receive refund for your spouse if you have their passport and refund forms.

Duty-free shopping: There are no shops before security check zone. When you shop in post-security check zone, it’s not genuinely taxfree, as you can receive a tax refund for those purchases as well.

Contrary to what one may expect, there is no L’Occitane; cheese is limited to soft sorts (and there are no ripe varietes); wines starts at €11 and some popular sorts like Chinin can’t be found; selection of sausages is extremely limited.

There are no mid-range clothes or shoes stores, only luxury brands.

Airport transfers[edit]

For getting to or from Paris, the RER commuter train, line B, has stations in T3 (from where you can take the free CDGVAL shuttle train to T1) and T2. Trains to Paris leave every 7-8 minutes and stop at Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, Luxembourg, Port-Royal, Denfert-Rochereau and Cité Universitaire. Adult tickets cost €9.75 (June 2014), and for children between 4-10 the fare is €6.65 each; unusually, day tickets are normally not valid for travel to and from the airport. The train takes around 35 minutes to Gare du Nord and 45min to Denfert-Rochereau, making this the fastest way to get to the city. Tickets can be purchased either through green (sometimes blue) automated ticket vending machines (“Billetterie Ile-de-France”) or through the ticket office serviced by transport authority personnel. Engineering works near CDG Terminal-1 and Aulnay-Sois-Bois stations are conducted between 23:00 and 01:00 every day, so you must take a coach (bus) from Terminal 3 to the station where you can take the RER B train to Paris. The fare is included in the train ticket you purchase.

The automated ticket machines accept Euro coins of €2, €1 and 50, 20, 10 cent denominations and give change…Euro notes not accepted. Credit card payment is OK on this machines though. There is one separate automated machine which changes €20, €10 and €5 notes to €2 and €1 coins. However, due to the high demand, the machine frequently runs out of coins. There are currency exchange centres, but they explicitly state notes will not be changed for coins. Alternatively, except for some non-European credit cards, many smart-chip credit cards can be used on the ticket machines. Because of these limitations, purchasing tickets from the ticket office may seem to be an attractive method. Although there are many counters, the queues can be very long. On Sunday at “lesser” stations, don’t count on its ticket office being open. Although it is a nuisance, the fastest way to get some tickets is to take a lot of Euro coins with you. It is also possible to explain the situation to a European buying a ticket with a working credit card, and ask them to buy one for you in exchange for a paper note.

Trains for Paris usually leave from platforms 11 and 12. Look for signs saying “RER B” or “All trains go to Paris”. When using the ticket from and to the airport (as with tickets for the RER commuter trains in general) you have to use it to enter and to exit the train. Always keep the ticket handy as the SNCF officials sometimes check for tickets, and if you are without one you may be fined €40. This means that after you put the ticket into the entry gate and are cleared to pass, you must retrieve the ticket from the machine and keep it with you until you leave the train system including any connections.

Alternatively, the Roissybus service (€10) connects all terminals directly to Opéra Garnier in central Paris, but it’s subject to traffic jams and rush hour, so it averages 60-90 min even on a good day. You could take bus number 350 and 351 to the city and it requires three tickets t+ per person (about €5.10, or €5.70 if the tickets are purchased on the bus), making this the cheapest option to go to and from Paris. The tickets can be purchased at newspaper stands, at ticket machines, or, for a higher price, inside the bus from the driver and they need to be validated with a device lying next to the driver’s seat.

Air France buses offer two stops in Paris (Porte Maillot, Montparnasse) from CDG with a 50min ride. To reach a specific address into the city, this shared shuttle service costs €19 per person.

Non-shared (limo service) transfer is also available and can be booked on-line:

  • LeCab offers a sedan to and from CDG for up to 4 people for 48€, and to and from Orly for up to 4 people for 37€
  • Cab Service Prestige offers a Mercedes E transfer for up to 4 people for €150 from CDG to the city
  • Easy Private Taxi offers a sedan from CDG to the city up to 2 people for €60, up 4 people for €70 and up to 8 people for €90
  • Private Car Service Paris offers luxury Mercedes Class E and S airport pickups from CDG and Orly to the city or Hotel for €120 and private chauffeur services for €70.

There is also a TGV station in T2 for high-speed connections, mostly towards Lille and Brussels, but there are also some trains that head south to eg. Rennes and Nantes, bypassing Paris.

BE CAREFUL when using buses to get to CDG. There are frequent traffic jams on the motorways leading to the airport – the Air France bus normally may need 50 minutes to get to CDG, but it may take 1½ hours as well… your best bet for arriving on time with the buses is to take them very early in the morning or during times otherwise when there isn’t much traffic.

Contact[edit]

A Post office only exists in B and D terminals. However, you can send postcards buying post stamps in a newspaper stand, and dropping them into a postbox (both exist in every terminal).

Orly International Airport[edit]

IATA: ORY. This airport is southwest of the city, and served by a southern branch of the RER-B line that heads in the direction of Saint-Rémy-les-Chevreuse (not Robinson). This older international airport is used mainly by Air France for domestic departures, and international departures by European carriers. Orly is roughly 30 min from Paris via the OrlyBus, which departs from Métro Denfert-Rochereau (ligne 4,6); the price is €7.20. There are buses every 10 minutes from the Orly Sud (Platform 4) and it stops at Orly Ouest on its way to the city. Tickets can be bought at a counter near the baggage claim area or directly at the counter in Platform 4. The tickets need to be validated once on the bus. Another option is to take Metro 7 to Villejuif-Louis Aragon then Tram T7 (bound for Athis-Mons, Porte de l’Essonne) to Aéroport d’Orly (not Cœur d’Orly); you need 2 tickets as there is no free transfer between the Metro and the tram, but it is considerably less expensive than the RER B and Orlyval. The tram is slow but nice, opened in 2013.

The Orlyval light rail connects the two terminals to each other and to the RER B line at Antony. It runs every 4-7 min and cost €10.75 for transfer to Paris, including connections to central area metro stations. The RER B from Antony runs through Paris to Aéroport Charles de Gaulle.

Beauvais (Aéroport de Beauvais Tillé)[edit]

IATA: BVA. This airport, a distance north of the city, is a smaller regional airport that is used by some low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and WizzAir. Like many small airports there is a cartel in operation in the form of the airport operated shuttle service connecting with the Métro at Porte Maillot station. Buses run even during the small hours of the morning (06:00). Buses leave 20min after each flight arrives, and a few hours before each flight departs. Exact times can be found on the Beauvais Airport website. The journey will take about an hour in good traffic conditions, and costs €17 each way, there is no reduced price for children over the age of 2 years. Unless you hire a car this is the most realistic way to head toward Paris, hence why the airport charge the price they do.

Airline Shuttles[edit]

In addition to public transport, Air France operates shuttles between Charles de Gaulle and Paris (€17), Orly and Paris (€12) and between the two airports (€20). Discounts apply for young/group travellers and online booking. Note that if you have connecting Air France flights that land and depart from different airports, you would still generally need to collect your luggage after landing, catch either the Air France shuttle or a taxi (readily available at all airports) to the other airport and check-in again. This altogether could take up to 2 hours particularly if traffic is at its worst. It is also common to lose time during disembarking, as passengers often need to get off at the tarmac and get on buses which will bring them to the terminal building. Be sure to have sufficient time between flights to catch your connection. Note that check-in desks usually close 30min before the flight departs, longer if flights are international carriers.

If you want to take RER B and catch an early flight, make sure you bring enough change, because you can only buy tickets at the coins-only machines before the counter opens.

If you arrive to CDG Airport at night you’ll need a Noctilien bus to get to the city centre. The bus stops in all three terminals (in terminal 2F it will be the second level in departure section – it is very difficult to find, but it really exists). The bus leaves every 30min after 12:30 (see timetable). The buses you’ll need are N121 and N120; the price is €7.

By train[edit]

Paris is well connected to the rest of Europe by train. There is no central station serving Paris and the six different stations are not connected to each other. You will probably want to know in advance at which station your train is arriving, so as to better choose a hotel and plan for transport within the city.

The SNCF (French national railways) operates practically all trains within France excluding the Eurostar to St Pancras, London and the Thalys to Brussels and onward to the Netherlands and Germany. TGV Lyria is a joint service offered by the French and Swiss railways (SBB-CFF-FFS – Swiss Federal Railways) for TGV Lyria trains running between Paris and Switzerland. There are also a few local lines of high touristic interest which are privately owned. All SNCF, Eurostar and Thalys tickets can be bought in railway stations, city offices and travel agencies (no surcharge). The SNCF website allows to book and buy tickets up to two months in advance. There are significant discounts if you book weeks ahead. Reduced ticket prices are different for each day and each train and can be used only on the train the reservation is for. Surprisingly, round trip tickets (aller-retour) with a stay over Saturday night can be cheaper than a single one-way ticket (aller simple). A very limited selection of last minute trips are published on the SNCF website every Tuesday, with discounts of more than 50%.

There are a number of different kinds of high speed and normal trains:

  • TER: The regional trains (Train Express Régionale); cheapest tickets, though prices are variable on the time of day of departure (and the day of departure as well). TER are slower, stopping at almost all stations.
  • Intercités: A bundling of the former Intercités, Téoz, and Lunéa train categories. There are two kinds: the regular trains, which are priced the same as the TER and the trains you’ll find yourself on if you have a Eurail or InterRail pass and don’t want to pay extra for reservations, and the trains à réservation obligatoire, which require a reservation and are priced differently from the regular Intercités trains.
  • TGV: The world-famous French high-speed trains (Trains à Grande Vitesse) run very frequently to the Southeast Nice (5-6h), Marseille (3h) and Avignon (2.5h), the East (by TGV Lyria) to Geneva (3h), Lausanne (3h40), Neuchatel (4h) – Bern (4h30) – Interlaken (5h45), Basel (3h) – Zurich (4h) in Switzerland and Dijon (1h15), the Southwest Bordeaux (3h), the West Rennes (2-2.5h) and the North Lille (less than 1h). Eurostar to London (2h15) and Thalys to Brussels (1h20) use almost identical trains. Reservations are obligatory.
  • Thalys A high-speed train service running daily to/from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. It can be a bit expensive compared to normal trains, but cheap enough if you buy in advance.
  • Intercity: Intercity trains leave for all parts of Europe, including overnight trains to San Sebastian in Spain, Porto and Lisbon in Portugal.
  • Eurostar: The Eurostar service connects Paris with London St. Pancras directly and Brussels indirectly, as well many other destinations indirectly through the various west European rail services. Travel time between Paris Gare du Nord and London St Pancras International currently averages at 2h15min, following the opening of a new rail link in late 2007. Eurail and InterRail passes are not valid for this train, though passholders can benefit from a reduced price. You must arrive at the station 30 minutes before the departure of the train to complete security and passport controls.
  • CNL: The overnight services (City Night Line) by the German operator Deutsche Bahn which have sleeping berths in addition to the regular coach cars. These are not particularly speedy. They are designed to leave Paris in the late evening and arrive at their destinations at a reasonable morning hour. While the trains themselves are covered by the rail passes, the sleeping accommodation supplements are not, and need to be booked separately, but what you get is a moving bed which transports you to another city, saving on hotel bills in the process. Paris has 3 departures nightly, all from the Gare de l’Est – to Munich, Berlin and Hamburg.

Transfer between Train Stations[edit]

From Gare du Nord[edit]
  • Gare du Nord – Gare de l’Est (8min): Metro line 4 direction Porte d’Orleans. By foot, it is also about 8 minutes, but you will have to descend a set of stairs.
  • Gare du Nord – Gare de Lyon (20min): RER D direction Melun/Malesherbes; alternatively, if the RER D is not operational, RER B direction Robinson/Saint-Rémy-les-Chevreuse to Châtelet Les Halles and then RER A direction Marne-la-Vallée/Boissy-Saint-Léger to Gare de Lyon (this change only involves getting off the RER B train and getting on the RER A train on the other side of the same platform)
  • Gare du Nord – Gare Montparnasse (30min): Metro line 4 direction Porte d’Orleans
  • Gare du Nord – Gare de Bercy (25min): Follow the directions for Gare de Lyon, then switch to Métro line 14 direction Olympiades to Bercy.
From Gare de l’Est[edit]
  • Gare de l’Est – Gare du Nord (8min) : Metro line 5 direction Bobigny. By foot, it is also about 8 minutes, but you will have to climb set of stairs.
  • Gare de l’Est – Gare de Lyon (20min) : Metro line 5 direction Place d’Italie, stop at Quai de la Rapee and follow pedestrian signs to Gare de Lyon. Alternatively, Métro line 5 in the same direction to Bastille and then Metro line 1 direction Château de Vincennes to Gare de Lyon.
  • Gare de l’Est – Gare Montparnasse (30min): Metro line 4 direction Porte d’Orleans.
  • Gare de l’Est – Gare de Bercy (25min) : Metro line 5 direction Place d’Italie, stop at Bastille and switch to Metro line 1 direction Château de Vincennes to Gare de Lyon, then switch to Metro line 14 direction Olympiades to Bercy. Alternatively, Metro line 5 to Place d’Italie and then Metro line 6 direction Nation to Bercy.
From Gare de Lyon[edit]
  • Gare de Lyon – Gare du Nord (20min): RER D direction Orry-la-Ville; if the RER D is not working, take RER A direction Saint-Germain-en-Laye/Cergy Le Haut/Poissy to Châtelet Les Halles and then RER B direction Aéroport Charles de Gaulle/Mitry Claye to Gare du Nord.
  • Gare de Lyon – Gare de I’Est (25min): Metro line 14 to Chatelet, direction St. Lazzare followed by Metro line 4 direction Porte de Clignancourt.
  • Gare de Lyon – Gare Montparnasse (30min): Metro line 14 to Chatelet, direction St. Lazzare followed by Metro line 4 direction Porte d’Orleans.
  • Gare de Lyon – Gare de Bercy (15min): A free shuttle runs between the two every half hour. Alternatively, Metro line 14 direction Olympiades to Bercy.
From Gare Montparnasse[edit]
  • Gare Montparnasse – Gare du Nord OR Gare de I’Est (30min): Metro line 4 direction Porte de Clignancourt
  • Gare Montparnasse – Gare de Lyon (30min): Metro line 4 to Chatelet, direction Porte de Clignancourt followed by Metro line 14 direction Olympiades
From Gare de Bercy[edit]

For all train stations, either take the free shuttle to Gare de Lyon or Metro line 14 to the same and follow the directions given from Gare de Lyon.

By bus[edit]

  • Eurolines, [1]. A trans-European bus company that offers trips from across Europe and Morocco to Paris. Generally offers prices significantly cheaper than the train at the cost of much longer journeys. The Parisian office is located at Bagnolet, adjacent to the Gallieni metro station.  edit
  • Megabus, [2]. A British low-cost bus company that offers fares to Paris from London, Amsterdam, and Brussels. Seats start at £/€1.00, with through fares available from points on the domestic UK network. Free Wi-Fi is available when the bus is travelling through the United Kingdom. The Parisian terminus is at the Porte Maillot Metro station, next to the Palais des Congrès in the 17th.  edit
  • iDBUS, [3]. The luxury bus arm of SNCF, introduced in summer 2012. It offers routes to Paris from various destinations in Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the journey. The Parisian terminus is at the Gare de Bercy.  edit

By car[edit]

Several autoroutes (expresswas/motorways) link Paris with the rest of France: A1 and A3 to the north, A5 and A6 to the south, A4 to the east and A13 and A10 to the west. Not surprisingly, traffic jams are significantly worse during French school holidays.

The multi-lane highway around Paris, called the Périphérique (BP), is probably preferable to driving through the centre. Another ring road nearing completion; L’A86 (also A186 and A286) loops around Paris about 10km further out from the Périphérique. A third, incomplete ring road is much further out and called La Francilienne (N104).

It’s advisable not to drive in the Paris Metro Area. It’s better to drive to a suburban train station with a parking lot and then use the train to continue your trip throughout Paris. Most of Paris’ roads were created long before the invention of cars. Traffic inside the city tends to be heavy, especially at rush hour; driving, however, may be rather easy and efficient in the evening. Parking is also difficult. Furthermore, the medieval nature of parts of the city’s street system makes it very confusing, and traffic will almost never allow one to stop or slow down to get one’s bearings. If you are unfamiliar with the streets and still insist on driving in the city, make sure you have a navigator in the passenger seat with you.

Get around[edit]

The best and cheapest way to get around Paris is on foot, and secondly, using the Métro which costs €1.70 for a one way trip of any length.

On foot[edit]

Walking in Paris is one of the great pleasures of visiting the City of Light. It is possible to cross the entire city in only a few hours (only if you can somehow keep yourself from stopping at numerous cafés and shops). In fact, within a few years, walking combined with biking and the Metro, will be the only ways to get around the very centre of Paris: The Mayor’s office has announced plans to declare the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th arrondissements almost totally car-free by 2012.

Paris walking 101

To get a great orientation of the city on foot while seeing many of Paris’ major sights, you can do a West to East walk from the Arc de Triomphe to Ile de la Cite (Notre Dame). This walk takes about 1-2 hours without any stops. Start at the top of the Champs Elysees (at the Arc de Triomphe) and begin walking down the Champs Elysees towards Place (‘square’) de la Concorde.

  • On the way towards the obelisk on the square, you’ll see the major stores and restaurants of Paris’ most famous avenue.
  • Once you’ve passed the main shopping area, you’ll see the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais to your right.
  • At Place de la Concorde, you’ll be able to see many of Paris’ major monuments around you. In front of you is the Tuileries, behind you is the Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe, behind you to your right is the Tour Eiffel and Musee d’Orsay, and finally, to your left is the Madeleine.
  • Continue straight ahead and enter the Tuileries Gardens passing by fountains, flowers, and lovers in the park.
  • As you continue straight ahead, and out of the garden, you’ll see the pyramid entrance to the Louvre directly in front of you.
  • With the pyramid directly in front of you, and the Tuileries directly behind you, turn to your right and walk towards the Seine.
  • Now you can walk along the Seine (eastwards) until you reach Pont Neuf. Cross Pont Neuf and walk through the Latin Quarter, cross the river again to reach Notre Dame cathedral on Ile de la Cité.



The smartest travellers take advantage of the walkability of this city and stay above ground as much as possible. A metro ride of less than 2 stops is probably best avoided since walking will take about the same amount of time and you’ll be able to see more of the city. That said, pay attention to the Métro stations that you may pass by on your journey; the Métro network is very dense within the city and the lines are virtually always located directly underneath major boulevards, so if you become lost it is easy to regain your bearings by walking along a major boulevard untl you find a Métro station.

You may have heard of the hazard of walking into dog droppings in Paris. Despite fines as high as €180 and extensive street cleaning operations, the problem persists across the city, so walk with caution.

It’s always fun to experience the city by foot, and there are numerous walking tours around Paris, whether self guided (with the help of a guidebook or on-line guide) or with a touring guide (booked through your travel agency or hotel). The city is best explored by foot, and some of the most marvellous memories you will have of Paris is walking through secret found places.

  • Localers, 10 Rue Saint Marc, +33 1 83 64 92 01, [4]. offers a wide selection of walking tours around Paris.  edit

By Métro[edit]

Paris has an excellent underground train system, known as the Métro (short for Chemin de fer métropolitain, Metropolitan Railway). Although you will probably take the RER train from the airport (CDG) to Paris, don’t be confused: RER is a French-language acronym that translates to “Regional Express Network,” and is mostly used by commuters. Look for the Métro stations, marked either with a large “M” sign or by one of Hector Guimard’s remarkable Art Nouveau station entrances. However, crossing Paris can be much faster by RER than by Métro, and within the city of Paris, there is little functional difference between the RER and Métro (both use the same stations, and trips can be taken with the same ticket).

There are 16 Métro lines (lignes) (1-14, 3bis, and 7bis) on which trains travel all day at intervals of a few minutes 05:00-00:30 (Saturday night/Sunday morning: 01:30), stopping at all stations on the line. Times for trains can be seen on an electronic scrollboard above the platform. Line 14, which is fully automated, is called the Méteor. Scheduled times for first and last trains are posted in each station on the centre sign. Generally, except for early and late hours, travellers should not worry about specific Metro train times; just get to your station and take the next train. Trains usually come 2-3 minutes apart during rush hour and 5-10 minutes apart during other times, depending on the line.

Visitors with heavy luggage or handicap should find out in-advance about the facilities at each station to be used. (Specific on-line information about elevators and escalators is hard to find. You may have ask at ticket counters at major stations, perhaps tourist information kiosks.) Getting to boarding platforms from street level, or going between platforms to change lines can be difficult even at major intersecting stations at most times, and everywhere during rush hours. It usually involves walking up and down multiple flights of busy stairs. Elevators are seldom seen, many aren’t working, and in major outlying stations any escalator will likely support only exiting to the street level. If you have any lingering concern about station facilities, check bus routes and timings to find convenient bus service instead; failing that, use a taxi.

Many Metro trains do not carry destination binders. All lines on the Paris metro run end-to-end with some trains terminating at certain stations. This practice is common only in peak hours and if you are on a metro train that terminates before the last station, the driver will make an announcement (in French). Listen carefully for signs that the train is terminating before the end of the line.

The lines are named according to the names of their terminal stations (the end of the line). If you ask the locals about directions, they will answer something like : take line number n toward “end station 1″, change at “station”, take the line nn toward “end station 2″ etc. The lines are also colour-coded.

In addition, there are five commuter train lines: RER A, B, C, D, and E. RER trains run at intervals of about 6-7min, and stop at every RER station within Paris. Although a regular subway ticket can be used within Paris (Zone 1), it is necessary to pass the ticket through the turnstile when passing between the subway and the RER lines, as the two systems are separate networks. This ticket is necessary to enter and exit the RER networks, as the RER trains travel on to the Parisian suburbs, outside the zone where a regular subway ticket can be used. Travel outside the city centre without a valid RER ticket will get you fined, and the packs of inspectors who roam the system show no mercy to tourists pleading ignorance. In particular, Charles de Gaulle airport is not within the city; you must purchase an RER ticket to get there (see Get in).

The Métro and RER move staggering numbers of people into, out of, and around Paris (6.75 million people per day on average), and most of the time in reasonable comfort. Certain lines, however, are operating at or near capacity, sometimes being so full that you’ll have to let one or two trains pass before being able to board. If you can help it, avoid Métro lines 1, 4, 9, & 13 and RER lines A & B during rush hours as these are the most congested lines in the system.

In addition to RER, there are many suburban train lines (Transilien) departing from the main train stations. One line of interest is the one from Gare Montparnasse to Versailles-Chantiers, a quick way to go to Versailles castle (covered by a ticket for at least Zones 1-4). The alternative is to use RER C to Versailles Rive Gauche (this station is the closest to the castle). Do not use RER C8 to Versailles Chantiers; this will do a very long loop in the southern suburbs before reaching Versailles.

For travel outside of the Paris zone, the train arrival times are shown on a monitor hanging from the ceiling inside the RER station above the platform. Information about the stops to be made by the next incoming train is presented on a separate board also hanging from the ceiling. It is important to check this board before boarding the train, as not all trains make stops at all stations on a given line. Four letter codes (KRIN, DIPA, TORE, etc.) are used for the RER and Transilien trains. On RER A, B and C the first letter indicates the destination of the train, the second the branch or service type, and the last two are to make the name easier to memorize; on RER D and E, the first letter is destination, the second letter is service type, the third letter is branch, and the fourth letter is direction; on Transilien lines, it’s usually one name for every service type. You can look up what these codes mean on information panels in the station, but the easiest and fastest way is often to check the information screens along the platforms.

RATP is responsible for public transport including metro, buses, and some of the high speed inter-urban trains (RER). The rest of the RER is operated by SNCF. However, both companies take the same tickets, so the difference is of little interest for most people except in case of strikes (RATP may strike without SNCF doing so or the other way round). Current fares can be found at their website. Basically, as you move farther from Paris (into higher zones), tickets get more expensive.

For the subway, a single ticket (ticket t+) costs €1.70; however, it is generally not advisable to buy tickets by the unit. Instead, purchase a “carnet” of ten tickets, which can be bought for €13.70 at any station, which will bring the price per ticket down to €1.37. Tickets named tarif réduit may be purchased for children under the age of 10 but only in a carnet of 10 for €6.65. Both tickets are valid for unlimited metro and RER or bus and tram transfers during two hours for RER and metro, and 1 hour 30 between the first and the last punch for bus and tram. RER + Métro and Bus + Tram are two separate systems, but they use the same tickets. This means you have to use a new ticket if you transfer from bus to metro or from metro to bus. Tickets do not expire.

A one-day ticket, a weekly pass, and a monthly pass are also available. The price varies according to the zones for which the ticket can be used. The cheapest 1-day ticket called Mobilis, is valid for zones 1-2, with a price of €6.60. Once bought, it is necessary to write in the spaces provided on the ticket the date the ticket is being used in European notation of day/month/year (valable le), the last name (nom), and the first name (prénom). Unfortunately, this ticket is not valid for use for travel to/from Charles de Gaulle airport. Unless you plan to make many trips in one day, the carnet of ten tickets (for €1.33 per trip) will still be a much better cost than a one-day ticket. However, consider the price for all members of your group/family, including children, which days you are travelling on, and in which zones you will be travelling.

For travellers under the age of 26, there is a special ticket (Jeunes 26) that you can purchase for use on the weekends or holidays. The price varies depending on the number of zones you wish to cover (Zones 1-3 is €3.65 and Zones 1-5 is €7.85; there are other zone combinations available too) and the ticket is good for one day of unlimited usage of the metro, RER, bus, and trams.

If you are staying a bit longer, the weekly and monthly passes are called Navigo Découverte (1 week pass, €19.15 for zones 1-2) and the monthly Navigo Mensuel (one-month pass, €62.90 for zones 1-2). Note that an Découverte (DAY-koo-VERT) starts on Mondays and a Mensuel on the first of the month. The Navigo pass is non-transferrable and requires the user to provide information on the pass after the sale. The pass is sold for €5. You must write your last name (nom) and your first name (prénom) and stick your photo on the nominative card. After, you have to refill your pass with a recharge hébdomadaire (one-week refill), or a recharge mensuelle (one-month refill). You have to choose at least two of the contiguous “zones”: Paris is the first zone, La Défense is in the third zone, and Versailles in the fourth. Everything related to a “Navigo” pass is in purple (like the target for the pass in the turnstiles).

Although not as good a deal for adults in most cases as the Mobilis or Navigo, there are also one-to-five-day tourist passes, called Paris Visite, available, which are a bargain for kids of ages 4-11, starting at €4.85 per day for travel within zones 1-3.

Keep your ticket or pass with you at all times as you may be checked. You will be cited and forced to pay on the spot if you do not have a ticket. The most likely spots for being checked are just behind the turnstiles at big Métro stations or during Métro line changes (correspondances). RATP agents may be present in the Métro stations even on Sunday nights.

Métro stations have both ticket windows and automatic vending machines. The majority of machines do not take notes, only coins or European credit cards with a pin-encoded chip on the front. Therefore, to use either euro bills or a non-European credit card with a magnetic stripe, it is necessary to make the purchase from the ticket window. Be advised that some ticket vending machines do not give change, so use exact change or go to the ticket window. If you look at the vending machines closely, you may find one in the group that takes euro bills and will give change; these machines can be found at major or touristy stations such as Tuileries, Gare de Lyon or La Défense-Grande Arche.

Some larger stations have secondary entrances, where there is no ticket booth. These are labelled voyageurs avec billets (passengers with tickets).

Avoid suburban charges

If you have any tickets or Navigo passes for zone 1-2 (inside the Paris area, the lower rate) and want go to La Défense from Châtelet, you have to take the Métro (Line 1). You can take the RER A (and save a few minutes), but you have to pay an additional fare, because even though you arrive at the same station, the RER exit is supposed to be outside of Paris! On the other hand, Métro fares are the same, even in the suburbs. So be careful as there are usually a lot of ticket examiners present when you get off the RER A.



Each station displays a detailed map of the surrounding area with a street list and the location of buildings (monuments, schools, places of worship, etc,) as well as exits for that particular metro. Maps are located on the platform if the station has several exits or near the exit if there is only one exit.

Except for trains on lines 1, 2, 4, 5, and 14, the doors will not open automatically. In such a case, there are handles or buttons located both inside and outside the train that you have to push or unlatch in order to open the door.

Strikes are a regular occurrence on the Paris public transit system. Generally during a strike, there will be reduced or no service on certain lines but parts of the network will continue to operate; however, in some cases the entire network may shut down completely. Visit the RATP and SNCF websites for information on which routes are affected by a strike. Generally, the automated Métro lines 1 and 14 will be running during a strike because they operate without human drivers – if you are caught by a strike, it is best to use it whenever possible.

By bicycle[edit]

Renting a bike is a very good alternative over driving or using public transport and an excellent way to see the sights. Riding a bike anywhere in the city is far safer for the moderately experienced cyclists than most towns or cities in other countries. The French are very cognisant of cyclists, almost to a point of reverence. A few years ago Paris wasn’t the easiest place to get around by bike but that has changed dramatically in recent years. The city government has taken a number of steps in strong support of improving the safety and efficiency of the urban cyclist as well as establishing some separated bike lanes but, even more importantly, instituted a policy of allowing cyclists to share the ample bus lanes on most major boulevards. Paris also has many riversides which are perfect for cycling. The Paris bike network now counts over 150km of either unique or shared lanes for the cyclist. In addition, the narrower, medieval side streets of the central arrondissements make for rather scenic and leisurely cycling, especially during off-peak hours of the day when traffic is lighter. Do remember to bring a good map, since there is no grid plan to speak of and almost all of the smaller streets are one-way.

Bike rentals[edit]

There are a few different bike rental programs in Paris:

  • Vélib ☎ +33 1 30 79 79 30 In July 2007 the municipality of Paris introduced the Vélib program (vélo Liberté or Freedom Bikes) making it possible to rent a bike for a very modest price. Numerous stations are found around the city (at major landmarks and metro stations, basically every 300 m). With a credit card with a “puce” smart-chip, you can subscribe for 1 day (€1.70) or 7 days (€8) with a security deposit of €150 & then get a bike. If your card doesn’t work in the machines, you can pay on-line for your 1 or 7 day ticket and will be given an ID number to use at the kiosk.
    The first 30min are free, the following 30min costs €1, following 30min costs €2, etc. to avoid long rentals… so the game is to get to another station in 25min and get another bicycle. This rental system has been designed to allow you to “pick & drop” a bike, not rent the same one all day long. Try it! If your card works in the machines it’s a great way to get around! The bicycles are wonderful cruiser bikes, with a front basket to put a purse or bag.
    If the saddle is turned around, it most probably means the bike is out of order (it’s a convention among Velib users, so do the same if you notice your Velib has problems). Also be sure to check your lock before leaving as many of them do not function (and you do not want to get stuck with a bike locked to a fence post that you cannot unlock). Also be sure to budget some time for parking your bike in case you need to get back for a flight. Especially during lunch hour, many of the return stations get full quite readily.
    US Visa and MasterCards without chips do not work – however, American Express cards should work even though they don’t have a chip). A full day rental that you can reserve on-line is definitely your best option in case your credit card does not have a smart chip (eg: it’s US). After registering on-line for €1.70, they will give you a code that you plug in at any Velib station and is good for 24h. You can return the bike at any station any time and get a new bike with this same code any place within this time frame.
  • In addition to operating a number of bike rental buses, the RATP has some permanent locations, including:
  • Roue Libre, Les Halles, 1 passage Mondétour (facing 120 rue Rambuteau, Métro: Les Halles), +33 1 04 41 53 49. Bikes can be rented for one weekend (€25), M-F (€20), a working day (€9), or one day on the weekend (€14). Roue Libre also has a location at the Bastille which is open during the summer months  edit

Cycling and Traffic[edit]

While the streets of Paris are generally fairly easy on novice cyclists, there are some streets in the city that should be avoided by those who do not have experience cycling in traffic and the proper mentality for dealing with it. In particular, ‘Rue de Rivoli,’ ‘Boulevard de Sébastopol/Strasbourg,’ ‘Boulevard Saint-Germain,’ ‘Avenue de Flandre,’ and most of the Quais that run along the river are especially bad during rush hours, but are at least somewhat busy at all times. While most of these do have cycle lanes, “sharrows,” or other such accommodations, the sheer volume of traffic means that it may be a better idea to take an alternate route through the side streets. Traffic will also be particularly thick on the peripheral ‘Boulevards des Maréchaux’ (not the Boulevard Périphérique, which lies to the outside; more on this anon), and on main roads that lead to a ‘Porte’ at the edge of the city (eg: ‘Boulevard de la Chapelle’ and ‘Avenue de la Grande-Armée’). If you find yourself on one of these routes, stick to the bike lanes whenever possible.

There is also a great deal of congestion around the main train stations, particularly around Gare du Nord/Gare de l’Est in the 10th, Gare de Lyon in the 12th, and Gare Montparnasse in the 14th. Bus and taxi traffic will be particularly thick in these areas and certain streets may be reserved just for them, so stay alert.

There are a few portions of the city that you probably should not cycle unless you are very confident in your abilities to ride in an urban environment. The ‘Avenue des Champs-Elysés’ and the ‘Boulevard Magenta/Boulevard Barbès’ axes can be especially hairy, though the latter more because of some inopportunely-placed interruptions in the bike lanes and other non-vehicular obstacles. The area around ‘Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad’ is well-provisioned with bike lanes, but they are somewhat haphazardly laid out and traffic is very heavy.

Also, the city has a number of large roundabouts which, while quite logical once you’ve got the idea of priorité à droite, are not at all a good idea for the timid or inexperienced. ‘Place de l’Etoile’ is the most well-known of these, but also be wary around ‘Place de la Nation,’ ‘Place de la Bastille,’ and ‘Place d’Italie.’ If possible, look for an alternate route – in particular, Place de l’Etoile and Place de la Nation have ring roads running around the outside which make for a good bypass route.

Finally, there are a few roads in Paris which are entirely forbidden to cyclists, in particular the ‘Voie Georges Pompidou’ (the high-speed express lanes running along the Seine), the tunnels underneath Les Halles, the Boulevard Périphérique beltway, and certain other ramps, tunnels, and underpasses. These will all be marked with a sign showing a bicycle on a white background, surrounded by a red circle.

You can find an excellent map of the bike network called Plan des Itinéraires cyclables at the information centre in the Hôtel de Ville.

By bus[edit]

Since the Métro is primarily structured around a hub-and-spoke model, there are some journeys for which it can be quite inefficient, and in these cases, it is worth seeing if a direct bus route exists, despite the complexity of the bus network. A bus ride is also interesting if you want to see more of the city. The Parisian bus system is quite tourist-friendly. It uses the same single-ride Ticket t+ and Navigo fare system as the Métro, and electronic displays inside each bus tell riders its current position and what stops remain, eliminating a lot of confusion.

These same payment devices are also valid in the Noctilien, the night bus. Noctilien route numbers are prefaced with an N on the bus stop signage. Night buses run regularly through the central hub at Chatelet and from the mainline train stations to outlying areas of greater Paris. There is also a circle line connecting the main train stations. It pays to know your Noctilien route ahead of time in case you miss the last Métro home. Women travellers should probably avoid taking the Noctilien on their own to destinations outside Paris.

When boarding the bus, you’ll have to validate your ticket. If you have a Navigo pass, simply hold it up to one of the purple scanners (usually on a pole near the door) and wait for the tone and the green light. If you’re using a single-ride ticket, look for the ticket validating machine, a roughly shoebox-sized device with a few lights on top and a slit for the ticket at the bottom. Insert your ticket in the slot, and wait for it to stamp it and spit it back out. Check for the time stamp, in case the printer is out of ink. As on the Métro, your ticket is proof of payment, so hold on to it until you arrive at your destination lest the transit police fine you for not paying your fare. All-day tickets only need to be validated once. If you don’t have any tickets (and there’s not a Métro station or Tabac nearby that sells them), you can buy a “ticket de dépannage” directly from the driver; these cost €2 and must be validated immediately.

Be aware that you cannot transfer between the Métro and the Bus with a single-ride Ticket t+. However, you can transfer from bus to bus, or between the bus and the tram, within 90 minutes of validating the ticket. The “ticket de dépannage” sold on the bus does not let you make a transfer to another line.

Another option for travellers who want to see the sights of Paris without a stop on every street corner is the Paris L’Opentour Bus, an open-topped double decker bus that supplies headsets with the most up to date information on the attractions in Paris. Your ticket is good for four routes ranging in time from 1-2h. Get off when you want, stay as long as you need, get back on the bus and head for another site. You can purchase tickets at the bus stop. A one-day pass is €31 for adults and €16 for children. A two-day pass is €36 for adults or €19 for children.

With children[edit]

  • Metro and bus. The metro and buses are free for children under the age of 4. Older kids (4-9) can buy a carnet (a collection of 10 tickets) at half-price for discounted travel. Other passes, including the Paris-Vistes pass for unlimited travel over 1 to 5 days are also available at half-price for children below 9 years of age.
  • Taxis. Parisian taxis tend to be standard cars (sedans or minivans) so almost all strollers will need to be folded and placed in trunk. Be aware that taxi drivers are proud of their cars and keep them very clean and are not big fans of messy kids.

By taxi[edit]

Taxis are cheaper at night when there are no traffic jams to be expected. There are not as many taxi cabs as one would expect, and sometimes finding a taxi can be challenging. In the daytime, it is not always a good idea to take a taxi, as walking or taking the metro (See: Métro) will be cheaper and, depending on traffic, faster. If you know you will need one to get to the airport, or to a meeting, it is wise to book ahead by phone (see below).

To stop a taxi…

… watch the sign on the roof: if the white sign is lit, the taxi is on duty and available, if the white sign is off and a coloured light is lit under it (blue, orange), it’s on duty and busy, if the white sign is off and no coloured light is on, the taxi is off duty. Same thing with the coloured signs (the two systems exist in Paris, but it tells nothing about the company): if the wide sign is green, the cab is available, if it is red, the taxi is busy, if it is off, the taxi is off


Taxi signs.jpg

Remember if a taxi is near a taxi stand, they’re not supposed to pick you up except at the stand where there may be other people in line ahead of you. Taxi stands are usually near train stations, big hotels, hospitals, major intersections, and other points of interest, and are marked with a blue and white “TAXI” sign.

There are a number of services by which you can call for taxis or make a reservation in advance. The two largest are Taxis G7 and Taxis Bleus:

  • Transport Parisien (transfert roissy), +33 6 61 57 43 53, [5]. * Taxis aéroport de Paris (airport transfer), +33 6 58 79 38 87, [6].  edit  edit
  • Taxi Paris (taxi roissy), +33(0)658793887, [7].  edit

Taxis net Paris, +33 6 24 14 15 69, [8].  edit

  • Taxis G7, +33 1 47 39 47 39, [9].  edit
  • Taxis Bleus, +33 8 91 70 10 10, [10].  edit
  • Taxis de France, [11].  edit
  • Taxi-Paris, +33 1 41 27 66 99, [12].  edit
  • Shuttle Taxi (navette roissy), +33 1 39 94 96 89, [13].  edit
  • Taxis aéroport Roissy (taxi roissy), +33 6 61 57 43 53, [14].  edit

As in many other cities a taxi can be difficult to stop; you may have to try several times. When you do get a taxi to stop, the driver will usually roll down his window to ask you where you want to go. If the driver can’t (or doesn’t want to) go where you want, he might tell you that he’s near the end of his work day and can’t possibly get you where you want before he has to go off-duty.

There is a €6.50 minimum on all taxi journeys mandated by city law, but the meter does not show this amount, which can result in being asked to pay more than the metered amount on short rides. Frequently the taxi driver will not want to drive you all the way to the doorstep, but will prefer to let you out a block or so away if there are one or more one-way streets to contend with. Try to look at this as a cost-savings rather than an inconvenience. You should pay while still seated in the cab as in New York and not through the front window London style.

The driver will not let you sit in the front seat (unless there are 3 or 4 of you, which is a rare case usually expedited by more money). Taxi-drivers come in all types, some nice, some rude, some wanting to chat, some not. Smoking in taxis is generally not allowed, however it might be that the taxi driver himself wants a cigarette in which case the rule might become flexible.

To avoid bad surprises, make sure you download Taxibeat, a taxi hailing app available for iOS and Android that enables you to choose your taxi driver based on user ratings. Unlike radio taxis, the service comes at no extra cost for passengers – but be aware of the approach fare, and drivers associated with Taxibeat tend to offer better value service. (Most speak fluent English, offer free Wi-Fi on board etc).

Many drivers prefer that you avoid using your mobile phone during the journey; if you do have to, make an apologizing gesture & sound, and do make a short call.

  • A tip is included in the fare price; If you’re especially satisfied with the service, you can give something (basically 10%), but you don’t have to.
  • There is an extra charge for baggage handling.

If for any reason you wish to file a complaint about a Paris taxi, take note of the taxi’s number on the sticker on the lefthand back seat window.

Also if you take a taxi to the Charles de Gaulle airport be prepared to pay €70 or more because there is often heavy traffic. If there isn’t traffic it will be less expensive, but that is rare. The RER B or a bus is cheaper.

Beware of illegal taxis (see the ‘Stay Safe’ section).

Livery or Black Car or Limos- Known as car services or livery cabs, these cars may only be called by phone, are flat rate rather than metered (ask for the fare before getting in), and are not allowed to cruise the street or airports for fares. There are two types of licence: the “Grande Remise” that allows the car & driver to pick-up & drop-off passengers anywhere in France, and the “carte verte” that allows pick-up & drop-off in the department or region where the company is based. The Grande Remise cars have a GR on their front plate. They provide more service than a normal cab.

By boat[edit]

There are several excellent boat services which make use of the Seine. As well as providing easy, cheap transport to much of central Paris, excellent photo opportunities abound. You can buy a day or 3 day ticket and hop on and off the boat as needed. The boats take a circular route from the Eiffel Tower, down past the Louvre, Notre Dame, botanical gardens then back up the other bank past Musee D’orsay. Batobus offers a regular shuttle service between the main touristic sights (closed in January); other companies such as the famous Bateaux Mouches offer sightseeing cruises. By taking one of these popular tours, you can also enjoy a romantic evening dinner on the Seine. It is a unique chance to enjoy the night sightseeing, with the lights of the Eiffel Tower and other monuments of Paris.

By car[edit]

In a word: don’t. It’s generally a very bad idea to rent a car to visit Paris. Traffic is very dense during the day, and finding street parking is exceedingly difficult in all but the most peripheral neighbourhoods of the city. This is especially true in areas surrounding points of interest for visitors, since many of these are in areas designed long before cars existed. A majority of Parisian households do not own cars, and many people who move to the city find themselves selling their cars within a month or two.

That said, driving may be an option for going to some sights in the suburbs such as Vaux-le-Vicomte castle or the town and chateau of Fontainebleau, or for travelling to other places in France. You may prefer to rent from a location not situated in Paris proper.

Traffic rules in Paris are basically the same as elsewhere in France, with the exception of having to yield to incoming traffic on roundabouts. However, driving in dense traffic in Paris and suburbs during commute times, can be especially strenuous. Be prepared for traffic jams, cars changing lanes at short notice, and so on. Another issue is pedestrians, who tend to fearlessly jaywalk more in Paris than in other French cities. Be prepared for pedestrians crossing the street on red, and expect similar adventurous behaviour from cyclists. Remember that even if a pedestrian or cyclist crossed on red, if you hit him, you (in fact, your insurance) will have to bear civil responsibility for the damages, and possibly prosecution for failing to control your vehicle.

Paris has several ring road systems. There is a series of boulevards named after Napoleonic-era generals (Boulevard Masséna, Boulevard Ney, and so forth), and collectively referred to as boulevard des maréchaux. These are normal wide avenues, with traffic lights. Somewhat outside of this boulevard is the boulevard périphérique, a motorway-style ring road. The périphérique intérieur is the inner lanes (going clockwise), the périphérique extérieur the outer lanes (going counter-clockwise). Note that, despite the looks, the périphérique is not an autoroute: the speed limit is 80km/h and, very unusually, incoming traffic has the right of way, at least theoretically (presumably because, otherwise, nobody would be able to enter during rush hour).

Directions

If you find yourself lost in the streets, a good idea is to find the nearest Hotel and ask the concierge for directions. Unlike the majority of Parisians, most concierges speak English well. A simple “Bonjour Monsieur, parlez-vous anglais?” should suffice.


By scooter or motorbike[edit]

Paris is an incredibly open city, with it’s many ‘grande boulevards’ and monuments with large open spaces around them. This makes for a city perfect to be explored and viewed from on a scooter. A lot of people think it is a dangerous city to ride a scooter or motorbike and, when you’re sitting in a corner café watching, it may look that way but, in reality, it is actually quite a safe city because the drivers are very conscious of one another, a trait that drivers certainly do not have in some other countries of the world! There are so many scooters in Paris, for so long, that when people learn to drive here they learn to drive amongst the scooters. The French do drive quite fast, but they respect one another and it is rare that a driver will suddenly changes lanes or swing to the other side of the road without signalling. When you’re driving a scooter or motorbike in Paris you can expect to be able to ‘lane-split’ between the rows of cars waiting in traffic and go straight to the front of the lights. For parking, there are plenty of ‘Deux Roues’ (two wheel) parking all over the city. Do be careful parking on the footpath though, especially on shopping streets or around smonument.

A few well-known Vespa Tour company propose scooter rentals and tours of Paris. It can be a good way to get a vision of the city in a day. Great thing to do if you just stay a few days in Paris:

  • Paris by Scooter, Scooter always delivered to your hotel (Paris), +33 6 28 35 39 30 (), [15]. 08:00-21:00. This Vespa Tour Company proposes several Tours of Paris (half day and full day) and also a scooter rental service with GPS an option. French, Parisian and friendly guides. Tours in English. 50cc and 125cc available. From €60.  edit
  • Left Bank Scooters, Scooter always delivered to your hotel (Paris), +33 6 78 12 04 24, [16]. 08:00-20:00. Scooter rental that is delivered to, and picked up from, your hotel in Paris. All scooter are Vespas, 50cc or 125cc available. Must have a car license to rent the 50cc, and a motorcycle license to rent the 125cc. From €60.  edit

On skates[edit]

Paris is one of the best cities for skating. This is due to the large, smooth surfaces offered by both the pavements and the roads. Skating on the pavement is legal all around Central Paris (zone 1) and its suburbs (zones 2+). See our Do section below for more information.

Talk[edit]

First and foremost, French (le français) is of course the country’s official language. Any native French person will speak French and it helps if you can speak a bit of it. In the parts of the city that tourists frequent the most (Tour Eiffel, Le Louvre, Champs-Elysées), the shopkeepers, information booth attendants, and other workers are likely to answer you in English, even if your French is advanced. These workers tend to deal with thousands of foreign tourists, and responding in English is often faster than repeating themselves in French. This is not the case for the rest of the city.

Reading up

Before you leave you may want to read a book like French or Foe by Polly Platt or Almost French by Sarah Turnbull — interesting, well written records from English speaking persons who live in France.

For most Parisians, English is something they had to study in school, and thus seems a bit of a chore. People helping you out in English are making an extra effort, sometimes a considerable one. Parisians younger than 40 are more likely to be competent in English. Immigrants, often working in service jobs, are less likely (often, still struggling to learn French.)

If it’s your first time in France you will have some problems understanding what people are saying (even with prior education in French). Unlike most language education tapes, French people often speak fast, use slang and swallow some letters.

When attempting to speak French, do not be offended if people ask you to repeat, or seem not to understand you, as they are not acting out of snobbery. Keep your sense of humour, and if necessary, write down phrases or place names. And remember to speak slowly and clearly. Unless you have an advanced level and can at least sort of understand French movies, you should also assume that it will be difficult for people to understand what you are saying (imagine someone speaking English to you in an indiscernible accent, it’s all the same).

When in need of directions what you should do is this: find a younger person or someone reading a book or magazine in English, who is obviously not in a hurry; say “hello” or “bonjour” (bon-zhor); start by asking if the person speaks English, “Parlez-vous anglais?” (Par-LAY voo on-glay?) even if the person can read something in English, speak slowly and clearly; write down place names if necessary. Smile a lot. Also, carry a map (preferably Paris par Arrondissement); given the complexity of Paris streets it is difficult to explain how to find any particular address in any language, no matter how well you speak it. If anything, the person may have an idea as to the place you are looking for, but may not know exactly where it may be, so the map always helps.

On the other hand you will probably get the cold shoulder if you stop someone in the métro (such as a middle-aged hurried person who has a train to catch), fail to greet them and simply say “where is place X or street Y”.

If you speak French, remember two magic phrases : “Excusez-moi de vous déranger” [ex-kuh-zay mwuh duh voo day-rawn-ZHAY] (“Sorry to bother you”) and “Pourriez-vous m’aider?” [por-EE-AY voo may-DAY] (“Could you help me?”) especially in shops; politeness will work wonders.

The Pont des Arts (bridge of arts) and just behind, the pont Neuf (new bridge) and the île de la Cité.

See[edit][add listing]

One of the best value and most convenient ways to see the sights of Paris is with the Paris Museum Pass, a pre-paid entry card that allows entry into over 70 museums and monuments around Paris (and the Palace of Versailles) and comes in 2-day (€42), 4-day (€56) and 6-day (€69) denominations (prices as of Jan 2014). Note these are ‘consecutive’ days. The card allows you to jump lengthy queues, a big plus during tourist season when line can be extensive, and is available from participating museums, tourist offices, Fnac branches and all the main Métro and RER train stations. You will still need to pay to enter most special exhibitions. To avoid waiting in the first long queue to purchase the Museum Pass, stop to purchase your pass a day or more in advance after mid-day. The pass does not become active until your first museum or site visit when you write your start date. After that, the days covered are consecutive. Do not write your start date until you are certain you will use the pass that day and be careful to use the usual European date style as indicated on the card: day/month/year.

Also consider

  • ParisPass a pre-paid entry card + queue jumping to 60 attractions including The Louvre, The Arc de Triomphe, as well as a river cruise and allowing free metro and public transport travel.
  • “Paris ComboPass®” a cheaper alternative which comes in Lite and Premium versions.

Planning your visits: Several sites have “choke points” that restrict the number of visitors that can flow through. These include: The Eiffel Tower, Sainte-Chapelle,The Catacombs and the steps to climb to the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral. To avoid queues, you should start your day by arriving at one of these sites at least 30 minutes before opening time. Otherwise, expect a wait of at least an hour. Most museums and galleries are closed on either Monday or Tuesday. Examples: The Louvre museum is closed on Tuesdays while the Orsay museum is closed on Mondays. Be sure to check museum closing dates to avoid disappointment. Also, most ticket counters close 30-45min before final closing.

All national museums are open free of charge on the first Sunday of the month. However, that this may mean long queues and crowded exhibits. Keep away from Paris during Easter week due to crowding. People have to queue up at the Eiffel Tower for several hours even early in the morning. However, this wait can be greatly reduced, if fit, by walking the first two levels, then buying an elevator ticket to the top. Entry to the permanent exhibitions at city-run museums is free at all times (admission is charged for temporary exhibitions).

These listings are just some highlights of things that you really should see if you can during your visit to Paris. The complete listings are found on each individual district page (follow the link in parenthesis).

Good listings of current cultural events in Paris can be found in ‘Pariscope’ or ‘Officiel des spectacles’, weekly magazines listing all concerts, art exhibitions, films, stage plays and museums. Available from all kiosks.


Landmarks[edit]

Notre Dame de Paris

  • Arc de Triomphe (8th)— The Arc de Triomphe exudes grandeur and offers a central view of the city Métro/RER Charles de Gaulle-Etoile (1, 2, 6, A)
  • Catacombs (14th)— Used to store the exhumed bones from the overflowing Paris cemetery. (There is a limit to the number of visitors allowed within the Catacombs at one time (200 persons). So, if you arrive just after opening, you must wait until someone exits, approximately 45-60 minutes, before anyone is admitted). Métro Denfert-Rochereau (4, 6, B)
  • Château de Versailles (Versailles)— Must be seen. France’s most exquisite chateau, on the outskirts of the city, easily visited by train. Once the home to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. RER Versailles Rive Gauche (C)
  • The Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) (7th)— No other monument better symbolizes Paris. Métro Bir-Hakeim (6) or RER Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel (C)
  • Grand Arche de la Défense (La Défense)— A modern office-building variant of the Arc de Triomphe. Métro/RER La Défense (1, A)
  • Notre Dame Cathedral (4th)— Impressive Gothic cathedral that was the inspiration for Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Climb to the top! Métro Cité (4) or RER Saint-Michel-Notre Dame (B, C)
  • Opera Garnier (9th)— Masterpiece of theatre architecture of the 19th century built by Charles Garnier and inaugurated in 1875 housing the Paris Opera since it was founded by Louis XIV. Métro Opéra (3, 7, 8)
  • Pantheon (5th)— Underneath, the final resting place for the great heroes of the French Republic including Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and Marie Curie; above, a marvellous view of the city. Métro Cardinal Lemoine (10) or RER Luxembourg (B)
  • Père-Lachaise Cemetery (20th)— Unlike any cemetery in the world. Ornate grave stones, monuments set among tree lined lanes. See the graves of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Frederic Chopin, amongst many others. Métro Père Lachaise (2, 3)

Sacré Coeur

  • Sacré Coeur (18th)— A church perched on top of the highest point in Paris. Behind the church is the artists’ area, in front are spectacular views of the whole city. Métro Anvers (2) or Abbesses (12), then climb the stairs on Rue Foyatier or take the funicular to the top of the hill.
  • Sainte Chapelle (1st)— Exquisite stained glass chapel. More beautiful interior than the gloomy Notre Dame Cathedral. Métro Cité (4)

Museums and galleries[edit]

All national museums et monuments are free for all every first Sunday of the month. Most public museums, as well as many public monuments (such as the Arc de Triomphe or the towers of Notre-Dame), are also free for citizens of the European Union or long term residents (over three months), if they are under 26 years old.

l’Eglise du Dome, church of Les Invalides, site of Napoleon’s tomb

  • The Louvre, (1st)— One of the finest museums in the world of art and culture. Home of the Mona Lisa and innumerable others. Enormous building and collection, plan at least two visits. Métro Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre (1, 7)
  • Musée d’Orsay, (7th)— Incredible collection housed in a former railway station. Works by the great artists of the 19th century (1848-1914) including Monet’s “Blue Water Lilies, Renoir’s “Bal du moulin de la Galette”, van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles”, Whistler’s “The Artists Mother”, etc. RER Musée d’Orsay (C) or Métro Solférino (12)
  • Rodin Museum, (7th)— His personal collection and archives, in a charming home with garden. Métro Varenne (13)
  • Picasso Museum, (3rd)— Contains the master’s own collection. Visitor should note this museum will be closed until 25 Oct 2014 due to renovations of the building. Métro Saint-Paul (1) or Chemin Vert (8)
  • Musée Marmottan-Monet [17] (16th)[rue Louis Boilly]— Over 300 paintings of Claude Monet. Also, the works of Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. “Impression Soleil Levant” by Monet is on display. Métro La Muette (9)
  • Musée de l’Orangerie, (1st)— [Jardin des Tuileries] Houses “The Water Lilies” (or “Nymphéas”) – a 360 degree depiction of Monet’s flower garden at Giverny. Also, impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings by Cézanne, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Renoir, Rousseau, Soutine, Sisley and others. Métro Concorde (1, 8, 12)
  • Musée Delacroix— Housed in the home of painter Eugene Delacroix. Métro Mabillon (10) or Saint-Germain-des-Près (4)
  • Centre Georges Pompidou, (4th)— The museum of modern art. The building and adjoining Stravinsky Fountain are attractions in themselves. Métro Rambuteau (11)
  • Les Invalides, (7th)— Very impressive museum of arms and armor from the Middle Ages to today. Also contains the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte. Métro Varenne (13)
  • Cluny, (5th)— A medieval museum exhibiting the five “The Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries, housed in a part Roman, part medieval building. Métro Cluny-La Sorbonne (10)
  • Le Musee des Arts Decoratifs, (1st)— Showcasing eight centuries of French savoir-faire. Métro Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre (1, 7)
  • Carnavalet (3rd)— Museum of Paris history; exhibitions are permanent and free. Métro Saint-Paul (1) or Chemin Vert (8)
  • Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie – La Villette, (19th)— Science museum primarily for children. Métro Porte de la Villette (7)
  • Mémorial de la Shoah, (4th)— Paris’s Holocaust Memorial Museum, in the heart of the Marais on rue Geoffroy l’Asnier. Free Entry, weekly guided tours. Second Sunday of the month there is a free tour in English. Métro Pont Marie (7)
  • Jacquemart-Andre Museum , (8th)— Private collection of French, Italian, Dutch masterpieces in a typical XIXth century mansion. Métro Miromesnil (9, 13)

Do[edit][add listing]

Events[edit]

It seems like there’s almost always something happening in Paris, with the possible exceptions of the school holidays in February and August, when about half of Parisians are to be found not in Paris, but in the Alps or the South or the West of France respectively. The busiest season is probably the autumn, from a week or so after la rentrée scolaire or “back to school” to around Noël (Christmas) theatres, cinemas and concert halls book their fullest schedule of the year.

Even so, there are a couple of annual events in the winter, starting with a furniture and interior decorating trade fair called Maison & Object [18] in January.

In February le nouvel an chinois (Chinese New Year) is celebrated in Paris as it is in every city with a significant Chinese population. There are parades in the 3rd,4th and 20th arrondissements and especially in the Chinatown in the 13th south of Place d’Italie which is not only Chinese, but also present Asian organizations, Martial Arts clubs and strangely, Brazilian culture-based groups.
Also in February is the Six Nations Rugby Tournament which brings together France, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy, so expect to see strong guys in kilts in the streets.
If sport is not your thing, the Salon international de l’Agriculture (International farming fair/festival)allow you to huge animals indoor (bulls, cows, goats and pigs from every corner of the country) and to taste the best regional products, such as wine, cheese, delicatessen, honey, spices… Each region of France, including exotic overseas territories, present at least one stand, and often several. The former President of the Republic Jacques Chirac use to appear each year on national TV when visiting this fair.

Last but not least, 14th February is a world-recognized Valentine’s Day and there is no place more romantic than Paris. One of the spots worth visiting is Square des Abbesses in Montmarte-La Chapelle to check out Le Mur des Je T’Aime (The ‘I love you’ Wall), a concept piece of contemporary art which is an idea of Claire Kito and Frédéric Baron. It is a 40m2 wall covered with inscriptions of the words ‘I love you’ in 250 languages, with red splashes which form a heart when pieced together.

The first of two Fashion weeks occurs in March: Spring Fashion Week, giving designers a platform to present women’s prêt-à-porter, ready to wear, collections for the following winter.

The French Tennis Open [19] in which the world’s top players battle it out on a clay court runs during two weeks starting on the last Sunday in May. By the time its done in June, a whole range of festivities start up. Rendez-vous au Jardin is an open house for many Parisian gardens, giving you a chance to meet Parisian gardeners and see their creations. The Fête de la Musique [20] celebrates the summer solstice (21st June) with this city-wide free musical knees-up. Amateur bands are allowed to play at least until 1am everywhere in the city, and sometimes later. (Well, they don’t exactly have an authorization, but…)If Rock (of any style) is always heavily represented, every style of music including Hip-Hop, electro, traditional, classical, jazz and gospel can be found.
Finally on the 26th of June is the Gay Pride [21] parade, featuring probably the most sincere participation by the mayor’s office of any such parade on the globe.
The most important music festival happens between the end of June and the beginning of July: “Solidays”[22]. Each year, the program tends to be more impressive, featuring many new bands almost unknown and international stars as well, so many people wait until the program is released and then rush to get a ticket as soon as possible. Besides, this 3-day festival is dedicated to the fight against AIDS, is based on volunteering and deals a lot with AIDS prevention.

The French national holiday La Fête Nationale – commonly referred by non-French citizens as Bastille Day – on 14 July celebrates the storming of the infamous Bastille during the French Revolution. Paris hosts several spectacular events that day of which the best known is the Bastille Parade which is held on the Champs-Élysées at 10:00 and broadcast on television to most of the rest of Europe. It involves French army in shiny dress uniforms, tanks and usually an acrobatic show from the Patrouille de France, highly skilled jet pilots similar at the British Red Arrows. The entire street will be crowded with spectators so arrive early. The Bastille Day Fireworks is an exceptional treat for travellers lucky enough to be in the city on Bastille Day. The Office du Tourisme et des Congress de Paris recommends gathering in or around the champs du Mars, the gardens of the Eiffel Tower. However, you don’t need to be so close to enjoy the show, as Paris contains many elevated spots such as the Montparnasse tower, the Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre and Parc de Belleville’s belvedere.

Also in July, Cinema en Plein Air [23] is the annual outdoor cinema event that takes place at the Parc de la Villette, in the 9th on Europe’s largest inflatable screen. For most of July and August, parts of both banks of the Seine are converted from expressway into an artificial beach for Paris Plage [24]. Also in July the cycling race le Tour de France has a route that varies annually, however it always finishes on the last Sunday of July under the Arc de Triomphe.

On the last full weekend in August, a world-class music festival Rock en Seine [25] draws international rock and pop stars to barges on the Seine near moored off of the 8th.

During mid-September DJs and (usually young) fans from across Europe converge on Paris for five or six days of dancing etc. culminating in the Techno parade – a parade whose route traces roughly from Pl. de Bastille to the Sorbonne, and around the same time the festival Jazz à la Villette [26] brings some of the biggest names in contemporary jazz from around the world. At the same period, a very famous festival takes place, more pop-rock oriented, called “Fête de l’Huma”, which stands for “Fête de l’Humanité”, from the name of the newspaper which organizes it. The newspaper is clearly communist-oriented, but the festival is nowadays without any real political etiquette, as the public goes there only to enjoy the music. The program is a bit more French-oriented than Solidays, but each year (since 1930!) surprises are to be expected.

The Nuit Blanche [27] transforms most of central Paris into a moonlit theme-park for an artsy all-nighter on the first Saturday of October, and Fashion Week [28] returns shortly thereafter showing off Women’s Prêt-à-Porter collections for the following summer; as we’ve noted winter collections are presented in March.

The third Thursday in November marks the release of Le Beaujolais Nouveau [29] and the beginning of the Christmas season. This evening, the Christmas lights are lit in a ceremony on the Champs-Élysées, often in the presence of hundreds (if not thousands) of people and many dignitaries, including the president of France.

For information on theatre, movies and exhibitions pick up the ‘Pariscope’ and ‘L’officiel du Spectacle’ which is available at newstands for €0.40. For (especially smaller, alternative) concerts pick up LYLO, a small, free booklet available in some bars and at FNAC. There are not any userfriendly online version of these guides.

  • Cafe Philo in English, Cafe de Flore, 172, Blvd St-Germain, 75006, [30]. Cafe Philo in English meets on the first Wednesday of each month upstairs at the famous Cafe de Flore. Everyone is invited. You don’t have to be knowledgeable about philosophy. Meetings begin with a two round voting process to determine a topic. The topic is discussed for two hours. Free.  edit

Photography[edit]

Paris is considered by many as the birthplace of photography, and while one may debate the correctness of this claim, there is no debate that Paris is today a photographer’s dream. The French capital offers a spectacular array of photographic opportunities to the beginner and the pro alike. It has photogenic monuments (e.g., Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, the obelisk at Concorde, and countless others); architecture (the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Museum of the Arab World, to name just a few) and urban street scenes (e.g., in the Marais, Montmartre and Belleville). When you tire of taking your own photos, visit one of the many institutions dedicated to photography (e.g., European Museum of Photography, the Jeu de Paume Museum or the Henri Cartier Bresson Foundation). At these and other institutions, you can learn the about the rich history of Paris as the place of important developments in photography (e.g., the Daguerrotype) and as the home of many of the trade’s great artists (e.g., Robert Doisneau, André Kertész, Eugene Atget and Henri Cartier Bresson).

  • Better Paris Photos, 32 Avenue de Suffren, Paris 75116, 33 (0)6 74 04 21 84 (), [31]. By appointment, tours last from 4 hours. Better Paris Photos offers instructional tours and workshops that combine hands-on learning of essential photographic techniques with guiding to, and commentary about, the most photogenic spots of Paris. Led by English-speaking photographers and instructors, these tours are open to all skill levels and interest. From €195/half day; €290/full day.  edit

Movies[edit]

The Cinémas of Paris are (or at least should be) the envy of the movie-going world. Of course, like anywhere else you can see big budget first-run films from France and elsewhere. That though, is just the start. During any given week there are at least half-a-dozen film festivals going on, at which you can see the entire works of a given actor or director. Meanwhile there are some older cult films like say, What’s new Pussycat or Casino Royal which you can enjoy pretty much any day you wish.

Many non-French movies are subtitled (called “version originale” “VO” or “VOstfr” as opposed to “VF” for version francaise).

There are any number of ways to find out what’s playing, but the most commonly used guide is Pariscope, which you can find at newstands for €0.40. Meanwhile there are innumerable online guides which have information on “every” cinema in Paris.

With children[edit]

  • Cite des enfants in the 19th, a museum for kids within the Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie, is interactive, fun, and educational. There are two separate sections for the 3-5 set and the 5-12 set. The tots section has simple exhibits designed to be pushed, prodded, and poked. The section for older kids is more sophisticated with scientific experiments and tv studios. Métro Porte de la Villete (7)
  • Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th. It would be counted as a travesty not to take your under 10 year old to the Jardin du Luxembourg, long a favorite with Parisien children. With its world famous merry-go-round, a pond for sail boats, a puppet theater, pony rides, chess players, children’s playground, it has something for every kid (with comfortable chairs for weary parents thrown in!). The marionettes du luxembourg, the puppet theater, stages classic French puppet shows in French but should be easy to understand. There are numerous places for a snack. RER Luxembourg (B) or Métro Odéon (4, 10)
  • Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in the 19th. Buttes-Chaumont is great for those with children that like to run, climb, and explore. Built on the site of an abandoned quarry, the park is roughly bowl-shaped with a 30-meter-tall peak situated in the middle of a pond at the park’s centre. There are trails up the rock, caves, waterfalls, a suspension bridge, and a small stone gazebo on the top of the rock with a 360-degree view. There is also a puppet theater and a playground. Métro Buttes-Chaumont (7bis), Botzaris (7bis), or Laumière (5)
  • Parc Zoologique in the 12th. Like all things in France, this zoo is different because of a 236 foot artificial mountain bang in the middle. Take elevators to the top and enjoy the view or watch the mountain goats do their stuff on the sides. Lions, tigers, and everything designed to delight kids can be found in the zoo if the mountaind doesn’t do it for your kids. RER/Métro Gare d’Austerlitz (5, 10, C)
  • The Jardin d’Acclimatation in the 16th has a number of rides, including pint-sized roller coasters suitable for children as young as three years, as well as a mini-zoo and the estimable Musée en Herbe. Métro Les Sablons (1)
  • THATLou, Treasure Hunt at the Louvre in the 1st helps introduce the Louvre Museum and make it more entertaining and manageable for teens and families travelling with children. Henri Loyrette, director of the Louvre, said that you’d have to walk 8 miles straight to cover the whole place, so THATLou (which offers 12 different themed treasure hunts) helps focus visits and highlight collections. Métro Palais Royal-Louvre or Tuileries (1)

Meet and greet locals[edit]

For those who want to meet actual Parisians in addition to exploring major landmarks, in 2010 a group of locals started a new service, “See Paris with a Parisian”. You join 90-minute walking tours. The guides show you city landmarks (and the stories and anecdotes that go with them), but they also engage their visitors on life in Paris. You chat with a Parisian, you “decode” the city, and you learn from an insider about local events and festivals, about where to shop, good places to eat or drink, secret places locals keep to themselves etc.

  • Discover Walks, 1 rue Thérèse ☎ +33 970 449 724, [32]. Several tours to choose from everyday. Free service – guests choose their tip/donation.

Cabaret shows[edit]

Cabarets are traditional shows in Paris. They provide entertainment, often towards adult audiences, with singers and dancers or burlesque entertainers. The most famous ones are at the Moulin Rouge, the Lido, the Crazy Horse and the Paradis Latin. They fill up quickly so you might want to book before. The tickets usually cost from €80 to €200, depending if you have dinner before the show.

  • Come to Paris (Come to Paris), +33 148 740 510, (), [33]. Book tickets to the cabarets in Paris. No extra fees.  edit

Learn[edit]

It should go without saying that Paris is a good place to learn French.

  • Alliance Française. One of the world’s largest schools of French language, the Paris Alliance Française has a wide variety of courses for a visitor to choose from.  edit
  • Ecole France Langue, [34]. France Langue have a variety of different courses, starting as short as one week up to long-term tuition. Classes are taught entirely in French, with students (who come from all parts of the world) discouraged from speaking in their native languages at all during lessons. The emphasis is more on speaking and listening rather than on writing and grammar. The school is spread over a number of locations around Place Victor Hugo in the 16e.  edit
  • Université Paris IV. Offers ‘scholastic’ as well as ‘university’ courses for foreigners in French language and culture, which start at various times of year.  edit
  • American Graduate School in Paris, 101, boulevard Raspail, (0)1 47 20 00 94 (), [35]. Graduate school in Paris specializing in international relations and business programs. Classes are taught in English with optional french classes.  edit
  • Franglish, (0)7 60 47 30 20 (), [36]. French/English Language Exchange event in Paris, 3 times per week in some of the best venues across Paris. Practice your French while having a good time meeting locals.  edit

Paris is the seat of other places to learn about a variety of topics.

  • The American Library in Paris, (5 minutes walking distance from the Eiffel Tower), [37]. A great place to visit in Paris is the American Library, this is a non-profit institution entirely dependent on donations in order to keep its doors open. Visitors can purchase a day pass or other short term memberships. The Library has WiFi and if you have your laptop then you can access the internet for no charge other than the day pass to use the library. It has excellent books, recent American magazines and the occasional celebrity patron.  edit

Culinary[edit]

How better to get to know a culture than to learn the ins and outs of its native cuisine. After sampling your fair share of Macarons and Magret de Canard around Paris, you might enjoy taking an afternoon to learn how to make these delicacies yourself and take the recipes home with you. While there are many cooking schools around Paris, only a few offer classes in English.

  • La Cuisine Paris, 80 Quai de L’Hôtel de Ville, Paris 75004, 33 (0)1 40 51 78 18 (), [38]. Register online, classes last 2-4 hours. La Cuisine Paris is an english-friendly culinary school located in the heart of Paris, right on the Seine that offers expert teaching of the essential techniques of cuisine française. Led by French and English-speaking chefs, these classes are open to all skill levels and tastes. Prices range from €65 for a Macaron class to €150 for a Market class.  edit

Work[edit]

Work in Paris, especially for non-EEA/Swiss citizens, entails a very long and arduous process. Unless you possess one of a number of in-demand skills, it will almost certainly be necessary to obtain a job offer from a French employer before arriving. Your employer, for their part, will have to have the offer approved by the relevant governmental authorities, as well. If you opt for unreported work, such as babysitting, you need not fret about going through the process to obtain a Carte de séjour, ie a formal visitor’s identity card. However, if you do choose a change in location, it is advisable to obtain a Carte de séjour prior to finding any job whatsoever, as the process can be longer than expected. Note however that a Carte de séjour is often necessary to open a bank account and the like, and by extension for accomplishing any number of other tasks involved in modern life, so unless you’re very comfortable transacting everything in cash you should probably bite the bullet and keep things on the up-and-up.

Job listings, as anywhere, can be found in local magazines and newspapers. Another great place to look for jobs is on-line, whether using a Job Search Engine such as Monster or Wiki search pages such as Craigslist. Remember, the city of Paris has a huge network of immigrants coming and going, and it is always great to tap into that network. The city holds a great abundance of work ready to be found, even if it feels nerve wrecking at first.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Paris is one of the great fashion centres of the Western world, up there with New York, London, and Milan, making it a shopper’s delight. While the Paris fashion scene is constantly evolving, the major shopping centres tend to be the same. High end couture can be found in the 8th arrondisement. In summer, there is nothing better than browsing the boutiques along Canal St-Martin, or strolling along the impressive arcades of the historic Palais-Royal, with beautifully wrapped purchases swinging on each arm.

A good note about Le Marais is that as it is a mostly Jewish neighbourhood, most of the shops in Le Marais are open on Sundays. The stores in this area are intimate, boutique, “Parisian” style clothing stores. You will no doubt find something along each street, and it is always well worth the look.

Other great areas to shop around in are around the area Sèvres Babylone (Métro Line 10 and Line 12). It is in this area you will find the Le Bon Marché 7th, particularly rue de Cherche Midi 6th. The area boasts some of the major fashion houses (Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, etc) and also has smaller private boutiques with handmade clothing.

In the Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés, you can find a handful of vintage clothing shops, carrying anything from couture early 20th century dresses, to 70s Chanel sunglasses. Walking along Boulevard Saint-Germain, you will find major brands. However, if in search of eclectic finds, opt to walk the northern side of the Boulevard, especially along rue Saint André des Arts, where you can always find a nice café to stop in. The area south of Saint-Germain is just as nice, and comes with a price tag to match.

In the artsy quarters of 1 and 4, there are many bargains to be had, once again, if you are prepared to look. Souvenirs are easily found and can be fairly inexpensive as long as you don’t buy from the tourist sites. For cheap books of French connection, try the University/Latin quarter as they sell books in all languages starting from half a euro each.

Flea Markets[edit]

Paris has 3 main flea-markets, located on the outskirts of the central city. The most famous of these is the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen (Porte de Clignancourt) (Clignancourt Flea Market) , Métro: Porte de Clignancourt, in the 18th, a haven for lovers of antiques, second-hand goods and retro fashion. The best days to go are Saturday and Sunday. Note that there are particular times of the week when only antique collectors are allowed into the stalls, and there are also times of the day when the stall owners take their Parisian Siesta, and enjoy a leisurely cappuccino for an hour or so. The best times to visit the Flea Markets are in the spring and summertime, when the area is more vibrant. In and around the metro station, you may find the area a little wild, still safe.

Musical Instruments[edit]

Rue de Rome, situated near Gare St. Lazare, is crowded with luthiers, brass and woodwind makers, piano sellers, and sheet music stores. Métro: Europe (Ligne 3). The area south of the metro station Pigalle is also packed with music shops (more oriented towards guitars and drums).

Artwork[edit]

For art lovers, be sure to check out Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés, which is renowned for its galleries, and it is impossible to turn a street without finding a gallery to cast your glance in. On Fridays, most open until late. Most even have the benefit of bottles of wine so you can wander in with your glass of wine and feel very artistique. Great roads to walk along are rue de Seine, rue Jacob, rue des Beaux Arts, Rue Bonaparte, and Rue Mazarine.
Also, be sure to visit the historical district of Montparnasse’ and quartier Vavin where painters like Modigliani, Gauguin and Zadkine used to work.

Eat[edit][add listing]

This guide uses the following price ranges for dinner typical set menu (starter+main+dessert whenever available):
Budget below €15
Mid-range €15-25
Splurge over €25



Paris is one of Europe’s culinary centres.

The restaurant trade began here just over 220 years ago and continues to thrive. It may, however, come as a surprise that Paris isn’t considered the culinary capital of France; rather some people prefer the French cooking found in small rural restaurants, outside of the city, closer to the farms and with their focus on freshness and regional specialities. Even amongst French cities, Paris has long been considered by some people as second to Lyon for fine dining.

There have been other challenges in the last 20 years or so as restaurateurs in places like San Francisco and Sydney briefly surpassed their Parisian forebears – again with an emphasis on freshness of ingredients, but also borrowings from other cuisines. Parisian cooks didn’t just rest on their laurels during this time, rather they travelled, taught, and studied and together with Paris’s own immigrant communities, have revitalized the restaurant trade. Today you can find hundreds of beautiful restaurants with thoughtful (or just trendy) interior design and well-planned and executed cartes and menus offering a creative mélange of French and exotic foreign cuisines. It’s safe to say that Paris is once again catching up with or edging ahead of its Anglophone rivals.

Of course there are also some traditional offerings and for the budget conscious there are hundreds of traditional bistros, with their pavement terraces offering a choice of fairly simple (usually meat centred) meals for reasonable prices.

For the uninitiated, it is unfortunately possible to have a uniformly poor dining experience during a stay in Paris, mainly because many attractions are situated in upmarket areas of town and that mass tourism attracts price gougers. It is frequent to hear of people complaining of very high Parisian prices for poor food and poor service, because they always tried to eat close to major tourist magnets. For good food and great service, try to go eat where the locals eat .

Many restaurants are tiny and have tables close together – space is at a premium and understandably restaurateurs need to make the most of limited space. In some cases when the restaurant is crowded, you may have to sit beside strangers at the same table. If that does not appeal to you, go to a more upmarket place where you will pay for the extra space.

Trendy restaurants often require reservations weeks, if not months in advance. If you haven’t planned far enough ahead, try to get a reservation for lunch which is generally easier and less expensive.

For an easy-to-manage eating budget while in Paris, consider:

  • breakfast or “petit déjeuner” at a restaurant, possibly in your hotel, consisting of some croissants, coffee and maybe a piece of fruit. But check prices carefully. The petit déjeuner at your hotel will generally cost €13-25, well out of budget eating range. A better idea may be a local café where prices are lower. Though it must be admitted, you will get free coffee refills at the hotel, while at the café you will have to pay for every cup. Note the sign behind the bar which tells you that a coffee taken standing at the bar will cost you less than one served at a table (but of course the extra price gets you a table for as long as you care to stay).
  • a ‘walking lunch’ from one of Paris’ many food stands–a panino in the centre of the city, a crepe from a crepe stand, a Falafel pita or take-out Chinese in the Marais. Traiteurs serving Chinese food are ubiquitous in the city and good for a cheap lunch and many pâtisseries sell inexpensive coffee and sandwiches. All these are cheap (about the same as breakfast), easy, and allow you to maximize your sightseeing and walking time while enjoying delicious local or ethnic food. For dinner, stroll the streets at dusk and consider a €20-40 prix-fixe menu. This will get you 3 or 4 courses, possibly with wine, and an unhurried, candlelit, magical European evening. If you alternate days like this with low-budget, self-guided eating (picnicking, snacking, street food) you will be satisfied without breaking the bank.

If one of the aims of your trip to Paris is to indulge in its fine dining, though, the most cost-effective way to do this is to make the main meal of your day lunch. Virtually all restaurants offer a good prix-fixe deal. By complementing this with a bakery breakfast and a light self-catered dinner, you will be able to experience the best of Parisian food and still stick to a budget.

Self catering[edit]

Budget travellers will be very pleased with the range and quality of products on offer at the open air markets (e.g. the biggest one on Boul Richard Lenoir (near the Bastille), Rue Mouffetard, Place Buci, Place de la Madeleine and over the Canal Saint-Martin in the 11th or in any other arrondissement). If your accommodation has cooking facilities you’re set, especially for wine and cheese, a decent bottle of French wine will set you back all of about €3-5, while the fairly good stuff starts at around €7. Bottles for less than €3 are not recommended.
Keep in mind that the small épiceries which open until late are more expensive than the supermarchés (Casino, Monoprix, Franprix, etc). For wine, the price difference can be up to €2.

Buy a baguette, some cheese and a good bottle of wine and join the Parisian youth for a pique-nique along the Seine (especially on the Île Saint-Louis) or along the Canal Saint-Martin. The finest food stores are Lafayette Gourmet in the Galeries Lafayette or La Grande Epicerie in the luxury department store Le Bon Marché. They are worth discovering. You will find a large variety of wines there, otherwise try wine stores such as Nicolas or Le Relais de Bacchus (all over the city).

Some specialities[edit]

For seafood lovers, Paris is a great place to try moules frites (steamed mussels and French fries) (better in fall and winter), oysters, sea snails, and other delicacies. Meat specialities include venison (deer), boar, and other game (especially in the fall and winter hunting season), as well as French favourites such as lamb, veal, beef, and pork.

Prices[edit]

Eating out in Paris can be expensive. However don’t believe people when they say you can’t do Paris on the cheap – you can! The key is to stay away from the beaten tracks and the obviously expensive Champs Elysées. Around the lesser visited quarters especially, there are many cheap and yummy restaurants to be found. The key is to order from the prix-fixe menu, and not off the A la Carte menu unless you want to pay an arm and a leg. In many places a three course meal can be found for about €15. This way you can sample the food cheaply and is usually more “French”. Ask for “une carafe d’eau” (oon karaaf doe) to get free tap water.

Halal dining[edit]

Lots of Halal restaurants scattered all over Paris, from Pakistan cuisine to Indian naan bread, Moroccon, Indonesian, Lebanese, Turkish baklawa to even fried chicken all can be found in many Halal restaurants. Champs Elysées has some restaurants towards the arc, rest are scattered all over the city. A simple google search would be quite handy.

Kosher dining[edit]

Paris has the largest number of Kosher restaurants in any European city. Walk up and down Rue des Rosiers to see the variety and choices available from Israeli, Sushi, Italian and others. See the district guides for examples.

Vegetarian dining[edit]

For vegetarians, eating traditional French food will require some improvisation, as it is heavily meat-based. That being said, Paris has several excellent vegetarian restaurants. Look for spots such as Aquarius in the 14th, and Le Grenier de Notre-Dame in the 5th, or La Victoire Suprême du Coeur in the 1st just to name a few. See the arrondissement pages for more listings. For fast food and snacks, you can always find a vegetarian sandwich or pizza. Even a kebab shop can make you something with just cheese and salad, or perhaps falafel.

There are also lots of Italian, Thai, Indian, and Mezo-American places where you will have little problem. The famous South Indian chain Saravana Bhavan have their branch near Gare Du Nord. In Rue des Rosiers (4th arrondissement) you can get delicious falafel in the many Jewish restaurants. Another place to look for falafel is on Rue Oberkampf (11th arrondissement). Take away falafel usually goes for €5 or less.

Moroccan and Algerian cooking is common in Paris – vegetarian couscous is lovely. Another good option for vegetarians – are traiteurs, particularly around Ledru Rollin (down the road from Bastille) take away food where you can combine a range of different options such as pomme dauphinoise, dolmas, salads, vegetables, nice breads and cheeses and so on.

Lebanese restaurants and snack shops abound as well, offering a number of vegetarian mezze, or small plates. The stand-bys of course are hummas, falafel, and baba-ganouche (caviar d’aubergine). A good place to look for Lebanese is in the pedestrian zone around Les Halles and Beaubourg in the 1st and 4th.

Tourists and locals[edit]

When you are looking for a restaurant in Paris, be wary of those where the staff speak English a bit too readily. These restaurants are usually – but not always – geared towards tourists. It does make a difference in the staff’s service and behaviour whether they expect you to return or not.

Sometimes the advertised fixed price tourist menus (€10-15) are a good deal. If you’re interested in the really good and more authentic stuff (and if you have learned some words of French) try one of the small bistros where the French go during lunch time.

Drink[edit][add listing]

The bars scene in Paris really does have something for everyone. From bars which serve drinks in baby bottles, to ultra luxe clubs that require some name dropping, or card (black Amex) showing, and clubs where you can dance like no one’s watching, (although they will be). To start your night out right, grab a drink or two in a ubiquitous dive bar, before burning up the dance floor and spreading some cash, at one of the trendy clubs.

  • Canal St Martin. Many cozy cafés and other drinking establishments abound around the Canal St Martin in the 10th.
  • The Marais. The Marais has a large number of trendier new bars mostly in the 4th and to a lesser extent the 3rd with a few old charmers tossed into the mix. A number of bars and restaurants in the Marais have a decidedly gay crowd, but are usually perfectly friendly to straights as well. Some seem to be more specifically aimed at up-and-coming hetero singles.
  • Bastille. There is a very active nightlife zone just to the northeast of Place de Bastille centred around rue de Lappe, rue de la Roquette, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine (especially the amazing Club Barrio Latino) and rue de Charonne in the 11th. Many of the bars closest to Bastille have either a North, Central, or South American theme, with a couple of Aussie places mixed in for good measure, and as you continue up rue de Charonne the cafés have more of a traditionally French but grungy feeling.
  • Quartier Latin – Odeon. If you’re looking for the nouvelle vague (new wave) style, student and intellectual atmosphere of Paris in the 60s and 70s, you’ll find a lot of that (and more hip + chique) places in the quartier Latin and between place Odeon and the Seine. The neighborhood is also home of many small artsy cinemas showing non-mainstream films and classics (check ‘Pariscope’ or ‘l’officiel du spectacle’ at any newspaper stand for the weekly programme).
  • Rue Mouffetard and environs. The area in the 5th on the south side of the hill topped by the Panthéon has a little bit of everything for the nighthawk, from the classy cafés of Place de la Contrescarpe to an Irish-American dive bar just down the way to a hip, nearly hidden jazz café at the bottom of the hill.
  • Châtelet. In some ways the Marais starts here in the 1st between Les Halles and Hôtel de Ville but with between all of the tourists and the venerable Jazz clubs on rue des Lombards the area deserves some special attention.
  • Montmartre. You’ll find any number of cozy cafés and other drinking establishments all around the Butte Montmartre in the 18th, especially check out rue des Abbesses near the Métro station of the same name.
  • Oberkampf-Ménilmontant. If you are wondering where to find the hipsters (bobos for bohemian-bourgeois), then this is where to look. There are several clusters of grungy-hip bars all along rue Oberkampf in the 11th, and stretching well into the 20th up the hill on rue de Ménilmontant. It’s almost like being in San Francisco‘s Haight-Fillmore district.
  • Bagnolet. There are a cluster of bar/restaurant/nightclubs along the southern end of the Père Lachaise cemetery in the 20th including probably the best place in Paris for nightly local and touring punk rock.
  • Rues des Dames-Batignolles. Another good place to find the grungy-chic crowd is the northern end of the 17th around rue des Dames and rue des Batignolles, and if you decide you want something a little different Montmartre is just around the corner.
  • Port de Tolbiac. This previously deserted stretch of the river Seine in the 13th was re-born as a hub for nightlife (and Sunday-afternoon-life) a few years ago when an electronic music cooperative opened the Batofar. Nowadays there are a number of boats moored along the same quai, including a boat with a Caribbean theme, and one with an Indian restaurant.
  • Saint Germain des Prés. This area has two of the most famous cafés in the world: Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots, both catering to the tourists and the snobs who can afford their high prices. This part of the 6th is where the Parisian café scene really started, and there still are hundreds of places to pull up to a table, order a glass, and discuss Sartre deep into the evening.

For individual bar listings see the various Arrondissement pages under Get around.

Of course there are lots of interesting places which are sort of off on their own outside of these clusters, including a few like the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz which are not to be missed in a serious roundup of Parisian drinking, so check out the listings even in those arrondissements we haven’t mentioned above.

Some nightclubs in Paris that are worth it: Folies Pigalle (pl. Pigalle, 18th, very trashy, €20), Rex Club (near one of the oldest cinemas on earth, the Grand Rex, house/electro, about €15). You might also want to try Cabaret (Palais Royal), Maison Blanche, le Baron (M Alma-Marceau). Remember when going out to dress to impress, you are in Paris! Torn clothing and sneakers are not accepted. The better you look, the more likely you will get past the random decisions of club bouncers. Also important to remember if male (or in a group of guys) that it will be more difficult to enter clubs; try to always have an equal male/female ratio.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Paris hotels, almost without regard to category or price, observe high and low seasons. These differ slightly from one hotel to another, but usually the high season roughly corresponds to late spring and summer, and possibly a couple of weeks around the Christmas season.

Be aware that when a hotel is listed in any guide or website this will eventually make it a bit harder to get a room at that hotel. That means that you will probably need to book ahead, especially in the high season. However, if they don’t have a room they sometimes know another place close by that does have a room available.

When two people are travelling together it can be a much better deal to find a hotel room than to get 2 hostel beds. More privacy for less money.

For individual hotel listings see the various Arrondissement pages.

For those who are staying for a while renting a furnished apartment might be a more comfortable and money-saving option. Furnished apartments differ considerably in quality, so it is important to choose carefully. There are a huge number of websites in the business of helping you find one, but most charge a steep commission of 10% or more.

Be aware that some agencies, which seem very flexible, actually do not abide by French law and do not carefully select the landlords and apartments they offer for rent. There are a certain number of guarantees, which are required in France before renting an apartment, and an insurance policy, which aims at protecting the tenants during their stay.

Stay safe[edit]

Crime[edit]

Paris is generally considered to be one of the safer cities in Europe and a very safe one to visit, and most travelers will not run into any problems. The biggest problem one may face while in Paris is pickpockets and scammers, of which there are many. Many perpetrators aim to be undetected, so direct confrontation and muggings are uncommon. Violent crime is very rare, especially in the city center.

The police can be reached by phone by dialing 17. Not all police officers speak English, but those found around main attractions areas usually do. The police pride themselves on being approachable and professional and will be more than willing to help you.

It is important to know that a majority of criminals in Paris and France are not French and do not appear ethnically French. Petty crime is largely associated with gypsies from Eastern Europe, especially Romania. Gypsies appear Middle Eastern looking and usually wear bright clothing in order to distract passerbyers. While it is bad to stereotype, watch out for any suspicious looking characters that fit these descriptions.
Pickpockets are not as common on the rail link (RER B) from Charles de Gaulle airport to downtown Paris as they used to be. However, many of these trains stop in the poor suburbs of Seine-St. Denis, where crime is rife. Try to take the trains that are nonstop between the airport and Paris proper (Gare du Nord and Les Halles). These are faster and safer than their less direct counterparts. Trains that stop in the poor suburbs have seen the problem of thieves physically fighting people in order to steal their belongings.

The most common targets are those with suitcases and backpacks, i.e. tourists. Thieves usually coin their acts with the closing of the doors. Newer trains (which feature a green and white paint scheme and a lighter cabin) have high-tech security systems with cameras everywhere, and thieves are much less likely to be on them. In any case, stow luggage on the racks above the seat and hold on to your personal belongings as you approach stations in the northern suburbs. You are much less likely of being a victim if the train is crowded with locals headed to work, usually in the early/mid morning and late afternoon. The train conductors are widely aware of these crimes and will usually wait a few seconds to leave the station after the doors have closed, just in case thieves have quickly jumped off with belongings. All trains feature emergency cords and an intercom system that will alert the conductor of any problems on the train. You can chase after the attackers, but in many cases undercover police officers will try to apprehend the perpetrator. Other passengers will usually help and will call the police. If you don’t feel comfortable on the train, sit in the first cabin where the conductor is located. There are also numerous buses and taxis one can take to get into central Paris.

By far the most common crime in Paris is pick pocketing. Pickpockets are most likely to be found working at crowded tourists hot spots, such as the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, and Notre Dame. They are also likely to be found at any area with large crowds, such as train stations and large department stores. In order to stay safe, hold your bags in front of you, making sure your belongings are zipped inside. Never put anything besides a map in your back pockets. Keep your cellphone and wallets in your front pockets, in a bag or purse, or in a money belt if you feel the need to do so. You can also be creative and put your money in your shoe or other places a person could not reach. The metro is also a popular place for pickpockets. Hold things tightly and be aware of your surroundings. While trains are usually crowded, if someone is insisting on being near you and invading your personal space, be vigilant as they are probably going through your pockets. If there is a group of three or more women or children, especially gypsies, hovering over you, hold your belongings and move away. Many Parisians are aware of these crimes and shouting for help or yelling at them to go away will usually get people on the train to shoo them off. Common tactics are two of them blocking you as you try to board the subway, with two behind you quickly going through your bag. Seconds before the doors close, the two jump off, leaving you on the metro without even realizing what has happened. Another common scam is someone dropping their keys or cellphone on the floor of the car. As you bend down to reach for them or tell the person they have dropped something, their accomplice quickly goes through your pockets. Without realizing anything, you have been robbed, and they have gone completely unnoticed. Be aware of anything out of the ordinary that would make you lose your focus or draw your attention, as it is most likely a way to pickpocket you. Take note of what locals do. If someone warns you to be careful, there are probably some thieves hoping to pickpocket you. As phone snatching is the most common crime in Paris and the metro itself, do not show your phone, wallet, or other expensive belongings on the train platforms or the train.

The most common scam (a more creative form of pick pocketing) that has taken over Paris by storm in the past few years involves gypsie women and teenagers of children of either gender coming up to tourists with pledge sheets. They pretend to be deaf mutes collecting money for one charity or another. Once you are distracted with the petition, an accomplice pickpockets you and takes your belongings. In addition, once you sign, they point to a provision that reads “minimum ten euro donation.” While they may at first insist on this, shaking your head and walking away will usually make them pester someone else. Otherwise, simply waving them off and a loud Non should make them give up. If they are in a large group, as is common, BE CAREFUL OF YOUR BELONGINGS!!! This is a ploy to pickpocket you as you are surrounded by them. At this point, yelling for the police will make them disperse quickly. This is most commonly found around major tourist points, as well as Galleries Lafayette and major train stations.

At Sacré Coeur, there are many African male con artists who will try to tie strings on your finger. Not only will they demand an obscene fee for the cheap trinkets, usually over 15 euros, they will also try to pickpocket you or threaten you with force if you do not give them money. They are usually only at the base of the monument and can be avoided by taking the Funicular of Montmartre. Otherwise, you can quickly walk past them and ignore them, though they will willingly grab peoples arms. Yelling at them may cause unwanted attention and cause them to back off, but be careful. Sacré Coeur appears to be the only area where they congregate. Besides them, you will notice many African men walking around with cheap trinkets at touristic areas, especially the Trocadero, Eiffel Tower, and Louvre Museum. They are generally not rude but bear in mind that buying things from them is illegal and hurts small businesses. This of course causes them to bolt at the sight of the police, and you may end up in the middle of a stampede!

The bars in the Montmartre, especially around the Moulin Rouge and Place Pigalle, area are notorious for ripping off their clients, so avoid them at all costs. One drink in these establishments could run up a bill of over 500 euros, so make sure you ask to see the menu before being coerced into purchasing a drink. Although these bars are guarded by bouncers, yelling and threatening to call the police and your embassy should intimidate them enough to let you leave. If you have a cellphone, you can quickly call the police, or call them right after you have been let out.

If someone offers to buy you a ticket for the train, subway, bus, or any other mode of transportation, simply ignore them and call for help or the police if you feel threatened. They may be pushy and even show you the ticket they want you to believe they’re buying before switching back and purchasing the cheapest thing available when you look away. Train stations and major subway stations are flooded with police officers, so you can also report any odd behavior or con artists to them.
Another common scam is found along the banks of the Seine River and involves a ring. This involves thieves “finding” a ring that they give to you. They then ask you if you own it. When you say no, they insist you keep it, saying it goes against their religion or they cannot wear rings. A few moments later, they ask you for money to buy something to eat, eventually following you and becoming more annoying. You can either yell at them or steer them towards an area where there are likely to be police present, at which point they will quickly run away, leaving you with a little souvenir!

Although the police are quick to clear them out, con artists playing three card Monty will encourage you to join in their game. It is impossible to win, so avoid any of these scams at all costs.
It is a good idea to steer clear of the suburb of Seine Saint-Denis, as this suburb is known for its gangs and poverty. Avoid walking alone at night in the eighteenth and nineteenth arrondissement as well, as these can be a little shady at night. There is a large problem with youths from the depressed suburbs causing trouble with the police. If locals are moving away, it is most likely from a confrontation. While these groups rarely target people besides the police, be careful. Walk away from a situation that could lead to fights, or worse.

Respect[edit]

Paris has, in some respects, an atmosphere closer to that of New York than to that of a European city; which is to say, hurried, and businesslike. Parisians have, among the French too, a reputation for being rude and arrogant. Some of their reputation for brusqueness may stem from the fact that they are constantly surrounded by tourists, who can sometimes themselves seem rude and demanding. Remember that most people you’ll encounter in the street are not from the tourism industry and are probably on their way to or from work or business.

This is not to say that Parisians are in fact, by nature, rude. On the contrary: there are a considerable number of rules defining what is rude and what is polite in Parisian interpersonal relationships; if anything, the Parisians are more polite than most. Thus, the best way to get along in Paris is to be on your best behavior, acting like someone who is “bien élevé” (well brought up) will make getting about considerably easier. Parisians’ abrupt exteriors will rapidly evaporate if you display some basic courtesies. A simple “Bonjour, Madame” when entering a shop, for example, or “Excusez-moi” when trying to get someone’s attention, are very important; say “Pardon” or better “je suis désolé” if you bump into someone accidentally or make other mistakes; if you speak French or are using a phrasebook remember to always use the vous form when addressing someone you don’t know, may transform the surliest shop assistant into a smiling helper or the grumpiest inhabitant to a helpful citizen. Courtesy is extremely important in France (where the worst insult is to call someone “mal élevé“, or “badly brought up”).

If you only learn one long phrase in French a good one would be “Excusez-moi de vous déranger, monsieur/madame, auriez-vous la gentillesse de m’aider?” (pardon me for bothering you, sir/madam, would you have the kindness to help me?) – this level of extreme politeness is about the closest one can come to a magic wand for unlocking Parisian hospitality. If you know some French, try it!

In addition, if you are travelling to or from the airport or train station and have luggage with you, make certain that you are not blocking the aisles in the train by leaving your bags on the floor. The RER B (which links both Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports to the city) has luggage racks above the seats; it is best to use them so you do not block the path of a local who is getting off the train before the airport stop. On the Métro and especially in the RER, please don’t take up extra seats with your luggage. There are luggage racks and spaces between the seats. Also note that use of the folding seats on the Métro is not permitted during peak hours.

Be aware that there are hefty fines for littering in Paris, especially with dog droppings; however, enforcement is quite lax in some areas.

Contact[edit]

One helpful thing about having official and numbered districts in Paris is that you can easily tell which arrondissement an address is in by its postal code, and can easily come up with the postal code for a Paris address if you know its arrondissement. The rule is just pre-pend 750 or 7500 to the front of the arrondissement number, with 75001 being the postal code for the 1st and 75011 being the postal code for the 11th, and so on. The 16th has two postal codes, 75016 for the portion south of Rue de Passy and 75116 to the north; all other arrondissements only have one postal code.

Phone cards are available from most “Tabacs” but make sure you know where you can use them when you buy them, as some places still sell the cartes cabines which are hard to use as cabines are rare.

The city of Paris provides with free Internet access via 400 Wi-Fi access points throughout the city, including many public parks. Look for the network called ‘Orange’ on your laptop or PDA device.

Another interesting resource is a cooperative address book of Wi-Fi spots in Paris.

Other options include Starbucks, which is (not always) free. There is also McDonald’s, Columbus Café, and certain Indiana Café locations. There is also the Wistro network, which independent coffee chains offer. You can search by arrondissement.

If you are staying for some time in Paris it is advisable to buy a prepaid SIM card for your phone so that incoming calls are free. Additionally, French businesses and individuals are unlikely to want to call an international number to get hold of you as there will be a surcharge to them. Most service providers such as (Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom) supply SIM cards in shops, but be aware that the credit expires very quickly when you do not top-up. If you want to sort out your phone before you leave, LeFrenchMobile provides a prepaid service for foreigners coming to France. You do not always need identification at the point-of-purchase but you need to be have your personal details (including an address: your hotel address will do) in-hand to activate a SIM service, even on prepaid lines.

Cope[edit]

Although known as the fashion capital, Paris is actually quite conservative in dress. So if you go out in bright colours expect to be stared at. Dressing this way in certain arrondissements, such as 9th and 18th, may attract unwanted attention. Also be aware that men in France (and men in Europe more generally) do not usually wear shorts shorter than above the knee outside of sporting events. It is not considered indecent but may stand out from the locals; shorts are for “schoolboys and football (soccer) players” only.

Lost property[edit]

The Parisian police préfecture runs Europe’s largest lost property service. Public transport and tourist attractions generally hold onto objects for five days before handing them in. Remember to bring identification and any relevant information (IMEI for phones, taxi number, etc.). You may have to pay a charge of €11.

Airlines[edit]

  • Adria Airways, 94 r Saint Lazare, [40]. M-F 09:00-13:00 & 14:00-17:00, Sa 09:00-12:00.  edit
  • Air France, 30 av Léon Gaumont, [41].  edit
  • Air India, 49 Avenue des Champs Élysées, +33 1 44 55 39 90. 09:30-17:30.  edit´
  • Air Tahiti Nui, 28 bd St Germain, 0825 02 42 02.  edit
  • Croatia Airlines, Roissypôle Le Dôme Bât1 r de la Haye Tremblay en France BP 18913 95731 ROISSY CH DE GAULLE CEDEX, 01 48 16 40 00, [42].  edit
  • Delta Air Lines, 2 r Robert Esnault Pelterie, 0892 702 609, [43].  edit
  • Egypt Air, 49 Rue de Ponthieu, +33 1 44 94 85 00, [44].  edit
  • Finnair (Compagnie Aérienne de Finlande), Roissy Terminal 2D, 0821 025 111, [45].  edit
  • LOT Polish Airlines, 27 r Quatre Septembre, 0800 10 12 24. M-Su.  edit
  • Qatar Airways, 7 r Vignon, +33 1 55 27 80 80.  edit
  • Royal Jordanian airlines, 38 avenue des Champs Elysees, 01 (, fax: +33 1 42 65 99 02), [46].  edit
  • Royal Air Maroc, 38 av Opéra, 0820 821 821.  edit
  • Royal Brunei Airlines, 4 r Fbg Montmartre, 0826 95 31 21.  edit´
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines (Lignes Aériennes de l’Arabie Saoudite), 34 av George V, 0820 20 05 05.  edit
  • Srilankan Airlines, 113 r Réaumur, +33 1 42 97 43 44.  edit
  • Syrian Arab Airlines, 1 r Auber, +33 1 47 42 11 06.  edit
  • TAM Airlines, 50 Ter r Malte, +33 1 53 75 20 00.  edit
  • TAP Portugal, 0820 319 320, [47].  edit
  • Turkish Airlines, 8 Place de l’Opera, +33 1 56 69 44 90 (, fax: +33 1 45 63 10 80), [48]. 09:30-17:30.  edit´

Embassies[edit]

  • Ag-flag.png Algeria, 50, rue de Lisbonne, +33 1 53 93 20 00, [49].  edit
  • Ar-flag.png Argentina, 6, rue Cimarosa, +33 1 44 05 27 00 (fax: +33 1 44 53 46 33), [50].  edit
  • As-flag.png Australia, 4, rue Jean Rey, +33 1 40 59 33 00 (fax: +33 1 40 59 33 10), [52].  edit
  • Au-flag.png Austria, 6, rue Fabert, +33 1 40 63 30 63 (fax: +33 1 45 55 63 65), [53]. 09:00-12:00.  edit
  • Bk-flag.png Bosnia-Herzegovina, 174, rue de Courcelles, +33 1 42 67 34 22 (fax: +33 1 40 53 85 22), [59].  edit
  • Br-flag.png Brazil, 34, cours Albert Ier, +33 1 45 61 63 00 (fax: +33 1 42 89 03 45), [60].  edit
  • Ca-flag.png Canada, 35, Avenue Montaigne, +33 1 44 45 29 00 (fax: +33 1 44 45 29 99), [64].  edit
  • Ch-flag.png China, 11, Avenue George V and consular office at 20, rue Washington, +33 1 49 52 19 50 (Consular office +33 1 47 36 77 90, , fax: +33 1 47 20 24 22, consular office +33 1 47 36 34 46), [66].  edit
  • Cu-flag.png Cuba, 16, rue de Presles, +33 1 45 67 55 35 (, fax: +33 1 45 66 80 92), [70]. M-F 9:00-12:00 & 12:00-17:30.  edit
  • Da-flag.png Denmark, 77, avenue Marceau, +33 1 44 31 21 21 (, fax: +33 1 44 31 21 88), [73].  edit
  • Dr-flag.png Dominican Republic, 45, rue de Courcelles, +33 1 53 53 95 95 (, fax: +33 1 45 63 35 63), [74]. 09:00-17:00.  edit
  • Et-flag.png Ethiopia, 35, avenue Charles Floquet, +33 1 47 83 83 15 (, fax: +33 1 43 06 52 14), [78].  edit
  • Gr-flag.png Greece, 17, rue Auguste Vacquerie, +33 1 47 23 72 28, Emergencies: +33 1 47 23 98 92 (, fax: +33 1 47 23 73 85), [82].  edit
  • Hu-flag.png Hungary, 5, square de l’Avenue Foch and consular office at 9, square Vergennes, +33 1 45 00 94 97 (Consular office +33 1 50 81 02 30, , fax: +33 1 43 26 02 68, consular office +33 1 43 26 06 27), [83].  edit
  • In-flag.png India, 15, rue Alfred Dehodencq, +33 1 40 50 70 70, [85].  edit
  • Id-flag.png Indonesia, 49 Rue Cortambert (Nearest Metro is La Muette on Line 9), +33 1 45 03 07 60 (fax: +33 1 45 04 50 32), [86].  edit
  • Ie-flag.png Ireland, 4, rue Rude, +33 1 44 17 67 00 (fax: +33 1 44 17 67 60), [89].  edit
  • Ja-flag.png Japan, 7, Avenue Hoche, +33 1 48 88 62 00 (fax: +33 1 42 27 50 81), [92].  edit
  • Ks-flag.png Korea (South), 125, rue de Grenelle, +33 1 47 53 01 01 (, fax: +33 1 44 18 01 78), [94]. M-F 09:30-16:30.  edit
  • Mk-flag.png Macedonia, 5, rue de la Faisanderie, +33 1 45 77 10 50 (, fax: +33 1 45 77 14 84).  edit
  • Pm-flag.png Panama, 145, avenue de Suffren, +33 1 45 66 42 44 (fax: +33 1 45 67 99 43), [111].  edit
  • Pa-flag.png Paraguay, 1, rue Dominique, +33 1 42 22 85 05 (, fax: +33 1 42 22 83 57). M-F 09:00-12:30 & 13:00-17:30.  edit
  • Pe-flag.png Peru, 50, avenue Kléber, +33 1 53 70 42 00 (fax: +33 1 47 04 32 55), [112].  edit
  • Rp-flag.png Philippines, 45, rue du Ranelagh, +33 1 44 14 57 00, [113].  edit
  • Se-flag.png Seychelles, 51, avenue Mozart, +33 1 42 30 57 47 (, fax: +33 1 42 30 57 40). M-F 09:00-13:00 & 14:00-17:00.  edit
  • Th-flag.png Thailand, 8, rue Greuze, +33 1 56 26 50 50 (fax: +33 1 56 26 04 45), [129]. M-F 09:00-12:30 & 14:30-17:30.  edit
  • Ts-flag.png Tunisia, 25, rue Barbet-de-Jouy and consular office at 19, rue de Lubeck, +33 1 45 55 95 98 (Consular office +33 1 53 10 69 10, , fax: +33 1 45 56 02 64, consular office +33 1 47 04 27 79), [130].  edit
  • Ua-flag.png Ukraine, 21, avenue de Saxe, +33 1 43 06 07 37 (fax: +33 1 43 06 02 94), [132].  edit
  • Ae-flag.png United Arab Emirates, 2, boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg, +33 1 44 34 02 00 (fax: +33 1 47 65 61 04), [133].  edit
  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom, 35, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, with consular section at 6, rue d’Anjou, +33 1 44 51 31 00 (fax: +33 1 44 51 31 27), [134].  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Chartres – The 12th century cathedral of Notre Dame at Chartres is one of the highlights of Gothic architecture. (60min train ride from Gare Montparnasse)
  • Versailles – On the SW edge of Paris, the site of the Sun King Louis XIV’s magnificent palace. (20-40min train ride by RER, just make sure you get the right ticket covering zone 1-4!)
  • Saint Denis – On the northern edge of the metropolis, site of the Stade de France and St Denis Abbey, burial place of French royalty.
  • Chantilly – Wonderful 17th century palace and gardens (and the birthplace of whipped cream). (25min train ride from Gare du Nord)
  • Giverny – The inspirational house and gardens of the Impressionist painter Claude Monet are but a day-trip away. The gardens and its flowers are the most interesting part of the visit, so avoid rainy days.
  • Disneyland Resort Paris – In the suburb of Marne-la-Vallée, to the east of Paris, from where it can be reached by car, train, or bus (the train is probably your best bet).
  • Fontainebleau – A lovely historical town 55.5km (35 mi) south of Paris. It’s renowned for its large and scenic Forest of Fontainebleau, a favourite weekend getaway for Parisians, as well as for the historical Château de Fontainebleau. (35min train ride from Gare de Lyon)




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source: http://wikitravel.org/en/Paris

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