OUR FRANCE TRAVEL GUIDE


Widely regarded as the cultural capital of the world, France boasts a fantastic array of food, scenery, and history to fill a trip across the largest country in Western Europe.

From the bustling streets of Paris with its sprawling streets and stunning views from the Eiffel tower to luxury retreats on the Cote d’Azur or the French Alps, there is so much to see and explore.

Feel the romance whilst treating your taste buds to a foray of French cheese and wine and relish the culture and history on offer in the fantastic selection of the museums including the Louvre. 

Normandy France Sunset view of Mont Saint Michel
Language

LANGUAGE

The official language in France is France.

About 40% of French speak a little English or at least understand it, especially the younger generation who learn it at school. However, if you approach someone directly in English, they won’t always respond, even if they understand what you are saying. There are several reasons for this – fear, pride, laziness.

The best approach if you are planning a trip to France is to learn at least a couple of words and sentences in French. People are far more likely to help you, if you approach them in their own language. Just tell them in French that you don’t speak the language and they will most likely respond to you in English.

However, more than half of the population understands and speaks at least a little English, especially the younger generations. Even though English isn’t used as a means of communication, you will generally be able to find someone to ask for help or directions as a tourist. Even just approaching someone with a simple “bonjour” instead of “hello”, makes a big difference.

Currency 1

CURRENCY

The currency in France is the Euro. 1£ is equivalent to just over 1 Euro.

You generally will have no problem using your credit card in France. If you see a blue CB logo (it stands for Carte Bleue Visa/MasterCard), that means the shop takes international Visa and MasterCards.  Note however that American Express is not as widely accepted.

Cash Machines are easy to find in France. They are often located outside of a bank or within it.

Electric Sockets

Electric Sockets

The standard voltage in Germany is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.  The power outlets take type E plugs (two-prong round).

To avoid the hassle of having to buy new adaptors for everywhere you go, we recommend picking up a Universal Travel Adaptor before you leave

Visa

Visa

France is a member of the European Union and has signed the Schengen convention. If you are a EU national, you do not need a visa to visit the country, as long as your visit does not exceed 90 days. If you are an EU national and want to stay in France longer than 90 days you will need to register with the local Mairie to apply for a long stay residence permit. Further requirements such as a return ticket and 6 months validity on your passport may also be required.

You can also travel around the Shengen Zone for 90 days without a visa, if you are a British, Australian or Candadian passport holder.

Nationals of other countries such as Russia, China, the Philippines, and other Asian countries however must apply for a Schengen visa for any travel in France.

Safety

Safety

Most European countries are pretty safe to travel to and France is no exception.

Petty theft however is pretty common in larger cities, such as Paris and Marseiile. Risks also include being mugged or scammed. Don’t let that put you off travelling to these places, just remain vigilant when you are there. One common scam in Paris involves kids asking you to sign a petition. You might want to read up on other common scams in France before your trip.

Due to Frances’ geopolitical position, many parts of France are on terror alert and the risk remains significant but the country is generally safe. Police presence and counter-terror intervention have vastly increased in response, increasing safety.

No matter how safe the country, we still recommend that you get Travel Insurance.  Personally, we would never leave without booking some sort of travel insurance beforehand. We recommend World Nomads as they cover you on a large variety of activities, from snorkeling to hiking. If you are looking for something more short-term, Safety Wings is a good alternative, as they have insurance plans that can be renewed on a monthly basis.

Budget

BUDGET

France is a fairly expensive country to travel to. That being said living costs in France are pretty comparable with the UK, although eating out tends to be more expensive. Hotels in Paris tend to be very expensive but not necessarily more so than in London.

As with any country you can travel cheaply or splash the cash. The cheapest budget you will get away with in France is around 65£ a day, if you stay in a budget hostel, stick to food from bakeries and street vendors and only use public transport.

The average budget however is about 185£ a day. You can get a mid-range hotel for about 140£ a night, but can spend up to 1600£ a night in a high-end hotels.

WHERE TO GO IN FRANCE


France is one of those amazing countries that’s so diverse and vast that you could literally spend months exploring and still not even touch the surface of stunning places to visit in France. 

When it comes to tourism in France, Paris is at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists and for a good reason. The city is full of incredible history, architecture, art, charm, and distinct cuisine. Whether you have a day, a week, or a month to explore, Paris is a travel experience in its own.

Paris sure does dominate the headlines, but this doesn’t mean other French cities should be overlooked! Be sure to visit the French countryside, the region of Provence, Bordeaux, the island of Corsica, and the French Riviera – my favorite spot in France! The French Riviera (or Côte d’Azur) is the Mediterranean coast of southern France, and comprises the charming resort towns of Marseille, St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice and the tiny nation of Monaco!

Paris is the capital city of France, known for its stunning architecture, rich history, and cultural landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and Notre-Dame Cathedral. It’s also famous for its food, fashion, and romantic atmosphere, making it a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.

The French Alps are a stunning mountain range located in southeastern France, known for their snow-capped peaks, pristine lakes, and picturesque villages. Popular ski resorts such as Chamonix, Val d’Isère, and Courchevel attract skiers and snowboarders from all over the world, while hikers and climbers can explore the many trails and peaks of the region.

MARSEILLE

Marseille is a vibrant port city located in southern France, known for its rich history, diverse culture, and stunning Mediterranean coastline. The city boasts numerous landmarks such as the Old Port, the Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica, and the historic Le Panier district. Marseille is also famous for its cuisine, including bouillabaisse, a traditional fish soup.

BORDEAUX

Bordeaux is a beautiful city in southwestern France, famous for its world-renowned vineyards and wine-making industry. The city is home to several landmarks such as the Place de la Bourse, the Grand Theatre, and the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. Its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its beautiful 18th-century architecture.

Nice is a picturesque city located on the French Riviera, known for its stunning beaches, warm Mediterranean climate, and charming old town. The city boasts numerous landmarks such as the Promenade des Anglais, the Castle Hill, and the colorful Cours Saleya market. Nice is also famous for its cuisine, including socca, a traditional chickpea pancake

STRASBOURG

Strasbourg is a beautiful city located in northeastern France, near the border with Germany. The city is famous for its picturesque canals, stunning Gothic cathedral, and historic Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Strasbourg is also home to several European Union institutions, including the European Parliament.

LYON

Lyon is a vibrant city located in central-eastern France, known for its rich history, cultural landmarks, and exceptional cuisine. The city boasts numerous landmarks such as the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, the Vieux Lyon district, and the Place des Terreaux. Lyon is also famous for its gastronomy, including local specialties such as coq au vin and quenelles.

CANNES

Cannes is a glamorous city located on the French Riviera, famous for its luxury hotels, sandy beaches, and annual Cannes Film Festival. The city boasts numerous landmarks such as the Palais des Festivals, the Old Port, and the iconic Croisette promenade. Cannes is also known for its high-end shopping and dining options.

PROVENCE

Provence is a stunning region in southeastern France, known for its picturesque landscapes, quaint villages, and rich history. The region is famous for its lavender fields, olive groves, and vineyards, which produce world-renowned wines. Provence is also home to several historic cities such as Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, and Arles, which are famous for their art, culture, and architecture.

LOIRE VALLEY

The Loire Valley is a beautiful region in central France, known for its picturesque landscapes, stunning chateaux, and world-renowned wines. The region boasts numerous historic castles, such as Chambord, Chenonceau, and Amboise, which are famous for their architecture and gardens. The Loire Valley is also home to several charming towns and villages, including Tours and Saumur.

MONT ST MICHEL

Mont Saint Michel is a stunning island located off the coast of Normandy, France. The island is famous for its impressive medieval abbey, which sits atop a rocky outcrop and is connected to the mainland by a causeway. The abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited landmarks in France.

OUR SUGGESTED ITINERARY FOR FRANCE


We have found the ultimate itinerary for France that includes as many French destinations as possible. This should alleviate any fear of missing out (FOMO). Here is the summary of the 14-day itinerary for a road trip of France that we highly suggest you follow:

  • DAY 1 to 4 – Paris (4 nights)
  • DAY 5 to 6 – Normandy Region (2 nights)
  • DAY 7 to 8 – Loire Valley (2 nights)
  • DAY 9 to 10 – Lyon (2 nights)
  • DAY 11 to 12 – Aix-En-Provence
  • DAY 13 to 14 – French riviera

The Trusted Traveller has written a very detailed post about the suggested two week France itinerary with lots of information and travel tips. The post also includes a couple of alternative itineraries for those who prefer to travel at a slower pace.

Chateau d Amboise in the Loire Valley built in the 15th century France

TRANSPORTATION IN FRANCE


Metro runs high between buildings in Paris France

Transportation in Japan is SO efficient. Everything happens and runs like clockwork, making it an easy country to travel around. However, if you don’t plan your trip properly, transportation can be very costly, given the price of bullet trains (Shinkansen) to and from main cities.

Hands down, if you are planning to travel around Japan, stopping at two or more cities, getting a Japan Rail Pass is something we highly recommend. The passes grant you unlimited travel Japan Rail National trains, as well as JR bus services, ferry services, and airport transfers, as well as bullet trains between major cities.

While the initial cost of the rail passes turns off a lot of people, they actually work out cheaper than buying individual tickets! Our passes ended up saving us a few hundred dollars as we ended up going on a lot of day trips.

We got a 7-day unlimited train pass which we activated during the middle portion of our trip when we were traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka. You order the rail passes ahead of time and an exchange order is delivered straight to your doorstep. All you have to do is activate your plan as soon as you get to Japan, allowing you to use any JR trains immediately.

Being able to hop on any train without having to worry about the cost ahead of time was a huge relief and in the end, saved us tons of money!

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT FRANCE


You can visit France at any time of the year. When is best really depends what you want to see and do. Always look up date of festivals if this is what you are interested in. The weather in France does change across the season though and some parts of the year are busier than others.

We prefer visiting France in the shoulder season, so between April and June or September and November. Travelling to France around this time of year means you will miss the summer crowds. Flights and accommodation will be cheaper. Plus, you won’t spend most of your trip waiting in lines.

In August, most Parisians like to go on holidays. This means that Paris is a little less crowded, although tourists still travel to the city. It also means that some restaurants, hotels and attractions might be closed.

The best time of year weather-wise to visit France is June to August. The sun is out almost every day and temperatures are generally high. You might still experience a few days of rain though. If you are planning to travel to France in summer, we recommend that you book your accommodation well in advance as it is the busiest time of year. The coastal areas get especially busy in this season, with Parisians taking day or weekend trips to the beach.

In winter it can get pretty cold in France, depending on the region. Some attractions and restaurants might also be open on fewer days or have shorter opening times. In more rural areas, hotels and restaurants might be closed for the whole season. Accommodation prices however are far lower in winter, except in Ski Resorts.

Temperatures in France start to climb again in Spring, which is another reason why we love the shoulder seasons in France. This is the best time to explore the main cities of France.

Amazing violet lavender fields near Valensole village Provence region France Europe

ACCOMODATION IN FRANCE


When traveling to France, finding a place to stay usually isn’t too difficult – especially outside of peak vacation season.

However, during mid-July to the end of August, things can get a bit tricky due to the mass exodus of locals on vacation. This is particularly true for hotels and hostels in coastal resorts.

In larger cities, you’ll generally have a range of budget options to choose from, but in smaller towns and rural areas, it may be harder to find affordable accommodation, as family-run hotels are struggling to survive.

If you’re willing to splurge, luxury and boutique hotels are also available in certain areas – though expect to pay top dollar during peak season, especially in places like the Côte d’Azur.

If you’re looking for a more unique experience, consider booking a chambre d’hôte – a bed and breakfast in a private residence, chateau or farm. While the quality of these accommodations can vary, you’ll often find they offer more character and better value for money than an equivalent hotel. Plus, the hosts may even offer home-cooked meals and insights into local French life.

For longer stays, self-catering accommodation in the form of gîtes – self-contained cottages – may be a more cost-effective option. Many gîtes are located in converted barns or farm outbuildings, and some even come with grandeur.

For those seeking a more eco-friendly option, look for “Gîtes Panda” in national parks and protected areas.

The Hôtel de la Trémoille is a luxury hotel located in the heart of Paris, near the Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower. The hotel boasts elegant rooms and suites, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a spa. The hotel’s historic building dates back to the 19th century and is a beautiful example of Haussmannian architecture.

THINGS TO DO IN FRANCE


France is one of those amazing countries that’s so diverse and vast that you could literally spend months exploring and still not even touch the surface of stunning places to visit in France. 

This country is a traveller’s dream, offering an abundance of exciting things to see and do. Whether you’re into art and culture, gastronomy, nature, or history, there’s something for everyone in this diverse and vast country.

In Paris, visitors can explore the iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum, home to some of the world’s most famous art pieces. Visitors can also indulge in some of the best gastronomic experiences, from classic French cuisine to trendy restaurants and cafes.

Outside of Paris, visitors can discover the stunning beaches and coastal villages of the Côte d’Azur, such as Nice, Cannes, and Saint-Tropez, where they can soak up the sun and indulge in water activities.

For wine lovers, the rolling vineyards of Bordeaux offer an unforgettable experience, where visitors can indulge in wine tasting tours and discover the secrets of the world-renowned French wine industry.

The French countryside is also filled with charming villages and towns, such as Annecy, Colmar, and Sarlat, where visitors can stroll through cobblestone streets and discover the country’s rich history and culture.

France is also famous for its historic landmarks, such as the Palace of Versailles, the medieval city of Carcassonne, and the picturesque island of Mont Saint-Michel, all of which are worth a visit.

And if you are a little bit more adventurous and enjoy to go hiking, we would recommend you take on the epic Mont Blanc trail.

In addition to these well-known destinations, France is filled with countless hidden gems waiting to be explored, making it a country that begs to be explored over and over again.

Okinawa offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. From exploring the historical sites of Shuri Castle and the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park, to enjoying the beautiful beaches and water sports, such as snorkeling and scuba diving. Visitors can also experience Okinawan culture through traditional performances, cuisine, and crafts..

FAMILY TRAVEL IN FRANCE


mother and child travellers on embankment in Paris France looking on Eiffel Tower


France is a great place to take the entire family and we aren’t just talking about Disneyland Paris. There are plenty of attractions in France for kids, I should know as I grew up there. You won’t struggle to find child-friendly activities and there are plenty of playgrounds as well.

Do be warned that in our experience British kids tend to be a lot louder and boisterous than French kids. You most likely won’t be judged however if your kids do run wild.

Museums in France are free until the age of 25. Make sure to ask for an activity sheet for the kids when you are buying your tickets. Mot museums in France have these.

If you are heading to Paris, Be sure to walk through Luxembourg Gardens and take your children for a spin on the old-fashioned carousel in Tuileries Gardens. A cruise on the Seine offers a unique perspective on the famous landmarks of Paris as well as a chance to rest weary legs after a busy day of walking. Finally, ascending the Eiffel Tower and taking in the view over Paris is something your kids will always remember.

Once the kids are out of nappies, skiing in the French Alps is the obvious family choice. Ski school École du Ski Français (www.esf.net) initiates kids in the art of snow plough (group or private lessons, half or full day) from four years old, and many resorts open fun-driven jardins de neige (snow gardens) to children from three years old. Families with kids aged under 10 will find smaller resorts including Les Gets, Avoriaz (car-free), La Clusaz, Chamrousse and Le Grand Bornand easier to navigate and better value than larger ski stations.

FOOD TO TRY IN FRANCE


France is well known for its cheese and wine. A  lot of the top chefs of the world were originally trained in France, so you can expect to have some absolutely delicious meals wherever you go in the country. France actually has quite a diverse range of traditional dishes. But our favourite aspect about France when it comes to food, is the emphasis on fresh ingredients. We love to stroll through a Saturday market.

If you are eating out at a restaurant in France you can expect to have three courses in one meal. an appetizer (sometimes soup), a main course, and a dessert or cheese afterwards. Most restaurants will have a special discounted lunch menu, that includes two or three set courses. These are really good value for money. Even kids meals are generally served in three parts.

If you are staying in Paris for a few days, make sure to head to Laduree to try their macarons and buy a hot chocolate from Angelique, it’s pure molten chocolate. Here are a couple other dishes you simply have to try whilst in France:

Crepes: The crêpe hails from Brittany, a region in northwestern France. And while purists stick to sugar and the area’s local salted butter, you can pile on berries, caramel, and yes, Nutella. Just keep in mind that a crêpe is usually sweet — made with white flour, milk, and sweet toppings — while a galette uses buckwheat flour and is often topped with savory goodness (think cheese, eggs, ham).

Steak Tartare: Walk around Paris long enough and you’ll see plenty of Parisians digging into a pile of steak tartare (raw minced or finely chopped beef served with onions and capers often topped with a raw egg). Order an extra side of bread to help it go down and a café to finish the meal, and you’ll feel as French as it gets.

Croques Monsieur or Madame: Freshly baked bread with fresh ham and cheese complete with mustard. This melted snack is a simple yet amazing culinary creation and is perfect for a pick me up after a long morning exploring. Croques Madames come with an additional fried egg on top.

close up of complimentray macarons at hotel la tremoille in paris

Calisson is a traditional French candy from Aix-en-Provence, made with a mixture of ground almonds and candied melon, shaped into an oval and topped with a thin layer of icing. This sweet treat has a unique texture and flavor and is often enjoyed as a dessert or snack in Provence and throughout France.

WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR FRANCE TRIP


Travel Guide France

Despite having better weather than many other European countries, you will need a variety of clothes to suit all weather conditions for France. Even in the Summer you could come across a few rainy days and it gets especially cold if you’re spending time up in the mountains, so make sure to bring lots thin pieces of clothing that you can layer if you’re cold.

Cobblestone streets are common in many cities and towns across France. Heels and cobblestone do not mix so opt for flats, boots and/or sandals.

You do not need to be a fashionista to blend in. The key is in embracing neutral toned items that can be mixed and matched easily. Avoid logos, baseball caps, shorts, hoodies, flip-flops and running shoes as these items scream tourist!

Certain areas in Paris are known as pickpocket hotspots; two of those infamous spots are the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. Before leaving for your trip, make sure to pack some personal safety products, like money belts and locks, so that you can keep your valuables safe on your trip.

When traveling to Europe, it’s important to wear the right shoes for the cobblestone streets. Flat, comfortable shoes with a rubber sole are recommended to provide grip on the uneven surface. Avoid high heels or shoes with a smooth sole to prevent slipping. Ankle boots or sneakers are a good choice for both comfort and style.

When packing for a hiking trip, it’s important to bring the right gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Essential items include a sturdy pair of hiking boots or shoes, a backpack to carry gear, plenty of water and snacks, a map and compass or GPS device, and appropriate clothing for the weather. Other useful items include a first aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a headlamp or flashlight in case of low light conditions.

THE BEST GUIDE BOOKS FOR FRANCE


Planning a trip to Japan can be overwhelming with so many things to see and do. To make the most of your time and experience all that Japan has to offer, it’s essential to have a reliable source of information.

On this blog we try to cover as much information as we can and provide information based on our own experience travelling to Japan. Since we have now travelled to this beautiful country several times, we are able to cover quite a bit of ground.

While travel blogs can provide a wealth of information, they often cannot compare to the convenience and comprehensiveness of a good guidebook. Guidebooks offer detailed information about a country’s history, culture, attractions, and transportation systems, as well as maps, recommendations, and insider tips from experts. They can be easily carried around and referred to at any time, even when you don’t have access to the internet.

There are many guidebooks available for Japan, each with its own unique style and features. Below we have highlighted some of the best guidebooks for Japan, to help you plan your trip and get the most out of your visit to this amazing country.

TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES FOR FRANCE


PLANNING

For all travel resources click travel planning

FLIGHTS

Find the cheapest flights with Skyscanner

HOTEL

Find a good accommodation deal with Booking.com

ACTIVITIES

Book your activities in advance with GetYourGuide

INSURANCE

Protect your trip and your family with World Nomads