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FRANCE            Europe Enquiry Form
   
     
 
                                                           
France is well known for style, sophistication, romance and cuisine and Paris, the capital, is the city of love. Dominated by the impressive Eiffel Tower, Paris also plays host to countless historical buildings and institutions; the Louvre housing the Mona Lisa and other art treasures, the Palace of Versailles where numerous Kings resided, L’Arc de Triomphe with its timeless grave of the Unknown Soldier and seemingly endless views of the city’s wide boulevards. The Notre Dame Cathedral is an imposing structure located on Isle de la Cite in the River Seine, itself a Paris icon as are the numerous monuments raised in honour of France’s national hero, Napoleon Bonaparte.
France holiday

France is never far from its historical roots and time-old farming practices are seen in the roaming countryside. Wine and grapes are part and parcel of everyday French life and extensive, sprawling vineyards are evident throughout the land. For the outdoor enthusiasts, the choices are numerous, from skiing to sailing, motor racing to mountain climbing, the choice is yours. Visit the jet setters in the south on the Riviera or take in the history of previously war-ravaged plains in northern France. The Alps on the Swiss border offer unparalleled natural beauty and the opportunity to mingle with the rich and famous. 

Main regions & Cities

Paris                                Basque Country
Bordeaux                         Brittany
Champagne Country       Corsica
Côte d'Azur                      Dordogne and Lot
French Alps                      Loire Valley
Normandy                        Provence
Various Ski Resorts

WEATHER    Back to top

The south of France has a warm Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Strong winds, known as la Mistral, can occur in the Cote d'Azur, Provence and in the Rhone valley particularly over the winter and spring. Northern France, including Paris, has a temperate climate similar to southern England with warm summers, cold winters and rainfall throughout the year. The western coast, from the Loire valley to the Pyrenees, is milder and summer days are generally very hot. During the second half of July and August most French take their five-week vacation to the coasts and mountains, and empty cities tend to shut down accordingly.

Paris

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Rainfall (mm)

182

121

158

205

323

300

237

193

66

63

83

155

Rainfall (inches)

7.2

4.7

6.2

8.1

12.7

11.8

9.3

7.6

2.6

2.5

3.3

6.1

Min Temp (°C)

2

3

5

7

10

13

15

15

12

9

5

4

Max Temp (°C)

7

8

12

15

19

22

24

25

21

16

10

8

Min Temp (°F)

36

37

41

44

51

56

60

60

54

49

41

38

Max Temp (°F)

44

47

53

58

66

71

76

76

69

60

51

46

Basque Country

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Rainfall (mm)

125

115

85

90

110

100

90

125

140

165

160

170

Rainfall (inches)

4.9

4.5

3.3

3.5

4.3

3.9

3.5

4.9

5.5

6.5

6.3

6.7

Min Temp (°C)

4

4

6

8

11

14

16

16

15

11

7

5

Max Temp (°C)

11

12

15

16

18

22

23

24

22

19

15

12

Min Temp (°F)

39

39

43

46

52

57

61

61

59

52

45

41

Max Temp (°F)

52

54

59

61

64

72

73

75

72

66

59

54

Côte d'Azur

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Rainfall (mm)

125

115

85

90

110

100

90

125

140

165

160

170

Rainfall (inches)

4.9

4.5

3.3

3.5

4.3

3.9

3.5

4.9

5.5

6.5

6.3

6.7

Avg Temp (°C)

8

9

10

12

15

17

20

20

19

15

11

9

Avg Temp (°F)

46

48

50

54

59

63

68

68

66

59

52

48



GOOD TO KNOW    Back to top

Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between last Sunday in March and last Sunday in October).

Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are standard.


Money: The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in France. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some large hotels, though you will get a better exchange rate at the ATMs. Major credit cards are widely accepted, as are travellers cheques, particularly in major tourist destinations. Foreign currency is not accepted.

Approximate Currency Exchange Rates

EUR 1.00 =

USD 1.27

GBP 0.69

CAD 1.44

AUD 1.70

ZAR 9.08

EUR 1.00

NZD 2.08

Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only. Please go to our Currency Converter for the latest rates.

 
 


Language: French is the official language.

Entry requirements for Americans: United States citizens must have a valid passport. A visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.

Passport/Visa Note: Visitors are advised to hold a return or onward ticket and proof of financial means. The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that allows the holder, in principal, to travel freely within the borders of all.

Health: French hospitals and health facilities are first class. British, and visitors from other EU countries, are entitled to heavily discounted medical treatment and medicines on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Otherwise doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Medical insurance is advised. Pharmacies will provide some first aid, but charge for it. There have been increased reports of Hantavirus (caused by rodents) in the Ardennes, Aisne and Jura regions. Rabies also occurs occasionally. In February 2006, France confirmed its first cases of bird flu; all affected birds have been culled and precautionary measures taken. The risk is low for travellers, but close contact with domestic, wild and caged birds should be avoided, and all poultry and egg dishes well cooked.

Tipping: Most restaurants and hotels automatically add a 15% service charge so a tip is not necessary, although another 2-3% is customary if the service has been good. If service is not included then 15% is customary. Taxi drivers expect 10-15% of the fare and hairdressers 10%. Hotel staff generally receive €1.50 a day and tips of €1 are given to washroom and cloakroom attendants and museum tour guides. Tour bus drivers and guides are also tipped.

Safety: Following the London and Madrid bombings, security has been heightened particularly in the transport sector. A group called the AZF claim to have a number of explosives on railway tracks timed to detonate at future dates, and although the authorities have asked the public to be vigilant, they have issued no further warnings against using public transport. Unattended luggage left in public places will be removed or destroyed by security staff. While generally safe, visitors to France are advised to take precautions against petty theft and to ensure their personal safety. Thieves and pickpockets operate on the metro and around airports. Theft from cars is prevalent, particularly in the south, around Marseilles, and in Corsica. A Corsican nationalist group FLNC have been responsible for a series of bomb attacks on public buildings and holiday homes in Corsica and visitors should take care, particularly in Ajaccio the capital, and other town centres. Several recent cases of burglary have been reported while visitors were asleep in their caravans or motor homes and motorists are asked to avoid parking in isolated or darkened areas of camping sites or parking lots. Tourists are advised to conceal bags and purses even when driving, and to never leave valuables unattended in the car. Bag snatching is also common, particularly on public transport and in shopping centres, and visitors should also be vigilant of luggage while loading bags into and out of hire cars at airports.

Customs: French culture is of paramount importance to the French and in an increasingly Americanised world they feel duty-bound to protect it. It is appreciated if visitors can speak a few words of French; they do not respond well to being shouted at in English. While the food is second to none, Americans will find the service in many restaurants sloppy; waiters can appear rude (particularly in Paris) and take their time. This is just the way they are. Traditional games such as pétanque (similar to lawn bowling but played on gravel) are popular in village squares, but the national sports are soccer, rugby and cycling.

Communications: The international access code for France is +33. The outgoing code depends on what network is used to dial out on (e.g. 00 for France Telecom), which is followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Other codes are used if using different networks. Most public telephones accept phone cards, which are available in newsagents. Most hotels add a surcharge to all calls; the cheapest way to call abroad is often with a phone card. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international mobile phone companies. Internet cafes are available in most towns throughout France.

Duty Free: Travellers from non-EU countries over 17 years entering France can bring in the following items duty-free: 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 250g tobacco; 1 litre of spirits with alcohol content 22% and over, or 2 litres of dessert wine or sparkling wine not exceeding 22% alcohol volume, or 2 litres of table wine; 50g perfume or 250ml eau de toilette; gold jewellery not exceeding 500g; 500g coffee; 100g tea; and other goods to the value of €175 per adult or €90 for children under 15 years. Providing goods are bought for personal use, there are no restrictions on carrying tobacco and alcohol between the 15 original countries of the EU (including the UK), with the exception of Finland, Denmark and Sweden.

                                                           
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