France is a beautiful and romantic country in Europe. It attracts a lot of tourists to visit every year. If you have time and money for traveling, don’t miss to visit France. Here are some useful tips for people traveling France in the first time.
1. Keep French Fashion in Mind
Pack clothes that are versatile and chic, remember that the French are simple and effortless when it comes to their style. With France “less is more” works well for the French.
One of your goals should be to blend in with the locals – not stand out as a tourist. For the ladies, bring a scarf! In the summertime, light scarves can add a touch of class, or be used as an extra layer at nighttime without the bulk of a jacket.
2. Pack Comfy Shoes
Prepare some pairs of comfortable shoes when traveling to France is a good idea. When traveling, you should always expect to be walking quite a bit, whether it’s through the cobbled streets of Le Vieux Carré (the Old Quarter) or through the vineyards in the South.
So leave the stiletto heels at home and opt for a pair of comfortable sandals or sturdy boots. Your feet will thank you later!
3. Learn the Language
Locals love when visitors attempt to speak the native language. ‘Hello/ Good evening,’ (Bonjour/ Bonsoir) ‘Please,’ (S’il vous plaît) ‘Thank You,’ (Merci) and ‘Sorry’ (Pardon) are a great place to start when learning a new language. Though many people you’ll encounter will speak English, people are more likely to be helpful if you at least try to make an effort with a little French.
4. Check the Weather
Regions along the three coasts of France have a more temperate climate, unlike areas in central France, where you’ll experience more variation between seasons. Paris can also become fairly hot in the summer, so be prepared by packing light-colored clothing made of loose material.
The summer months in the south along the Mediterranean have very little rainfall, but the rest of the country experiences rainy months throughout the year. Paris has quite a bit of rainfall from April through August. Whatever the season, it’s always a good idea to check the forecast prior to your visit to France!
5. Travel in Spring or Fall
If you have plant to traveling France, choose the best time to visa France, the most cost-effective times to travel to France are during the spring and fall months. Keep in mind that if plane tickets are purchased at least three months in advance, you will be able to find some better deals!
6. Paris is a city best explored on foot
Like many European capital cities, Paris is a place best explored on foot. Prepare to walk plenty. After all, I often find that it’s only when I’m wandering around Paris that I truly get a feel for the authentic Paris and see the settlement from a local’s perspective.
This way, you’ll also get the opportunity to peek behind those doorways and discover the hidden gems you might have otherwise missed if you were sat on a bus or standing on the metro! That is also the reasson why you should wear a pair of shoes when traveling here.
7. Beware of pickpockets and common travel scams
Throughout Paris, you’ll likely come across a variety of scams, especially if you’re largely frequenting touristic areas (around Montmartre, Hotel de Ville, and Le Marais). These range from someone asking you to ‘sign a fake petition’ to people trying to tie a string around your hands! So pay attention to your wallet, jewels and in public , especially in crownd.
8. Use public transportation
In some country, you should rent a car and traveling yourself but it is not true in France. One of the best travel tips for Paris I would give you is not to rent a car in Paris! The traffic is quite congested in some areas and the driving may be completely different from what you’re used to back home. Instead, public transportation can be found in abundance across the city.
Avoid taxis and traffic queues and opt on the metro instead. Fast, efficient, and affordable, if you’re planning on taking the metro a fair few times, or are travelling as part of a group, be sure to purchase a ‘carnet’. This is essentially a pack of ten metro tickets and offers a cheaper rate than buying each metro ticket individually.
Rememeber to keep metro tickets during your journey unless you want be at risk of getting a fine ! So be sure to keep hold of that tiny ticket in case someone checks your metro ticket at any time during your journey (including when you’re about to exit the metro!)
9. Always say ‘Bonjour’ when you enter a shop
If you don’t make the effort to say ‘hello’ when entering a store in France, this is seen as the height of rudeness. As such, you’ll find storekeepers much friendlier and easier to talk to so long as you say ‘bonjour’ when entering any establishment/ shop.
From ordering bottled water in a restaurant to not greeting the shop keeper upon entering the store, there is a myriad of mistakes you can make when visiting Paris without even realising it.
10. Enjoy an Apéritif or Digestif
In France, sometimes the best drinks come just before or after a delicious meal. An apéritif (pre-meal drink) is usually enjoyed among friends before a plat de fromage (cheese plate) is served.
One common apéritif is the kir, which is a mix of white wine and blackcurrant. A common digestif (post-meal drink) is an espresso. Or you can try the “eau de vie,” literally translated “water of life,” which is a popular fruit brandy.
11. Shop at Outdoor Markets
One way to save money without sacrificing the French experience is to shop at the outdoor markets. Most towns have an outdoor market or “marché en plein air.” Here, you can find vendors selling the region’s best at a more affordable price. Just be sure to check the local schedule, as some markets are only open on specific days of the week.
12. Travel by Train
Another way to save money on travel expenses while visiting France is to take the train. For the best deals, book three months in advance if you already have an itinerary set. If you’re under 25 and visiting France for a study abroad program or internship, signing up for a “Carte Jeune” offers reduced train fares!
13. Check out the Museums
The Louvre is one of the most popular museums in France, but there are so many other inspiring sites to add to your travel list! In Paris alone, there is the lesser-known Musée d’Orsay that boasts of numerous Impressionist paintings by Monet, and the Centre Pompidou that features contemporary and more interactive art. Both have slightly shorter admission lines!
14. Visit Luberon
For the people love flowers and nature. Don’t forget to visit lavender fields in France. The lavender that blooms in the South of France is a scent that is truly unforgettable. In Luberon these fragrant flowers bloom anytime between late June to early August, with the peak of the season being in early July. It is realy a fantastic scene.
15. Stop by the Castles
France is home to many beautiful and unique châteaux (castles) in the center of the country. Relive the grandeur of the châteaux in the Loire Valley. Villandry is famous for its gardens that are exact replicas of the medieval gardens, while Chambord includes a grand central staircase in the main entrance.
This area of the country is less crowded than Paris or the beaches in the South, so it would make an excellent addition to your itinerary if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle.
While planning a trip to France often includes many preparations, it’s important to remember to savor the moment and not get too caught up in your itinerary. Enjoy the food, enjoy the wine, and enjoy the sites.