Useful facts for travel to France

Useful facts to help you plan your visit to France

Festivals

Festivals, both traditional and modern (eg Avignon Theatre Festival in July) are not so plentiful as in Spain, but worth looking out for:

Festivals search on the French Tourist Office website, not great but…(new window):

French Public Holidays 2014

1 January New Year’s Day Jour de l’An
6 January Epiphany Fête des Rois Not a public holiday
2 February Candlemas La Chandeleur Not a public holiday
18 April Good Friday Vendredi Saint
20 April Easter Pâques Sunday
21 April Easter Monday Lundi de Pâques
1 May Labour Day Fête du Travail
8 May V-E Day Victoire 1945 End of WWII
29 May Ascension Day Ascension Thursday, 39 days after Easter
8 June Pentecost Pentecôte Seventh Sunday after Easter
9 June Whit Monday Lundi de Pentecôte
14 July Bastille Day Fête Nationale National Day
15 August Assumption Assomption
1 November All Saints Day Toussaint
11 November Armistice Day
Armistice Day
Remembrance Day
Armistice 1918 End of WWI
25 December Christmas Day Noël
26 December Boxing Day Alsace & Lorraine only
Note that holidays falling at the weekend are not moved, and when a holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, many French people may take the respective Monday or Friday off as well. This is not official and does not apply to institutions such as banks or government, but can cause difficulties doing business on occasions.

Visas:

Nationals of the EU, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Israel do not require visas to visit France as tourists for up to three months. Except for people from a few other European countries, everyone else must have a visa.

Health risks:

Sunburn, foot blisters, insect bites and upset stomachs from overeating and drinking.

Language:

French, and it’s always a big help to know a few phrases in the local lingo…

Bonjour! Learn French online for free!

This is a great site, you choose the phrase you want to hear and listen to the pronunciation.

Time:

GMT/UTC +1

Current French time

Paris

Electricity:

220V, 50Hz, 2-pin (round) plug 2-pin plug (round)

Weights & measures:

Metric

French Weights and Measures and their equivalents

Clothing and shoe sizes conversion: US, UK, Europe

Euro banknotes

Money:The Euro (€)

Check out our Euro Guide (with pictures)

  • As of January 1, 2002, the euro (€) replaced the national currency of 12 countries within the European Union, including France. You can exchange currency at any bank branch (hours are listed below). Automatic cash machines can be found in most commercial centres.
  • Bank Opening Hours Banking hours in Paris are usually  from 10am to 5pm,  Monday to Friday. Throughout the rest of France, banks are usually open from 10am to 1pm, and 3pm to 5pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Banks often close earlier the day before a public holiday.
  • Currency exchangeCurrency exchange can be carried out at all bank branches and Post Offices. Bureaux de change can also be found in large department stores, railway stations, airports and near to tourist sites. Please note: although the exchange rate is fixed, commission rates are not. By law these must be clearly displayed.

Check out the current Euro exchange rate with your currency here (close the new window to return): Travelsignposts Currency Converter

Credit Cards

They are accepted in a large number of shops, hotels and restaurants. Shopkeepers often state a minimum amount required to be spent.

If you lose your credit card, immediately contact your credit card emergency hot-line to cancel the card (it’s advisable to have this number with you when you travel), or call your credit card Global Card Assistance Service – see numbers below:

Eurocard MasterCard Mastercard: 0-800-90-1387

www.mastercard.com

VisaVisa: 0800-90-1179 (tollfree)

www.visaeurope.com

Diners Club Diner’s Club: 01 47 62 75 75

http://www.dinersclub.fr

American Express American Express: 01 47 77 72 00

http://www.americanexpress.fr

telephone

Emergencies

In case of emergency, dial these numbers

Emergency
Telephone (Dial…)
Medical (SAMU)
15
Police
17
Fire / accident (Pompiers)
18
Directory Enquiries
12

If you have lost

  • your documents – Report the matter to the local police station, they will give you a receipt, then contact your consulate.
  • your keys, or a personal item – Ask at the police station for the number of the Lost & Found Office (in Paris: 01 55 76 20 00).The RATP (Paris public transport authority) and the SNCF (French National Railways) have their own department.
  • Your car - Your report will be recorded at the police station or you will be directed to the car pound, if your car has been illegally parked and removed by the police.
  • Your credit card – Immediately contact your credit card emergency hot-line to cancel the card, or call your credit card company’s Global Assistance or local office – see numbers here – then report the loss to the police.
  • Your dog, cat or pet goanna - Contact the Société de protection des animaux (French animal protection society). Tel.: 33 (0) 1 43 80 40 66

Telephone & Fax

All telephone numbers in France are have 10 digits.

To telephone France from abroad, dial the international code of your country +  33 and then, the nine digit number of the person you are calling (without the 0 at the beginning of the French telephone number), e.g. +33 1 47 77 72 00

To call somewhere in France when in France, dial the 10 digit number which starting with “0″, e.g. 01 47 77 72 00.

From France to a foreign country: dial 00 + the country number + the number of the person you are calling. You will find all telephone cards (for phone boxes, recharges for mobile phones, pre-paid cards.) available at Post Offices, tobacconists, souvenir shops.

All rates and country numbers are at www.francetelecom.fr/

France has excellent mobile phone coverage by the three French mobile phone operators. Find out from your own operator which French network to choose so that you can use your mobile phone in France.

Post

Mail boxes

In France, Mail boxes are coloured yellow and can be found along street and in every Post Office. Mail collection time are displayed on them.

Stamps

You can buy stamps at any Post Offices and at any tobacconist.

Postage cost varies according to the weight of your mail and its destination. All rates at www.laposte.fr/

Delivery times

The French mail service is efficient: allow 24 to 48 hours for a letter sent in France to a destination in France; from France to abroad, allow 1 to 5 days.

Museums and Monuments

The towns and regions of France have all sorts of museums and monuments for the visitor.

  • Museum opening times vary, but please note that municipal museums are closed on Mondays, and national museums are closed on Tuesdays (except the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, which is closed on Mondays).
  • Usually they are open from 10.00am to 7.00pm. Some large museums have late-night opening on Wednesdays or Thursdays.
  • Find out everything about places to visit from the Regional Tourism Council or Tourist Office. You will find everything you need to know there.
  • You can also consult the website of the centre for national monuments to find out about 200 monuments to French heritage: www.monum.fr
  • or go to www.rmn.fr to find out about the 33 national museums across France

Our France pages:

Travel to France for a Europe Tour with Joie de Vivre!

Tour Routes in France

When to travel to France: weather and seasons

Food in France: a brief gastronomic tour

Book your sightseeing tours or day-trips in France online

Book your hotel in France online

Paris City Guide

TRAVEL TO FRANCE WITH US: PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS

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