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flag France France: Practical information

In this page: Accommodation | Eating Out | Getting Around | Time and Time Difference | Climate | Electrical Standards and Measurement Systems | Paying | Speaking | Emergency Numbers | Communications

 

Accommodation

Hotels
Classified from 1 (basic comfort) to 4 stars (luxury) by the Ministry of Tourism.
The Union of Hotel Professions and Industries (in French)
Logis de France and Gîtes de France
Family hotels or country houses which meet the standards of the national federation.
The National Federation of Logis de France
The National Federation of Gîtes de France
Châteaux hotels
Rooms in more or less luxurious châteaux.
Relais & Châteaux
Rental of apartments, houses and villas
Proposed by individuals. Local tourist offices can usually provide lists.
Villas du monde
Official portal of the tourist offices
Hotel Rules
The rates given are per room and per night, taxes included.
 

Price Indications

Economy Room from 25 to 30 EUR
Medium Price Room from 40 to 60 EUR
Good Quality Room more than 100 EUR

Source: Lonely Planet

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Eating Out

Categories of Restaurant
 
  • Brasseries
Sandwiches, salads and cooked dishes.
  • Gastronomic restaurants
More elaborate dishes. For further information consult the Michelin Guide to gastronomic restaurants in France.
  • Traditional regional cuisine
Based on the specialties of a region (Brittany, Dordogne, Corsica, Alsace, etc.)
  • Fast food
Self-service restaurants for basic catering. Cafeterias for traditional cooking.
  • Wine bars
Wine is at the heart of the meal.
  • Foreign cuisine restaurants
Many Indian restaurants, also Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Moroccan, etc.
Rules For Eating Out
The prices displayed in restaurants and cafés are shown with taxes and service included. A tip is not compulsory, but people often leave change on the table after paying the bill (about 5% of the bill).
 

Price Indications

Economy Meal from 10 EUR
Medium Price Meal from 15 to 30 EUR
Good Quality Meal more than 30 EUR
 
Food Specialties
France has a rich culinary culture, and its cuisine is diverse. With dishes such as: tournedos; rib steak with béarnaise sauce served with green kidney beans or pommes dauphines; meat on skewers; blanquette of veal; etc. Near the sea, fish and seafood, such as mussels, cockles and shrimp are abundant. Alsace and Lorraine are the regions where you find sauerkraut, kugelhof, quiche Lorraine and tarte flambée. Lyon, the biggest city in the Rhône valley, is the heart of French cuisine. One of the region's specialties is pike quenelles. France produces 365 types of cheeses; for example, Camembert, Brie, Roquefort, Reblochon and the blues of Auvergne and Bresse.
Drinks
In France, wine is the most common alcoholic beverage: Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Côtes de Provence, Côtes du Rhône and wines from the Loire Valley region, etc. Aperitifs and liqueurs are also common: Pastis, Pineau, Muscat, Chartreuse, fruit liqueurs, brandies, etc.
Dietary Restrictions
There are no dietary restrictions in the country.
Table Manners
Table manners are Continental. Before starting, you wish everyone "bon appétit" ("enjoy your meal"). If you are invited to dinner with a French family, wait to be shown your place before sitting down.

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Getting Around

Means of Transport Recommended in Town

Recommendation
Almost all French cities have a public transport network, which is safe and high in quality (in regards to frequency, comfort, safety/security, limited risk of accidents, etc.). Where there are only buses in the smallest towns, the biggest cities have trams, metros, buses and self-service bicycles. Using taxis is also very practical. However, they are very difficult to find during rush hours except for people who have a season ticket. The Paris metro is one of the most extensive in the world. In the ranking of the world's ten best metro systems, it is in second position. As in many large cities worldwide, one should be alert to the dangers of pickpockets while in public places.
Maps of Urban Networks
The Paris RATP network (Paris city transport authority)
The Ile de France Transilien train network
The Lyon transport network
The Marseille transport network
Urban Transport Agencies
The RATP (Paris city transport authority)
Find an Itinerary
Finding an itinerary in Paris
Taxi Companies
French taxis (Fares, taxi stands, etc.)
 

Transportation From Airport to City Centre:


Airport

Distance

Taxi

Bus

Train

Car Rental
Paris - Charles de Gaulle/Roissy (CDG) 24km / 15 miles EUR 50-60 / 45 min EUR 14 - EUR 6.15 / 35-60 min EUR 8.10 / 50 min Available
Paris - Orly (ORY) 14km / 9 miles EUR 35-55 / 20-35 min EUR 9 / 20-30 min EUR 7.20, EUR 9.30 + RER ticket / 40-50 min Available
Marseille - Provence (MRS) 21 km / 13 miles of Marseille or Aix-en-Provence EUR 40-50 / 30 min EUR 8.5-7.5 / 25-30 min - Available
Lyon - St Exupéry (LYS) 19 km / 12 miles EUR 40-50 / 30-40 min EUR 8.40 / 45 min - Available
Lille - Lesquin (LIL) 8 km / 5 miles EUR 15 / 12-20 min EUR 4.6 / 20 min - Available
Nice - Côte d'Azur (NCE) 7 km / 4 miles EUR 20-30 / 15 min - - Available
Toulouse - Blagnac (TLS) 8 km / 5 miles EUR 20-25 / 10-20 min EUR 4 / 20 min - Available
Bordeaux - Merignac (BOD) 9 km / 6 miles EUR 45 / 20-25 min EUR 6.5 / 30-45 min - Available
 

Means of Transport Recommended in the Rest of the Country

Recommendation
To travel from city to city, the best means of transport is the train. From Paris you should expect between 2 and 4 hours to reach other big cities; fares are affordable, the trains are comfortable and you arrive directly in the city centre.
By plane it is about 1 hour 30 minutes' travel time to go from one end of the country to another.
As soon as you leave the city centres, you really need a car to get around.
Rail Companies
The SNCF (French national rail company) and its on-line reservation service
 

Airlines

Name Type Domestic Flights International Flights
Air France Major Yes Yes
Transavia low cost No Yes
Easy jet low cost Yes Yes

You Can Consult The EU Air Safety List. Look Also at the rating of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

 
 
 

Travelling By Yourself

Recommendation
Travelling by your own means in France poses few problems; it is easy to rent a vehicle, the road network is very good and the road sign system is very clear (in French).
The French authorities have set up a large number of speed cameras on the roads to encourage drivers to keep to speed limits. For further information, consult the driving regulations and penalties enforced (in French).
There is a high risk of traffic jams in and around the big cities.
Driver's License
The EU driver's license is recognized in France. Other driver's licenses are also recognized on condition that they are accompanied by an official translation. After living in France for a year, the foreign resident must exchange his license for a French one.
For further information, consult the conditions for recognizing and exchanging foreign driver's licenses.
Conditions For Renting a Vehicle
Being at least 21 years of age, and having had one's driver's license for more than two years.
Rental Agencies
Hertz
Avis
Europcar
Tolls or Taxes
You have to pay on motorways. Payment is made at the entrance or exit of the motorway, at the tollbooth. Keep your ticket carefully until you come to pay.
Road Maps
Map of the motorway network
Find an Itinerary
ViaMichelin
Mappy
Traffic Conditions Online
Real-time traffic conditions on French motorways
Traffic information provided by the French Ministry of Equipment
Parking Facilities
Parking in town is regulated and you generally have to pay. Payment is made at a ticket machine located in the street, with coins or parking cards which you can buy at a tobacco shop. Authorized parking places are shown by white markings on the ground.
All cities have parking lots (most often underground), in the center or on the outskirts, with connections with means of public transport.
 

Rules of the Road

Minimum Driving Age
18
Side of the Road For Driving
Right
Speed Limits
50km/h in town, 90 on main roads, 130 on motorways
Safety Belts
Obligatory
Permitted Amount of Alcohol in the Blood
0.5 g/liter of blood, i.e. 0.25 mg of alcohol per liter of air breathed out
National Roads Organizations
Road safety department

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Time and Time Difference

Current Local Time
It is %T:%M %A In Paris
Summer Time
Summer time from March to October.
 

Map of the Time Zone

Time zone

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Climate

 
Type of Climate
In France, the climate varies according to the region: temperate, oceanic, with mild winters and summers in the West and North West; continental in the East; Mediterranean, with hot, very dry summers, and mild, wet winters and sometimes very windy in the South East.
For Further Information
Météo France
 

Average Annual Temperatures and Rainfall

 

Climate

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Electrical Standards and Measurement Systems

System of Measurement Used
Metric system
Unit of Measurement of Temperature
Degree Celsius (°C)
 

Use our service Measurement Converter.

 
Electricity
 
  • Voltage
230V
  • Frequency
50Hz
Type of Electric Socket
Type E, Type C, Type F
Type of Telephone Socket
French
DVD Zoning
Zone 2

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Paying

Domestic Currency
Euro
ISO Code
EUR
To Obtain Domestic Currency
The most practical way is to withdraw money directly from ATMs. They are numerous and easily accessible in airports, city centres and all over the country.
Possible Means of Payment
Places where you can pay with foreign currency are rare.
In stores, restaurants, hotels and cafés payment is made in cash or by credit card, depending on the sum. American Express cards are rarely accepted.
 

To Find a Cash Machine Where You Need, Use the ATM locator

 

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Speaking

Official Language
French
Other Languages Spoken
The regional languages (Breton, Occitan, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Alsation, Picard, etc.) are only spoken locally and by a minority of French people.
Business Language
Although French is the official language in France, many businesspeople speak English. However, depending on the type, geographical location and sector of activity of the company, it may be difficult to find someone who speaks English. Being able to communicate and negotiate in French provides a distinct advantage.
Getting Some Knowledge
Use the travlang website. You can also use the DeepL website for translation services.
Free Translation Tools
Larousse : Translator and dictionary
Educnet : Portal for free translation tools
Google : Translator of words, text and web pages
Reverso : Translator and dictionary
Linguee : Translator of words and expressions

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Emergency Numbers

Police 17
Firemen 18
SAMU (emergency medical services) 15
Emergency assistance in all European languages 112

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Communications

Quality of Communications
The means of communication in France are extensive and cover the whole country. They form a sophisticated network of fiber-optic cable, coaxial cable, microwave radio relay, a domestic satellite system. Cell phone service is widely available, and has roaming service to foreign countries. However, the use of mobile phones or Internet may be difficult in rural areas.
Telephone Codes
To Make a Call From France, Dial 00
To Make a Call to in France, Dial +33
Number of Digits of National Telephone Numbers
10
0 + number of the region + 8 other figures
Mobile Telephone Standards
GSM, EDGE, GPRS, Radiocom 2000, UMTS, WCDMA.
National Mobile Phone Operators
Free, Orange, SFR Altice, Bouygues Télécom
 

Availability of Internet

Internet Suffix
.fr
National Internet Access Providers
Free, Orange, SFR Altice, Bouygues Télécom
Access in Public Places
Cybercafés are found in towns. More and more bars are offering Wifi access.
Access in Hotels
Apart from some exceptions, only hotels in big cities have an Internet connection.

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Latest Update: June 2022