Traveling to France is one of the most exciting things you can do on your trip. There are so many things to do in the world, but few places can give you the same sense of adventure as seeing ancient monuments, stunning art, incredible restaurants, and beautiful countryside. There’s also the excitement of being surrounded by people who share your enthusiasm for travel, like the French, Germans, or Americans.
France is one of my favorite places to travel. I get so many memories from my travels there and wish I could do it again someday. What is it about the French that makes them so special? Why do they have such a rich history, so much art, and culture, and yet so few people ever leave the country? I’m going to try to answer all of these questions in this guide.
The French travel experience is beautiful, romantic, thrilling, and so much more. You see the world from a completely different perspective when you travel to France. France is a unique country in the world, characterized by its magnificent landscapes, its significant cultural heritage, and outstanding food. France is a perfect place for a traveler to visit and for an avid traveler to return to. France is the most popular tourist destination in Europe, visited by 50 million people each year. The beauty of France is a strong attraction for many people who are very keen to see some of the most breathtaking sights in the Western world.
This is a guide for anyone, who would like to travel to France, however, the biggest obstacle you face is your bank account. You need to get yourself a travel card to go to France. Your credit card can not be used anywhere in France. There is a flight and a train from London to Paris.
What Should I Bring?
First and foremost, your passport. Bring extra copies of your passport pages, especially the page with the photo and the front and back of your visa. If you have a smartphone, download the “My FOREIGN” app. It will tell you all the details you need to know about the country you are visiting. You should also bring a couple of pairs of comfortable walking shoes, and an umbrella. You never know when you are going to have to walk somewhere or take a bus or a taxi. Finally, if you are at all into collecting stuff like coins, stamps, etc., you should also bring a small bag to put them in. (Don’t worry if you don’t collect stuff like this. You will meet people who do, and they will be happy to show you what they have.) Bring a small notepad and a pen or pencil, to take notes with. Bring a small digital camera, just in case you want to capture a special memory for yourself or your loved ones. Also, bring some small bills in various denominations, so you can pay for things when you are there. Do not bring any huge wads of cash, it is not necessary.
Is It Safe To Go There?
Forever? Yes. France is one of the safest countries in the world. The only thing you need to be concerned about is terrorists. They do exist. They will try to blow up the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and every other tall building they can get their hands on. Unfortunately, there are thousands of “lone wolf” terrorists in dozens of countries around the world. It is impossible to know when or where they will strike next. Therefore, you should be aware of the possibility of going to a place like France and take the necessary precautions. You should avoid crowds, never carry a lot of money with you, and if you are at all into collecting stuff like coins, etc., you should restrict yourself to what you can carry in your pocket. If you follow these simple guidelines, you should have a wonderful, safe trip.
Why do travelers love France?
Travelers love France because it’s cheap, it’s easy-to-get-around, and the French just seem to understand travelers… better than anyone else. In this issue, we’re going to examine what makes the French so special when it comes to hospitality. First, they know how to welcome a guest… no matter how long it’s been since they’ve seen that guest.
French people really take pride in their homes and apartments. Many of them will spend months (even years) on renovating an apartment instead of buying a home from a real estate agent and moving into it. When you stay in a French apartment or hotel room, it feels like you are part of the family that owns it. It’s like visiting an old friend who has decorated with care and thoughtfulness to make you feel right at home.
What are places to go while you’re in France?
By comparison to other countries, France is very under-touristed. You should make a point of visiting these places: The Alps – They have some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. You can easily spend a week or two here if you like winter sports. The Riviera – This is the most visited region of France. It has great weather, beautiful beaches, and plenty of sunshine and fun for the whole family. Provence and the French Riviera – These two regions are similar to each other but have enough differences to be considered separate destinations. Provence has more Mediterranean flavor; the French Riviera is more like an extended American beach vacation. The French Alps – There are lots of opportunities for hiking, backpacking, and other outdoor adventures in the French Alps. This is a less-developed area with fewer crowds and less hassle than the resorts on the Riviera or the Alps. Where to eat in France? France has some of the best restaurants in the world. But, it’s not always easy to get a reservation… especially if you don’t speak French.
Where to Stay in Paris?
There are hundreds of hotels in Paris. However, not all of them are created equal. Some are expensive and impersonal, with cramped rooms and shabby furnishings. Others are much cheaper but so dirty and smelly it will take a week of almost non-stop laundry to make the room clean again. Some places are so rundown they could be the first prize in an “ugly hotel contest.” And don’t even get me started on the flea-infested budget hotels in Pigalle or Montmartre. Fortunately, there are some wonderful moderate and good value hotels in Paris. Some of these are historic buildings that have been restored to their former glory. Others are more recent constructions that are well designed and comfortable. Many of them have small, cozy restaurants where you can enjoy a nice meal at very fair prices. Many of them have pools and/or gyms and/or saunas. Some have high-speed Internet access and business centers. All of them have laundry facilities and will change sheets and towels for free.
What Things to Do in Paris?
The first thing I suggest is you stay at one of the nicer hotels near the Louvre or the Opera. These are great places to start your sightseeing because they are close to the major sights and the transportation system. You can easily walk to the Champs Elysees, to the Arc de Triomphe and to the Notre Dame Cathedral. And you’ll be right in the thick of things if you want to shop. The Galeries Lafayette and the Printemps department stores are both on the Champs Elysees. The Galeries Lafayette has the best food court I’ve ever eaten in (see Dining in Paris). There’s also a Carrefour supermarket across the street from the Galeries Lafayette where you can get groceries and other supplies. If you’re like me and you need a little encouragement to shop in a foreign country, this is the place to come. The second thing I suggest is you spend a few days exploring the arrondissement. This is a very central district with some of the finest shopping in Paris.
How to Get Around Paris?
There are several ways you can get around Paris. The Metro is the easiest way but it can be rather slow and crowded. The RER is a commuter train system that runs frequently and is much faster than the Metro. But, it’s not as convenient for sightseeing. A third option is the bus system. Buses are clean, fast and frequent. They run on set routes and all you have to know is which bus stop to get on. But, they don’t go everywhere the Metro does so you will have to switch to another bus or use the Metro at times. Taxis are expensive and can be a hassle but they do go almost anywhere. They are easy to order by phone (see Calling a Taxi in Paris) and are relatively safe. But, they are never as speedy as the Metro and the RER and, they can be impossible to find on a rainy day. What to See & Do in Paris If you spend most of your time on the Metro, you’ll find that the arrondissement has some of the best shopping in Paris.
Where to Stay in Versailles?
There are several good hotels in Versailles but, I think the best one for tourists is the Hôtel de la Poste (see Where to Stay in Paris). It’s a small, older hotel with friendly, helpful staff who speak English. There are no extras like a pool or a gym but, it’s clean, well-maintained, and very central. What to See & Do in Marne la Vallee This is a small town about 20 minutes south of Paris on the edge of the Forest of Sénart. It has a few interesting museums but, the main attraction is the Château de Marne la Vallee. This was the home of Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV’s mistress. It was here that she spent many happy hours with her lover. The chateau is open for tours (see Tours de France) but, you can also visit it by calling the number below.
What kind of people do you see when you travel to France?
That is a question I am often asked. My answer is People who love France and want to live here. They are hard-working, honest, law-abiding citizens who have made this country great. They are proud of their heritage and eager to share it with visitors from all over the world. If you ever visit Paris, I hope you will get a chance to meet some of them. But, there is another type of visitor to France that I often see. These are the “holiday-makers.” They are people who come to France for a few days or a few weeks and they stay at the big hotels and play on the beach or in the casino. They don’t shop or dine locally. They don’t learn the language. And, they have no interest in French culture whatsoever. To them, France is an easy place to visit. It has good weather, cheap booze, and pretty women. That’s it.
What do the cities look like?
Take the case of Paris. As you know, Paris is built on a series of hills. The oldest part of the city, where the kings and queens lived, is on the lower slopes of these hills. The newer sections are on the upper slopes. As you travel up the hills from the lower to the upper parts of Paris, you go from medieval to Renaissance to baroque to art deco to modern. That’s true for all of France. Just as there are old towns on the lower hills and new towns on the upper hills, there are old neighborhoods on the lower slopes and new ones on the upper slopes. What this means is that if you ever visit Paris, you will find that almost every street has undergone an enormous amount of change in the last 100 years. Here is a typical example: In the 1920s and 1930s, the residents of a certain well-to-do neighborhood on the hill above the Latin Quarter decided they didn’t want to live among all those students anymore.
Where are the best places to eat?
Further, what should you eat? Where are the best shops? What should you buy? How much should you tip? Will I like it here? Do I have to learn the language? What is the local currency called? Is it the euro or the franc? What are the hours of operation for the various museums and what are the admission charges? How do I get around? Where can I buy a map? What time is sunset? Does it ever rain here? What is the weather like? How hot or cold is it? What clothes should I pack? And so on. There are a zillion details about which you must be informed if you ever decide to visit a new place. But, if you only have a few days or a few weeks, how can you possibly know enough to make an intelligent decision? My advice is this: Don’t even think about going to a new country without first reading the “Rick Steves Guide to Travel in Europe.” It will give you a framework for your trip and it will prevent you from making stupid mistakes.
What do you miss the most from France?
Accordingly, I’ve arranged a little something for you in the next chapter that I think you will find especially useful. Also, if you want to see more of what France has to offer, you’re going to love my next book, “30 Things To Do In Paris Before You Die.” It’s filled with great ideas, some of which are described in this chapter, and it will put a big smile on your face. Okay, now that you have all that unpacked, let’s get started. As I said at the beginning of this chapter, one of the best ways to get to know a new place is to explore on foot. So, the first thing we’re going to do is take a short walk.
Where can I visit?
What is the best period to visit France is any period of time. In general, the weather is more or less perfect (except for the really hot days of summer) any time from May through September. But if you are visiting between Christmas and New Year’s Day, you will find fewer tourists and therefore, a more festive atmosphere. Where should I go? There are so many places in France that are wonderful, it can be difficult to decide where to begin. To make things easier, I am going to give you some very specific ideas about what you should see in different parts of the country. This will help you decide which areas interest you most. However, don’t get too attached to any one idea. If you fall in love with one place, go somewhere else! That way, you’ll always have a “change of scenery” when you travel. By the way, the first two places I suggest you consider are Paris and the Riviera (including Nice, Monaco and, especially, Cannes).
What are some literary influences?
I’ve been to France three times now and each time I went, I had a different agenda. But, as it turns out, there’s something I want to tell you about on every visit. It has to do with the people I met. First, there was Patrick. Remember him? He was the guy who organized my trip to Paris with Charles, and he’s become one of my favorite people in all of Europe. Then, of course, there’s Claude who, as I mentioned before, lives right across the street from me. And Claude is one of those rare people who is 100% honest, and that makes him extremely attractive to me. And there are many others. Like the young couple who live down the street from me. They are among the very few remaining “baby boomers” and they have three children all under the age of 10. You know what that means? It means they haven’t had a “grown-up” vacation or weekend in more than a decade!
What is the best thing about France?
The food and places, of course! And what is the best thing about food? It is that it is, by and large, pretty much “neutral” as far as taste goes. Sure, there are some foods that are almost universally liked (like apples, bananas, and vanilla). But even within those groups, you will find a wide variety of preferences. Take cheese for example. Some people can’t stand it.
Finally I can say that….
The French have a way of making things special that I simply can’t seem to replicate. I’m guessing this is an issue they have with their history but there’s hope for them after all. At the very least. My goal with this blog is to help people who are interested in the world of art and culture. Whether you want to create art yourself, study art history, or just learn more about the history and culture of other countries, there’s a lot here for you. Hopefully, this guide will give you a few ideas and spark an interest in things French.
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