Before you go to France, use this comprehensive online France travel guide to find out all the basics about customs requirements, the culture, weather, currency and more. Also, get tips on when to go and where to go in France.
About France Travel
France is a diverse and rich nation, filled with destinations to suit any taste. The French, while often stereotyped as rude or snobbish, are actually a proud but friendly people. The key is to understand the cultural differences. The food in France is among the finest in the world, and it is the largest wine-producing nation in the world.
The French value cuisine, arts, culture and history. Each region has its own flair and uniqueness. You are about to embark on an enticing adventure, but there are certain details and rules you must know before you go.
How To Get In
All foreign visitors must have a passport. (If you don't have a current passport, start this process as early as possible. Glitches, like a missing birth certificate, can drag this out.) Americans planning to visit for 90 days or longer, or those who plan to study in France, must get a long-stay visa.
Where To Go
Think of France, and most people automatically think of Paris. But there is much more to this country, whether it be the robust stews and beer of the Alsace or the laid-back attitude and sunny beaches of the Riviera. There are many other underrated but wonderful cities, as well as unique spa resorts and villages and luscious beaches.
France is divided into regions, and I would recommend you read up about the distinct personalities of each before deciding on a destination. Want a jump-start? Take the "Which Region Of France Are You?" quiz.
Most major U.S. airports fly to Paris, some even going non-stop, and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle in Paris is the most popular airport in France. Some airlines also fly into other major French cities, such as Lyon or Strasbourg. It takes around 7 hours to get to France from the East Coast.
Getting Around In FranceThere are many economical and handy ways to get around France. You need to examine where you wll be going and how flexible you are.
If you plan to visit villages not accessible by train, a rental car is ideal. The French drive on the same side of the road as Americans, but there are some differences. While traffic lights are commonplace in the States, many intersections in France are traffic circles instead. These are actually much more efficient, but might take getting used to. Also, it becomes far more crucial to have good maps if you will rent a car. (Try asking for directions in a foreign language. Not pretty.) Check out the Car Rentals & Driving In France page.
If you are visiting cities with train stations, rail is convenient and can be inexpensive. The key is to determine whether you will just buy point-to-point tickets (preferable if you will be taking few trips or short trips), European rail passes (if you plan to go country to country) or a France Rail Pass (if you will travel often and long distances, all on one country).
If you plan to visit French cities that are far apart (say Strasbourg and Carcassonne), you might want to check into flying within the country. It's relatively cheap, and spending an hour on a plance sure beats an 8-hour overnight train ride for speed and convenience. In some cases, a plane ticket might cost the same as a point-to-point rail ticket.
In addition, many cities also have their own transportation system (such as Paris' metro). Even many smaller villages have a bus system. France's transportation system is much more extensive than that of the U.S. Check with the city or region's tourism office.