You're planning your first trip to France, and it's something you've dreamed of for years. But there are several rookie France travel mistakes that could make your visit less enjoyable, or even downright unpleasant. Hey, you don't have to look like a rookie. Here are some tips about mistakes to avoid on your first vacation in France.
The overwhelming majority of people who visit France visit Paris, and only Paris. That's borderline tragic, because there is so much more to France than one capital city has to offer. Even if you are into cities, there are many other cities. But there are also amazing beaches, spa towns, mountain villages, fortified hilltop villages, vineyard dotted landscapes, you name it. Yes, people should experience the splendor of Paris. Instead of planning your whole trip around it, however, start and end your French vacation in Paris (where you're probably flying into anyway). Spend the middle of your vacation exploring the wonders of France the country.
The French are very particular about their customs and social behavior. If you go to France without learning anything about the French people, a couple of things will happen. You will not understand why certain things are happening, and assume the French are being rude to you. (Just WHY won't that waiter bring us our check, for crying out loud?). And they will consider your behavior rude, and behave accordingly. You see where this is going, right?
You don't speak to foreigners in your country in their language do you? No? Don't expect the French to do it for you. They probably won't, and shouldn't have to. Also, many French have a very limited knowledge of English (if at all) especially if you go off the beaten path where English-speaking tourists are less common. You don't need to learn much, but you should certainly learn the essentials. You should also bring along a French-English dictionary or an electronic translator so that you are prepared to speak with the French.
So you want to shop, sightsee and taste fab food while you're on vacation in France? Here's the thing. Time it wrong, and you might end up locked out of all those things. Very annoying. There's a rhythm to the French schedule, and you should definitely know it before you visit. That way, you can plan your days in France properly and not miss a thing.
There are dozens of little decisions that can mean your vacation costs twice what it should, maybe even more. What's even better is you don't have to sacrifice the quality of your vacation to save a few euros. For instance, did you know it's probably better to get your euros in France from an ATM machine than it is to exchange your currency before you leave?