🌎Currency: Euro €
🌎Zone: +1 GMT
🌎Phone Code: +33
🌎Best time to visit: March-November
🌎Must eat: Bakery pastries and crepes
🌎Must drink: Champagne/ wine
🌎Don't miss: The Eiffel Tower
France and it's capital, Paris, are one of the top tourism destinations worldwide. There are plenty of ways of getting to France, by Air, road, trains and ships around Europe. When coming from another continent, Air France is the national airline and provides links to every corner of the globe, from New York and Los Angeles to Buenos Aires, Tokyo or Singapore, just a few of the direct flights viable. If you are coming from Australia, New Zealand or other Pacific Islands you will need to make at least one stop. However, France is well connected by air to North America, Canada, The Caribbean, South America, The Middle East and Asia with daily links to most destinations. As well for low cost travel within Europe, there are multiple airlines offering good fares when you book in advance; EasyJet, Ryanair, Vueling or Transavia are some for example.
France is situated in Western Europe, boarding Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. It's no surprise that when travelling in Europe you can opt to drive around many of these countries and combine a multi city trip around France and the neighbouring countries. Rail transportation is very reliable and comfortable and fast, thanks to the TGV, France High Speed Rail company. You can travel between many European capitals and Paris and main cities in France in just a few hours thanks to the TGV. There is also intercity trains as well as local trains serving smaller cities and towns, for them you don't need to book in advance but checking online for timetables and prices is always advised.
Busses are also a popular way of travelling in France and for those who don't drive, and want to visit smaller towns, busses are the ideal way of moving around. It's also possible to connect to international destinations around Europe with Eurolines.
Local transportation in France is advanced, modern and reliable. Big cities offer Metro systems, trams and local busses which are connected into one electronic paying system. There are multiple tickets or passes for those using the transport often, as well as weekly or monthly passes. (Check each city for more information regarding their transportation).
Attention!: Despite France being a modern and safe country in Europe where crime rates are low, it is getting each time worse in big cities like Paris, Nice or Lyon. With an increase of immigration and refugees in Western Europe it is advised that you always look out for your belongings and personal items such as cameras,wallets and mobile phones where pick-pocketing and robbery is on the increase! Specially pay attention when travelling by public transport, on trains, metro and night busses which are easy for robbers and pick-pockets to target tourists and trick them as well.
There are a lot of scammers and con-artists trying to take advantage of tourists, particularly in large cities and around major landmarks in Paris. Be aware of “gold ring” tricks, fake petitions, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you, and people offering help with your luggage. Don't let people who are trying to ask you for help into covering your possessions, always hold on to bags and keep luggage in sight. Unfortunately when it comes to robberies, the police in Paris and big cities are very unhelpful and unable to speak in English in most cases. Make sure if something happens you ask for a report and don't get put off if they tell you to come back tomorrow as it's their duty to provide this service whatever the time. Find a "Commissaire" (French Police Station) to make this report.
The climate of France is generally cold in winter and warm in summer, but mild winters and hot summers are usual along the Mediterranean sea (French riviera) and in the South West of France. Along the Rhône Valley a occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind blows known as the mistral. Lots of the snow falls in winter in the Mountainous regions like the Alps, Pyrenees and Auvergne. Temperatures can be well below freezing in this high areas, but if you stay in cities and lower grounds then Winter temperatures can range around 5-10 C. In July and August it's the peak of summer and temperatures can reach easily in the high 30's C. The best time to visit France is Spring or Autumn (March-June and September to November) to avoid the high season and enjoy pleasant temperatures to walk outside.
France is famous for producing some of the most sublime food in the world, whether it’s the speciality delicacies of high cuisine and award winning Michelin gourmet restaurants or the robust, village baking aromas from its traditional village boulangeries France has an almost unparalleled reputation for food. Many of the dairy products, specially cheese, together with wine and the famous Champagne have been categorised as national culinary and drink treasures and must tries. As well as the Baguette, (French Bread), Croissants, Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée (Onion Soup), Croque-Monsieur (Ham and Cheese Sandwich),Quiche au Saumon et Crevettes (Salmon and Shrimp Quiche), Mousse au Chocolat (Chocolate Mousse) are a just a few of the tasty typical food you can find in France.
You can find the following specialities when visiting in France: Escargot, is a delicacy consisting of cooked land snails. Escargots are usually served as a starter in France. Bouillabaisse, fish stew, usually containing at least three or more,types of fish and shellfish. Cassoulet, (A Marseilles speciality) rich haricot bean casserole, often slow-cooked with various meats including duck, goose, and pork sausages. Quenelles de brochet, pounded pike formed into sausage shapes and usually served with a rich craysh sauce. Soué au Grand Marnier, traditional light dessert covered with orange liqueur. Bœuf bourgignon, a Burgundy dish of beef stewed in red wine. Raclette, melted cheese served with potatoes and meats. Ratatouille, (Popular in alpine areas in both France and Switzerland) a vegetable stew with ingredients commonly including aubergine, tomato, and courgette. Salade Niçoise, a salad originating from Nice, with tomato, tuna, and Niçoise olives. Crêpes, savoury, buckwheat versions are known as gallettes. Pastis, a popular aperitif.
As for drinks: Wine, the most popular alcoholic drink in France, from reds to whites and many grape specialities which have helped the country win many awards for it's fine wines. Calvados, an apple brandy made in Normandy. Champagne, this fizzy wine is just reserved for special occasions in France. It's common to drink it during birthday parties, inaugurations or end of year celebrations.
Paris, France's capital, is a major European city and a global center for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. Its 19th-century cityscape is crisscrossed by wide boulevards and the River Seine. Beyond such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the 12th-century, Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral. The city is known for its cafe culture and designer boutiques. It has drawn waves of immigrants, expatriate artists and intellectuals, and global traders for centuries, attracting by virtue of its vibrant economy, rich political and artistic history, many tourist sites, outstanding architecture and cultural life, and overall high standard of living. Visiting the city of Paris isn't cheap, but it's one of those cities with the "wow factor" present in so many ways! Planning your visit is essential, the times, season and your stay to be in good reach of transport. So come to Paris to enjoy the culture, the french flair, the monuments, the cuisine and the night life... there is a lot to keep you occupied!
Paris could not be visited if it was not for a great infrastructure of metro, RER,( Réseau Express Régional or Regional Express Rail) bus, night busses, tramway and trains all perfectly linked to access every corner of the city by public transport. It takes time to adjust to the amount of lines and transport modes in Paris. However, it's quite easy to follow when you have a schematic map at hand and after a few rides you will get familiar with it. Download the PDF maps below for ease of use when you travel in Paris and locate your destinations always before you start your ride to plan the best route. Taking the metro is simple, either buy single tickets €1.90 or use the Navigo Pass. (see tip below).
When arriving to Paris by air you have two airports. The main airport in Paris is Charles de Gaulle (CDG) (International Airport and main hub for Air France) and Orly (ORY) (Secondary airport for low cost airlines and other airlines mostly):
- Arriving to Charles de Gaulle there are numerous ways of getting to the city centre, however the most convenient and practical way is to take the RER (line B) which stops at Denfert-Rochereau, Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame, Châtelet-Les-Halles or Gare du Nord. You can interchange with the metro at all those stations. It costs €11.40 (from 2018) for the one way ride which takes 35 min to the centre at Gare de Nord. Alternatively you can purchase other transport cards and passes before you get on to save money. (see below). If you are looking to travel by bus from the airport you can take bus 350 to Gare de L'Est for €6. There are other busses which commute travellers to Disneyland or to the other airport, Orly. (see map). Attention!: When taking RER line B make sure you take a fast train and NOT the local train. Local trains are older, don't have luggage compartment, lack of air conditioning and are slower, be aware as well that they stop at less affluent areas where pick-pocketing and scams are more targeted on travellers and tourists.
- Arriving to Orly Airport there is also RER connection via the Orlyval Shuttle train. Take the shuttle to Antony station where you can take the RER (line B) to Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame, Châtelet-Les-Halles or Gare du Nord for central Paris connections. Price is €12.10. Alternatively buy other passes or the Navigo card before you board. (see tip below).
When arriving by train, the main station in Paris is Gare du Nord, where most international services can be found travelling from Europe. It is possible to travel from Amsterdam, Brussels, Cologne and London direct to Paris Gare du Nord. When you arrive you have multiple connections possible to link up with the RER B (airport line) D and E lines, Metro 2,4 and 5 lines as well as local busses. There is also information points, travel tours and police station at hand.
TIP: If you are staying in Paris 3, 4 or up to 7 days then consider buying the weekly pass "Navigo". This electronic system is the Paris integrated card for easy access for all modes of transport within the Paris region and zones. It's also valid to take from the airports, Disneyland and other outskirt areas. One week costs €22.80, plus a €5 card fee. This is much cheaper than buying the RER twice, plus metro or bus rides individually. For more info on the Navigo card click on this link.
Paris offers to the visitor an unlimited number of cultural, historical, artistic and entertainment options! There are dozens of places to visit and monuments to see. It's recommended that you plan a little your visit as not to miss what is important to you. Paris is one of the cities with the greatest diversity of museums in the world! One hundred or so Parisian museums showcase paintings, sculpture, photography, contemporary art, science and collections on a whole range of subjects. There is so much to see! You can also visit the famous Chateaux (palaces), relax in the many parks and gardens and if you are not tired yet, in the evening enjoy the many gastronomic offerings in the city as well as watching a cabaret at the famous Moulin Rouge! To help you choose and not miss out on some of the best spots in Paris we have put an essential list of places to visit during your stay. However for a more in depth description of more things to see, museums and places of interest in Paris, you can visit Parisinfo.com.
TIP: If you are visiting during the low season, (1st November to 31st March). every first Sunday of the month, many of Paris official buildings, landmarks, some palaces and museums are free of charge! Check below for more details!
TIP: Book in advance online to ensure the best times and avoid queues for tickets at the entrance. However the Eiffel Tower has lengthy times to pass the several security inspections. Arrive 30 min before your booked ticket time, specially at weekends, high season and if going up by lift.
TIP: To visit the main building is free, only at ground level. But if you want to go up remember to book your time slot online to visit the Notre-Dame Tours or on the mobile application "Jefile" (available free on Googleplay or Appstore).Please note: These slots are subject to availability.If you don't have access to a smartphone, it is advised that you arrive at Notre-Dame when it opens to make your reservation on a terminal there. Entry cost is €10 per adult. Free entry first Sunday of each month, from November to March.Free for under 18 years old and residents in the EU between 18 and 25 years old. Closest Metro station: Cité (line 4).
TIP: The museum is free every first Sunday of the month in the low season only. (1st November to 31st March). It is advised that you buy your tickets online, as they work per slot time. Buy your tickets here via the official page. Also arrive 30-45min before your planned visit, security checks, build up many queues.
TIP: Remember that the Park of the Palace is free to visit, this also gives a great view of the Palace. So if you are on a budget it is still possible to enjoy some great views and it's a very pleasant walk around the park. Note that the Palace and Gardens are free every first Sunday of the month in the low season only. (1st November to 31st March).
World famous by it's castles, princess stories and Micky Mouse and friends characters this entertainment park is one like no other! With 2 Disney parks®, more than 50 attractions, shows and parades, Disneyland® Paris promises a unique day with friends or family. Suitable for all ages, whether you are a Disney fan or not, this park definitely has the magic factor and staying till the end is well worth it to see the final firework display at 23h to mark the best ending to your adventure day!
The Park offers 5 themed worlds, the Parc Disneyland® is a dream place for kids as well for big kids on the lookout for magic and lots of fun! Feel the adrenaline exploring the far reaches of space or the remains of an abandoned temple whilst you meet with your favourite Disney characters to take pictures and engage with them!
Next door, the Walt Disney Studios Park® offers many adventures and thrills: defy gravity in a plummeting elevator, live a 100% Rock 'n' Roll adventure with bends and looping or enjoy Remy's mad adventure! The shows and parades run from opening until well into the night! Entrance tickets are expensive and unfortunately few or non two for one vouchers are available unlike other types of parks. In order to get a cheaper ticket always buy online in advance via an authorised retailer for Disneyland® or the official site: www.disneylandparis.com. Prices are generally around €65-70 for one day pass with access to the two parks or you can get a two day pass for €130. Getting to Disneyland® is easy from central Paris thanks to a direct rail line, take the RER A (A4 branch) line to Marne-la-Vallée - Chessy Disneyland® Park, the trip takes around 45 minutes. Note the last trains to come back leave at 00.10am back for central Paris.
Tip: When planning your visit to the park it's recommended you arrive as the park opens to take advantage of the "fast pass" which allows you to reserve a specific time on many of the attractions and rides. The park is always busy with many tourists and visitors specially during the weekends and the Summer holidays where long queues must be expected, sometimes hours. Arriving early will also guarantee you see as much as possible and enjoy the shows, meet the Disney characters and spend the most between the two parks. Although note that the parks are quite big and riding all rides and seeing all shows is really hard in one day, if not impossible, so planning is essential. When you arrive take a map and plan your times according to your preferences and make sure you are near to the castle around 22.30 to take a good place to watch the fire-works-music and light display to end the adventure! Enjoy!
Finding reasonable hotels in Paris is very difficult since the city is known for its popularity with travellers, business and fashion which push prices always up. When staying in Paris it's advised to look for hotels away from the city centre, with easy access by metro or night busses.
Anything which is outside from the inner city, (see image with blue perimeter) will be substantially cheaper when on a budget. Alternatively choose to stay close to an RER line where trains are quick into the city and you can save on nightly rates. In general central Hotels in Paris can be as expensive as €150-300 per night but it's possible to find also hotels at €50-70 if you go down in stars. If you are on a tight budget, then Hostels can cost around €15-20 for shared accommodation in central Paris. Airbnb is also a popular option to stay with local people or cheaper when you stay for longer periods of time.
A recommended Hotel chain in Paris, is Ibis budget. There are a few doted around the city which gives you good choice where to stay. Prices are reasonable, at €40 per night, with private bathroom and 24h reception. There is one at Porte de Montreuil, west Paris, easy access to metro (5 min walk), next to a shopping centre, supermarket and shops nearby, also good if visiting Disneyland.
For a first time visitor to Paris, you will be amazed of the amount of things to see and do in the city. It takes time to visit so many attractions, sights and museums therefore coming to Paris is not a quick affair! Planning your visit is recommended to maximise your time but if you are on a tight budget and want to see only the most important sights and monuments, then 2 or 3 nights would be ideal. Avoiding the weekends and high seasons (summer time July/August, Christmas or Easter Holidays) is also advised to miss the long queues which build up to get into everywhere. Although Paris is now subject to much more security, so expect to queue which ever the time of year. For a complete visit of Paris, including some Palaces, parks or gardens, time for shopping and watching a cabaret show at Moulin Rouge give yourself a week to comfortably fit it all in!