France is a bewitching lady who never stops enticing you, even after you have left its soil for long. It’s a heady mix of culture, cuisine, country and people. It is a combination that has lured hordes of travellers for centuries. Many have settled to make the country their own while many have returned with fond memories.
France is one of the leading nations of the world. It is also the cultural potpourri of Europe. You will find an eclectic mix of people on the streets of Paris and the other major cities. France is also known for its science and technological prowess. Many of the large multinationals and engineering companies have their head offices in the country.
However, the nation is much more than the total of its achievements and inhabitants. It is a land of the romantics, bound by a mingled sense of togetherness and serenity. The language is fluidic akin to poetry in motion. The people joyous and yet subtle in their celebrations.
However, if you are planning to visit the country, there are a few basic tips that need to be kept in mind. Let us then get to know the 17 things to consider while travelling to France.
1. The Language
Let’s begin from where it all starts. The language is one of the most dominant features of the land. French are extremely proud of their language and fiercely guarded about it. However, being a multicultural society, France possesses citizens of almost all hues. However, it does help to know the language a bit. Travelling across the city, talking to the local population or even eating out becomes a wee bit easier if you have some idea about the language.
Never go by the official timings of the restaurants. If the owner doesn’t want to open his/her café today, he/she won’t. Also, 10 am doesn’t mean 10 am. It could be noon too. The French love to do things their way. So let’s keep it at that.
3. Beyond Paris
“I went to France.”
“Wow, where to?
“And? Where else?”
“Paris. Isn’t that enough?”
France is not just about Paris. It is a vast country and has many other cities equally worth visiting. So start planning to travel to them too.
4. Travel Season
France generally doesn’t have a particular season. However, July and August are the best months to travel. To experience a better travelling experience travel during the lean months, particularly before June or perhaps after September.
France has a highly developed banking system which also means that standing at the teller for exchange of cash will entail a steep transaction fee. Try the ATM. It is fast and cheap.
Here is a bit of a dichotomy. While the country has an established financial system, it is still mostly cash which is widely accepted as the transaction method. So if you think that the card is your sword, then you are in for a rude shock.
7. Identification documents
Please carry your identification documents on you. The passport needs to be on you at all times. It is punishable by law if you cannot provide any identification document when asked for.
The country is a hub of courtesy. Everybody is seemingly friendly and helpful, and a quick bonjour doesn’t hurt. In fact, not doing so is considered to be rude. So if you wish to engage in friendly banter with a native, begin with a Bonsoir or a bonjour and see how the smile widens.
If you are allergic to smoking, then France is probably not the best place for you. It is one of the few nations in the world that still allow its citizens to smoke everywhere. You can be greeted with a wall of smoke even while standing in a queue.
10. Vegetarians are not considered
Every dish in France is simply a different shade of meat. They have quite an exquisite cuisine, but it mostly caters to the meat-eaters. France is a haven for meat lovers, and ordering vegetarian food is usually met with a look of bewilderment. However, if you are indeed a vegetarian, then the other grand option is pizza. The French are obsessed with it.
11. The villages
No country has quainter villages than France. The countryside is stunning, and the gorgeous landscape is further enhanced by these picturesque communes, dotting the lush green fields. Visit the French countryside and bask in the warmth of history. There is also a subtle mix of modernity with cafes and restaurants jostling for space and attention alongside windmills and the wandering cow.
France has one of the best transportation systems in the world. From the TGVs to intercity buses, cars on rentals to self-driven rentals, it has everything to offer. One can also rent a bicycle to move around the country or the cities. The tickets are reasonable, though to get the best rentals you need to use your negotiation skills.
Travel by train. It is a wonder. The TGV is one of the fastest trains in the world. It is France’s answer to the famed Japanese Shin Kasen or the New Trunk Line, commonly called as the Bullet Train.
The emergency helpline is 112, and they are quite a responsive bunch. You can call them at all times during a need and help would be on its way.
The country has heightened security in recent times, and routine checks are quite normal. So be ready to be asked to open bags and backpacks at any time.
16. Con Artists
Paris, Marseilles, Cannes are all international cities teeming with nationalities of all ethnicities. With such a large international community moving around, it also does attract opportunists and con artists. Pickpocketing is one of France’s most prolific crimes, and as a traveller, you need to be extremely careful about your belongings.
Though it’s quite clichéd and throwing the stereotype on the face of the French, the country is blessed with a rich history. It also takes immense pride in preserving its past. Because of that, the cities are dotted with museums and galleries showcasing the past and the promising future.
Some of the most famous museums in the country are the Louvre Museum, Musee d’Orsay, Rodin Museum, The Paris Museum of Modern Art, Carnavelt Museum et al.
Do not limit yourself to Paris, because as I had mentioned earlier, France is way beyond just its capital city. Travel through the other cities and its countryside to make sense of the beauty that it stands for.
France is a paradox. It is a modern nation bursting at its seams with innovations and marvels and yet somewhere lurking deep within is an old lady, sagacious and quirky, rooted to the past and yearning for the good times of the yore to return.
The citizens are generally laid back and are happy within their shell. They are generous and friendly and would love a hearty conversation and a laugh with a traveller from a distant land.
However, before you embark on this journey of a lifetime, prepare and plan your moves, where the essential step would be to research the visa requirements to travel to France as they may vary up to your citizenship. For this, you can use the help of pickvisa.com for relevant details and then get moving.