things first: preparing your journey
or ID card? Citizens of the European Union can travel to
France on a national identity card, if they have one. EU citizens who
do not have an ID card, and citizens of other countries, must be in
possession of a valid passport. Visitors from non-EU countries may need
a visa, depending on the length of stay and their country of origin.
Visas are not required for citizens holding residence status in any
other "Schengen" country, whatever their nationality. For the purposes
of a short trip (less than 90 days), visas are not
visitors from the United
States, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand,
Venezuela and several other countries. For a full list of visa
requirements for short or longer stays, visit the official
French foreign ministry website in English.
to France by car:
(Click here for ► Driving in France).
Travellers coming from the UK: it is
usually sufficient to just turn up at a ferry port or the channel
Tunnel, and buy a ticket for the next crossing. However, this is not
advisable in the peak holiday season, or at busy weekends. Besides, it
is often possible to shop around and get a cheaper price, if you book
in advance. Click here to compare
ferry price offers and book online. Driving to France from
most other neighbouring countries (Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy,
Spain) is no problem at all, as systematic customs and border controls
have been abolished within the Schengen area, and traffic flows
smoothly across these borders. Customs and passport controls may slow
down traffic across borders from Switzerland, though this is not
usually the case. The border crossing from Andorra can be very slow, if
customs decide to check cars for contraband, notably duty-free
cigarettes, as they often do.
France by air:
UK and Europe. There are a large number of
regional airports in France, with flights from the UK and other
countries. For further information, check out the flights to France
from North America. For transatlantic passengers, or
passengers from other
continents, the general point of arrival in France will be Paris
Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport. Nice airport is served by Delta from
Geneva airport, which has flights from the US and Asia, lies on the
French-Swiss border, and has a direct exit to France. Brussels, Zurich
and Luxembourg airports are also within easy striking distance of
France. Check out options and best value flights on Expedia.
For visitors from Canada or NE United States,
Air Transat has direct and relatively good value flights from Montreal
to Basel-Mulhouse, Bordeaux, Lyon,
Nantes and Toulouse, as
well as Paris.
For flights to France from Australia, Asia-Pacific
area and all other long-haul flights to France, consult Expedia for best options and
France uses the Euro. The easiest way to get holiday money
(and often the cheapest) is to withdraw euros from an ATM
(hole in the wall, cash dispenser) on arrival in France, or even from a
Euro dispenser in the departure area at a major UK airport. Most French
ATMs accept foreign cards (Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, etc). (See page
and paying for things in France). Note: If your bank / credit
card account is not in Euros, you will pay a commission on each
transaction – withdrawal or payment. Commissions are
greater the smaller the transaction, so it is not advisable to use your
card regularly for a lot of small transactions. You will pay less
(maybe quite a bit less) by withdrawing enough cash for a day or two
from an ATM, then paying in cash.
visitors are strongly advised to make sure that they have health
insurance cover before travelling to France or any other foreign
country. For France, UK visitors should obtain the European Health
Insurance Card (EHIC), which has replaced the old E 111 form; further
details on the About-France.com health
cover in France page.
hundreds of internet sites offering direct booking for hotels, but
beware of sites supposedly offering the "cheapest deals". Check out a
few sites before you book. Visit the hotels page for
information on French hotels, or the interactive
holiday rentals maps on Gitelink.com for
information on renting a
cottage, or bed and breakfast.
in advance; gites, small hotels, campsites. If you need to
make a deposit for accommodation, some premises will accept credit
cards or Paypal; but for those that do not, it is usually possible to
make an "IBAN" transfer, which is quite simple and not expensive. Ask
your bank for details.
in France :
Technically, if you are driving a car registered in the UK or in
another European Union country, you do not
need a green card (international insurance card) to travel to Europe,
just your national car insurance certificate. However, it may well be
that your standard national insurance only provides you with
third-party cover once outside the UK; check with your insurer. Extra
comprehensive cover can be obtained from your normal insurer, or from
an outside source such as the AA. Click
here for more information
about driving and motorways
in France or on driving
south from Calais
phones / cellphones: if you want to continue using your
national mobile phone while abroad, you may need to enable
international use by contacting your operator.
to visit France : The
best times of year are, of course, between April and October: July and
August tend to be very busy in most tourist areas. The Spring and the Early Autumn are a
great time to visit France, if you are not bound by the requirements of
school term dates or work. For day trips to
France from the UK
compare the options available.
Continue now with part 2 : Choosing
It is highly recommended, and in some cases obligatory, to be insured
when you travel. Many people have existing policies, or even credit
cards, that include travel insurance, but it is always a good idea to
check. Make sure that you have accident and emergency cover, including
civil third party liability cover (for humans, as well as your
It is particularly important and usually necessary to take out special
insurance if you plan to do anything out-of-the-ordinary while on
holiday, such as winter-sports or other types of sport.
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