|On this page ►||Passport or visa?||France by car||Flying to France|
|Health insurance||Money||Other points|
things first: preparing your journey
- Passport 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 required for 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:
From the 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 page.
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, Marseille, 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 prices.
- Currency : 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 on Banks 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 proportionally 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.
- Health : 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.
and hotels :
There are 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, else our information on Paris 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
- Mobile 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.
- When 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 a holiday
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Practical information pages designed to help you prepare your holiday in France, decide when and where to go, what to take with you, where to stay and how to get there
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regions of France
Beyond Paris, a guide to the French regions and their tourist attractions.
Make the most of your trip to Paris; Information on attractions, Paris hotels, transport, and lots more.
The different options, including hotels, holiday gites, b&b, hostels and more
|Tourism in France
The main tourist attractions and places to visit in France - historic monuments, art galleries, seasides, and more
a trip to France
Information on things to do before starting your trip to France.
Tips and useful information on driving in and through France - motorways, tolls, where to stay....