Travel & Tourism in France


Country Profile

FRANCE - France is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and has proved to be additional resilient than in other nations. With the attractions of Eiffle Tower, Loire Valley chateaux, Alpine ski resorts, Riviera beaches and France has been the world’s most visited country since the 1980s. After a record number of visitors in 2015, the revenue from tourism goes up from 7 to 9 percent of France’s economic activity.

France has 37 sites inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List and features cities of high cultural interest including Paris, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon, and others, beaches, seaside resorts and ski resorts.

But after the French capital was recently enveloped in death and violence, tourists may become hesitant to travel to the iconic city. But most of the experts in the tourism industry predicted that Paris will be able to rebound from an initial drop-off in visitors, airlines and local businesses.

Planning Your Trip

The decision to travel to France is traveller's own responsibility. Tourists are also responsible for their personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Passport and ID Cards

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 a full list of visa requirements for short or longer stays, please visit the local embassy of France or its consulate office.

The French government has set up a hotline to provide information +33 (0) 1 45 55 80 00.

Local Currency

France uses the Euro. The easiest way to get holiday money is to withdraw euros from an ATM on arrival in France, or even from a Euro dispenser in the departure area at all major airports. Most French ATMs accept foreign cards (Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, etc). 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 by withdrawing enough cash for a day or two from an ATM, then paying in cash.

Accomodation

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 popular sites for information on French hotels, or the interactive holiday rentals maps on Google.com for information on renting a cottage, or bed and breakfast. 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.

Emergency services

Dial 112 for emergency assistance.

Leisure and Culture

In major cities such as Paris, Lyon or Marseille, there are lively nightclubs that are sometimes free of charge, although drinks are likely to be more expensive. Alternatively, the entrance price sometimes includes a consommation of one drink. Nightclubs are everywhere and in even the remotest corners of France. Their style and music vary widely from one place to another. Nightclubs have a fixed closing time of 0500.

Tourist offices publish an annual and monthly diary of events available free of charge. Several guides are also available which give information about entertainment and sightseeing in the capital. Guides for events in Paris are sold at newspaper kiosks (Pariscope, L'official des Spectacles and Zurban). They list all cinema programmes, museums, exhibitions and all other types of shows.

Night Life

In the provinces, the French generally spend the night eating and drinking, although in the more popular tourist areas, there will be discos and dances. All weekend festivals in summer in the rural areas are a good form of evening entertainment. There are over 100 public casinos in the country.

As an alternative to a nightclub, there are many late-night bars and cafes. In Paris and the regions, theatres offer a wide variety of shows from great classics to light comedy, from one-man shows to cabaret.

Shopping

Special purchases include lace, crystal glass, cheeses, coffee and, of course, wines, spirits and liqueurs. Arques, the home of Crystal D'Arques, is situated between St Omer and Calais. Lille, the main town of French Flanders, is known for its textiles, particularly fine lace. Most towns have fruit and vegetable markets on Saturday. Hypermarkets, enormous supermarkets that sell everything from foodstuffs and clothes to electrical equipment and furniture, are widespread in France. They tend to be situated just outside of town and all have parking facilities.

Paris has many varied markets including the flower market on the Ile de la Cité and bird, organic and food markets in every quarter. Another Parisian speciality is book markets. Travelers will find booksellers' stalls along the banks of the Seine around the Saint Michel quarter, crammed with all kinds of books plus comics and postcards.

Culture

The Art in France form the second most important aspect of its rich culture. France has produced several world-renowned artists, painters, authors, and musicians and the artistic history of France dates back to thousands of years. The cave paintings of Altamira, Font de Gaume, Lascaux, Les Combarelles, Niaux Cave and Les Trois Frères show the artistic richness of France since time unknown. During medieval period, France emerged as an important center of art and architecture in the world. Among famous artists of France include Edgar Degas, Francis Picabia, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet. The world-renowned Victor Hugo who wrote Le Miserables and the Hunchback of Notre Dame were also from France. The renowned Spanish painter Pablo Picasso settled in France in 1904 and contributed significantly to the progress of art in France. France is home to thousands of museums including the world-famous Louvre Museum, Musée d'Orsay and Picasso Museum with amazing collections of art and artifacts. France is also famous for its music, cinemas and sports, especially football. France has long been considered an important center for European art and music. Music in France is characterized by its amazing varieties of indigenous folk music as well as styles brought by immigrants from Africa, Latin America and Asia. France has produced several legendary composers in the field of classical music including famous pianist and composer Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy and Hector Berlioz. Among popular contemporary composers in France include Olivier Messiaen and Pierre Boulez. Jazz, ballet and opera are other most popular forms of music and dances in France.

Sports

Whatever sport you can think of it is almost sure that the French practise it and that you will be able to enjoy it yourself. Here are listed some of the most popular sports practised in France: • Soccer • Cycling • Skiing • Windsurfing • Waterskiing • River rafting • Pétanque • Hiking • Fishing • Mountain climbing • Tennis

Health and Safety

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, European visitors should obtain the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which has replaced the old E 111 form

Road Safety

In Paris, a walk along the beautiful banks of the Seine is a must. However, it is safer, even in the daytime, to walk up on the pavement rather than going down the quays and walking right along the bank. Even though it looks pretty, there are some undesirable characters down there, and if you do get into difficulties, its much harder to get away compared to if you are up on the roadside.

Montmarte is a safe neighborhood and if you go down the hill to Pigalle, which is the Red Light district, you will not need to worry too much as it’s very lively and touristy, even late at night. Don't stay too long on the main boulevard because there are drug dealers and drunk people as well (be especially cautious if you are a female).

The North of Paris is not the safest. Around both Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est, you should always keep an eye on your wallet. If you want to explore La Goutte d’Or, which is a quite poor district, you should go there only during the daytime.

Speed limits and other driving regulations may be strictly enforced through heavy, on-the-spot fines and the confiscation of a driver’s licence. Numerous roadside cameras have been installed to help enforce traffic regulations. Radar detection systems are prohibited.

Transportation

Reaching France by Air

There are a large number of regional airports in France, with flights from the UK and other countries. 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 JFK. 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.

Driving in France

If you are driving a car registered in any 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.

Places to See

Eiffel Tower

Seven million people visit it annually but few disagree each visit is unique. From an evening ascent amid twinkling lights to lunch at 58 Tour Eiffel in the company of a staggering city panorama, there are 101 ways to ‘do’ it. Pedal beneath it, skip the lift and hike up, buy a crêpe from a stand here or a key ring from the street, snap yourself in front of it, visit it at night or – our favourite – on the odd special occasion when all 324m of the tower glows a different colour.

Adrenalin Kick, Chamonix

The Vallée Blanche is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You won’t regret the €70-odd it costs to do the more than 20km off -piste descent from the spike of the Aiguille du Midi to mountaineering mecca Chamonix – every minute of the five hours it takes to get down will pump more adrenalin in your body than anything else you’ve ever done. Craving more? Hurl yourself down Europe’s longest black run, La Sarenne, at Alpe d’Huez.

Mont St-Michel

The dramatic play of tides on this abbey-island in Normandy is magical and mysterious. Said by Celtic mythology to be a sea tomb to which souls of the dead were sent, Mont St-Michel is rich in legend and history, keenly felt as you make your way barefoot across rippled sand to the stunning architectural ensemble. Walk around it alone or, better still, hook up with a guide in nearby Genêts for a dramatic day hike across the bay in your body than anything else you’ve ever done. Craving more? Hurl yourself down Europe’s longest black run, La Sarenne, at Alpe d’Huez.

Bistro Dining, Paris

The latest buzzword in the capital is néo-bistro (new bistro), a small, casual address serving outstanding cuisine under the tutelage of a talented (and often ‘name’) chef. Take Christian Constant’s Les Cocottes, a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, or Jadis, hidden on a little-known street in middle-of-nowhere. Tables are jammed as tight as ever, dishes of the day are still chalked on the blackboard, and cuisine is just as simple except for one new ingredient – a creative twist

Loire Valley Châteaux

If it’s aristocratic pomp and architectural splendour you’re after, this regal valley is the place to linger. Flowing for over 1000km into the Atlantic Ocean, the Loire is one of France’s last fleuves sauvages (wild rivers) and its banks are a 1000- year snapshot of French high society. The valley is riddled with beautiful châteaux sporting glittering turrets and ballrooms, lavish cupolas and chapels. If you’re a hopeless romantic seeking the perfect fairy-tale castle, head for moat-ringed Azay-le- Rideau, Villandry and its gardens, and less visited Beauregard.

About Diplomat

Salient Links UK Limited launched the Diplomat Link in October 2011 with an objective to provide a platform to diplomatic community to share and exchange their experiences while working in different cultures and countries.

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