Useful information : When to go, Getting around...
When to go
Summer is in general the season to enjoy France: holidaymakers can be fairly confident that hot weather awaits them, on both the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, in the mountains and in the regions of the Centre. It is the season of fairs and festivals, Bastille Day processions (14 July) and the Tour de France, night-time markets and outdoor pursuits. On the other hand, it is the time when the crowds are biggest.
Spring, sometimes late to show its face, can be a mixed bag, with days marred by storms alternating with almost summery weather in the south. April marks the start of the tourist season, with campsites, parks and gardens, as well as numerous residences and châteaux throughout France, opening their gates.
Autumn tends to see the appearance of rain, but this time of year can still offer fine, sunny days. After the grape harvests, nature passes through the colour spectrum of greens, ochres and golds, making this a great time to enjoy the landscapes of Bourgogne, Alsace or Normandy, all the more so in that tourists make themselves scarce by this time.
In winter, snow-capped peaks attract skiers to the resorts in the Vosges, Jura, Massif Central, Alps and Pyrenees. Towns and villages are illuminated in the run-up to Christmas. Foires aux santons (fairs for traditional hand-painted nativity scene figurines) create a buzz in Provence, and Christmas markets pop up everywhere, although the tradition is liveliest in Alsace. If you choose this season to visit, check the opening times of tourist sites, as many close for part of winter.
Formalities and useful addresses
For nationals of a European Union country, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Switzerland: a valid national identity card or passport (even one that has expired in the last five years)
For U.S. and Canadian citizens: valid passport; no visa required for stays under 90 days.
French Embassy – 4101 Reservoir Rd NW – Washington, DC 20007 – [TEL] (202) 944 6000 – www.ambafrance-us.org
Ambassade de France – 42 promenade Sussex - Ottawa - ON K1M 2C9 - [TEL] (613) 789 1795.
French Embassy – 58 Knightsbridge – London – SW1X 7JT – [TEL] (0207) 073 1000 – www.ambafrance-uk.org French Embassy – 66 Fitzwilliam Lane – Dublin 2 – [TEL] (01) 277 5000 – www.ambafrance-ie.org French Embassy – 42 Sussex Drive – Ottawa – ON K1M 2C9 – [TEL] +1 (613) 789 1795 – http://www.ambafrance-ca.org/-English- Tourist Offices in France – www.tourisme.fr
Tourism Development Agency for France – http://atout-france.fr (websites in French only)
U.S. Embassy Paris – 2 av. Gabriel – 75008 Paris – [TEL] 01 43 12 22 22 (including in case of emergency) – www.france.usembassy.gov; U.S. Consulate General Marseille – Pl. Varian Fry – 13286 Marseille Cedex 6 – [TEL] 01 43 12 48 85; emergency after-hours calls – [TEL] 01 43 12 22 22; if calling from the U.S. [TEL] 011 33 1 43 12 22 22
British Embassy Paris – 35 r. du Faubourg Saint-Honoré – 75008 Paris – [TEL] 01 44 51 31 00 (including in case of emergency) – www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/british-embassy-paris; British Consulate – 16 r. d'Anjou – 75008 Paris – [TEL] 01 44 51 31 00
Canadian Embassy – 35 av. Montaigne – 75008 Paris – [TEL] 01 44 43 29 00; Consular services – [TEL] 01 44 43 29 02 – www.france.gc.ca
Embassy of Ireland in France – 12 av. Foch, corner 4 r. Rude – 75116 Paris – [TEL] 01 44 17 67 00 (including in case of emergency) – www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/france
Money and budget
Banks are generally open Monday to Friday 9am-1pm and 2pm-5.30pm or 6pm. Some branches are also open Saturday 9am-1pm. Others may be open all day Saturday instead of Monday. Closed Sunday and bank holidays.
The main international debit and credit cards are accepted in almost all shops, hotels and restaurants.
There are also plenty of ATMs, where the majority of international cards can be used to withdraw cash.
Health and safety
Before leaving your country, consult your government's advice for travellers:
Single European emergency number: [TEL] 112
Medical emergencies: [TEL] 15
Police: [TEL] 17
Fire brigade: [TEL] 18
220 V. Older wall sockets take plugs with two round prongs; newer sockets take three-pronged plugs.
14 July – French National Day
Paris has two international airports: Paris Charles-de-Gaulle and Paris Orly (www.aeroportsdeparis.fr). Other cities outside of the capital such as Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Strasbourg and Toulouse also all have an airport.