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Tips for traveling to France

20 Insider Tips For Traveling to France [Infographic]

Tips for traveling to France

From the smell of freshly baked baguettes from the local bakery, to views of the romantic châteaux (castles) in the Loire Valley, to the diverse array of masterpieces displayed in the museums of Paris – France has so much to offer!

If you’re taking a trip to this beautiful country soon, keep reading to learn how to plan the perfect itinerary so you can enjoy France at its best. We’ll share about the weather, what to order when dining out, a few little known sites, and many more helpful tips for traveling to France!

20 Game-Changing Tips for Traveling to France

1. Keep French Fashion in Mind

Pack clothes that are versatile and chic, keeping in mind that the French are simple and effortless when it comes to their style. The saying “less is more” works well for the French.   

One of your goals should be to blend in with the locals – not stand out as a tourist. For the ladies, bring a scarf! In the summertime, light scarves can add a touch of class, or be used as an extra layer at nighttime without the bulk of a jacket.

2. Pack Comfy Shoes

Bring a pair, or two, of comfortable shoes to France. When traveling, you should always expect to be walking quite a bit, whether it’s through the cobbled streets of Le Vieux Carré (the Old Quarter) or through the vineyards in the South.

So leave the stiletto heels at home and opt for a pair of comfortable sandals or sturdy boots. Your feet will thank you later!

3.  Learn the Language

Locals love when visitors attempt to speak the native language. Even if your French is a little rusty and you can only muster up a polite “Je voudrais un café, s’il vous plait” (“I would like a coffee please”), the French will greatly appreciate the effort.

The best way to learn French before your trip is with the help of an experienced tutor. If you’re interested in building up your French vocabulary quickly, try out the online French classes at TakeLessons Live. Classes are completely free for your first month!

4. Check the Weather

Regions along the three coasts of France have a more temperate climate, unlike areas in central France, where you’ll experience more variation between seasons. Paris can also become fairly hot in the summer, so be prepared by packing light-colored clothing made of loose material.

The summer months in the south along the Mediterranean have very little rainfall, but the rest of the country experiences rainy months throughout the year. Paris has quite a bit of rainfall from April through August. Whatever the season, it’s always a good idea to check the forecast prior to your visit to France!

5. Travel in Spring or Fall

If you’re on a budget, the most cost-effective times to travel to France are during the spring and fall months. Keep in mind that if plane tickets are purchased at least three months in advance, you will be able to find some better deals!

6. Try a Bed & Breakfast

Relax in the many charming bed and breakfasts that France has to offer! While there are many options for lodging available to visitors, the more intimate bed and breakfasts in France are superb. Many of them offer home-cooked meals of the region, and the locals’ take on must-see sites.

7. Eat Like a Local

The French are known for, and proud, of their cuisine. Wherever you are in the country, be sure to try the local delicacies. If you’re traveling to Bordeaux, try the cannelé – a small pastry made of vanilla and rum.

Take in the view of the Mediterranean while dining on a traditional seafood dish of the region. You won’t regret trying the bouillabaisse (seafood stew) in Marseille, or the delicious quenelle in Lyon!

SEE ALSO: 50 Useful French Phrases for Travelers

8. Enjoy an Apéritif or Digestif

In France, sometimes the best drinks come just before or after a delicious meal. An apéritif (pre-meal drink) is usually enjoyed among friends before a plat de fromage (cheese plate) is served.

One common apéritif is the kir, which is a mix of white wine and blackcurrant. A common digestif (post-meal drink) is an espresso. Or you can try the “eau de vie,” literally translated “water of life,” which is a popular fruit brandy.

9. Check the Prix Fixe Menu

When you’re unsure about what to order, the prix fixe (fixed price) menu will be your best friend. Selected by the chef, it includes several dishes from the entrée (appetizer) to the plat principal (main dish) to the dessert.  

10. Shop at Outdoor Markets  

One way to save money without sacrificing the French experience is to shop at the outdoor markets. Most towns have an outdoor market or “marché en plein air.” Here, you can find vendors selling the region’s best at a more affordable price. Just be sure to check the local schedule, as some markets are only open on specific days of the week.

11. Enjoy Local Wines

As with the food in France, it’s usually best to go with the regional wine. While there are many options for wine, opting for the local wine is the best choice if you want to fully experience and appreciate the specialties of the area.

12. Travel by Train

Another way to save money on travel expenses while visiting France is to take the train. For the best deals, book three months in advance if you already have an itinerary set. If you’re under 25 and visiting France for a study abroad program or internship, signing up for a “Carte Jeune” offers reduced train fares!

13. Follow the Tour de France

Are you a fan of cycling? If not, would you like to follow a route that takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of France? Follow the cyclists at the Tour de France! This annual event takes place in July with a route through several notable cities and sites.

14. Celebrate La Fête Nationale

Also known as Bastille Day, the French independence day is well-celebrated in this country. If you’ll be in France on July 14th, you’ll get to witness fireworks shows and join in on the festivities. In Paris, go to a ball after the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower! The music and dancing begins around 9 PM.

SEE ALSO: What to Pack for France [Infographic]

15. Check out the Museums

The Louvre is one of the most popular museums in France, but there are so many other inspiring sites to add to your travel list! In Paris alone, there is the lesser-known Musée d’Orsay that boasts of numerous Impressionist paintings by Monet, and the Centre Pompidou that features contemporary and more interactive art. Both have slightly shorter admission lines!

16. Visit Luberon

Don’t forget to bring your camera to the picturesque lavender fields in France. The lavender that blooms in the South of France is a scent that is truly unforgettable. In Luberon these fragrant flowers bloom anytime between late June to early August, with the peak of the season being in early July.

17. Learn About History in Normandy

If you’re interested in historical events, head north for Normandy. Along the coast you’ll find the infamous Normandy and Omaha beaches where you can see remnants of WWII bunkers and memorials to those who fought during the war.

18. Stop by the Castles

France is home to many beautiful and unique châteaux (castles) in the center of the country. Relive the grandeur of the châteaux in the Loire Valley. Villandry is famous for its gardens that are exact replicas of the medieval gardens, while Chambord includes a grand central staircase in the main entrance.

This area of the country is less crowded than Paris or the beaches in the South, so it would make an excellent addition to your itinerary if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle.

19. Make Your Way to Île de Ré

At the mention of French beaches, most people think about the beaches along the Mediterranean Coast. Bask in the sunshine on Île de Ré instead. Located just off the western coast of France, Île de Ré is a unique and lesser-known beach that is connected to the mainland by a bridge.

20. Enjoy the Moment

While planning a trip to France often includes many preparations, it’s important to remember to savor the moment and not get too caught up in your itinerary. Enjoy the food, enjoy the wine, and enjoy the sites. But most importantly – enjoy the journey from one destination to another! Check out the infographic below for a visual reminder of each of these insider tips!

 

20 Insider Tips for Traveling to France

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Please include attribution to TakeLessons.com with this graphic.

 

Keep these tips for traveling to France in mind and you’ll be able to plan the perfect vacation! Enjoying all the food, drinks, and sites that France has to offer will make your visit one that you’ll always remember. Don’t forget to check out TakeLessons Live before you depart to brush up on your French language skills!

 

Post Author: Jinky B.
Jinky B. teaches French and ESL in Jacksonville, Florida. She has her Bachelors in French, French Literature, and Psychology from Florida State University and over five years of teaching experience. Learn more about Jinky B. here!

Moving to France: Honest Advice From Expats Living in France

 

Moving to France- Real Advice From Expats Living in France (1)

Congratulations, you’ve finally made the decision to move to France. Now comes the hard part, getting you and your stuff there.

If you thought making the decision the leave your friends and family was hard, you’ve got another thing coming. Moving to France—or any foreign country for that matter—isn’t easy.

After all, you’re moving to a country where you don’t speak the language and you’re mostly unfamiliar with the customs and culture.

Lucky for you, we’ve interviewed several expats who’ve made the big move and asked them what they wish someone would have told them before moving to France.

Let’s take a look at what these experienced expats had to say about moving to France.

1. Find Temporary Housing

“One of my pieces of advice to people is about finding housing. Searching for housing from afar is not easy and can often be wrought with pitfalls,” says Melissa Ladd, creator of Prête-Moi Paris.

“Paris is a difficult place to find an apartment to rent or buy, because prices are very high and it is a rather small city so there is less space for everyone, thus less available housing. I suggest getting a temporary rental for a month or few when you first arrive, to give you the time you need to find something long term or permanent.”

2. Do Your Homework

“Before moving to France (or any other country) do your homework so you will know what you’re getting into. Also realize France will be quite different from where you’re coming from. There will be adjustment and a learning curve. Contact your nearest French consulate to find out what’s needed for your move,” says Jeff Steiner, creator of Americans in France.

“I often see people asking online what paperwork they need to move to France. Well the only place you’ll get an answer is at the consulate. If the consulate is unhelpful or doesn’t answer your question the way you’d like, then maybe France isn’t for you. If you can’t take the paperwork demanded to move to France you’re not going to like the paperwork needed to live here on a daily bases. That said it can be a great place to live.”

3. Learn the Language

It can be extremely difficult–not to mention frustrating–trying to navigate an unfamiliar city without knowing how to speak the language. Before moving to France, you might want to consider learning some French.

While being fluent in French is ideal, it’s not always possible. We suggest learning basic phrases that will help you hold a conversation with a native. Check out these 25 conversational French phrases to get you started.

4. Read Reviews en Français

“So you just moved here and you want to go to a bar. Or a restaurant. Or even find some decent chocolate to bring to a dinner party. I suggest reading reviews, but not in English. Visit the French version of sites like Timeout, TripAdvisor, and even Yelp. If your French is good enough, you can get the gist of what the review says. If it’s not so good, use Google Translate,” suggests Whitney Donaldson, creator of Whitney in Paris.

“Reading in French will steer you away from reviews left by those who are only in town for a few days a.k.a Anglophones who don’t live in France. There is nothing wrong with that but if you want a feel for the local flavor right off the bat, do a little searching en Français.”

5. Don’t Lose Your Cool

“Be patient and remain calm at all times. There are many great aspects about living in France, but many that make me want to pull my hair out. I used to get upset every time something took longer than I thought it should or if something didn’t go exactly as planned,” says Audrey Hickey, author of Audrey Meets World.

“Take it from me, this is a sure way to exhaust yourself very quickly. Know your rights, know the rules, and keep every single piece of paperwork; you never know.”

6. Greet People Properly

“Kiss don’t hug – on the whole, the French are not huggers and will be horrified if you throw your arms around them and pull them close against you – kissing them on the face four times is fine though,” says Janine Marsh, editor of The Good Life France.

“The French can be quite formal at times so don’t expect to be on first name times for a while. When you’re introduced it will often be as Monsieur or Madame this or that and you’re expected to call them as such until they invite you to call them by their first name. It’s not that they’re aloof, it’s just a way of life in France.”

7. Mind Your Ps and Qs

“Never forget to say ‘bonjour’ upon entering an establishment, and ‘merci, au revoir’ upon leaving. This is an essential part of French culture and to not do so is considered incredibly impolite,” says Edna, creator of Expat Edna.

“Even if I enter a shop and accidentally blurt out my order, I’ll stop, backtrack, say ‘Bonjour’ and start over to show that I respect them.”

Good Luck!

Moving to France can be scary, even for the most seasoned travelers. Make the transition easier by taking advice from the experts above.

Have you recently moved to France? We want to hear from you! Share some of your expert advice in the comment section below.

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8 Places to Visit in France Outside Paris

Are you planning a vacation to France? French teacher, Carol Beth L. shares eight wonderful places to visit in France outside of Paris…

Chances are the “City of Light” is one of the top places to visit on your travel itinerary. Visiting Paris, however, doesn’t mean you’ve seen all that France has to offer by a long shot. There are many other wonderful places to visit in France.

Lucky for you, Europe has a relatively good rail system, which means you can visit places in France with ease and comfort. If you’re not sure where to start, below are eight beautiful places to visit in France.

In addition to speaking French with locals, be sure to take in all of the French culture and delicious French foods. After all, each region has it’s own unique specialties.

Are you an avid skier or snowboarder? The French Alps border France to the east, right along Italy, Switzerland, and Germany.

The mountain range is known for its height and beauty, and makes for an excellent ski or hiking location.

This southern French castle has an interesting story. According to legend, a peasant girl saved the inhabitants from siege when she suggested they catapult a pig fattened with their last grain.

The castle itself is beautiful and worth the trip. It is relatively close to the city of Toulouse, which is home to several cathedrals and museums, including the Pont Neuf, la Cite de l’Espace, and more.

If you like architecture then you’ll love Loire Valley. Loire Valley is home to several astonishing castles.

The best part is you can see several different castles in a short period of time, as they are located in close proximity to one another.

Located on the eastern coast of France, this beautiful castle is connected to shore by a thin strip of beach during low tide. During high tide, it becomes an island.

Book the castle hotel (in advance) and stay the night. You’ll get to eat on castle grounds, and march all the way up to the church at the very top of the castle.

Located in the province of Dordogne, these caves boast some of Western Europe’s best and most extensive examples of prehistoric cave paintings.

If you’re a history, anthropology, or art buff, this might be a good place for you to start your journey.

This capital city of the eastern province of Alsace lies right along France’s eastern border with Germany.

The German influence is still evident, especially in the food and the street signs, which are in French, German, and English.

Try some sausages or other local dishes before you leave. Some notable city sites include the Musee d’Alsace, the Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg, the European Parliament, and the Musee du Chocolat.

Aix-en-Provence is located in the south of France, close to Marseilles. You’ll have the taste of the sun, seafood, and fresh fruits and vegetables typically associated with southern France.

A few well-known locations include the Cours Mirabeau, the Aux Cathedral, and the Museum of Natural History.

If you’re there in the month of July, keep your eyes peeled for events related to the Aix-en-Provence Festival, an annual music festival.

Located in the north of France, Rouen contains a number of old churches worth visiting, including a local cathedral later painted by Monet and a church named after Saint Joan of Arc.

Also of interest are Rouen’s Musée des Beaux-Arts, Jardin des Plantes, Natural History Museum, and Maritime Museum.

These places to visit in France offer both beauty and history. Check with the local office of tourism and with your hotel, as they may offer expert guided tours.

And of course, learn some French. Even if you aren’t perfect, locals will surely appreciate your efforts!

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

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Bon Voyage! What to Pack for France [Infographic]

what to pack for franceNeed to know what to pack for France? French tutor Carol Beth L. shares her tips to make your trip abroad a success!

As you pack for your trip to France, it’s important to keep in mind your needs and goals – and where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing while you’re over there!

The number one recommendation I would give to would-be travelers to France is to pack lightly. Especially if you live in an English-speaking country other than Great Britain, you’re probably in for a relatively long flight.

Once you’re there, especially if you’ll be traveling around significantly, you won’t want to have to lug too much around with you.

Remember that France is not only a civilized country, but it also contains many wonderful, desirable items you may wish to bring back with you. You might even want to bring an extra bag if you plan to do lots of shopping.

What to Pack for France

Bon-Voyage!-What-to-Pack-for-a-Trip-to-France-2 (1)

Before you go to France, be sure to study these eight essential French phrases for travelers, and try the 10 tips to learn French fast!

How to Travel Light on Your Trip to France

what to pack for france travel light

If you’re near time for a wardrobe update, consider buying some of your new clothes after you arrive in France. For those you do bring, select just a few essentials that are appropriate to the season. If you need a winter coat or other warm clothes, wear them in layers during the flight.

Consider travel-sized essentials. This will also help with US security restrictions on liquids such as toothpaste and shampoo.

If you can, leave the technology behind. Especially if it’s a short trip, consider whether you can make it without your laptop. If you have things you must do using a device, will an iPad or iPhone suffice? Consider bringing a USB if you need data storage, and looking up an internet cafe while abroad for any more complicated technological or online necessities.

It is possible to go without checked luggage. On my first three international trips – including a semester abroad and an orchestral tour that required my violin – I avoiding checked luggage. It made things simpler and easier both before and after arrival.

Consider Your Accommodations

what to pack for france hotel

My second recommendation is to consider where you will be staying. Will you have a place to lock up your things to keep them safe? Will you need to keep them with you perpetually? If you leave them in your room, will they be secure?

Don’t bring anything you wouldn’t trust to survive in the places you’ll be going, and be prepared with a back-up plan to replace or retrieve backups of anything that goes missing.

Don’t Forget Your Camera

what to pack for france camera

My third recommendation is to bring a record-keeping device and to have a plan to keep it going. This probably sounds obvious to many people. Many people probably have a with them most of the time on their mobile phones.

Sometimes simple or low-tech solutions can be just as good. In high school, my mom stuck several disposable cameras in my bags for my trip to Europe, and I used them. They worked quite well.

In college, I took a miniature camera, and the batteries fell out when it took a plunge down the steps of a cathedral. Much of the data from that batch of photos was lost because it took me too long to retrieve the parts and put them together.

Power Up Your Devices

what to pack for france charger

For those who bring chargeable or plug-in items, keep in mind also that you will need converters that will first of all allow you to plug in your device, and second of all convert the electrical current properly if there isn’t one internal to the device already.

Laptop computers often have current converters in their electrical chords, but still require a plug adapter to allow the end of the chord to plug into French electrical outlets. Fortunately for international travelers, if you are traveling to more than one European country, most European countries are consistent among themselves.

While you are in France, have fun and experience as much as you can! Travel is simultaneously fun and educational, and the freer you are the more you will be able to bring back with you, both mentally and physically.

What’s in your suitcase? Share your French-travel essentials in the comments below!

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

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useful french phrases

50 Common French Phrases to Know for Travel & Everyday Life

Traveling to France is a grand adventure where you’ll get to explore the local culture, including all the beautiful artwork and delicious cuisine! Getting around France however, isn’t always so glamorous.

As you prepare for your vacation, it’s important that you attempt to learn some basic French. There are a handful of phrases that you’ll find especially useful as you travel, such as the ones in this video-

50 French Phrases to Know

For even more essential French phrases for travelers, keep reading. These important French phrases will help you navigate your way throughout France with ease!

Common French Phrases for Conversation

useful french phrases to know

1. Bonjour! (Good morning, hello)

2. Bienvenue. (Welcome.)

3. Madame/Monsieur/Mademoiselle (Mrs. /Mr. /Miss)

4. Pardon, excusez-moi. (Pardon, excuse me.)

5. Parlez-vous anglais? (Do you speak English?)

6. Je ne parle pas français. (I do not speak French.)

7. À tout à l’heure! (See you later!)

8. Merci/Merci beaucoup. (Thank you/Thank you very much.)

9. Au revoir! (Goodbye!)

10. De rien. (You’re welcome.)

Common French Phrases for Getting Information

common french phrases to know

11. Pourriez-vous m’aider? (Can you help me?)

12. Je ne comprends pas. (I do not understand.)

13. Parlez lentement, s’il vous plaît. (Speak slowly, please.)

14. Répétez, s’il vous plait. (Repeat, please.)

15. Où sont des toilettes? (Where are the toilets?)

16. Où est un bon restaurant/un bon café? (Where is a good restaurant/a good café?)

17. Où est la plage/le centre-ville? (Where is the beach/city center?)

18. Je cherche le métro/le gare/l’aéroport. (I am searching for the metro/train station/airport.)

19. Je cherche l’hôtel/l’hôpital/la banque. (I am searching for the hotel/hospital/bank.)

20. Pourriez-vous prendre ma photo/notre photo? (Are you able to take my photo/our photo?)

Useful French Phrases for Directions

french for travelers

21. Où sommes-nous? (Where are we?)

22. C’est à gauche. (It’s to the left.)

23. C’est à droite. (It’s to the right.)

24. C’est tout droit. (It’s straight ahead.)

25. Est-ce que c’est loin/proche? (Is it far/close?)

Useful French Phrases for Transportation

French phrases for travel

26. Où est le guichet? (Where is the ticket window?)

27. Je voudrais regarder l’horaire. (I would like to look at the schedule.)

28. Je voudrais réserver un billet. (I would like to reserve a ticket.)

29. Je voudrais acheter un billet aller simple/aller-retour pour Paris. (I would like to purchase a one-way ticket/a round-trip ticket.)

30. À quelle heure faut-il arriver? (What time should it arrive?)

Useful French Phrases for Accommodations

important french phrases for travelers

31. Quelles chambres avez-vous de disponible? (What rooms do you have available?)

32. Est-ce qu’il y a de climatisation? (Is there air conditioning?)

33. Je voudrais une chambre pour deux. (I would like a double room.)

34. Je voudrais annuler ma réservation. (I would like to cancel my reservation.)

35. À quelle heure est-ce qu’il faut régler la note? (At what time should we check out?)

Common French Phrases for Shopping

essential French phrases

36. Où sont les magasins? (Where are the shops?)

37. Où est le centre-commercial? (Where is the mall?)

38. Est-ce que je peux payer avec une carte de crédit? (Can I pay with a credit card?)

39. À quelle heure est-ce que s’est ouvert? (At what time is it open?)

40. À quelle heure est-ce que s’est fermé? (At what time is it closed?)

41. Je cherche un sac/une carte postale/un livre. (I am searching for a bag/a postcard/a book.)

42. Combien ça coûte? (How much does it cost?)

43. C’est trop cher! (It’s too expensive!)

44. C’est bon marché! (It’s a great deal!)

45. C’est bon/mal/terrible. (It’s good/bad/terrible.)

Useful French Phrases for Dining

common phrases in French

46. La carte/le menu, s’il vous plaît. (The menu/fixed-price menu, please.)

47. Je voudrais un café. (I would like a coffee.)

48. Je voudrais un verre. (I would like a glass*.) *usually refers to a glass of beer

49. Je voudrais de l’eau. (I would like some water.)

50. L’addition, s’il vous plaît. (The bill, please.)

Familiarize yourself with these important French phrases before your next big trip to France.

The best way to experience all that France has to offer is to fully immerse yourself in conversation with the locals. Experienced travelers may even prefer to try an independent driving tour of France, while staying at B&B accommodations with friendly French hosts.

These options will give you plenty of opportunities to practice your French! Want to refine your accent and learn even more? Consider taking group classes, or lessons from a private French tutor.