What to Wear
Paris, cradle of haute couture, is chic, so don your smarter threads (think Parisian, think accessories). The furlher south you go, the more relaxed fashion becomes, although it’s still sassy, especially on the French Riviera. Avoid shorts and ﬂip-ﬂops unless you’re at the beach, and dress up rather than down at restaurants, clubs and bars – no jeans and trainers, unless you’re at the local village bar. Bring a sweater (jumper) and rain jacket, and something to protect your skin from peckish mosquitoes. Take sensible shoes whatever the season – cobbled streets simply don’t marry with high heels or thin soles.
What to Pack
» Credit cards
» This guidebook
» Driver’s licence
» Travel plug (adaptor)
» Mobile phone (cell phone) and charger
» Sunscreen, sunhat and sunglasses
» Umbrella (northern France)
» Rainproof jacket
» Torch (ﬂashlight)
» Pocketknife with corkscrew
» Medical kit
» Comfortable walking shoes
» Light scarf or sarong
» Book or e-reader
» Check passport validity
» Check if you need a visa ( Click here )
» Arrange travel insuranoe ( Click here )
» Check airline baggage restrictions
» Book ahead for accommodation and big-name restaurants
» Buy tickets online for the Louvre, Eiffel Tower etc
» Organise international roaming on your phone if needed ( Click here )
» Download France-related travel apps and music playlist
Shake hands and say ‘Bonjour’ (Hello) or ‘Bonsoir’ (Good evening) to strangers, and exchange two cheek-skimming kisses – right cheek ﬁrst – with casual acquaintances and friends. Use the polite ‘vous’ form, as in ‘Comment allez-vous?’ (How are you?) to address anyone older than you or who you don’t know well, and ‘tu’ for close friends and family. For more on kissing etiquette.
» Asking for help
Say ‘excusez-moi’ (excuse me) to attract attention, ‘pardon’ (sorry) to apologise.
Dress modesﬂy (cover shoulders) and be l’€5p6Ctfl.1l of any religious service going on.
When dining in a French home, wait for your host to start ﬁrst. Use your cutlery, never your ﬁngers, to eat and always eat everything on your plate. When dining out, never use ‘garcon’ to summon a waiter, rather
‘Monsieur’, ‘Mademoiselle’ or Madame’.
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, but there’s often a minimum purchase of €15. Visa and MasterCard are most popular; American Express is only accepted by intenational chain hotels, luxury boutiques and department stores. Check if bars, cafes and restaurants accept cards before ordering; places in Corsica and rural villages don’t. Chip-and-pin is the norm for card transactions – few places accept signatures. ATMs (points d ’argent or distributeurs automatiques dc billets) are everywhere, offering withdrawal from savings accounts and cash advances on credit cards. Both incur international transaction fees. If you don’t want to rely on plastic, you can change cash and travellers cheques at some banks, post offices and bureaux dc change (money-exchange ofﬁces). Ask for un mélange (an assortment) of banknotes; many shops don’t accept €200 and €500 bills.
What to Wear