TRAVEL TIPS FOR FRANCE FOR FIRST-TIME TRAVELERS

TRAVEL TIPS FOR FRANCE FOR FIRST-TIME TRAVELERS

There’s just something magical about France – it is home to gourmet food, fine wine, opulent landmarks, haute couture, and an amazing countryside.

It’s easy to see why this country is one of the most visited in the world.

About the size of Texas, it has something to entice every kind of traveler.

France satisfies those with an adventurous spirit.

It also satisfies the food and wine connoisseurs.

And it definitely meets the expectations of the fashion divas.

Oh…and the arts and culture lovers too!

Who does that leave?

Almost no-one!

From the iconic cities to the quaint countryside – whatever you crave – France will deliver.

But a bunch of helpful travel tips for France can be a real life-saver and help you make the most of your trip to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world!

Sunset-Over-a-Lavender-Field

Wining and Dining in France

It is a joy to learn about French cuisine and local delicacies.

If you familiarize yourself with French food a bit before your trip, it will make ordering food at a restaurant easier.

This is especially true if you have any food allergies.

Wine lovers naturally gravitate to France.

If you partake of the savory grape, be sure to book at least one wine tour, or devote a day to independent wine tasting.

Not only will you get to sample many delicious French wines, you will learn a lot about the wine-making process.

You will find the ever-popular fruit brandy in many places, as well.

It is up to you to decide where you want to go when visiting France.

Satisfy your intrepid travel cravings by following these travel tips for France.

  • Tipping isn’t necessary in restaurants, as it will already be included in your bill. At bars and cafes, a 10% tip is welcome, but not required. The same is true for taxi drivers.
  • As with many European countries, the French like to take a “siesta.” This means that many businesses will close for at least a couple of hours in the afternoon.
Drinking-French-Wine-in-Solutre-Pouilly-France

What to Pack for Traveling to France?

Having a packing list is essential.

Your packing list should complement the activities you plan to do.

For example, if you’re staying in a large city, you will definitely need a good pair of walking shoes!

Packing nice dresses for ladies and elegant shirt and pants for guys is great for wine tasting.

Regardless, you will want to pack clothes that are comfortable and stylish, no matter what you do or where you go.

An important travel tip for France – preferably don’t wear sweatpants or shorts when visiting restaurants, which you will almost every single day to sample the awesome food and local wine.

If you can wear a stylish yet comfortable outfit for every day spent in the style capital of the world, you’ll have won over the French people already and bonus: you won’t feel so out of place in your jeans and flip-flops!

Here are some items that you must not forget to pack:

  • An adapter that will work for French electrical outlets. A universal adapter will work. If you have more than one device that needs charging, consider a 4-port adapter. (Check out Power-Plugs-Sockets for further information.)
  • In addition to good walking shoes, ladies should pack a pair of comfortable flats, and for guys, a nice pair of slip on shoes for going to dinner in the evenings.
  • Take a nice-looking backpack to carry your essentials and have your hands free during day excursions.
  • To be prepared for inclement weather, a nice waterproof jacket with a hood is a great idea.
  • A quick-dry towel for any unexpected spills.
  • A water bottle to carry with you during the day. Hydration is important when exploring!
Pyrenees-France

How to Get Around France

Tourist information is readily available in all of the major cities and towns, and train travel is very common.

Trains are easy to ride and quite affordable.

This type of transportation is excellent for exploring the smaller towns, such as Marseille, St. Emilion and Roussillon.

Pro Travel Tip for France: When visiting Paris, consider purchasing the Paris Museum Pass, to save money on all of the top museums. Bear in mind – many attractions are closed on Monday and/or Tuesday, such as museums. Be sure to check ahead of time before you head out.

A good rule of thumb is to divide your trip into city and country visits, to get a well-rounded view of this wonderful European country. 

In addition to Paris, you may want to explore the Provence and Cote d’Azur regions, where you will get an authentic taste of French culture.

In the major cities, public transportation will easily get you to all of the major tourist sites.

Here is information on the Paris Metro.

The only time you will want to rent a car is when you explore the countryside on your own.

Here are a few car rental tips:

  • If you know how to drive manual transmission, great! These are cheaper to rent and will give you better mileage.
  • Watch the speed limits! There are cameras everywhere and if caught, hefty fines are imposed.
  • Know what kind of fuel your car uses. “Essence” means gasoline, and “gasoil” means diesel.
Train-in-Chamonix-France

How to Avoid Crime when Traveling to France

Crime and petty theft are a problem for any large city, and a major faux pas would be to not stay vigilant in crowded areas, particularly bus stops and train stations.

Having said that, don’t stress too much.

Just be smart and don’t put your purse on the back of a chair or leave your bags unattended.

Another helpful travel tip for France worth noting is don’t leave your valuables in the car, as you ideally mustn’t, no matter which part of the world you’re traveling to.

Men should keep their wallets in their front pocket.

When out at night, stick to the buddy system, and stay away from the sketchier neighborhoods.

These are common sense practices anywhere you go.

Pride-Parade-in-Strasbourg-France

Places to Visit in France

The usual tourist destinations in France are definitely worth visiting but so are the quaint towns and villages and the beautiful countryside, if you want to sample the traditional French culture.

Let’s begin with the iconic landmarks: Le Louvre Museum, Palace of Versailles, Eiffel Tower, Chateau de Chambord, and Chartres Cathedral.

Another place worth visiting is the French Riviera, which is located on the French coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

If you want to experience the legendary French landscape seen in popular culture, stroll on the famous cobblestone streets, enjoy coffee in the little cafes, or simply walk along the riverfront, a visit to Strasbourg, especially La Petite France is a must. 

The arts and performing arts lovers are drawn to Marseille, a vibrant arts and culture hotspot with a ton of museums, art galleries, theaters, and opera houses.

For indulging your gastronomical cravings, Lyon is a great destination, with its thriving gourmet restaurants, bars, and clubs.

Plus it boasts of narrow, cobblestone streets, Renaissance architecture, ruins, and Gothic churches. 

Finally, this list is incomplete without the mention of showstopper Paris, the legendary fashion capital of the world.

But besides haute couture, the city boasts of arts and architectural masterpieces and exquisite boulevards. 

Gardens-of-the-Palace-of-Versailles-France

Places to Stay in France

Depending on where you go and what your budget is, you have many options.

To get a local experience, consider staying in privately-owned bed & breakfasts and guest houses.

Just remember that location is everything!

You will want to choose a place that is convenient to the activities you want to enjoy.

When staying in Paris or other large city, consider your needs: do you want a comfortable hotel, or a quaint apartment with a kitchen?

Most hotels will have a hot breakfast included.

Your first trip to France is going to be one of the best you’ll experience.

Follow these travel tips for France and you will ensure it goes smoothly, as well!

Parisian-Bridge

Parting Thoughts

The French are known to be a bit standoffish, but on my recent trip, I have found the opposite to be true.

French people are a welcoming bunch.

That said, English is not widely spoken here.

So, inarguably, the most important travel tip for France is to learn a bit of the gorgeous French language; just enough to get you around but certainly more than Bonjour!

Phrases such as “How much for a ticket?” and “Where is the train station?” are the types of phrases to brush up on.

The locals will appreciate the effort, and a smile always goes a long way!

And if you’re lucky enough to be invited to someone’s home for lunch or dinner, it’s best to arrive on time and carry a gift like say a bottle of wine or flowers.

And be sure to compliment your host for the lovely meal but nothing is more reassuring to them than you finishing everything on your plate!

While iconic spots have rightfully earned a permanent place in every travel itinerary, here’s a bonus travel tip for France especially: Take the bus a few times, mingle with the locals, and visit the charming towns and villages for a real slice of the rich and unique culture of France.

Being a first-time visitor, you will absolutely want to visit all of the main tourist spots in Paris.

The important thing to remember is to try not to do it all!

France will always be around for more visits in the future.

Do you have any travel tips for France that I missed? If you do, comment below!

If you are looking for a step-by-step guide to help you plan your trip to France, check out The Ultimate Guide to Trip Planning.

If you loved these tips, check out some of our other travel tips for a trip to Ireland, Mexico, or even Italy.

Always make sure your vacation is a life changing experience with Brillini Travels.

If you are still feeling overwhelmed, or simply do not have the time to plan your trip to France, why not let us help you? We will create the perfect bespoke itinerary just for you!

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