Tips for travelling to France and travel in France
- Ways to get around regional France are via:
- car - hiring a car in France is relatively inexpensive especially compared to other countries and if staying for three weeks or more, leasing a brand new French car from any of the major car companies (Renault, Peugeot, Citroen) works out cheaper. Diesel (gazole) is much cheaper than unleaded (sans plomb). Additional costs will be for road tolls (on most A roads, major highways with 3-4 lanes) and parking in city centres (best to leave the car and either walk or take public transport). Some key road rules include:
- drive on the right not left
- speed limit 50km/hr; D&N roads 90km/hr; highway 130km/hr (110km in rain)
- toutes/autres directions mean all/other directions, so if in doubt go that way
- blood alcohol limit is the same as Australia i.e. 0.05%
- you must carry disposable breathalisers and safety triangle + fluorescent vest.
More tips here: http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/guides/driving/france. France was placed 2nd in a worldwide survey about best places to drive (Australia came 14th).
- train - France's train network SNCF reaches nearly every part of the country - if not on the network most towns have buses that link up with it. The TGV, high speed train, services run pretty much NSEW from Paris. www.voyages-sncf.com . There is also a new cheap fast rail service departing from Paris suburbs: www.ouigo.com. For a rail map of France and nearby countries: www.holidaysonlocation.com/images/rail/france-switzerland-map.jpg
- air - Air France flies to many destinations in France and has discount flights (especially if you book early) which can cut a lot of the travel time down, especially if you book early ; Ryan Air and Easyjet flights are very cheap and take you to a lot of destinations in France but the air travel time is extended by having to go through the UK mostly.
- To decide which mode of transport suits you best, consider:
- how comfortable you are driving: regions are relatively easy and there are highways
- travel distance/time (to get from one end of the country to the other, TGV/air best)
- the number of people in your group (price of rail and air individual tickets add up)
- how vital it is you are on time (trains can be late/cancelled/impacted by strikes).
- In Paris there are (read official guide http://en.parisinfo.com/paris-map/getting-around):
- walking - by far our preferred method but Paris is expansive, take comfortable shoes
- metro - Paris' underground rail network which connects the whole city; tickets are only a couple of euro each (best to buy group of ten if you are there for a few days)
- bus - on the back of bus stops you will find the map with coloured network of bus lines; better than the metro for seeing the sights but slower putting up with the traffic
- taxis - while rather expensive can be good when you arrive in CDG airport very tired (cost 50-70 euro to get to centre of Paris); best to have your address written down
- bikes and cars to hire if you don't mind battling the Parisians driving.
The best way we find to get euro cash is to take it out of credit cards from automatic bank tellers (you can get special cards for this purpose also from international exchange offices here); you need to have cards with chips and a pin. You can get foreign exchange debit cards from exchange places before you go to avoid Australian credit card charges for foreign transactions (check what your bank charges).
For exchange rates/currency converter: click here
You can buy food from supermarkets, specialty stores (boucherie, boulangeries etc) or open street markets. For tips on eating out, click here.
Care should be taken on most Mondays in May (which can be public holidays), most of August (summer holidays) and all Sundays/Mondays as many shops are not open.
For language tips, click here.
If travelling to France on holidays for less than 90 days, a visa is not necessary for Australians but if wanting to stay longer or for other purposes, you will need to contact the consulate in Australia.
For other travel information
Go to France's official tourist office in Australia, http://au.franceguide.com/
Tips for taking good travel shots: http://blog.posterjack.ca/category/photography-tips-techniques/how-to
If you enjoy visiting France, join our community to receive more French travel tips