Tips for Travelling to France

From romantic châteaux to a fantastic array of French cheeses, France has gained the title of being the world’s cultural capital, and for good reason. Traveling to France is almost on everyone’s bucket list, and nobody is surprised. However, travelling surely has its ups and downs, so it is a good idea to stock up on information to help you get the best of your trip and avoid undue embarrassment.

When to Go

Depending on what your plans are, the best time to travel to France is during the spring months, between April and June, or autumn, which is anytime from September to November. The weather in France varies from region to region, but generally, the French enjoy temperate weather all year-round. July and August should be avoided as the main holidays of France fall during these months, and most locals spend their holidays in their own country.

Food

The French are known to be quite passionate when it comes to food. Before eating a meal, it is considered polite to say “Bon Appetit.” What is not appreciated is eating on the go, the French are proud of their food and prefer that they savor every bite and take their own sweet time when dining. Also, this may come as a surprise in a country that is known for its gastronomic delights; it is always proper not to overeat.

Shop at the Local Markets

Whether you want to shop for food, clothes or bric-à-brac (knick-knacks), France has a superabundance of indoor and outdoor markets where you can find your every heart’s desire. Most towns have “marché en plein air,” or outdoor market that sells their region’s best at very reasonable prices. It is always recommended to try local delicacies wherever you may be in the country.

Culture shock

Aside from the wine, cheese, and the Eiffel Tower, the French are also known for being snooty to strangers. No matter how friendly you may think you are, the French are not the type to get comfortable with you. However, this seems to be gradually changing, so a simple “Bonjour” is sufficient enough. But if you really want to get the best side of the French, it would not hurt you to pay them a compliment. They love hearing wonderful things about them and their country.

Safety

As with any other country, France is not free from a few scrupulous souls, and it is always recommended to be on your guard. Always keep your valuables close to your body, ignore people on the streets asking you to sign a petition or give something to you that you know is not yours, these tricks usually end up in them asking you for money. Although these are very isolated incidents, it is still better to be informed. The key here is to avoid being a target.

These are not rigid rules, and it is more than recommended to loosen up and free your adventurous spirit. Enjoy the food, the fashion, the art and always remember to cherish every moment.

 

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Train Travel in France

Traveling by train in France is an excellent way to get around and experience more of this country blessed with beautiful landscapes. This is a cheaper and more sustainable way to see the more scenic parts of France that you would not normally have the chance to if you rent a car or take the bus. France has a fast and efficient train system, but train travel can still pose some tricky challenges that first-time tourists may find frustrating.

France is linked by the rail system with every country in Europe usually via Paris or Lille. Trains also connect over 150 cities and towns in France making it easier for you to go around rather than going by bus. Inter-regional bus services in France are extremely limited, especially in rural areas where there are only a few, and they travel far between.

Going to the south of France from Paris will only take you three hours as opposed to the eight hours you would spend if you were driving. Traveling more than 200 mph, the trains can whisk passengers from Paris to Lyon in just under two hours. Taking the rail rockets can be more expensive, but it will surely save you time and in the long run, money as well.

Booking and buying tickets can be simple enough if you do a little research. It is essential that you pre-book tickets online, by phone, or at the train station by making a reservation. Getting your tickets through the French national train agency, the Sociète Nationale de Chemins de Fer, or SNCF is a cheaper alternative.

Paris has six international rail stations, each serving a different part of Europe. France has this centuries-old Paris-centered nature, so the majority of the main railway lines radiate from Paris, which makes services between provincial towns infrequent and slow. Also, many train stations have car renting agencies allowing you a combination of car exploration and train travel easily.

It is highly recommended to do a little research on when’s the best time to travel. Train travel is popular not only for the tourists but also for the locals as well, so be prepared and plan ahead as most train seats can be quickly filled during weekends and holidays.

Boarding the train half an hour before departure guarantees that you will get a good seat, depending on which rail system you are using, some have pre-booked seats, and some will let you choose. One very important thing you should remember before boarding that train is to have your ticket validated at one of the SNCF validating machines to avoid paying a steep fine.

France has a very efficient railway system, but train travel can still be somewhat exasperating if you do not know what to do. But overall, train travel is one of the best ways to see more of the country easily, and comfortably. If you equip yourself with the right information, traveling around the rural side of France can be an exciting and ultimately rewarding experience.

 

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