France is a picture perfect city and sometimes referred to as the culture capital of the world. The world-class architecture, chic café culture, fairytale castles, soaring cathedrals and beautiful villages never fail to attract tourists looking for a rich cultural experience.
France is a gastronomical delight for all food lovers too. It boasts a splendid array of dining options. French cheeses, pastries and wines are world famous and will tantalize your taste buds. France is among the top travel destinations in the world with around 89 million visitors flocking to the country to explore it’s grand museums, ateliers, galleries and experience its rich culture hands-on.
France Travel Info
Language: The main language spoken in France is French. Some other regional languages that are commonly spoken are Catalan, Occitan and Breton. English is the main language in the tourism industry and businesses but you cannot rely on it. The locals are proud of their beautiful language and understandably prefer to speak French than English.
Visa: France is a member of Schengen Agreement, which provides a free visa to travel to any EU country including the ones not a part of Schengen as well as those approved by Schengen like America, New Zealand, and Australia for a period of 90 days. Citizens of South Africa, Asia, and Russia, need to apply for Schengen Visa before going to France.
Electricity: France operates on 230 V electricity supply. The power sockets are usually two-pronged and round. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
France Festivals & Celebrations
Cannes Film Festival: Held in May in the city of Cannes, Festival de Cannes is the biggest film festival in the world. The entire movie world gathers in the city, the best films from various countries are showcased and the crème de la crème of the movie industry dream of bagging the Palme d’ Or award. Attending this prestigious festival is a dream for any movie enthusiast hoping to get a glimpse of the A-list.
Bastille Day: On 14th July France commemorates and celebrates the storming of the Bastille. This day is regarded as the birth of the French Democracy and is one of the most important holidays of the country. A lavish dance party is held in the palace de la Bastille, and a grand military parade can be witnessed at the Champs-Elysees. Fireworks at the Eifel Tower light up the sky and are not to be missed.
Festival d’ Avignon: This festival takes place in July and attracts all the art lovers from across the world. This is the world’s oldest and the best art festival. Tourists, enthusiasts, and critics assemble at the Popes’ Palace and other landmarks to enjoy the dances, music, theatre, and cinema.
Safety In France
There’s a high increase in counter-terror intervention in France, so rest-assured that the police are ever present, keeping France as safe a tourist destination as it can be under the circumstances. Apart from the terror attacks, there’s occasional bag snatching and pickpocketing incidents, just like in all cities around the world. Based on my own travel experiences in Europe I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination I’m visiting is. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit France.
Top Things To Do In France
Fall in love… with Paris
A trip to France is incomplete if you have not spent a few days in the capital city, Paris. This city is rich in fashion, art and culture and is a gastronomic delight. Paris is an iconic European city that is home to numerous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, exquisite architecture, artsy boutiques, and chic cafes. It’s a fantastic city where you can simply wander around the streets, soak up the ambience and just lose yourself in the laidback grandeur.
Discover the History of Lyon
This medieval city boasts 2000 years of rich history and is a French city to its core. It was famous for its renaissance, commerce, neighborhoods, and excellent food. This is the perfect place to experience French ‘art of living’, where family, culture, food, wine, and friends make an integral part of life. The countryside, the castles, and the culture of the city are going to leave you in awe.
Explore with Mont St-Michel
Mont St Michel is the most incredible sight in Europe, and you must take out some time to sit and gape at its awe-inspiring beauty. It is located on the top of the Island commune of Normandy, and you need to climb the cobbled streets to reach the highest point of the island. The entire experience is majestic, and the view is just postcard perfect. Do not forget to visit the D-Day beaches when you are there.
Ski in The French Alps
If you are a fan of winter sports, the French Alps will drive you crazy as they have the best ski slopes in all Europe. Skiing here is a bit expensive, but you will love spending daytime skiing and drinking wine by the fir in the evening. It would be an experience worth cherishing for a lifetime.
Travel around the Loire Valley
The valley has miles of vineyards stretching in their full glory and around them are hills with scantily dispersed villages all around. Just Picture perfect! The Loire valley is exceptionally charming and is worthy of the applause it receives. You must explore the region, trying its wine, food, visit chateaus, and soak in its postcard-perfect scenery.
Watch the sunset from the Eiffel Tower
For most of the travelers coming to France for the first time, The Eiffel Tower tops the bucket list and symbolizes France itself. The 10,100 ton metallic structure is an epitome of romance and beauty, but it becomes even more enchanting just when the sun is about to set, and the gentle yellow light has a mystical impact. Climb the tower in the late afternoon and see the sunlight changing from golden to rose-colored while the sun is setting. Stay until the sun has set completely to see night ascending and the sky sparkling beautifully above and the city below.
Wine Tasting in Bordeaux
Some of the world’s best wine is made in Bordeaux, and that reason is enough to visit the place. The destination is a high budget one, but the magnificent views, the scrumptious seafood available here and some of wine makes the expenditure worth it. You will also find the longest shopping street of Europe here where you can shop to your heart’s content. This is heaven for all the wine lovers.
Visit Paris’s Musse de Louvre
This museum is an artistic dream and one of the most visited museums of the world. Inside the museum lies the timeless treasure of art, the most ethereal in the world, with everything from Egyptian mummies to the Code of Hammurabi to Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa. Since centuries, the museum has stood witness to France’s social and political transformation and has still managed to maintain its vastness and magnificence.
Visit Aiguille du Midi
The rocky heights of Aiguille du Midi (3482 meters) rise from Mont Blanc and are among the most distinguishing features of Chamonix. When you stand at the summit, you can see a 360-degree view of the Swiss, French and Italian Alps which is just incredible. Cable car runs throughout the year from Chamonix to Aiguille du Midi. Even the summers witness a temperature around -10 degrees Celcius and so dress warmly.
Stopover at the Pont du Gard
Pont du Guard was long back a part of the 50 kilometer long system of channels which was constructed in the 19 BC and was used to transfer water from Uzes to Nimes. It is three-tiered, and the bridge is 48.8 meters high and 275 meters long and adorned with 52 beautiful arches. On the northern bank, is an impressive museum that features the bridge, the channel and the importance of water to the society.
Other than these top things to do in France, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in France that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In France
French food is famous all around the world for being simply exquisite! Food is art in France and to be savored. Don’t worry if you’re a picky eater, in France you will discover a wide variety of food options available to you, not just frogs legs and snails. Delicious cheese, meats, macarons and croissants are in abundance.
Soupe à l’oignon: This soup is made of beef stock and onions and is generally served with croutons and topped with melted cheese. It gets its incredible taste from the caramelized onions to which sherry or brandy is added sometimes and then it is slow cooked.
Coq an vin: This is typical French food and has gained popularity by Julia Child through her book and her show. The dish comprises of chicken which is braised with mushrooms, wine, bacon or salty pork, onions, and brandy.
Cassoulet: This comfort food is made from white beans that are slow cooked with meat, especially pork or duck, and at times goose, mutton, sausages or whatever variety of mat available at hand. This is a peasant dish that has originated from Southern France and is popular in many cities.
Beef bourguignon: This dish is a meal in itself that is internationally known. It is a stew made of beef that is braised in red wine, broth, garlic, pearl onions, mushrooms and fresh herbs. This is an example of how the traditional peasant cuisine has been incorporated in haute cuisine.
Chocolate soufflé: Soufflé in French means to ‘blow out.’ This is an air blown, egg baked recipe that has its origin from the 18th century. Soufflé is eaten both sweet and savory, and chocolate soufflé is an elite desert found in menus worldwide. It has a chocolate crust that is crispy and a centre that is oozing with cream.
Where To Stay In France
France can be quite an expensive place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in France is easy but finding affordable accommodation, if you’re on a tight budget, is the hard part. Luckily France hostels and dormitories make travel here more affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. France is a very popular year-round destination with business travelers and sight-seeing tourists alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in France.
If you’re backpacking in France or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Europe much more affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
France Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit France
The best time to visit France is between April and October, this is if you want mild, reasonably warm or if you’re lucky hot weather. If you want to see France with hot weather and blue skies then aim to visit between June and September.
France Travel Budget
France can be an expensive city but it’s still generally an affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip to France really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 35 to 50 euros a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 50 to 100 euros per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like Paris or Saint Tropez then budget about 250 euros plus a day.
- Budget: €35 – €50
- Mid-range: €50 – €100
- Splurge: €150 +
Meal For One
- Budget: €8 – €25
- Mid-range: €25 – €60
- Splurge: €60 +
France Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to France, like most other places in Europe is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for Summer trips and warm, waterproof clothing for trips in Autumn and Winter (and Spring too).
Be prepared for the weather to get quite cold during the winter. You will need high quality thermal wear and scarves, woolly hats, gloves and a thick winter coat won’t go a miss either. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in France. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of ‘shopping around’ due to time restraints on your trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to France include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to France check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Europe Packing List For Female Travelers.