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France

 

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The Eiffel Tower

One of the world’s most famous monuments, La Tour Eiffel is an unmistakeable feature of the Paris skyline. Designed by Gustav Eiffel for the 1889 World Fair, when completed the tower was the tallest building in the world at 300 meters. It is no exaggeration to say that the Eiffel Tower is the symbol not only of Paris but of the entire country. Although no longer the tallest structure in the world it still offers one of the best vantage points from which to get your bearings in the City of Lights. Take the lift all the way up to level three for some spectacular views across Paris.

Famously the construction was only intended to last the duration of the fair. However, over a century after its erection the tower is still as sturdy as ever. To avoid the lines come early in the morning – or visit at night when the tower is lit up with over 10,000 lights.


 

Arc de Triomphe

Located on the Rive Droite, almost directly north from the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe was intended to be a monument to Napoleon’s military prowess, being commissioned by the Little Corporal in 1806. It has since been at the center of much of Paris’s history with both the German occupying army and the liberating Allied forces marching through it during World War Two.

The arc is also the focal point of state funeral processions with Napoleon himself and Victor Hugo being just two historical figures whose funeral corteges have traveled through the monument. From the top you can enjoy excellent views of Paris, particularly down the Grand Axe from the modern business center of La Défense to the Champs-Elysées and the Louvre.


The Louvre

A colossal French royal chateau turned into the greatest art museum in the world, the Louvre is the most famous building on the Rive Droite of the Seine. The main entrance is via the mesmerizing glass pyramid designed by IM Pei and opened in 1989. First-timers tend to go straight for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in the extensive Italian collections, and visitors sometimes forget that the gallery boasts a superlative array of French masterpieces, as well as phenomenal French and foreign sculpture galleries. As if that wasn’t enough, the vast place also contains one of the largest collections of ancient treasures in the world, including staggering Egyptian artifacts brought to France after the Napoleonic campaigns.

The best way to experience The Louvre and other museums is with the Paris Pass. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for details on this incredible pass.


Brittany & Mont St Michel

Brittany’s jagged coastline hides dozens of sandy beaches, seaside resorts and lively harbors making it ripe for discovery! Further inland, more than 650km of navigable rivers and canals create a network of waterways – making the area a great destination for barge or boat holidays.

The tiny enclave of Mont St Michel is the most spectacular of the region’s attractions. A kilometer offshore this islet has been a monastery for well over a thousand years. The spire of the central cathedral rises 80m above the waves that completely surround the mount at high tide.

When the sea is at low ebb you can easily walk to the tiny village along a causeway. When the tide comes in however, almost a kilometer of sea up to 14m deep separates the enclave from the mainland.

The village itself is a Gothic maze of staircases that progress up to the towering edifice of the abbey church. Although added to over the years it was the church that formed the original settlement of the mount, with the construction of a monastery in the 10th century. The town’s defenses are similarly spectacular and include towers and ramparts dating from various periods over the last millennium.


Lyon & the Bourgogne region

Renowned first and foremost as a gastronomic capital, France’s second city should be at the top of the list of travel destinations on any gourmet’s itinerary. From regional specialties in cozy, traditional restaurants to extravagant, modern cuisine in state-of-the-art eating emporiums Lyon offers something for everyone.

You don’t need to look too hard to find some of Lyon’s greatest facets, though as they are all around you once you step into the old town. In one of the most beautiful Renaissance towns of Europe, immaculately preserved houses and shops line quaint cobbled streets retaining much of the atmosphere of centuries past. It’s here that you are at the heart of the real Lyon, and where you can enjoy the city’s famous cuisine in the lively bouchons (traditional inns), where you can’t fail to be seduced by the city’s charms.

Heading North is the renowned Burgundy region where some of the world’s finest wines can be discovered. From the Côte de Beaune to the unforgettable Pouilly-Fuissé, it will be a constant pleasure for your palate. The best way to sample all these wonderful flavors and find out more on where they are actually produced is to follow some wine routes such as the “Route Touristique des Grands Vins” around Chalon-sur-Saône, “Route des Grands Crus” from Dijon to Santenay, and “Route des Vins Mâconnais-Beaujolais”.


Normandy

On June 6, 1944, Normandy was indelibly written into history as the Allied forces made their D-Day landings on its beaches and pushed into mainland Europe. As you’ll expect, there are numerous museums dedicated to World War Two, including the excellent Musée Mémorial de la Bataille de Normandie in Bayeux. The town is equally famous for its 70-metre tapestry showing the Battle of Hastings.

Also in the region, don’t miss the gardens of impressionist artist Claude Monet at Giverny.


Bordeaux, Biarritz & Les Landes

The pretty city of Bordeaux is a great base from which to explore Aquitaine, a lush and beautiful corner of France. The area is a mixture of scented pine forests and wild Atlantic beaches, perfect for the adventurous tourist to wander at will.

The aristocratic Bordeaux wines are unbeatable, with the Medoc and St Emilion areas producing some of the best reds in the world. Many of the wine-producing chateau have free tasting sessions, although it is advisable to check first. Some, including the exclusive chateau Mouton-Rothschild, require appointments.

The largest forested area in Europe, Les Landes comprises waterways and coastline in its vast expanse. Surfing is a popular activity along the coast with international tournaments taking place all year round. Popular places such as Lacanau, Biscarosse and Mimizan attract thousands of beach bums during the surfing period but it always keeps its laid back atmosphere.

Located at the southwestern tip of France, compact, affluent and charming, the seaside resort of Biarritz has a fame that outweighs its diminutive size. The crashing Atlantic Ocean, which seals in Biarritz to the west, now draws surfers from around the world, giving the place an even more cosmopolitan and carefree air. Fine cuisine, local wines and a certain level of sophistication attract some visitors, while others return every year for the adventure sports, the buzzing bars and their own patch of sand in the summer.


 

The French Riviera & Provence

The French Riviera may be a playground for the rich, but the region has enough sea and sand for mere mortals to enjoy as well, and make note that the beaches are as beautiful as the people that adorn them, with golden sand and azure seas.

The main center Nice has a picturesque old town, plenty of places to stay and the famous Promenade des Anglais. Other slightly less glitzy resorts such as Antibes offer sandy beaches and fine harbors – and, many would argue, more character. Meanwhile, capital of chic Cannes simply oozes money and glamor. At the exclusive St Tropez the rich and glamorous party through the night on millionaires’ yachts moored in the harbor.

Provence inspired Van Gogh and Cezanne, and it’s easy to see why. The region’s natural Mediterranean beauty and deep historical heritage charms visitors effortlessly. The rural towns of the area are enchantingly idyllic and the pace of life perfect for relaxation.

The Romans left their mark in the area and prominent remains include the stunning Pont du Gard and amphitheaters at Orange, Nîmes and Arles. Avignon is beautiful, while the Luberon hills are great walking territory. Also in the region the Gorges du Verdon is Europe’s largest canyon – well worth a look.


Countryside villa? Rustic villa? Upscale villas? We’ve got you covered. Check out our wide variety of villa rental properties below!

Villa Rentals in France

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France Travel Information and Tips

VISA

Every foreign national wishing to come to France must be able to present documentary evidence regarding the purpose of their stay, their financial means of support and conditions of accommodation to immigration upon arrival in the country.

Generally, unless exempted, a VISA is required. It must be acquired before departure for France at the relevant French embassy or consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. The type of VISA required to enter France depends on both the duration and reasons for the intended stay. Except in special cases:

  • For stays of less than 90 days (3 months), the VISA to be requested is a short-stay VISA called “Schengen VISA”. These VISAs can be issued for multiple entries. It is usually issued for tourist trips, business travel or family visits. It also allows the holder to come to France for short courses, internships, or gainful employment (artists on tour, athletes competing for a championship, an employee seconded to provide a service, etc.).
  • Transit VISAs enable the holder to stay in the Schengen area for periods of less than or equal to 5 days.
  • Foreigners in Transit through a French airport do not need visas as long as they do not leave the “international transit” area of the airport, as they’ll not be entering French territory.
  • For stays over 90 days (3 months), the VISA to be requested is a long-stay VISA, the length and type will depend on the duration and reasons of stay. This VISA requires registration, upon arrival in France, with the “French Office of Immigration and Integration” or, with the appropriate prefecture responsible for issuing a residence permit.

Once registered in France, the VISA holder cannot obtain a modification of his/her VISA or a change of status. Furthermore, the exercise of gainful employment is subject to specific procedures that require a work permit before obtaining a VISA.

Regarding the French overseas territories, the rules may differ from those applicable in the French metropolitan area. The applicant must precisely specify his/her purpose of travel to the overseas territories as well as his/her travel details.

VISA Exemptions

The EU Regulation 539/2001 removes the need for certain foreign nationals to obtain a short-stay VISA when entering the Schengen area.

Depending on your personal situation, specific measures of the law of the European Union are applied:

  • Nationals of EU Member States, the European Economic Area or Switzerland are not subject to entry visas and residence permits, regardless of length of stay.
  • Family members (partner, dependent children, dependent ascendants) of an EU Member State citizen, the EEA or Switzerland (who are not themselves citizens of an EU Member State, the EEA or Switzerland) are subject to the same visa and other permit rules as other foreigners of their nationality.

Customs

Upon arrival in France at a land border, railway station, port or airport, there are two separate passages through customs depending on the nature and the quantity of your goods: the “green” lane and the “red ” lane.

In the first case, you have nothing to declare. In the second, according to one or several standards discussed below, you are under obligation to declare your goods.

Upon both arrival and departure from France, you must declare the money, titles and/or assets that you’re carrying with you. This report is intended for the Customs Administration, which conducts inspections in a campaign against money laundering and drug trafficking.

Note: You may be checked throughout the national territory.

The Paris Pass is the ultimate sightseeing package which provides access into over 60 world famous museums, art galleries and monuments in Paris. Made up of the Paris Museum Pass, Paris Attraction Pass and Paris Visit Pass, you can buy it for 2, 4 or 6 fixed day durations. Discover and explore Paris the easy way with The Paris Pass.

Included in your Paris Pass package is:

  • Paris Museum Pass – free entrance to over 60 of Paris’ world famous museums and monuments
  • Paris Attractions Pass – free entry to popular attractions including a Seine River Cruise, Musée Grévin, Tour Montparnasse and even a Wine Tasting experience!
  • Paris Bus Tour – free Hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Paris with Les Cars Rouge, show your Paris Attractions Pass to pick up a 1 day unlimited use ticket.
  • Paris Visit Travel card – free unlimited travel on the metro, buses and RER within central Paris covering zones 1-3
  • Fast Track Entry – skip the lines at a selection of the busiest museums and attractions in Paris
  • 120+ page Guidebook – a detailed guide to all of the sights and landmarks in Paris including a map and directions as well as loads of helpful tips and hints
  • Special Offers – exclusive offers at shops and restaurants in central Paris.

 

The first thing to do is contact the local Service des Objets Trouvés (Lost and Found Service).

In Paris:
If you lose something in a cab (or other public space) in Paris, go to the police’s Service des Objets Trouvés: 36, rue des Morillons in the 15th arrondissement, open Monday – Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tel.: 08 21 00 25 25. Métro: Convention

In Lyon:
65 rue du Bourbonnais
69009 Lyon
Tel : 04 78 47 72 89

In Marseille:
41  Boulevard de Briançon
13003 Marseille
04 91 14 68 97

In Bordeaux:
99 rue Abbé de l’Epée
33000 Bordeaux
05 56 44 20 18

To find contact information for other local offices of the Service des Objets Trouvés, contact the local tourism office.

Electricity in France runs on a 220-volt, 50-hertz AC current rather than the 110-volt, 60-hertz AC current used in the United States and Canada. France also uses a Type E plug (round pin and receptacle with male grounding pin) versus the Type A/B plug (flat blade/with round grounding pin) in North America. If you bring electrical appliances, you will need a plug adapter. You may also require a transformer, although today, most major appliances have one built in. When in doubt, check with the manufacturer. If you are bringing a computer and it is still under warranty, you may need to register it with the manufacturer’s international warranty department.

An easy way to stay connected while you travel to France

Traveling abroad doesn’t mean you have to leave behind all contact with your friends and family at home.  Cellular Abroad, a National Geographic Licensee based in Los Angeles, offers an easy and affordable solution for cell phones, international SIM cards, and mobile internet in France.

Their cell phones and mobile wifi hotspots are designed to make and receive calls and access the internet at great prices (Calls to the US are only 0.05 Euro cents per minute and incoming calls are free in France!), and they have great reception across all of metropolitan France, as well as other European countries. In addition, calls to other travelers with a Cellular Abroad phone are always free, which makes it a great option if you’re traveling with friends and need to coordinate while you’re on the ground. You can rent or buy phones, mobile hotspots, or SIM cards according to your needs.

Cellular Abroad’s mobile wifi hotspot is also a convenient option for connecting to the internet wherever you are in France. For those who have never used a MiFi, they are fantastic devices. They function as a mobile hotspot, allowing you to use up to five wi-fi enabled devices to access the web. Use your iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, PC or other mobile device to surf the internet, Skype friends and family at home, access GPS maps, and upload images and video with ease.

What metric system is used in France?

In France, the basic unit of measurement is the meter. The International System of Units (SI), the standard metric system in use in the European Union, defines the seven fundamental units used (meter, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, mole, candela)

What sizes are used in France?

France sizes are in centimeters, unlike US sizes, for example, which are in inches. Women’s clothing sizes generally range from about 38 to 56, mens sizes from about 42 to 60. Adult shoe sizes generally go from about 35 to 46.
Sizes and measures can be converted by visiting one of the various internet sites that offer conversion tables.

Even though establishments haven’t always been accessible in France for those with disabilities, making tourist destinations accessible for all is now a definite priority for French cities, towns and regions.

Check out this page for examples of itineraries and locations that are accessible for everyone