Credit: Andrea Piacquadio
France is a country that offers a rich cultural experience with its exquisite cuisine, art, fashion, and history. However, before packing your bags and hopping on a plane, there are a few essential things you need to know to ensure a smooth trip.
The official currency in France is the Euro (EUR). Most businesses, restaurants, and shops accept debit and credit cards, but it is always a good idea to carry some cash for smaller purchases and tipping. American Express cards are not accepted in some restaurants…
Currency restrictions for entry: 10,000 euros max.
Currency restrictions for exit: 10,000 euros max.
Bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, and electric skateboards are prevalent on streets, crosswalks and sometimes sidewalks. They have legal priority and often do not respect traffic signals…especially in the south of France.
Highway toll stations may not accept U.S. credit cards. For non-residents, the simplest way to pay is with cash euros at the toll lane marked for that purpose. Do not attempt to use a credit card if it is the only one you have in your possession in case the machine does not return your card.
Right-of-way rules : unless specifically indicated otherwise, drivers entering intersections from the right have priority over those on the left, even when entering relatively large boulevards from small side streets.
Electrical outlets in France
In France, sockets use 230V AC/50Hz electricity and are usually round two-pin plugs. To avoid any inconvenience on board your yacht, it is advisable to check the standard with your charter broker or crew before you trip.
Dial 15 to connect to emergency medical services or dial 112 to reach an operator.
Ambulance services are widely available, though English is not widely spoken.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
112: European call number for any emergency requiring an ambulance, fire services or police when travelling in a European country; by foreigners travellers who do not know the emergency numbers in France.
Medical service: 15
Fire service: 18
You should use the numbers above in a genuine emergency or life-threatening situation, such as for serious medical issues, fire-related incidents and to report crimes.
How to call from France: All French numbers have 10 digits and start with 0.
France is divided into 5 geographical zones, corresponding to 5 separate telephone codes: 01 (Paris and the Paris region), 02 (north-west France, Reunion and Mayotte), 03 (north-east France), 04 (south-east France) and 05 (south-west France and the Atlantic overseas territories).
Mobile numbers start with 06 or 07.
Other special numbers have special tariffs from fixed lines. The price per minute must be indicated (€0.12/min; €0.15 /min or €0.30/min including taxes (TTC)).
0 800 and 0 804, 0 805, 30 00, 31 44, 36 55 all indicate a free service (N° Vert®).
There are also certain 4-digit numbers for emergencies or the speaking clock (3699), but these are generally premium-rate numbers.
How to call from France to another country: dial the international code 00, the code of the country, then the number without the first 0. Examples: 49 for Germany, 44 for UK, 39 for Italy, 34 for Spain, 11 (AT&T) or 19 (MCII) for US, 16 for Canada (0 800 99 30 16 AT&T Canada).
Mobile: contact your mobile operator to check that your phone is compatible with the French network and to find out how you will be charged for calls made and received in your home country and abroad (local and international calls).
Note: to connect to the Internet and send multimedia messages from your smartphone, you must activate data roaming (unless you are on a Wi-Fi network). Data roaming can be turned on in your phone’s network settings, but you may incur additional charges.
From June 2017, you will not have to pay extra roaming charges when travelling in any EU country. This means that all EU citizens can use their mobile phone to make calls, send text messages and surf the Internet at no extra cost.
Connecting to the French network: some mobile phones from other countries don’t automatically connect to French networks. All you have to do is select the “network selection” option on your phone to make the connection manually.
You can also buy a prepaid SIM card to use the French mobile network: you’ll know exactly how much you’re spending.
Travel Wifi also has its own European SIM card subsidiary, Euro SIM. With a Euro SIM the traveller gets 20 GB of internet and free unlimited calls, texts, MMS to Europe, USA and Canada. Euro SIM is valid for 14 days with the possibility of extension and can be used anywhere in Europe.
The official language in France – and Corsica- is French. However, in some local communities, you may also hear Occitan, Catalan, and Breton. While English is spoken in major cities and tourist sites, it should not be relied upon. The French take pride in their language and culture, so it is always appreciated when visitors make an effort to speak French.
The Southern French accent is heard in the south-east of France and has evolved from the old Franco-Provençal language of the region.
Be aware of your surroundings when travelling to tourist areas and crowded public places. Incidents such as pickpocketing and phone snatching can occur (Nice old town and Cannes at night) and can happen anywhere, especially in crowded areas such as airports, train stations, and near tourist attractions.
France is part of the European Union and the Schengen Agreement, which means EU nationals have unlimited visa-free travel within the Schengen zone. Nationals of authorized countries such as The United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada also have 90 days visa-free travel within the Schengen zone.
Non-EU nationals, including those from Russia, China, and other countries, may need to apply for a Schengen visa. If you wish to travel for more than 90 days, you will also need a Schengen visa. EU nationals can travel for an unlimited period but must register with the local town hall to apply for a long-term residence permit if they exceed 90 days. Additionally, you may need to provide a return ticket and have a passport with a validity of at least six months.
Knowing just a few key words and phrases can be very helpful…
|S’il vous plaît
|Comment vous appelez-vous?
|What’s your name?
|How are you?
|Je voudrais parler français
|I would like to speak French
|Je ne comprends pas
|I don’t understand
|Que veut dire ça?
|What does that mean?
|Comment dit-on __ en français?
|How do you say __ in French?
|Comment ça s’écrit?
|How do you spell that?
|Je voudrais acheter un billet
|I would like to buy a ticket
|How much is it?
|Où sont les toilettes?
|Where are the toilets?
|À quelle heure est-ce qu’il faut régler la note?
|What time is check out?
|La carte/le menu, s’il vous plaît.
|The menu, please.
|Je ne peux pas manger…
|I can’t eat…
|Nous voudrions commander maintenant.
|We would like to place an order now.
|L’addition, s’il vous plaît.
|The bill, please
|Thanks a lot
|I love you