BARE FACTS: FRANCE
VISA WHAT NOTS
France is part of the Schengen Zone which means most passport holders won't need a tourist visa. However, since the bombing in 2015 France stated an emergency state and border control is a little more cautious. Most land crossings won't even stamp your passport and are a very quick and easy process.
Getting from each city is relatively easy via train and fairly reasonably priced. The Eurostar has made travel from London extremely efficient and easy, if you buy well in advance it isn't that expensive. Paris has a reliable and cheap subway system that will get you to all the major sites. Buy tickets direct from the machines or from English-speaking staff at major stations.
The French are world famous for plenty however their champagne and wine industry have earned them a place in history. The French have also perfected the art of cheese, croissants, macarons and their distinctly rich cooking style. Don't forget their fashion houses that dictate what it is to be stylish and luxurious perfumeries. Anything stylish, fancy and classic is sure to be French.
EIFFEL TOWER, PARIS
Perhaps the most iconic attraction in France, the Eiffel Tower literally towers above it's beautiful Parisian surroundings. 300 meters high and made of wrought iron, it's everything you expect it to be plus more. Free to view from the ground and the perfect background for many fun photos, it is a must do when you're visiting Paris.
THE LOUVRE, PARIS
One of the world' most famous museums and the home of Mona Lisa, The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world which is lucky as it draws in big crowds all year. The gallery holds a very impressive collection from around the world including an expansive Greek and Egyptian section. Head there Wednesday or Friday evening to skip the long lines.
SACRE COEUR, PARIS
The view from Sacre Coeur is arguably the best in Paris and well worth the visit. Climb up the hill and great some fantastic views of Paris as well as the chance to see the Basillica of Sacre Coeur, an impressive Catholic church built in 1914. Groups of youth often spend Friday evening having a few beers and watching the lights of Paris glisten into the night sky.
HOTEL DES BATIGNOLLES,
Hotel Des Batignolles is a well located in Montmarte, well priced hotel in Paris. Rooms were comfortable, had everything and for $125 it wasn't to expensive. Great proximity to the center of town and 3 Metro stations, the surrounding area is safe. Breakfast was included and really well done, they thought of everything.
Located in the Latin Quarter, Oops Hostel is a great place to rest weary feet. For €27 for a dorm bed, it's reasonable by Parisian standards and comes with free wifi and free breakfast. The location is in the Latin Quarter which can be great fun, be careful of interesting characters. Hostel is clean and close to the Les Gobelins Metro station.
For $500+ a night, you'd expect it a lot from Hotel Raphael. This hotel is on our wish list but we're going to have to save a bit more to enjoy it's beautifully appointed rooms. Everything from marble floors to custom beds, this hotel is all about Parisian luxury.
€55-€75 A DAY
France can be an expensive country to visit, so if you're planning on visiting as a budget traveler you'll have to work hard to keep costs down. Dorms range from €20-€30 so check out the ones that offer free breakfast. Fresh croissant and coffee is fairly cheap and you can pick up reasonably priced baked goods at the Boulangerie. Make the most of the free attractions and buy your Metro trips in packs of ten. If you want to drink then grab a cheap €3-4 bottle of wine from the grocery store, it might be cheap but it will still taste amazing.
A LIL SWAGGER
€80-€125 A DAY
With a little big of extra money in the bank, you'll be able to enjoy a few more things in Paris. Opt for a well positioned and rated hostel close to transit and try to find one that offers free breakfast. The French enjoy prix fixe menus which are preset, discounted and often come with 2-3 courses. Make the most of the culture in France and pay up for a few admissions into galleries, museums or shows. Make sure you grab a drink while you're out and about, it's quite common that bars serve up little snacks with every drink you order.
€150+ A DAY
France offers a lot of amazing things if you have a bigger budget. If you have the spare cash then make the most of it as this country is a world leader is food, wine and culture. Splash away the summer in the south of France or indulge your senses in the Bordeaux regions. Try Air BnB or go for well priced hotels, some of which even include a daily take out lunch box. Check out one of France's famous restaurants and try to do a tour for that extra dose of history.
Crumbly, flaky,soft, warm croissants. The French have brought many tasty things to this world however the croissant is definitely something that needs to be commended. In actual fact it was created in Austria, brought to France and has been an important part of French cuisine ever since. Every bakery (boulangerie) in France makes them and they're usually only a euro or two.
The macaron has had a revival in the past few years. Apparently people can't get over the sweet meringue halves with ganache sandwiched between them, we don't blame them. Originating in a convent in Italy in the 1500s, the macaron has been famous by the French. The famous Ladurée, in Paris, is a must do for any sweet tooth. With so many flavours and colours, it's hard to choose.
Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Boursin, the list of amazing French cheese continues. The French make some truly great cheeses that are enjoyed around the world. Each region produces something unique which makes trying them all a rather pleasant experience. While you're in France, make the most of the fact that all this great produce comes at a small price from the local grocery store.
The weather starts to cool down through these months which means so do the crowds of tourists. Costs will drop dramatically as will ques. It does get cold though, especially in Paris so keep warm. As expected this time is peak season for Alpine areas.
Mid season is the perfect time to visit France, most of the country is starting to show perfect weather for exploring without getting too hot. Prices start to increase a little bit as will visitors. Expect sunny days and a great selection of fresh produce.
As the weather heats up, the tourists begin flocking to France. The South get's especially busy as you would expect from a coastal destination and it can be a bit crowded. Expect big ques at all the popular sites as well as lots of traffic.
Before the Euro existed the French used the Franc as their National currency. Now like the rest of Europe, they use the Euro. The Euro comes in 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c coins and €5, €10, €20, €50, €100 and €200 notes.
The French predominately speak French however English is taught and learnt from a young age although the French are rather shy to use it if they don't feel it's good enough. With a large population of Morocco and Algerian immigrants it's not uncommon to hear Arabic spoken.
The French love a good two kiss greeting among good friends and with each district comes a different kissing ritual. The art is so amusing Thomas Cook published a book called A French Kissing Guide.