Tips For First Time Travellers To France – Let’s Travel Guide #2

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France is one of the most popular tourist destinations on Earth, and for many good reasons. Whether it’s about scrumptious food, rich history, mesmerizing art, sophisticated culture, or some beautiful rare mixture of them all, France’s many cities & regions have something for every traveler.

Of course, you should always do a little research. That’s why we created this guide just for you!

Keep French Fashion in Mind

Keep in mind that the French are simple and effortless when it comes to their style. The saying “less is more” works well for the French. One of your goals should be to blend in with the locals – not stand out as a tourist. For the ladies, bring a scarf! In the summertime, light scarves can add a touch of class, or be used as an extra layer at nighttime without the bulk of a jacket.

Learn a bit of French Language

It’s very helpful to learn some words and phrases before traveling to France. You will be far away from fluent, but to know some simple phrases like greetings, numbers, locations and some questions will be very helpful in making conversations with local people. Trying to speak their language opens doors, especially outside of Paris.

Here are some examples that you can use :

Bonjour. S’il Vous plaît… Hello, please…
Oui / Non Yes / No
Parlez-vous Anglais? Do you speak English?
Où est-ce que je peux trouver un plan de la ville? Where can I find a city map?
Je Cherche le bus/train/métro. Où est l’arrêt le plus près? I am looking for the bus/train/subway. Where is the nearest stop?
Où est…? Where is…?
Où est le guichet? Where is the ticket window?
Combien ça coûte? How much does it cost?
Non, merci. Je Regarde pours l’instant. No thank you. I’m just looking for now.
Merci beaucoup! Thank you very much!

Check the weather & season

The three coasts along France have a more temperate climate, unlike areas in central France, where you’ll experience more alteration between seasons. For example, Paris can also become fairly hot in the summer, so be prepared by packing light clothing made with breathable material.

The summer months in the south along the Mediterranean have very little rainfall, but the rest of the country experiences rainy months throughout the year. Paris has quite a bit of rainfall from April through August. Whatever the season, it’s always a good idea to check the forecast prior to your visit to France!

Here is a detailed whole year season chart for France.

SPRING March
Max average t°: +11 °C (51.8 °F)
Min average t°: +4 °C (39.2 °F)
Sundial in the day: 5 hours
Rainy days: 7 days
Precipitation: 30 mm (1.2″)April
Max average t°: +15 °C (59 °F)
Min average t°: +7 °C (44.6 °F)
Sundial in the day: 6 hours
Rainy days: 6 days
Precipitation: 40 mm (1.6″)May
Max average t°: +19 °C (66.2 °F)
Min average t°: +10 °C (50 °F)
Sundial in the day: 7 hours
Rainy days: 8 days
Precipitation: 50 mm (2″)
SUMMER June
Max average t°: +22 °C (71.6 °F)
Min average t°: +13 °C (55.4 °F)
Sundial in the day: 8 hours
Rainy days: 9 days
Precipitation: 50 mm (2″)July
Max average t°: +24 °C (75.2 °F)
Min average t°: +15 °C (59 °F)
Sundial in the day: 8 hours
Rainy days: 8 days
Precipitation: 55 mm (2.2″)August
Max average t°: +23 °C (73.4 °F)
Min average t°: +15 °C (59 °F)
Sundial in the day: 7 hours
Rainy days: 9 days
Precipitation: 60 mm (2.4″)
AUTUMN September
Max average t°: +21 °C (69.8 °F)
Min average t°: +12 °C (53.6 °F)
Sundial in the day: 6 hours
Rainy days: 8 days
Precipitation: 50 mm (2″)October
Max average t°: +16 °C (60.8 °F)
Min average t°: +9 °C (48.2 °F)
Sundial in the day: 4 hours
Rainy days: 8 days
Precipitation: 50 mm (2″)November
Max average t°: +10 °C (50 °F)
Min average t°: +5 °C (41 °F)
Sundial in the day: 2 hours
Rainy days: 8 days
Precipitation: 50 mm (2″)
WINTER December
Max average t°: +7 °C (44.6 °F)
Min average t°: +3 °C (37.4 °F)
Sundial in the day: 1 hour
Rainy days: 9 days
Precipitation: 50 mm (2″)January
Max average t°: +6 °C (42.8 °F)
Min average t°: +2 °C (35.6 °F)
Sundial in the day: 2 hours
Rainy days: 10 days
Precipitation: 55 mm (2.2″)February
Max average t°: +8 °C (46.4 °F)
Min average t°: +2 °C (35.6 °F)
Sundial in the day: 2 hours
Rainy days: 9 days
Precipitation: 45 mm (1.8″)

TRY AUTHENTIC FRENCH DELICACIES

Are you a food blogger or simply want to try something new? France is the perfect place to have a once in a lifetime gastronomical experience! With a variety of delicacies that can make you oohh.. or ahhh, these are worth a try!

Foie Gras

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This is the one French delicacy that everybody loves to hate. Foie gras is made by force-feeding ducks and geese large amounts of grain in the weeks prior to their slaughter, a process known as gavage, in order to engorge their livers to roughly 10 times their usual size. Producers claim that it is an exaggeration of a natural migratory survival technique whereas activists see it as a shameful abuse of animal rights. Undeterred, the French enjoy the rich, buttery pâté on toast and especially during the holiday period.

Escargots de Bourgogne

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Snails are up there with frogs’ legs as one of the most stereotypical French foods, a rubbery treat that many visitors to France feel compelled to try. The best snails in the country come from Burgundy and the preparation is actually far more complex than you might imagine. You certainly can’t pinch one of these critters of the garden wall and pop it in your mouth. Instead, they are fed cleansing herbs and thoroughly washed prior to boiling. They are then cooked with a whole lot of butter, garlic, and parsley. In all, the process takes three days, which explains their relatively weighty price tag.

Langue de boeuf

Tongue, you ask, who in their right mind would eat tongue? The French, that’s who. Like a lot of the foods on this list, chefs have devised techniques over the centuries to disguise the true nature (read: horror) of what they are serving their diners.

For langue de boeuf, this usually means slicing the great, hulking mass of taste-budded flesh into fine, unrecognizable strips. If you can get over the psychological hurdle of knowing that what you are tasting is the same thing as what you are tasting with then, apparently, it’s a melt-in-the-mouth kind of meat.

Pieds de Porc

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It’s said that the French eat every part of the pig aside from the ‘oink’. (Well, as you’ll soon learn, they don’t leave much except the ‘moo’, ‘bah’, and ‘quack’ either.)

Trotters, as the British call them, are popular the world over but they are especially adored in France. They are cooked slowly and the final dish is tender and delightfully gelatinous (if there is such a thing). Be warned, there’s no delicate way of eating them and you’ll most likely have to take those feet in your hands and gnaw the meat straight off the bone.

Ris de Veau

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If ingenuous methods of preparation don’t seem like they’re quite going to do the job, French chefs have been known to invent euphemisms for their more unusual dishes.

Case in point: sweetbread, otherwise known as calf pancreas. The best way to prepare it is to first sear it in flour and butter and then mix it with plenty of mushrooms. A nice glass of Burgundy red will also help it slide right down.

Try a Bed & Breakfast

Hotels are expensive, but what is the cheap alternative? Try Bed and Breakfast accommodation they are all good value; you definitely get what you pay for!

Some bed and breakfasts are run as businesses; others may be doing it because they genuinely enjoy meeting people. For some owners, it means they can live in a better house than normal. For many people, it is a way of retiring from the rat race and living a simpler life.

Many bed and breakfasts are run on eco-friendly lines, working to reduce their environmental footprint and sourcing all their food from local growers.

And here are the other reasons why you should try it!

A genuinely friendly welcome

They can help with planning your sightseeing from a local expert since you are new in France they will recommend someone to help you navigate the area and directions where to go.

Breakfast included in the price

No need to go outside after waking up. Breakfast is freshly served with a variety of choices (make sure ask the staff about this) which saves time if you want to spend the day exploring.

A glimpse into French family life

Usually, bed & breakfast establishments are run by family renting out their place. This is a good opportunity to experience how it feels living with a French family. But do you value your private space? Don’t worry because…

Respect for your privacy

This is very important and they value privacy, that’s why you don’t need to worry.

Eat like a local French

Food.  It’s everywhere in France!  You can barely walk down one rue (street) without finding at least one eating option. However, eating well in Paris does require a little bit of work on your part.

Reservations
Reservations are an absolute must in Paris. Restaurants have very limited seating capacities and dinner service hours are shorter than in America. The best restaurants always book up fast, with the top places getting hundreds of reservation requests a day. Even if you walk into a restaurant and it’s empty, they still appreciate if a reservation was made so that way they know you’re coming.

Eating Schedule
In Paris, there are two distinct service times: Lunch is typically from around 12 until 2:30, and dinner around 7:30-11 p.m. If you are hungry in between, you can always step into a patisserie or boulangerie. Take full advantage of late afternoon bakery runs!

Laminated Menus
You’re hungry. You don’t have a reservation anywhere and you are looking for a good restaurant. Here’s a good tip: Laminated menus tell you something very important about a restaurant: they never (or very rarely) change the menu. In a city where food is driven by seasonal and local ingredients, menus at good restaurants change frequently, sometimes even daily. At every restaurant we dined, the menu was either written in chalk on a giant chalkboard or told to us orally.

PRIX-FIXE
Many restaurants offer Prix-fixed lunch and dinner options. This is often the best bargain at a restaurant and is generally a great value. You typically have a choice of Entree + Plat (appetizer and main), Plat + Dessert (Main and Dessert), or you can choose to have all three courses.

Tipping
The service charge (a.k.a. “tip”) is already included in the price of your food. An additional tip is not required. However, most people do leave a little extra for good service.

 

Enjoy Local Wines

If you like drinking wine, you are in the right location! France is very famous for wines and Bordeaux is the arguably the greatest wine region in the world.

Great cellars around the world are filled with wines from the different chateaus of the region. Bordeaux lies in the southwest corner of France where it follows the Gironde River inland from the Atlantic Ocean.

The region takes its name from the largest city in the area (also named Bordeaux) which is a thriving port metropolis on the Gironde.  It is a very large wine region with around 250,000 acres under vine.

Although there are perhaps one hundred producers who have achieved worldwide fame, there are approximately 20,000 producers making wine in Bordeaux.  Approximately 850 million bottles are produced each year.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

France has lots of tourist attractions, and they are all Instagram-worthy locations. That’s why we compiled a list of tourist attractions for you to check out.

Eiffel Tower

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The Eiffel Tower in Paris, ranked as the world’s greatest engineering marvel when it was built in 1889, and rises 984 feet from its base, which is 330 feet square. It is a huge wrought iron skeleton tower on the Champ de Mar in Paris, designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel for the Paris Exposition of 1889.

Louvre Museum

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The Louvre, or the Louvre Museum, is the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city’s 1st arrondissement.

Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay is a museum housed in a grand railway station built in 1900. Home to many sculptures and impressionist paintings, it has become one of Paris’s most popular museums.

Arc de Triomphe

In the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the border of the 8th, 16th and 17th arrondissement stand one of the greatest arches in history: the Arc de Triomphe (arch of triumph).

Jardin des Tuileries

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The Jardin des Tuileries is one of Paris’s most visited gardens thanks to its central location between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. As such the Tuileries are part of a grand central axis leading from the Louvre all the way to La Défense, the city’s business district.

La Seine

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The Seine is a 777-kilometer-long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France.

Canal Saint-Martin

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The Canal Saint-Martin is a 4.6 km long canal in Paris, connecting the Canal de l’Ourcq to the river Seine.

Montparnasse Tower

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Tour Maine-Montparnasse, also commonly named Tour Montparnasse, is a 210-meter office skyscraper located in the Montparnasse area of Paris, France.

Bateau Mouche

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Bateaux Mouches are open excursion boats that provide visitors to Paris, France, with a view of the city from along the river Seine. They also operate on Parisian canals such as Canal Saint-Martin which is partially subterranean.

Centre Pompidou

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Centre Georges Pompidou, commonly shortened to Centre Pompidou and also known as the Pompidou Centre in English, is a complex building in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris, near Les Halles, rue Montorgueil, and the Marais.

Plage de Paris

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Paris-Plages is a plan run by the office of the mayor of Paris that creates temporary artificial beaches each summer along the river Seine in the center of Paris, and, since 2007, along with the Bassin de la Villette in the northeast of Paris.

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Voyage en toute sécurité!


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