Ultimate France Travel Guide
Planning a trip to France and looking for travel tips, itineraries, and inspiration? Well, you have come to the right France travel guide! Home to some of the most iconic landmarks, delicious food, stunning landscapes, and rich history, it’s no wonder why France is so high on most travelers’ bucket lists! In fact, it was the second European country I visited!
In this France Travel guide, you will learn about practical information, get access to my detailed travel itineraries, and learn travel tips for visiting France.
Geography: France is located in Europe and borders countries including Italy, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. Nearby countries include Great Britain, The Netherlands, and Portugal.
Planning a trip to just Paris? Here is my Ultimate Paris Travel Guide.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Ultimate France Travel Guide
- France Travel Guide Tips
- France Currency:
- Tipping in France
- Weather in France
- Popular Things to Do in France
- The Best Time to Visit France
- Is France Budget-Friendly?
- French Words to Help You Get Around France
- France Travel Itineraries
- 17 Easy Paris Day Trips That Are Worth the Visit
- Best Things to Do in Rouen, France (Plus Travel Tips)
- 18 Best Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Paris (Museums to Attractions)
- 20 Incredible Things to Do in Paris at Night (Worth Staying Awake For)
- 33 Best Free Things to Do in Paris: Perfect For Paris Budget Travel
- EPIC 5 Days in Paris Itinerary – Perfect Paris Travel Guide
- Top 10 Paris Must-See Attractions – Especially for First-Timers!
- Brief France History
- France Travel Guide Wrap-up
France Travel Guide Tips
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this France travel guide, I want to lay out some of the groundwork that you should know before the planning process begins. Below is useful information to know for visiting France, such as currency, safety precautions, and getting around. The best cities to visit, popular restaurants, safety precautions, and must-know travel tips!
The official language in France is French. While English is widely understood in popular cities such as Paris, having Google Translate is a must.
As you probably already know, Paris is the Capital of France and one of the most popular places to visit in this country.
The currency used in France is the Euro. US dollars will not be accepted.
Tipping in France
France does not have a big tipping culture. Many locals will not tip for basic services. However, if you feel inclined to tip at a nice restaurant, 5-10% is considered adequate.
Credit Cards and ATMs in France:
You will have no problem using credit cards in France. The most accepted credit cards will be Visa and Mastercard. Amex/Discover is not as widely accepted.
Some of the major banks include BNB Paribas, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Franc, and Banque Populaire. Make sure to go to a real bank ATM to exchange money.
France is a fairly safe location to visit. That being said, you should be aware of pickpockets in tourist-filled areas. Paris, in particular, is known for pickpockets near popular landmarks and on the metro.
I also would not recommend walking alone at night – especially for solo female travelers.
Getting Around France:
Trains are the main form of transport to use when traveling to France. They have both high-speed rail and metros in the city. Trains from city to city or even other countries include Eurostar, TGV, Thalys, and SNCF(Frances Train Network).
For the rail from city to city, you will likely need to validate your ticket. It is also best to purchase tickets in advance as there is no set price.
In the city, there will be public transportation (bus/metro). You can also find Uber and Bolt. Just make sure you download the app before leaving home.
In some situations, you may want to consider renting a car, however, I would not suggest this if you’re staying in a major city like Paris. They drive on the right side, and automatic cars are less popular and more expensive to rent. Visiting the countryside and the Normandy area may warrant a car.
Booking Accommodation in France
You will find no shortage of hotels in France. My go-to is using Booking.com in France. I have also used Airbnb while in Paris in the past.
For something more budget-friendly, you can also find hostels throughout the country.
Power Outlets in France:
Two plug types are used in France, Plug type C and plug type E. Plug type C have two round pins and plug type. Plug type E is the same but with an additional hole for the socket’s earthing pin. France operates on 230V and 50Hz.
This is the Travel Converter I use that works across the Globe.
You can expect great cell phone service all around France, especially in the major cities.
During my last trip, I used Holafly E-sim. You can just download it to your smartphone. Alternatively, you can get a local sim card. Either way, make sure your phone is unlocked with your carrier.
Popular Places in France:
While many only visit France to see Paris, there are tons of other incredible towns and cities to explore. Some of the most popular cities to visit in France are Nice, Marseille, Lyon, Rouen, Colmar, and Bordeaux.
Famous Dishes Across France:
The food in France is impressive. While there, you have to try out their popular dishes. I am sure you know the basics, such as crepes, baguettes, escargot, frog legs, and croissants, but make sure to also try:
- Crème brûlée– An egg custard dessert topped with sugar.
- Soufllé – A sweet or savory pudding made from egg whites.
- Bisque – A thick and creamy puréed soup.
- Cassoulet – A slow-cooked bean and meat dish.
- Croque Madame – Sunny side up egg with ham and cheese on sild of toasted bread (one of my favs)
Travel Visa in France
If your stay in France is less than 90 days within a 180-day period, you can currently obtain a visa on arrival for the majority of passport holders. You will require a Schengen visa if your stay is more than 90 days.
Additionally, make sure your passport will not expire in the next 6 months. They might not let you travel.
Most travelers, including US citizens, will need to apply for ETIAS starting in 2024 when they travel to 30 different European countries. Visit ETIAS to learn more about the application. It costs 7 euros to accomplish this and needs to be done before your travel.
There are many airports across France. The most popular airport is the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Other airports include Paris Orly Airport (ORY), Francisco de Beauvais-Tille Airport (BVA), and Toulouse Blagnac Airport (TLS). The most popular airline in France is Air France. Find the best flight prices here.
Weather in France
France is a fairly large country (the largest in Western Europe), so the weather does vary around the country. You can expect the south to be warmer in the winter and the Alps to be cooler in the winter than other areas. The one thing they all do have in common is that each region experiences all four seasons.
Spring is a great time to visit France. In fact, I’ve visited France twice during the springtime. All the flowers start blooming, the afternoons are usually warm, and there are fewer tourists. The temperatures usually range from 52°F to 66°F during this time.
Summer in France can get quite hot, yet it is the most popular time to visit. From June to August, the entire country experiences much warmer temperatures. It doesn’t help that much of France doesn’t commonly use Air Conditioner. However, you can usually find cooler temperatures in the mountainous areas. For the most part, the temperatures usually remain around 77°F – 85°F. If you’re visiting the south of France for its beaches, this is the best time to visit.
Fall in France is when locals return, and the tourists begin to leave. This is also a great time if you want to avoid the crowds and see fall foliage. The weather during this time is still nice, with temperatures around 70°F and then decreasing to around 50°F during November. Hotel prices will also be far more affordable.
Winters in France vary depending on the region you are in. Northern France may experience rain and snow, whereas southern France often has much milder winters. The average winter temperatures range from 32°F to 46°F. This is France’s least popular time aside from the Christmas Holidays and the Alps for Skiing. France is known to have some of the best Christmas Markets in Europe. This is especially true in the Alsace region in eastern France.
Any time after the holidays, you can find more mild winters in the French Riveria.
Popular Things to Do in France
Paris is a popular destination in France, however, the rest of the country has so much to offer. From castles and beaches to champagne and the countryside, there will never be a shortage of things to do.
- Visit the Eiffel Tower
- Take a cruise down the Seine River
- Take a tour of the Louvre Museum
- Enjoy the beaches in the South of France
- See a cabaret show
- Visit Disneyland Paris
- Explore Versailles Palace
- See the Loire Castles
- Visit Giverny
- Explore Fontainebleau
- Provence in the early Summer for Lavender fields
- Enjoy champagne in Champagne
- Visit the France Christmas Markets
- Experience the Beaches of Normandy
Some of the most popular things to do in France include:
The Best Time to Visit France
If you want to visit with fewer crowds and moderate prices, Spring and Fall are the best times to visit France. Overall, these are also my favorite times to visit since the weather is moderately warm.
Summer is a great time to visit France if you want to have a hot European summer at the beach. However, you should be aware that hotel prices tend to increase at this time of year. Plus, there will be far more crowds.
If Christmas and Holiday markets are your priority, visiting in December will be the best time to visit. You should book in advance as many of these small-town accommodations go fast.
Is France Budget-Friendly?
A trip to France can be budget-friendly if you travel during shoulder season (Spring/Fall) or Winter. Also, if saving money is a top priority, you can stay a little further from top attractions. Even Paris can be visited on a budget by staying in hostels and going grocery shopping at the local market.
Since France is so diverse, it is hard to say how much you can expect to spend on a hotel. However, the prices vary depending on the season. On average, you can expect to pay at least $90 per night and up when visiting France.
Street food often ranges from $5-$10 USD a person, whereas eating at a restaurant can range from $15 to $45 per person.
For paid attractions, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10 – $30 USD per person.
French Words to Help You Get Around France
English is widely spoken in France, however, locals appreciate (and are often more friendly) when you try to speak their language. Google Translate can be used, but it’s always good to be familiar with the most common phrases.
Common French Phrases:
- Bonjour – Hello
- Au revoir – Goodbye
- Oui (Wee) – Yes
- Non – No
- Merci or Merci beaucoup – Thank you
- Vous êtes les bienvenus – You’re welcome
- Excusez-moi – Excuse me
- Combien? – How Much?
- Parles-tu anglais? – Do you speak English?
- Où se trouvent les toilettes? – Where is the bathroom?
- Sortie – Exit
- Entrée – Entrance
- Billet – Ticket
France Travel Itineraries
Brief France History
While this is really just scratching the surface of France’s history, here is a brief skim on some notable events throughout the history of France.
As one of the oldest nations, you can imagine they have quite an extensive history. France was first known as Gaul when Julius Ceasar took over. As we know, Rome fell, and many neighboring people tried taking over this land, but by 843, the territory became West Francia. Next came many famous kings and the 100 year war. Then, in 1789, there was the French Revolution, which ended in 1799. This is when Napoleon Bonaparte became an important figure. In 1804, Napoleon crowned himself emperor and reigned over France until he was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Fast forward a bit, France played a role in both WWI and WWII. Both wars destroyed much of France. After the war ended, France was ruled by De Gaulle, and another war was faced in French Indochina.
Today, France is the founding and leading member of the European Union. If you’re interested in knowing more about Frances’ history, you can find tons of great books to read before your trip. Additionally, you can take guided tours focused around the history of France!
Additional Guide Book Reading includes:
France Travel Guide Wrap-up
Now that you know all the basics for planning an epic trip to France. Have any questions about this travel guide or looking for specific travel itineraries? Feel free to reach out, and I will do my best to point you in the right direction!