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France

Welcome to the Ultimate France Travel Guide!

France is (deservedly) the most visited country in the world. It’s home to medieval hill towns, alpine villages, Mediterranean resorts, Roman ruins, castles, and modern cities, and it’s renowned for its fashion, museums, monuments, wines, and food. There’s something for everyone, and this France travel guide has everything you need for planning a trip!

If you don’t have a car in France, choose your “home bases” carefully. Make sure you have access to public transportation for any day trips you want to take.

Avignon is the best home base for seeing the Provence region, Nice for the Riviera, Lyon for Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Dijon for Burgundy, Amboise for the Loire Valley, Bayeaux for Normandy, Reims for Champagne, and Saint-Malo for Brittany.

Ready to plan your trip? Then here’s your ultimate France travel guide!
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Top Places to Visit

Bordeaux
Burgundy Region
French Riviera
Loire Valley Region
Marseille
Mont Saint-Michel
Paris
Provence Region
Strasbourg
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Typical Costs When Traveling

Exchange Rate

The currency in France is the Euro. Exchange rates are subject to fluctuations, so be sure to check this as your trip approaches. On average, €1 is equal to about £.87 British Pounds, $1.10 U.S. and 7.8 Chinese Yuan.

Accommodation

A hostel room is in the €20-40 range (£17.50-35, $22-$44, 156-313 Yuan). A budget hotel is in the €80–100 a night range (£70-87, $88-$110, 626-783 Yuan). A mid-range hotel will likely be around €100–200 a night (£87-174, $110-$221, 783-1565 Yuan). More luxury accommodations start at €300 a night (£260, $332, 2349 Yuan) up to thousands of dollars a night.

Airbnb prices average around €71 (£62, $79, 556 Yuan).

Food

Street food from a crepe stand, boulangeries (bakeries), and markets is relatively cheap around €7 (£6.10, $7.50, 55 Yuan). A menu du jour (pre-selected items) at a casual restaurant will be about €15 (£13, $16.50, 118 Yuan). A meal at a gourmet restaurant will be between €20-40 (£17.50-35, $22-$44, 157-314 Yuan). A meal in an elegant restaurant would start around €65 (£56, $72, 510 Yuan) and can go up to hundreds of dollars per dish.

For alcohol, budget around €5 (£4.35, $5.50, 39 Yuan) for a beer or glass of wine. If you’re dining with a group, bottles of wine are often cheaper than individual drinks.

Transportation

Public transportation within a city’s limits is around €1,50 for a single trip (£1.30, $1.60, 12 Yuan), and you can buy sets of 10 tickets for €11 (£9.50, $3, 18 Yuan).

Transportation between cities can range from €20-250 (£17.50-217, $22-$277, 157-1960) depending on how far you’re traveling, whether you’re going via rail or bus, and what class and amenities you want when traveling. Renting a car will be around €40 per day (£35, $44, 314 Yuan), and then you’ll need to pay for parking, tolls, and gas.

I recommend buying your city-to-city train tickets in advance. This can save you up to 50% on your ticket. Plus, purchasing online means you won’t have to find a ticket office or use ticket machines when you’re at a station.

Uber is an option in the larger cities, but Lyft doesn’t operate in France.

Other Expenses

I’d budget around €60 a day (£52, $26, 182 Yuan) for entrance fees, tours, guides, snacks, tips, and souvenirs.

ATMs are at every airport, most train stations, and on (what seems like) every second street corner in all but the smallest towns. Visa, MasterCard, and Amex are widely accepted throughout the country.

France Travel Guide
Tipping

A 10% tip is standard in restaurants, don’t tip for drinks served at the bar, and round to the nearest euro for drinks served at a table. At hotels, you should tip €1 per bag for porters and per room for cleaning staff ($1.10, 7.8 Yuan). It’s customary to tip 10% for a taxi, around €5 (£4.35, $5.50, 39 Yuan) for tour guides, and €2 (£1.75, $2.20, 15.50 Yuan) for museum guides.

Suggested Daily Costs

These budget estimates include eating and drinking out at least once a day and a couple of intercity train or bus rides.

Lower End: €165 a day (£145, $183, 1294 Yuan). Midrange: €250 a day (£217, $277, 1960 Yuan). Higher End: €550 a day and up (£478, $610, 4312 Yuan).

MONEY SAVING TIPS

1
Eat Off the Beaten Path Don't eat at restaurants near famous landmarks. You'll pay a premium to eat near such places as the Eiffel Tower, or the Palais des Papes in Avignon, or the Cathédrale Notre-Dame in Strasbourg.
2
First Sunday of the Month Many museums, churches, and landmarks have free entry on the first Sunday of the month, so always check to see if a site has this option.
3
Paris Museum Pass If you're planning on visiting a lot of museums, consider the Paris Museum Pass, which includes entry to over 50 museums and shorter wait times for entry.
4
Have a Picnic Find a market, buy something delicious, and have a picnic! Visiting a local market is a great cultural experience, and it's a way to sample fine cheeses and other foods at a fraction of the price of a top restaurant.
View my list of fantastic budget destinations in France to save even more money!

My Must-Have Guide Books

How to Prepare for France

Vaccinations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the following vaccinations: tetanus, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, rabies, and influenza shots.

Passport Health has additional information on current information on vaccinations and disease in France, and I recommend visiting their website for the most up-to-date travel requirements.

Visas

Return tickets and visas are generally not required for trips that are less than 90 days (or at all for EU nationals). But some nationals need a Schengen visa. The World Travel Guide has detailed lists of more information on France’s visa and passport requirements for entry from different countries.

iVisa is an incredibly helpful resource for obtaining visas. iVisa makes the usually complicated and confusing process of getting a visa easy by taking care of everything for you. You fill out a simple online application, and then iVisa takes care of everything else.

Etiquette

If you’re speaking French, use the formal vous when speaking to anyone you don’t know or anyone older than you. The informal tu is for close friends, family, and children.

Dress modestly in churches and make sure your shoulders are covered. Exchanging bisous (cheek-skimming kisses) is for casual acquaintances and friends.

When To Go

The best time to visit France is the shoulder season from April – June or Fall September – October. There are fewer tourists, lower prices, and moderate temperatures during these months.

The summer months are more crowded and more expensive, and the winter months will be grey, wet, and cold. But France does have excellent skiing and other snow sports during the Winter.

France is one of the Best Destinations To Visit In June!
What To Pack

France has a mostly temperate climate with cool winters and mild summers. The regions along the Mediterranean have mild winters and hot summers.

A raincoat is always a good idea, no matter where or when you’re in France. In the Fall and Spring, you’ll want a layer for the mornings and evenings. In the winter, you’ll want warm clothes, even along the Mediterranean.

If you’re planning on venturing up into the Alps, you’ll need warmer clothes regardless of what season it is. International Living has a detailed list of France’s seasonal climate by region.

What To Wear

Fashion and personal appearance are important in France. So, to dress like the locals, pack practical business-casual clothes. Long or capri pants, skirts, and dresses for women and long pants for men. You won’t see locals wearing shorts unless they’re on the beach.

It’s smart to have a layer on hand when you’re visiting churches or other religious sites to cover your shoulders out of respect. Bring your most comfortable shoes! You’ll be walking A LOT, and you’ll continuously be on cobblestone sidewalks or streets.

Have you been to France? Comment below with anything you’d add to this France travel guide!
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Shop My France Essentials
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This France travel guide is not a sponsored post, and, as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Some of the links in this France travel guide are affiliate links, and, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

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Comments:

  • December 10, 2019

    Great guide! Love how you have organized your blog!

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  • December 24, 2019

    Yes ..I traveled to France Paris, Central and the coast and stayed in Euro camps..so reasonable and nice. Love the format of this post!

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  • December 27, 2019

    Unfortunately, the one time I visited France I only visited Paris since I was doing a two week European trip! I did love Paris a lot though. However, I really want to see the rest of France one day, especially Strasbourg, Bordeaux, and the French Riviera. Thank you for sharing! 🙂
    Krystianna @ Volumes and Voyages

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  • January 5, 2020

    Thank you for this lovely post. Public transport it fantastic in France but hiring a car is also wonderful and can get you off the beaten track. The country roads are quiet in France and it is a lovely country to drive around.

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  • April 26, 2020

    Super informative! Can’t wait to go back.

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  • May 15, 2020

    Wow! This is an awesome guide with some great tips! I hope to visit France someday and will save this for when I do 🙂 Thanks!

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