France Travel Facts - June 7 thru July 2019
The undisputed romantic capital of the world, Paris is a city to make your soul soar. No matter how many times you see it, read about it, or even visit, the moment you set eyes on the Eiffel Tower, or stroll down the glorious Champs-Elysees, that Paris feeling will strike. It’s no wonder Paris inspires so much creativity – from the bohemian painters of Montmartre, to the earnest writers of the Rive Gauche, no other city has inspired such outpourings of love.
Things to see
You’ll catch glimpses of it, hazy and distant, from the steps of the Sacre Coeur, or from the Tuleries Gardens by the Louvre. For a while, the Eiffel Tower seems like a mirage. But finally, and suddenly, you’ll find yourself standing right underneath its wrought-iron arches. In mere moments, you can be whisked up to the observation deck, the whole of Paris spread out below you. When you’ve come back down to earth, why not visit the greatest avenue on earth? Presided over by the glorious Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Elysees boasts flagship designer stores and exquisite patisseries, all housed in belle-époque buildings. Down on the Left Bank, you’ll find booksellers setting out their wares on little green stands all along the river, as a queue forms outside Shakespeare and Company. Browsing French literature under the shadow of the gothic and majestic Notre Dame is about as Parisian as it gets.
Hotels in Paris
Paris hotels have a reputation for being fiendishly expensive, but it is possible to strike a bargain, depending on the time of year you visit. Of course, if money’s no object, you can have the full Marie-Antoinette experience, staying in a sumptuous, rococo-style suite. Other luxury hotels in Paris offer a contemporary style, and they will all pamper you, with spa services, chauffeured limos, and often, a choice of restaurants serving the very best of modern French cuisine. The cheap hotels in Paris still have unique touches of Parisian style, and the vast majority provide free WiFi and a buffet breakfast.
Where to stay
The Louvre – Place Vendome district has some of the most beautiful and grand hotels, and you’ll be surrounded by glamour, with the Champs-Elysees, the Paris Opera, and the Louvre Museum all in close proximity. If your Paris dreams include walks along the Seine and afternoons spent exploring museums, then Saint-Germain-des-Pres is the district created for you. There’s a wide choice of hotels, from budget guesthouses to luxury boutiques. Just across the river, Marais is one of the most eclectic districts, stretching from the medieval Notre Dame to the postmodern Centre Pompidou, with a diverse selection of hotels to match.
How to get to Paris
Paris has two main airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, which are both served by flights from across the globe. From Charles de Gaulle, the quickest way to get into the center is to take a high-speed RER train from terminal 2 or 3. It’s a 30-minute journey to the Gare du Nord, which links with the Paris metro system. From Orly airport, there are dedicated bus services which go to major points all over the city, including Gare Montparnasse. There’s also a shuttle to Disneyland from here. The south terminal has a tram which links directly to the metro.
Tips for Getting Along with Locals in France
France is a country which offers different experiences depending on where you travel. For instance, Parisians can often seem to be in a rush, whereas the French from areas in the south such as Marseille and Toulouse are thought to be more welcoming. Regardless, it would be advised to bring a pocket phrase book wherever you go, as communicating with the locals will be much easier. Summer throughout France takes place from June to August, with the southern regions experiencing more pleasant weather. During the Summer, temperatures in the north average around 20°C in the afternoons, whereas the south experience temperatures of around 28°C. Planning your holiday ahead of time by visiting the Hotels.com website and checking out what is going on around your hotel via the Google maps applet will ensure that you are able to get the most out of your time, wherever you choose to visit in France.
Passports and Visas
U.S. citizens traveling to France must have a current U.S. passport with at least three months of validity from your date of departure. The passport must have at least one blank page for stamps. Travelers there for vacation or business are not required to get a visa when staying for less than 90 days. France is part of the EU's Schengen Area, so that 90 days also includes a continuous stay in any Schengen Area country. Travelers who wish to stay longer in France (or in the Schengen Area) past 90 days must apply for a visa, which can be done through the Embassy of France website and at a local visa center.
Those arriving for study, internships or employment must apply for a French visa before leaving the U.S. Apply using the Embassy of France website, which allows travelers to submit and track the correct application. Use the Embassy's Visa Wizard tool if you're unsure whether you need one for your trip to France.
Immigration officers may ask travelers to show proof of sufficient funds when entering France, depending on the circumstances. You may also be required to show your return airline ticket, so be sure to have a printed copy with you when traveling. If you forget to print your itinerary ahead of time, use the airport Wi-Fi and a smartphone to find any proof of a reservation in your email.
Vaccines and Health Requirements
No vaccines are required for travel to France, as of March 2018. The State Department does recommend, however, that tourists obtain travel insurance when visiting countries outside the U.S. Check that all prescription medication is in its original and clearly-labeled packaging, and don't carry into France any medication that is not legal there. It's advisable to check with the Embassy of France if you take a restricted prescription medication. Consider asking your doctor for a signed copy of your prescription before leaving; that can make things easier if French customs takes issue with any bottles or pills.
Travelers arriving in France may not bring more than 10,000 euros into the country. These same currency restrictions apply when leaving, so be sure to make any necessary arrangements when transporting goods or money over that amount.