France: What to know before visiting

Did you know France is the most visited country in the world? And quite right too! France is an amazing country with so many things to visit and experience. From the beautiful natural beauties to the magnificent old buildings it has so much to offer. This is all you need to know before visiting France.

I lived in the south of France for 3 years and here are my gems of wisdom that I have learnt and I am sharing with you! From safety tips to tips on politeness, this is the article for you teaching you what to know before visiting France.

Eiffel Tower in Paris in the sun
Eiffel Tower, one of the most famous landmarks in Paris!

Learn a few Key Phrases in French

You may not find that all people speak English in France. And if they do, there is an expectation that when you are in France, you speak French. Learning a few key phrases can really open the door in a conversation and show you are willing to learn. Best to start on a positive note right?

Bonjour = Hello (during the day)

Bonsoir = Hello (during the evening – the exact time of when this changes is still a mystery to me!)

S’il Vous Plait = Please (formal/plural, someone who is not your friend for example a waiter)

S’il te Plait = Please (informal, a friend or someone you may be flirting with aayyyy 😉 )

Merci = Thank you

Parlez-vous Anglais ? = Do you speak English

Oui = Yes

Non = No

WARNING: Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir = Will you sleep with me tonight? (this is a very famous phrase so if you choose to use it to show off your French skills, make sure you use it in the right context! Not a mistake you would like to make….)

If you have any dietary requirements, it would be good to memorise that in French. I would list some but google translate is your friend!

A view of some of the vineyards in the south of France!

Say Hello

The culture of greeting everyone in France is very important. It is extremely rude not to say hello to everyone in the room when you enter, whether it be a shop or a dinner party.

It is normal to shake someone’s hand when you first meet to introduce yourself.

You have reached true advanced frenching when you learn ‘the bises’. This is ‘French Kiss’ of greeting someone by kissing them on each cheek. This is considered normal to greet strangers and even work colleagues depending on your place of work. There are traditions that change depending on which area you are in France: which cheek to start, how many – some areas even do 4 kisses! There is a website for it…. combiendesbises.com

La Rochelle building archway blue sky
La Rochelle in the summer!

What clothes to pack for visiting France

What to pack all depends on which season you are going to and which area.

The north of France the weather can be quite changeable so make sure to bring a waterproof even in summer. The South of France is usually a lot drier and can get very hot in the summer so prepare for that!

France is famous for its style. The French have a great balance of not too much not too little, very goldilocks! Understated beautiful garments go a long way in France. Simplicity and not too many colours is a great starting point to French fashion. If you plan to do lots of exploring, comfortable shoes are a must.

Bikinis on beaches are completely acceptable. It is also normal for women to go topless on the beach so if this is something you want to try – now is your time! (If it is the first time you have exposed your lovely boobies to the sunlight it might be an idea to apply extra suncream…)

A beautiful village in the Loire valley

Cash Monies!

As per the rest of the Euro Zone, France uses the Euro. Cards are widely used and contactless is available in most shops. I would keep some cash on you as there are some smaller shops that do not take card payments.

Safety during your visit to France

France in general is a very safe place to visit. But as per many tourist attractions, there are certain hotspots that pickpockets operate freely. Do not give them the opportunity to take your phone/camera/wallet. Be extra aware on public transport and especially the metros in the big cities.

It is a very cultural part of the French society to protest. If you come across a large protest, I would just turn to the next street to avoid it.

The Cite of Carcassonne

Emergency and Medical things to know when visiting in France

France has different emergency numbers for police/ambulance/fire. The pompiers (fire service) usually act as the first people on the scene so would be the people to call in an emergency. The English speaking emergency number is 112. This will work across Europe so is a good number to remember.

There are lots of Pharmacies for any over the counter medicine you need. Any form of ‘strong’ medication as well as anitbiotics will require a doctors prescription.

If you need a non-emergency medical appointment. Doctorlib.fr is the place for you. You can search for English speaking doctors in your area that have appointments. You do not need to be registered with a doctor to see them. The Doctor will charge 25 euros for a standard appointment.

Pont Neuf Toulouse

What plug do they use in France?

A plug type C or E is going to work in France. This is 2 round prongs with an optional ‘hole’ for a prong to slot into.

Thats all folks!

If you have made it to this point, you know everything you need to know before visiting France. Now is the fun part – get on that plane and explore!! Let me know how it goes in the comments or send me your pics on insta 🙂

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