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Our Top Tips on Making the Most of Your Holiday in France

Our top tips on making the most of your holiday in France

Passports

Visitors to France must have a valid national passport. A visa is not required for US or Canadian citizens travelling as tourists and staying less than 90 days.

Emergency Number 112

The emergency telephone number 112 is the recognised number throughout the European Union that will get you through to the emergency service you require, whether it be the police, the fire brigade or the ambulance service.

There are procedures in place to deal with many different languages, vital in the case of emergency. This number is free to call.

European Health Insurance Card

Before you travel to France, make sure you have an up-to-date European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which is free to obtain. This card entitles you to free or reduced cost medical care whilst on holiday in Europe.

If you need to see a GP, you will need to pay for your appointment. Your EHIC card is only valid at hospitals. Appointments cost around 25 Euros and you will probably need to pay in cash. You will also need to pay for any prescriptions.

Medical advice

First aid and medical advice are available from chemists identified by the green cross sign.

Car breakdown cover

If you are taking your car to France, car breakdown cover is very important. Make sure you have all documentation with you at all times, including your insurance certificate. Make sure you have copies of all your documents and you also know any emergency numbers in case of loss, theft, accident or breakdown.

Ferries and the Channel Tunnel

It is possible to turn up at a ferry port or the Channel Tunnel and buy a ticket for the next crossing but this is not advisable during peak holiday times. It is almost always cheaper to book in advance.

Car insurance and Green Card

You are not legally obligated to get a Green Card from your car insurance company when driving in France but it is advisable as your insurance may only provide you with third-party cover once you are outside the UK. Check with your insurance company before you leave. See our Driving in France page for more information on travelling around France by car.

Euros

Many people do not carry much cash on them these days but you will likely need some if you want to experience the many delightful French markets or buy the odd coffee or croissant in a café. The currency in France is Euros.

It is sometimes quicker to use cash on the toll roads, although many booths take credit or debit cards.

There are some public toilets, particularly in the major cities, that require you to pay 20 cents or more before you can use them.

There are numerous places where you can exchange Sterling for Euros, including on some of the ferries to France. Some will offer better exchange rates than others, so it is worth checking prior to your holiday.

Be careful how you carry your cash if you are visiting the larger cities. Crime rates in French rural areas are very low but Paris, and particularly the Metro, is a known haunt for pick pockets.

Banks

Banks are open from 9am until 12pm and 2pm until 4pm. Some banks will stay open later into the evening. Branches are closed either on Mondays or Saturdays.

A passport is necessary when cashing travellers' cheques. Cash machines are widely available in towns and are the most economical way to obtain cash. Most French ATMs accept foreign cards. Be aware that you will pay a small commission for the service.

Using Mobile Phones Abroad

If you want to use your mobile phone in France, make sure your phone is enabled for international calling.

If you use a smart phone, make sure you turn off data roaming before you get to France and only turn it on briefly when you want to use the internet or download emails. Be sure to check what deals your mobile phone company offers before your holiday or mobile internet usage can become expensive.

Many holiday properties listed on We Adore France include Wifi within the rental price. If you need or want to use the internet whilst on holiday, this is your best and most economical option.

Tap Water

Tap water is safe to drink in France. However, if you wish to drink bottled water, it is much cheaper in French supermarkets than in the UK.

Tipping

Service charges are included in the price of meals and accommodation in France. Any additional tipping is optional.

Weather

In summer, the temperature in France is normally a degree or two higher than the UK, if not more. The further south you are, the warmer it is likely to be. France has more days of sunshine than the UK.

Christmas Markets

We love spending Christmas in France. The Christmas markets are a real treat. Traditionally, French housewives spent the weeks before Christmas baking and cooking traditional dishes for the festive season, which is why there are still so many markets, which stock special ingredients. The markets are bursting with local produce, including organic poultry and regional specialities such as honey and olive oil, many of which make ideal presents for food lovers.

Holidaying with children

A holiday in France with children is so much easier than tackling stressful long haul flights. You can simply pile everything you need into the car and set off.

There are lots of lovely beaches in France and you can stay in areas close to the ports or the Tunnel if you don’t fancy too long a drive.

The French also tend to more child-friendly than other countries and will be accommodating in restaurants as they recognise the value of family meal times.

Face Concealment

Concealment of the face in public places in France is illegal. This includes the wearing of balaclavas, full veils or any other garment or mask that is used to conceal the face. Failure to comply with the ban is punishable by a maximum fine of €150.

National holidays

Be aware of public holidays in France, when shops may well be closed. It is easy to get caught out if you arrive on one of these days and need to stock up on provisions.

Ascension Day

This is always held on a Thursday on the 40th day after Easter and, in 2013, the date is 9 May.

Whit Monday

Whit Monday, or Pentecost Monday, is celebrated in most European countries and always falls on the Monday after Pentecost. The date for 2013 is 20 May.

La Fete Nationale

Also known as Bastille Day, this is on 14 July. Many celebrations are held on this date throughout France.

Assumption Day

This falls on 15 August and is a public holiday in many different countries, especially those that have a Roman Catholic influence such as France, Belgium, Italy, Greece and Spain.

All Saints Day

This is on 1 November. The day after, although not a national holiday, is known as the All Souls Day when people pray for those departed souls.

Armistice Day

This is also known as Remembrance Day. In France, this is celebrated on 11 November no matter what day it falls on, unlike in the UK where it becomes Remembrance Sunday.

Christmas Day

As in many countries, Christmas Day on 25 December is a public holiday in France. Be aware that Boxing Day, also known as St Stephen’s Day, is widely celebrated in France and, although it is not an official National Holiday, many businesses are also closed on this day.

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