Country Guide: France
Visa Required?: In short, no. Americans, Canadians, and Australians are allowed 90 out of 180 days travel within the Schengen Countries (which includes France). Check here for other countries.
Most Visited Cities: Paris, Normandy, Nantes, Bordeaux, Marseille
Famous Landmark: Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
National Train: SCNF
Random Fact: There is a miniature copy of the Statue of Liberty not far from the Eiffel Tower, that is identical to the one found in New York City, only smaller.
Overview: For hundreds of years France, has been known as one of the most influential powers in the world. Whether it was during their overseas conquests or within the European community the name France brings with it a certain allure. People are enchanted by its romantic cities such as Paris. Others go for the Chateaus and vineyards in the Bordeaux regions. Beach goers flock to the famed French Riviera in the south of the country.
France, particularly Paris, is known for being one of the more expensive cities in the world. Traveling to it on a budget can be done. There are also many wonderful sites to see in France, such as the Beach of Normandy, or the vineyards. Surely, something in France has captured your interest. If you are looking to travel to France, check out the city links above for more specific information.
How to get around?
The best way to get around France is either by train or carpooling. There are some bus companies such as Eurolines that service France, but the trains are easier to take. It is good to note though that people occasionally go on strike in France. Therefore, if you are trying to travel through France one day and the train company’s employees decide to go on strike, then you are going to be out of luck. Therefore, I would recommend checking out sites like Covoiturage (ride-share) for good carpooling opportunities.
What to see?
From the mountains to the coast, to the small villages in between France is a beautiful country. Whether you decide to go for the tourist track or head to some less well-known places you are not going to be disappointed.
Are the people rude in France?
French people have a reputation for being rude or mean to foreigners. In my experience, most French people are quite nice and hospitable. Surely, you will get a person from time to time that you are not going to get along with, but that can happen anywhere.
To understand where the reputation comes from, I will try to explain my perspective. French people are very proud of their history, language, and traditions. For many years, France was one of the most dominant world powers. Their language was, and still is, spoken in many areas around the world. Firstly, I think that the French people became used to everyone speaking French as their language was for many years the lingua franca. Second, I think that certain French people are less tolerant of typical tourists whom know very little of any other language. In this instance, it would be non-Francophones. Furthermore, I think there is a clash from the tourism sector and the traditional French people. So, if you travel to France and act as a tourist perhaps and do not speak French perhaps there is a higher chance that you will be mal-received. In a nutshell, that is my opinion on the French. Whether it is true or not, may vary by the person.
Do you need to know French?
Knowing the local language in any place that you visit is always more than a positive skill to have. France is no exception. Knowledge of the French language would be quite beneficial when traveling around France. However, I find that regionally it is more important in the north. Additionally, it is more important to know the language with the older generation. Many of the younger generations speak at least a little English, Spanish, or German. Also, you will find that the people in the south are more receptive to foreign languages.