STUDY IN France -
Living In France
and, more familiarly, kissing both cheeks, are
the usual form of greeting. The form of personal
address is simply Monsieur or Madame without a
surname and it may take time to get on first-name
At more formal dinners, it is the most
important guest or host who gives the signal to
start eating. Meal times are often a long, leisurely
Casual wear is common but the French
are renowned for their stylish sportswear and
dress sense. Social functions, some clubs, casinos
and exclusive restaurants warrant more formal
attire. Evening wear is normally specified where
required. Topless sunbathing is tolerated on most
beaches but naturism is restricted to certain
beaches – local tourist offices will advise
where these are.
Smoking is prohibited on public
transport and in cinemas and theatres. Tobacconists
display a red sign in the form of a double cone.
A limited choice of brands can be found in restaurants
A 12-15 per cent service charge
is normally added to the bill in hotels, restaurants
and bars, but it is customary to leave small change
with the payment; more if the service has been
exceptional. Other services such as washroom attendants,
10 to 15 per cent of the meter fare.
|Local Customs & Culture
Food & Drink
With the exception
of China, France has a more varied and developed
cuisine than any other country. The simple, delicious
cooking for which France is famous is found in
the old-fashioned bistro and restaurant. There
are two distinct styles of eating in France. One
is of course ‘gastronomy’ (haute cuisine),
widely known and honoured as a cult with rituals,
rules and taboos. It is rarely practised in daily
life, partly because of the cost and the time
which must be devoted to it. The other is family-style
cooking, often just as delicious as its celebrated
counterpart. Almost all restaurants offer two
types of meal: à la carte (extensive choice
for each course and more expensive) and le menu
(a set meal at a fixed price with dishes selected
from the full à la carte menu). At simple
restaurants, the same cutlery will be used for
all courses. The bill (l’addition) will
not be presented until it is asked for, even if
clients sit and talk for half an hour after they
have finished eating. Many restaurants close for
a month during the summer, and one day a week.
It is always wise to check that a restaurant is
open, particularly on Sunday.
For more information on the specialities from
the various regions of France, consult the regional
sections. The tourist office publishes a guide
to restaurants in Paris and the Ile-de-France.
The legal age for drinking alcohol in a bar/cafe
is 18. Minors are allowed to go into bars if accompanied
by an adult but they will not be served alcohol.
Hours of opening depend on the proprietor but
generally bars in major towns and resorts are
open throughout the day; some may still be open
at 0200. Smaller towns tend to shut earlier. There
are also all-night bars and cafes.
In major cities such
as Paris, Lyon or Marseille, there are lively
nightclubs that sometimes charge no entry fee,
although drinks are likely to be more expensive.
Alternatively, the entrance price sometimes includes
a consommation of one drink. As an alternative
to a nightclub, there are many late-night bars
and cafes. Tourist offices publish an annual and
monthly diary of events available free of charge.
Several guides are also available which give information
about entertainments and sightseeing in the capital.
In the provinces, the French generally spend the
night eating and drinking, although in the more
popular tourist areas there will be discos and
dances. All weekend festivals in summer in the
rural areas are a good form of evening entertainment.
There are over 130 public casinos in the country.
include lace, crystal glass, cheeses, coffee and,
of course, wines, spirits and liqueurs. Arques,
the home of Crystal D’Arques, is situated
between St Omer and Calais, en route to most southern
destinations. Lille, the main town of French Flanders,
is known for its textiles, particularly fine lace.
Most towns have fruit and vegetable markets on
Saturday. Hypermarkets, enormous supermarkets
which sell everything from foodstuffs and clothes
to hi-fi equipment and furniture, are widespread
in France. They tend to be situated just outside
of town and all have parking facilities. Shopping
hours: Department stores are open Mon-Sat 0900-1830.
Some shops are closed between 1200-1430. Food
shops are open 0700-1830/1930. Some food shops
(particularly bakers) are open Sunday mornings,
in which case they will probably close Monday.
Many shops close all day or Monday afternoon.
Hypermarkets are normally open until 2100 or 2200.
French Railways (SNCF) operate a nationwide
network with 34,200km (21,250 miles) of line,
over 12,000km (7500 miles) of which has been electrified.
The TGV (Train à grande vitesse) runs from
Paris to Brittany and southwest France at 300kph
(186mph) and to Lyon and the southeast at 270kph
The SNCF is divided into five systems (East,
North, West, Southeast and Southwest). The transport
in and around Paris is the responsibility of a
separate body, the RATP at 54 quai de la Rapée,
75599 Paris (tel: (1) 4468 2020; website: www.ratp.fr).
This organisation provides a fully integrated
bus, rail and métro network for the capital.
There are various kinds of tickets
(including Family and Young Person’s Tickets)
offering reductions which can usually be bought
in France. In general, the fares charged will
depend on what day of the week and what time of
the day one is travelling; timetables giving further
details are available from SNCF offices. It is
essential to validate (composter) tickets bought
in France by using the orange automatic date-stamping
machine at the platform entrance.
There is a range of special tickets on offer
to foreign visitors; they usually have to be bought
before entering France and some are only available
in North America; others are unique to Australia
and New Zealand. There are also special European
Rail and Drive packages. For more information,
contact your local French Government Tourist Office
(see Contact Addresses section).
Motorail (car sleeper): Services are operated
from Boulogne, Calais, Dieppe and Paris to all
main holiday areas in both summer and winter.
Motorail information and booking is available
from Rail Europe (tel: (08705) 848 848; website:
see Travel – International section.
Traffic drives on the
right. France has over 9000km (5600 miles) of
motorways (autoroutes), some of which are free
whilst others are toll roads (autoroutes à
péage). Prices vary depending on the route,
and caravans are extra. There are more than 28,500km
(17,700 miles) of national roads (routes nationales).
Motorways bear the prefix ‘A’ and
national roads ‘N’. Minor roads (marked
in yellow on the Michelin road maps) are maintained
by the départements rather than by the
Government and are classed as ‘D’
roads. It is a good idea to avoid travelling any
distance by road on the last few days of July/first
few days of August and the last few days of August/first
few days of September, as during this time the
bulk of the holiday travel takes place and the
roads can be jammed for miles. A sign bearing
the words Sans Plomb on a petrol pump shows that
it dispenses unleaded petrol. The Bison Futé
map provides practical information and is available
from the French Government Tourist Office.
Information on services may be obtained
from local tourist offices. Local services outside
the towns and cities are generally adequate.
A list of agencies can be obtained
at local tourist offices (Syndicats d’Initiative
or Offices de Tourisme). Fly-drive arrangements
are available through all major airlines. French
Railways (SNCF) also offer reduced train/car-hire
These may be imported for stays of
up to 6 months. There are special requirements
for cars towing caravans which must be observed;
eg cars towing caravans are prohibited to drive
within the boundaries of the péripherérique
(the Paris ring road). Contact the French Government
Tourist Office for details.
Room and all meals,
ie full-board or pension terms, are usually offered
for a stay of 3 days or longer. Half-board or
demi-pension (room, breakfast and one meal) terms
are usually available outside the peak holiday
period. They are not expensive but adhere to strict
standards of comfort. Hotels charge around 30
per cent extra for a third bed in a double room.
For children under 12, many chains will provide
another bed in the room of the parents for free.
Logis de France are small- or medium-sized, inexpensive
and often family-run hotels which provide good,
clean, basic and comfortable accommodation with
a restaurant attached.
Further information can
be obtained from the Fédération
Nationale des Logis de France, 83 avenue d’Italie,
75013 Paris (tel: (1) 4584 8384; fax: (1) 4583
5966; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Relais-Châteaux are châteaux hotels.
More details on all types of hotel accomodation
can be obtained from the Union des Métiers
et des Industries de l'Hôtellerie, 22 rue
d’Anjou, 75008 Paris (tel: (1) 4494 1994;
fax: (1) 4742 1520; website: http://www.umih.fr).
Hotels in Paris:
Hotel bookings can be made in
person through tourist offices at stations or
at the Paris Tourist Office, 127 avenue des Champs-Elysées,
75008 Paris (tel: (8) 9268 3112; fax: (1) 4952
5300; e-mail: email@example.com;
or free of charge at www.paris-on-line.com.
Regional lists or hotels
are available, as well as the Logis de France
guide and various chain/association guides from
the French Government Tourist Office and bookshops.
The Tourist Office publishes guides to hotels
in Paris and the Ile-de-France, available free
Hôtels de Tourisme are
officially graded into five categories according
to the quality of the accommodation, which are
fixed by government regulation and checked by
the Préfecture of the Départements:
4-star: Deluxe. 3-star: First class. 2-star: Standard.
1-star: Budget. Logis de France are subject to
a specific code usually above basic requirements
for their grade and are inspected regularly to
ensure that they conform to the standards laid
France are holiday homes (often old farmhouses)
in the country, all of which conform to standards
regulated by the non-profitmaking National Federation.
Contact the Fédération Nationale
des Gîtes de France, 59 rue de St Lazare,
75439 Paris (tel: (1) 4970 7575; fax: (1) 4281
2853; website: http://www.gites-de-france.fr;
Villas, Houses and Apartments Rental: Villas and
houses can be rented on the spot. Local Syndicats
d’Initiative can supply a complete list
of addresses of local rental agencies. Tourists
staying in France for over a month may prefer
to live in an apartment, rather than in a hotel.
For information about apartments to rent, apply
to: Fédération Nationale de l’Immobilier,
129 rue du Faubourg St-Honoré, 75439 Paris
(tel: (1) 4420 7700; fax: (1) 4225 8084; website:
Château-Accueil (25 rue Jean Giraudoux,
75116 Paris; tel: (1) 5367 7400; fax: (1) 4723
3756; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website:
publishes a list of châteaux offering accommodation
suitable for families. Contact the French Government
Tourist Office for further information.
7000 campsites throughout France. A few have tents
and caravans for hire. Prices vary according to
location, season and facilities. All graded campsites
will provide water, toilet and washing facilities.
Touring caravans may be imported for stays of
up to 6 consecutive months.
Contact the Fédération
Française de Camping at Caravaning, 78
rue de Rivoli, 75004 Paris (tel: (1) 4272 8408;
fax: (1) 4272 7021; e-mail:
email@example.com; website: http://www.ffcc.fr)
for more information. There are 100 British companies
offering camping holidays in France. The French
Government Tourist Office has a full list of tour
operators who run all types of tours, including
camping and special interest holidays.
There are hundreds
of these in France, offering very simple accommodation
at very low prices. There are hostels in all major
towns. Stays are usually limited to three or four
nights or a week in Paris. Hostels are open to
all members of the National Youth Hostel Association
upon presentation of a membership card. Lists
are available from national youth hostel organisations.
For further information, contact the French Youth
Hostels Federation (FUAJ) (FUAJ Centre National,
27 rue Pajal, 75018 Paris; tel: (1) 4489 8727;
fax: (1) 4489 8749; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
or the French Government Tourist Office.
There is a reciprocal health agreement with the
UK. On presentation of Form E111 (which must not
be more than 12 months old to avoid the possibility
of bureaucratic non-acceptance) at an office of
the Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie
(Sickness Insurance Office), UK citizens are entitled
to a refund of 75 per cent or more of charges
incurred for dental and medical (including hospital)
treatments and around 35-65 per cent of charges
incurred for prescribed medicines. Application
forms for Form E111 are obtainable from post offices.
The standard of medical facilities and practitioners
in France is very high but so are the fees, and
health insurance is recommended – even for
Universal European Emergency Services #
Works from all phones including mobiles
This number connects to the fire brigade (Sapeurs Pompiers) but they also deal with medical emergencies
Should be the first port of call in life-threatening situations
(for other urgent medical call-outs)
|Police / Gendarmes
|Emergency calls (hearing assisted)
|| Sea and lake rescue
|Terror / kidnapping hotline
||01 40 05 48 48: