14 July 2016 by Anna Staford
Travelling is a wonderful experience that lets you discover and appreciate a variety of cultures that are unique to each location. You can get a culture shock however, especially when you’re not prepared for the surprises that you may discover along the way.
France is one of the most popular destinations in the world with over 83 million visitors last year. To minimise surprises when you’re in France, learn these 6 things before travelling to France.
Sounds obvious for any country – but the French particularly like to stick with their language, even if they know some English. They will really appreciate it if you try to speak a little French and this will encourage them to try any English they know in response. If you start with English, many may not reply in English. This can be quite a challenging travel experience. So make sure that you learn some phrases that will help you get along and get the best out of your trip to France.
Read also: Customs & Traditions in France
Travellers love to rent a car when they visit a foreign country. Although France is a relatively low crime destination, there are still some areas that require extra caution, such as the Aix en Provence. Make sure you don’t leave valuables in your hire car (especially don’t leave them visible!). Local thieves will look out for hire cars and target them for easy pickings, so don’t be caught out.
One of the reasons we travel to France is because we want to try their world famous cuisine, right? Some of the more unscrupulous restaurants, particularly in Champs Elysee and the Latin Quarter, can sometimes try to trick tourists who have a difficulty understanding and speaking the language. Be clear with the waiter on what dish you want and point to it on the menu, or go for the Prix Fixe meal at a fixed price which is a simple way to order and usually better value. Be sure to check the bill as carefully to ensure you have been charged for the correct dishes as some restaurants may try to inflate the total bill after dining.
Like the above scenario, you could end up paying more when drinking at a bar. Ask for a price list first before accepting or ordering any drinks, otherwise you may get a shock when the bill comes. Also be cautious if you are approached by other customers in a bar being over friendly, especially around Pigalle. They may be trying to tempt you to buy a round of drinks at inflated prices. That said, you simply cant travel to France without trying out some the world famous wines and champagnes – but just be alert to unreasonably high prices, especially in the tourist hot-spots.
Unlike trains in some countries, the transit system in France is cheaper and safer. There are usually security guards present which adds to safety and security if travelling later in the evening. The metro system is also cheaper than any transit systems available in the country. Through a system of light rail and underground transportation, you can travel anywhere very cost effectively. We suggest taking the RER train whether you are a newbie or a repeat traveller.
French people particularly appreciate and love to hear positive feedback about almost everything you see and try in their country. So don’t hold back with your positive and enthusiastic comments on what you discover. Needless to say, they won’t appreciate hearing what you don’t like so much – so be tactful – and keep that to yourself if you want to get the best out of your French hosts.
Don’t forget to buy suitable travel insurance before you go so you are covered for any unexpected mishaps.
Read also: Transport in France: How to Get Around