First Time in France: The Ultimate Guide

03 November 2016

Travelling to France
Your first time visit to France will be a magical experience that will stay with you forever. There is so much to do and see in this culturally rich country that you may not know where to start.  Take a look at this guide to travel in France and plan your perfect trip!
 

Where to go:

Paris

Paris  
The iconic City of Love is a must-see when visiting France.  Spend hours wandering the halls of the famed Louvre museum, and the classic Notre Dame.  Stroll along the Seine or take a river cruise and see the beauty and wonder of this incredible city. Experience Montmartre and the view of the city from its hilltop, visit the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Elysees and the Latin Quarter and take in the atmosphere. Then when the sun is setting, climb to the top of the Eiffel tower and see it like you never dreamed you would.
 

Loire Valley

Loire Valley, Paris 
This graceful and elegant area is not too far from Paris, and boasts the grandiose beauty of many famous chateaus, such as the Chateau de Chambord or the Chateau de Blois.  The gardens in these magnificent homes can provide hours of relaxing pleasure, and the Loire riverbanks offer beautiful views whilst you explore the typical towns of the area such as Ancenis.
 

French Riviera

French Riviera, France 
The beautiful blue-green waters of the Mediterranean are no better seen than from the shores of the glamourous Cote d’Azur.  Enjoy Saint-Tropez, infamous hot spot for international jet-set in the 60’s, or venture to Menton on the border with Italy for incredible views and fewer tourists.  Of course, Nice is the jewel of this area, boasting azure beaches, eclectic art museums, and incredible architecture.  If your visit falls in the spring, hit up the glamorous Cannes for the film festival, or any other time of year enjoy its wonderful designer shopping, exquisite beaches, and hot nightlife.

 
Provence

Provence, France 
This idyllic area of France boasts Roman architecture, gorgeous lavender fields, isolated hilltop villages, and the world’s deepest canyon at Gorges du Verdon.  Explore the ancient and modern sides of Marseille, and visit its beautiful museums and incredible coastlines.
 

Champagne

Champagne, France 
This classy area offers views straight out of a Renoir painting.  A treat for all the senses, you’ll be able to explore vineyards and wine cellars that have existed for centuries.  The beautiful medieval villages offer sights into the past, and in Reims you’ll be able to see where several kings were crowned.  Road trips through this majestic area offer beautiful scenery and lovely places to stop and taste the infamous champagne and wines of the area.
 

Brittany and Normandy

Normandy, France 
The perfect excursion for a lover of history, this area of northern France offers wonderful seafood, ancient legends, and jagged coastline.  Walk barefoot across the sand to visit the mysterious island abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, or for a more solemn experience, visit the D-Day beaches and war cemeteries.  Remember to bring your windbreaker or jumper, as this area has cooler weather than more southern parts of France.
 

Essential Packing List

Traveller's Essentials 
Wherever and whatever you decide on, go safely with all the essentials:
  • The right equipment for your travels – definitely good walking shoes
  • Cash (in Euros)
  • Comfortable yet stylish clothing (The French tend to dress well, and if you’re dressed sloppily you will feel out of place and will look like a tourist.)
  • Plug adaptor (and make sure your electronics can adapt to the voltage!)
  • Maps (or a device with GPS)
  • English/French dictionary
  • A trusty umbrella (especially when visiting Paris and the north of France)
  • Sun cream and mosquito repellent (especially when visiting the south of France)
  • First aid kit
  • A decent travel insurance policy 
  • Copies of important documents
 

Important Phrases

 Hello   

Bonjour 

  (bon-JOOR)

Goodbye    

Au revoir

(O re-VWAR)

Excuse me  

Pardon   

(par-dohn)

Please

S’il vou plaît   

(see voo play)

Thank you 

Merci      

(MEHR-see)

Do you speak English?  

Parlez-vous anglais?

(par-lay VOOZ ahn-GLAY?)

Where is…  

Ou est… 

(oo ay)
…the bathroom? le toilette?      (le twa-LET)
…the beach?   la plage?   (la plazh)
…the airport?     …l’aéroport?    (la-e-roh-por)

Tips for Getting Around

Metro, France
 
The TGV trains in France offer an efficient way to travel to nearly every part of the country, even linking together smaller towns in rural areas.  Getting around using the train requires a bit of forethought, but can be very easily done.  This is also an inexpensive way to travel through France, thus making it a good option.
 
Also, LGV high speed trains allow you to reach different parts of the country very quickly.  Starting in London, you can reach Paris in 2hrs 15 mins and the south of France in less than 7 hours on a Eurostar train, making this great and comfortable choice (although sometimes it can be expensive depending on your flexibility with dates and times).
 
Getting around Paris is very comfortable and affordable using the metro, and if you’re staying for a number of days then you can buy the week long pass to reduce costs.  When leaving Paris, trains can take you to pretty much any part of the country; however, you will need to look in advance to see which station to leave from, as Paris has no central train station.  See here for more detailed information about trains leaving Paris.
 

Conclusion

France is an incredibly unique and beautiful country, home to differing landscapes that host beautiful scenery, world class historical sites and tranquil places for relaxation.  This lovely and classy country will make a great choice for you next holiday.  

Take care of your travel safety in advance and enjoy peace of mind by obtaining single trip travel insurance for you and your travel companions. 

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