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FRANCE
FRANCE
DESTINATION GUIDE

The Ultimate Guide Before You Plan for your Next Trip

France, the country of love and lights, the glamorous boulevards and the patio cafes, the quaint bookshops and the fascinating art galleries, the cheese and the win, beckons the most romantic souls of the planet to spend a splendid time and cherish the memories forever. From the Eiffel Tower to the walk along the banks of Seine, France will allow you to enjoy some of the most extraordinary moments of your life.

Attractions in France

The most beautiful European country has many treasures up its sleeves. From Paris to Bordeaux there are many enchanting castles and sites which you can savor. From the enigmatic beauty of Versailles to the haunting appeal of Mont Saint-Michel, France is never short of its fascinating attractions.

Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Chartres

This Gothic style cathedral near Paris is certainly a must-visit destination once you reach France. Covering around 2,500 square meters of area this medieval architecture will offer you a haunting appeal, which is beautiful and yet chilling at the same time. Considered to be a classic European cathedral this destination you will just get spellbound by beauty of the charming rose windows.
Then there is Passion window and of course the enchanting Blue Virgin window which dates back to the 12th Century. The cathedral also arranges for some light shows, for the visitors, from the month of April to November.

Provence

Provence is natural French landscape with its ornamental appeal of the olive groves and lush purple-colored lavender fields stretching for miles down the hills. The scenic beauty of this place will transport you to another world as you will get to see the charming French country houses. The scenery of this place has once inspired many artists including Matisse and Picasso.
Even today you will find many painters and musicians performing outdoors on the cobblestone paths as you can sit in some of the quaint little outdoor cafes of the place. There is Aix-en-Provence the local market square where you can find some exotic herbs along with pure and organic olive oil. There are of course some museums and some medieval sites which you can savor whilst you are there.

Mont Blanc

Do not make the mistake of thinking that France is a country just full of lush green outfields and charming vineyards. Whilst there are many such locations, France also has its fair share of high-altitude mountains. The Mont Blanc is also known as the White Mountain in France is always covered in snow and its reaches a height of 4810 meters from the sea level.
Nestled under the high mountains there is a quaint little alpine hamlet which is a must-visit for all the tourists planning to visit France. If you are not up for hiking then this village will offer you nice wooden lodges to sleep and delightful menus to choose from the many wee restaurants out there, whilst you can just enjoy the beautiful mountain view.

Alsace Village

Located between the charming hills of Alsace and the river Rhine, this village offers more than you can ever imagine. Typically a French village with all its quaint appeals this place is pitted with beautiful timber-houses and churches reflecting the image of a small story-book town. The village is known for its ornamental floral decoration and has been awarded by the French Government on several occasions.
The historic houses, the medieval churches, and the floral decor on the cobblestone paths of the villages will take you to another world altogether. Dodge the hustles of Paris or Bordeaux and enjoy a nice time walking together in this marvelous village atmosphere.

Biarritz

Meet all the fashionable French people in the coastal region of Biarritz in the Bay of Biscay. The idealistic French seaside resort will welcome you with all its wonders and French-Navy stripped umbrellas and arm-chairs at the beach. The charming appeal of this beach is unmatched to anywhere else in the world as you can savor the pleasant sea breeze and enjoy the scrumptious delights in most of the Michelin-star restaurants out there. There is also a beautiful lighthouse and big aquarium which you can enjoy with your family and friends.

When To Reach

The best time to reach France is during the seaons of Spring and Autumn. Thus the months between April and June are good for traveling alongwith the months from September to November. It is during these months the temparature remains pleasant and the humidity is also quite low. So, sitting in the outdoor patio restaurants and the walking down the cobblestone paths will not make you break a sweat.

Seasonality

High Season: The Peak Season of visiting France is during the summer months. The sunny weather of this west European nation draws a lot of crowd from all corners of the globe, including Europe and America. The festivals and the events around the coastal region makes summers one of the most touristy seasons in France.


Low Season: The crowd is very trim during the chilly winter months. It is not a tourist-friendly season because due to the weather. The crowd begins to thin by the end of November and it stays the same till the end of March. The weather is not extremely cold when compared to the northern European countries but it is a bit nippy nonetheless.


Shoulder Season: The Spring and Autumns are definitely the shoulder seasons when compared to the rest of the year. It is in fact the ideal time for traveling to France because the weather remains perfect, with a mix of warm balmy patches and some chilly sea-breeze and the crowd is less and hence you can actually enjoy the sites with time in your hand.

Why should you go?

France is by far the most romantic destinations of Europe. With glittering cities (including the Capital of Paris which is called the City of Lights) and few of the world's best restaurants France will definitely make you fall in love with the place, the moment you step down from your flight. From ski resorts to exotic beach destinations, France will never fail to mesmerize your senses.
10 Reasons to visit France -
  • France is a country rich in its history and heritage and it has as many as 37 World Heritage Sites.
  • The city of Paris has the Eiffel Tower, one of the most remarkable landmarks and one of the seven wonders of the world.
  • Paris has Louvre Museum which is arguably the most famous art museum housing original works of Da Vinci and Picasso.
  • The beaches of Côte d'Azur offer a charming retreat as the visitors get to come near real Mediterranean coastlines and enjoy some scrumptious foods from the nearby restaurants.
  • The Palace of Versailles will allow you to have some real glimpses of the French Monarchy.
  • France has the best collection of wine and cheese and you will have an awesome time in any wine tasting sessions.
  • France has some exclusive collection of authentic cuisines including some specialties like the Quiche, Cassoulet, Beef Bourguignon, and of course Chou croute.
  • The outdoor patio cafes of France has a charming appeal which you will not find anywhere else in the world. From buskers playing guitar to painters drawing the scenery you will encounter all kinds of artists out there.
  • The countryside of France is simply mind-blowing and its ornamental floral design will transport you to another world.
  • The flea markets and the antiques shops of France will offer you a quaint charm and you can buy some souvenirs from these shops at a bargain.

Getting Around

France is one of the most popular European destination for tourists and business people alike. That is the reason why the public transportation of France is very popular. Starting from the subway to the trams and the buses, there are many ways you can travel around France. The taxis are also easily available in the main cities like Paris or Bordeaux and there are mini-cab services which will take you to the charming countrysides.

Subway

All the major cities like Paris are well-connected by the subway or the underground metro line. The routes are wide and the trains are quite frequent. The tickets will not cost you much and if you board a train you will reach the destination within few minutes.

Trams

Trams are still available in France in the less crowded towns and countryside. The trams are frequent but they move slower thereby allowing you to enjoy the charming view of the countryside of France.

Taxis and Mini-Cabs

Taxis and mini-cabs are also available for hire, throughout the country. Taxis might also take you to the nearby countryside and the beaches surrounding the main city. Taxis should be taken when you are planning to go to some obscure locations.

Rented Cars

If you have an international driver's license then you can take a car for rent to travel around France. However, it would be good that if you knew French and German, if you are intending to rent a car for your trip. This is because, in the countryside the people will prefer to speak in their local tongue if you are seeking help with the directions.

Weather

France experiences three types of weathers- oceanic, Mediterranean, and continental. The summers are normally cool and breezy, especially around the coastal areas of France. France experiences pretty steady rainfall and that is the reason why the countrysides and the mountains are all covered in green. The winters are cool but seldom chilly beyond limits. The average temperature during summer and spring is about 11 degree Celsius to 15 degree Celsius like in the cities of Nice and Paris. The winters are also pleasant with some snowfalls but nonetheless enjoyable.

What to take in your suitcase?

  • A French summer is not as hot as an Indian summer and so a couple of jackets and scarfs are always necessary.
  • Carry a couple of reliable umbrellas if you are planning to travel during the months of June and July.
  • Bring both closed-toe and open-toe shoes because the climate might get a bit tricky and you might not know what will be better for you until you face the weather.
  • Take more trousers than shorts. Even if you are planning to visit the beaches it is always good to take more trousers because France is generally cooler than Indian.
  • Carry hats and sunglasses with you to combat the bright sun, especially in the beaches.
In the Spotlight

France is a hub of quality eateries and some of the world's top restaurants are available in this country. You are certainly up for a gastronimical delight if you are planning to visit France. With the highest number of Michelin-star restaurants in the world France is certain to give your tastebuds a pleasant surprise.

Au Cerf : Eating in France is not just about visiting the dazzling restaurants in the main cities but also traveling to the charming villages and finding out a delightful place where you will be greeted by the friendly staff and warm delicious foods.
Au Cerf is one of those places in the ornamental countryside of Alsace where you will find scrumptious Munster cheese, which is locally made, along with choucroute served with fish.
Maison Kammerzell: Just beside the cathedral at Strasbourg, and old house is being transformed into one of the finest eateries serving French cheese and wine.
The place is decorated with nice frescoes from the Renaissance period and the food served here is simply mind blowing. You will get the authentic Aslatian dishes at this place along with the original French choucroute served with three different kinds of fish.
La Chapon Fin: Perhaps one of the finest eateries in entire Bordeaux this place also reflects a charming Art Nouveau decor which is quintessentially French and hence charming and romantic to its core.
A perfect dinner venue for honeymooners and couples where you will get the finest varieties of wild mushrooms and wine. The service is excellent as you will be allowed to sample some food before ordering and the chef of this place has redefined the concept of fine French cuisine by rediscovering some traditional French dishes like langoustines with caviar and sea bass.
Auberge du Cheval Blanc: If you are visiting the Basque country region of France then a visit to this restaurant is a must. The chef has recently won a Michelin-star and the food is simply exceptional.
The wooden frame of the restaurant is complemented with the parquet flooring and this Lembach eatery is just an hour's drive from Strasbourg. From foie gras to pigeon, all types of meats are available at this place and they are served with authentic French wine.
La Cafe de Paris: More than just a restaurant or a cafe this place has now turned into a Parisian icon. Renovated with fashion of 1920's this retro eatery is a very popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
Anytime you visit this place will offer you classic brasserie cuisine and the view from the terrace is simply mind blowing. You can literally witness the city coming to life, slowly as the sun sets in the horizon. Starting from French Burger to Quiche with Chips, you will get to have many sorts of finger foods at this place.

It is the French who has converted the act of cooking into some kind of art. From medieval times to the modern era, France has transformed the art of gastronomy to something spectacular. The cheese and the wine, the herbs and the various meats, French cuisine is something to explore. From the mushroom and onion French soup to chocolate shouffle for desserts, the French cuisines are certain to win your heart over.

Soupe à l'oignon: Also known as the French Onion Soup, this clasic French soup made in beef stalk and french onion. This popular soup is typically served with melted French cheese on the top.

Coq au vin: It is another typical French dish which is chicken braised in red wine along with mushrooms and garlic.

Cassoulet: A slow cooked meat dish with white beans and it got its name from the container in which it is cooked.

Beef bourguignon: A very popular French beef stew braised in red wine and served with flavored carrots.

Soufflé: A very popular French dessert dates back to an 18th Century recipe with eggs and egg yolk. Found in most French cafes it is one of the most popular sweet dishes after Quiche.

French markets have a marvelous appeal adhered to them. The open air stalls and the hawkers selling the farm fresh produces and antiques. Take a trip down the city and town markets and grab a chance to fill your wicker basket with baguette and a bottle of wine among other French delicacies. Whether you make a purchase or not, a trip to any of these French markets will certainly lift your mood.

Grande Braderie : Arguably the biggest flea market of Europe this marketplace has gathered crowds from the Middle Ages. More than a market this has become a French tradition as sellers from around the country gather here to sell vinyls and old books along with many other antiques.
You can also find some handicrafts done by the local artists and set by the banks of the Deule River this marketplace will offer you the perfect charm of a medieval place. Collect some memorabilia and antiques and carry them back home as perfect French souvenir.
Ile de la Cité: Located just beside the cathedral of Notre-Dame you will find a flurry of colors and fragrance. This vibrant flower market of Paris will give you perfect Instagram-worthy backgrounds to take your holiday photos. Feel the smell of lilacs and roses along with Jasmine and other pretty flowers.
The market is full of various varieties of plants available throughout Europe and you can also purchase some fascinating bonsai trees along with orange plants, exotic cacti, and even some carnivorous plants. The market has a separate Orchid House with a friendly shop-owner who will happily tell you about the plants.
Alsace Christmas Market: One of the most ornamental December markets in France in Colmar is one of the most romantic markets. Witness how the neons lit up and creates some sparkles on the snow as the vendors will fill the place up with smells of cinnamon and saffrons.
Amble along the charming wooden chalets and taste the authentic mulled wine, which you will never find anywhere else but in France. The place is pitted with stalls selling decorative items and you can taste some sweet and savory treats like the famous gingerbread man. The market which existed since 1570 will definitely mesmerize you.
Fish Market of The Old Harbour: This seafood market by the banks of Marseille is one of the oldest and the most elaborate fish market in entire France. Starting from bass and mullet to exotic sea urchins you will find all sorts of seafood in display by the banks of the Old Port of Marseille.
You can browse through the marketplace and witness how the hawkers shout for their products. The fresh seafood will glitter in the sunlight as the salty sea-breeze will set the mood. You can always sit in the nearby Chez Michel restaurant and enjoy some fresh samples from the market.
Marché des Lices: The second biggest marketplace of France is held every Saturday in the hilly peninsular region of Brittanny. All the local farmers sell their produces and starting from baguettes to pastries you will find all sorts of food and wine in this place.
It is a must-visit for the tourists because of the display and the adjoining scenery. Walk aside the wooden houses and witness the seafood and the meat sellers. Grab a cider along with some fresh handmade sausage crepes. Take a stroll down the book market at Saint Anne and take a ride on the Jules Verne merry-go-round.

The currency of France is Euro now, as France is now a part of the European Union. Before January 2002 the currency of France was Franc. However, that currency is no longer acceptable anywhere else in the country. But whilst browsing through the products and the items in the markets of France you will encounter both price tags in both franc and Euro. There are 7 different Euro notes that are in circulation in France and you need to collect both the smaller and higher denominations from the Forex. Though international credit cards are acceptable in most of the places some of the French vendors only accepts cash. There are many other cafes and pubs which also accepts payment via cash. That is why it is important that you collect enough Euro before you travel to France.

Special Tips

  • French restaurants, pubs, and cafes might be reluctant to offer you changes to Euro 500 notes. That is why it is vital that you carry Euro 100 and Euro 50 notes whilst going to France.
  • Everyone expects a bit of tip in France so try and carry some coins as well.
  • Along with international debit card you should also carry an international credit card because in case you run out of money, you can clear your hotel bills.
  • In times of bargaining with the vendors of a flea market make sure that you are accompanied by a local tour guide or a hotel staff, because otherwise they might end up charging you more.
  • Keep in track of all the Money Exchange outlets nearby in order to en-cash your Indian money, anytime during the tour.

Obtaining a French tourist visa is not a difficult task. However, it is vital that you fulfill all the requirements and documentations before you apply. You have to check with the VFS website for the detailed requirements. Even though, a French visa is not as stringent when compared to some place like the United States, but nonetheless you need to abide by all the rules and restrictions in order to obtain a tourist visa in France.

Special Tips

There are many Visa Application Centers for Indian travelers to France. You need to book an appointment at the first step. Check the requirement list from the new France Visa website. After you fill the visa application form online you will be redirected to the online appointment and the tracking system in the VFS platform. After submitting the application form you need to attend the final visa interview. Then at the last step your visa for the travel will be granted.

Required for France VISA

It is important that you at least try and communicate with the locals in French and not in English, directly. French take a lot of pride in their language and it is vital for them to see you at least make an attempt. Also there is a difference between the formal and the informal language when it comes to France. Try and learn the basic formal phrases before planning a trip to the beautiful country of France. Also pick-pocketing is a major concern for the travelers. That is why it is important that you stay in a group and take care of your belongings. France is safe for solo travelers. Women travelers can also cut it without any problems. But it is vital that they avoid crowded areas during the day and walking alone too late in the night.

  • Police Emergency Contact: 113
  • General Emergency: 112
  • Fire brigade: 115
  • Forest Fire: 1515
  • Car Breakdown Assistance: 116
  • Ambulence/Medical Assistance: 118
  • Pan-European Emergencies: 112

Entertainment & Event

Sophisticated culture, rich wildlife, and enigmatic festivals of France.

  • Flora and Fauna

    Due to the variation in the climatic condition the flora and fauna of France is also quite varied. The northern territory of France is covered in oak and beech whilst the middle part has a dense concentration of willow, pine, birch, and also poplar. The southern part has eucalyptus and dwarf pine plants whilst the Mediterranean region is covered in olive trees, mulberry bushes, and of course some vines. Apart from these there are also some chestnut plants observed in certain part of this west European country.

    Like the flora itself, there is a variation of faunas in France. The northern part of the country is home to brown bear, mountain hair, marmot and chamois. The other parts of the country has many hedgehogs, wild boars, polecat, martens, shrews, and various forms of deer. There are also some foxes, badger, squirrels, bat, otter, and rabbits. The variety of birds in France is no lesser when compared to the animals. The likes of eagles, flamingos, partridges, and pheasants are found throughout the country.

  • Festivals

    The beautiful country of France is no short of its festivals and celebrations. France's love for art, culture, and movie makes the festivals vibrant and colorful. The Bastille Day on 14th of July is certainly one of the biggest festivals of France, as they celebrate the birth of French democracy. There are fireworks, dance parades, and military processions on that day. The Fête de la Musique music festival is also celebrated throughout the country as people make merry and drink wine during that time.

    However, the most recognized French festival is certainly the Cannes Film Festival. Celebrated in the month of May this festival attracts many film stars and directors all across the world. Then there is the Nice Carnival in the city of Nice where drinks and music become an essential part of life for the locals and the tourists. Paris Quartier d’Eté festival is perhaps the most joyous festival in the city of Paris as various open-air concerts and shows are held throughout the city and they continue for a month.

  • Culture

    Interestingly the word "culture" is actually derived from a French word and that too for good reasons. France can easily be considered as the center of European art, fashion, cuisine, and culture. The culture of France is influenced by Celtic and Gallo-Roman tribes along with some German tribes which later settled in some of the major parts of France. The French people are naturally proud of their national heritage and especially their language and art.

    They are mostly reluctant to speak in any other tongue than their own and they like talking about their art and archirecture in great deapths. However, they are a very inclusive society and they welcome foreigners with open arms. French people are one of the most progressive peoples on the planet and they offer a pretty cosmopolitan and liberal vibe to the tourists.

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