France

Europe’s largest country is a land of geographical and cultural diversity, making it a much-loved destination for romantics, foodies, fashionistas, history and architectural buffs, and lovers of winter sports. From the Alps and the Pyrénées to an exciting stream of revered wine regions including Burgundy, Champagne and Alsace, France evokes passion and commitment to its way of life. Even if you go for the coffee and croissants at breakfast, and the wine and cheese come evening, you’ll return with a burgeoning love affair.

When to Visit

France's weather varies from region to region and even town to town. Paris gets cold in winter but snow is rare. The best time to visit is spring - April to June - and autumn - September to November. July and August are the worst for crownds. Down on the Mediterranean coast summers are comfortable and dry.

Highlights

PARIS Visit the iconic Louvre, Notre Dame and Eiffel Tower, then it’s a perfect city to explore by foot, taking in its grand boulevards and enchanting streets bursting with charming cafes, restaurants and galleries.

CORSICA An island playground of astounding geographical diversity ideal for hiking, canyoning and swimming. While part of France for 200 years, its history, incredible wine and Corsican cuisine give it a character entirely of its own.

THE FRENCH RIVIERA Glitz and glamour sprung from what was once a string of sleepy fishing villages. Today it’s all about crowded beaches, warm weather, great food, chic fashion and high rollers having fun.

THE LOIRE VALLEY Considered the Garden of France, this enchanted tangle of vineyards and rolling green hills peppered with spectacular Châteaux is a cyclists’ paradise and a drawcard for writers and foodies.

DORDOGNE A fantasyland of wild wooded valleys, rolling green hill country filled with storybook villages, prehistoric cave paintings, medieval cities and cliff-top châteaux. This is France at its authentic best.

VEZELAY This little walled town in Burgundy was built on a hilltop for defense purposes but is now a heritage spot surrounded by beautiful countryside. Visit the Basilique Sainte Madeleine, a former 9th-century abbey church.

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Useful Information

Communications

Country Code for France: +33 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz  Emergency Services: 112 The emergency services may not always have English speaking staff. In this case, you should have a local call on your behalf or contact the New Zealand Embassy.

Shopping

French shopping week comprises six days, Monday to Saturday, with shops generally open from 9 a.m. to Midday, and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. In towns and villages, it is still the rule that shops close at lunchtime. However, in urban shopping areas, most large shops such as department stores now operate what is called "la journée continue", and do not close at midday. Out-of-town supermarkets in France also tend to stay open at lunchtime, and depending on the town or district, other shops in large suburban shopping centres also stay open. Many smaller shops have reduced their midday closing period, and now shut from, for example, 12.30 to 1.45 - in order to catch office workers who have free time during their midday break.

Tipping

Tips (pourboires) are not expected in France since service charges are included in the bill. However, French people occasionally leave the small change left after paying the bill or one or two euros if they were satisfied with the service quality in some contexts, such as restaurants, hairdressers, deliveries, ...

Getting around

Within most major cities—including Paris, Lyon, and Marseille—public transportation is efficient, comprehensive, and cheap. In smaller towns, such as Rouen, Arles, or Antibes, it’s easy to navigate the city center on foot. In just a few hours you can go from the lofty Alps to the low laying valleys of the Loire or the sunny Mediterranean coast. France operates one of the largest and most efficient train services on the continent, with high speed trains going to every nook of the country. France is also laced with a network of large interstate-like highways called Autoroutes, and even their canals are well-maintained and efficient for traveling (albeit at a much more leisurely rate). Local budget flights can also take tourists from one corner of the country to the other in a relatively short amount of time. Whether you are driving, boating, biking or taking a train, there are a lot of good options for getting around this diverse and beautiful country.

Language

French

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Customs

In French, "etiquette" means both "etiquette" and "ceremony." Social class distinctions determine the importance of various forms of correct social behavior. In general when people greet each other, they shake hands or embrace with a kiss on both cheeks (called faire la bise). Kissing is only done when two people are close friends or relatives. For the most part, the embrace is done only the first time in a day in which one sees someone and is not repeated again until one says good-bye. There is also formality in verbal greetings, so that one shows respect by adding "Madam," "Monsieur," or "Mademoiselle" to any greeting. There are important public and private distinctions. In public spaces, one generally does not smile at strangers or make eye contact with them (for instance, in the subway or bus) and should keep one's voice low when speaking. Privacy is also maintained in homes, so that doors to bedrooms and bathrooms are kept closed. When shopping in smaller stores, the buyer generally greets the proprietor upon entry, and the proprietor helps the client choose the goods to be purchased. It is less common to have free access in a store, although the growth of large hypermarkets and shopping malls is changing this custom.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Depending on a travellers itinerary and activities, vaccination against Hepatitis B may be considered when travelling to France. All travellers should be up-to-date with their routine "background" vaccinations. These include vaccinations for Tetanus and Diphtheria (with a booster within the last 10 years), Whooping Cough (which is often combined with the Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccination), Polio (with a booster in adult life), Measles, Mumps and Rubella (two combination vaccinations through life), Chicken Pox and a recent annual Influenza vaccination. Tick-borne encephalitis is present throughout many areas in Europe (predominately in forested regions). Whilst no vaccine is available in Australia, travellers visiting risk areas and planning outdoor activities between May and September might consider vaccination once in Europe. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to France should also ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay.

Electricity

Electrical Socket type: European Voltage: 220-240 volts Modem Plug Type: French Source: Korjo Travel Products. To purchase electrical/modem adapters, or for further information on this matter, please view the Korjo adapter guide at www.korjo.com.au.

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