Last update: Jun 21, 2023 @ 2:18 pm

10 Essential Tips For a Smooth Vacation in France

Traveling is a wonderful experience that will allow you to create life lasting memories. It can also be a tiring and stressful experience if you are not prepared. Here are 10 tips to help you have a smooth vacation in France.

   1- Pack light:

When using trains or the Paris metro, you might encounter stairs along the way. Consider traveling light to make your journey more effortless and avoid the potential challenge of maneuvering heavy bags up and down the stairs. You should also be able to carry your suitcase in order to store it in the train luggage rack. Less luggage = less packing = less worries!

   2- Stay connected:

Having access to reliable communication and the internet can help with navigation, staying in touch, and accessing useful travel information on the go. Consider using international roaming to stay connected during your trip. T-Mobile offers free international data usage and messaging, other carriers may offer daily international plans. Whatsapp is also a useful app to have for calling while in France as it uses data instead of cellular, therefore if you are connected to the Wi-Fi you will be able to text and call other contacts that have Whatsapp.

   3- Conquer French menus with Google Translate:

French food is known to be some of the most delicious cuisine in the world: croissant, crème brûlée, coq au vin, escargot, onion soup etc… But beware, some of the items might not be to your liking. Have you heard of “rognons”, “cervelle” or “pied de Cochon”? Well… if you are not into kidneys, brain or pig’s foot, it’s best that you are able to decipher the French menu! Download the Google Translate app on your phone, and make sure to also download the French language pack before your trip in order for it to work offline. It is not always 100% accurate, especially with specific local food names, but will help you understand menus at restaurants and other situations where you need to translate texts. Simply snap a picture through the app to get the text translated in French. Bon Appetit!

   4- Polish your French phrases:

Learn a few essential French sentences to make your interactions smoother as the locals will love it! Try phrases like Bonjour (Hello) ‘bon-joor, ‘S’il vous plaît’ (please) ‘seal-voo-play’, ‘Merci’ (thank you) ‘mair-see’, ‘Au Revoir’ (goodbye) ‘o-reuh-vwar’, or ‘Parlez-vous anglais?’ (do you speak English?) “par-lay-voo-anh-glay’. Another handy phrase: ‘Je cherche des toilettes’ (I’m looking for the restroom). “jeuh-shairshe-day-twa-let”

  5- Navigate like a pro with Google Maps:

Ensure you can find your way around France by downloading Google Maps on your phone will save you some precious time. It’s invaluable for driving, walking, or using public transportation. The app even provides guidance on which bus or metro stations to hop on and off.

  6- Stay vigilant against pickpocketing:

Unfortunately pickpocketing is pretty common in Europe in all big cities. While traveling in popular tourist areas or crowded locations such as metros, train stations or busy squares, be mindful of your belongings and take precautions against pickpocketing. Having your wallet and all your credit cards, cash and IDs stolen would be an issue while on vacation. So make sure to keep your valuables secure, use a money belt or a fanny pack. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings to minimize the risk of theft.

  7- Secure your currency:

Your dollars will not be accepted in France! Make sure to have a plan on how to get some euros. Before your trip, consider obtaining Euros either at your local bank, requesting smaller bills for convenience, or withdrawing cash from an ATM in France using a credit card without international transaction fees. Ensure you know your credit card’s PIN number for ATM usage.

  8- Prepare for potential disruptions:

French people value their rights greatly and will go on strike or protest if they believe their rights are being threatened. It’s advisable to be aware of the possibility of train or air strikes, which can cause disruptions to travel schedules. Your airline or train company should inform you by email or text regarding any delays but strike dates may be confirmed only 24 hours in advance if negotiations fail, and strikes can be canceled last minute if an agreement is reached. Therefore regularly checking for updates until the last minute for accurate information is advised.

  9- Arrive a day early to unwind and adjust:

Consider arriving a day early to allow yourself time to relax after the journey and recover from jet lag. This buffer day also helps mitigate the impact of any potential travel delays, ensuring your vacation remains relatively unaffected.

  10- Allow for downtime and relaxation:

Avoid overpacking your itinerary and make sure to leave room for leisurely moments. Whether it’s sitting in a charming park, exploring quaint streets, or finding a cozy French café, allowing for downtime ensures a more enjoyable and well-balanced experience.

As expert travelers at TripUSAFrance we hope that you enjoyed these 10 essential tips to help you have a successful trip in France and wish you the most wonderful time! Bon voyage!

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