"Below are some traveling tips..." France Local Custom Tip by Krystynn

France Local Customs: 403 reviews and 350 photos


Below are some traveling tips based from the various experiences (good and bad) of our guests. They might make your next visit to France more pleasant.

(1) <b>When it comes to convenience and customer service, France is different.</b>

For example, stores aren't open 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week; nor are toll-free hotlines. :-( If your car breaks down on the weekend, you're going to have a hard time getting it replaced. Buying gas off the beaten track on a Sunday is a challenge. Don't try confirming your flight at 10PM at night. Stores are often closed Monday morning, if not all day long (<i>see next point</i>). Some museums are closed mid-week. In general, the pace of life is slower -- not always by choice, rather by law.

(2) <b><u>Shopping</b></u>: If you're going home at the beginning of the week, don't leave your shopping until Sunday or Monday. Outside of Paris and other major cities, you won't find any shops open on these days.

(3) <b><u>Bring a good road map.</u></b> The rental car companies give you poor maps, if they give you a map at all! :-( In my personal opinion, I think the best map you can buy is the <b><u>Michelin Road Atlas</u></b>. Easier to use than fold-out maps, the Road Atlas shows every kind of road in France, even the smallest country trails.

(4) <b><u>Most French cars are equipped with an anti-theft system</u></b> that deactivates the ignition after a set period of time. The car key comes with a built-in remote control door opener. Once you unlock the doors with the remote control, the system expects you to start the car within the next few seconds. If you wait too long (<i>to look at maps, for example</i>), the system 'thinks' you've left the car unlocked and deactivates the ignition.

<b>Result:</b> You can't start the car. If this happens to you, relock the doors with the remote control <u>with all the doors closed</u> (<i>very important</i>) then re-open them again with the remote and try starting the car. This may sound obvious, but it isn't.... and has caused many foreign tourists to get pretty hot under the collar.

(5) <b><u>If you're going to rent a car, do it from your country</u></b>. Renting a car in France is heart-stoppingly expensive.

(6) European cars are smaller than US ones in the same category. <b><u>Reserve a car that's bigger than you think you'll need</u></b>. You won't regret it, especially if you have lots of luggage, kids, family or all of the above.

(7) In case no one told you, <b><u>petrol prices are astronomically high in France</u></b> (approx US$4 a gallon - the last I checked! Gulp) and not much better elsewhere. Make sure your travel budget takes this into account.

(8) <b><u>Avoid unpleasant surprises.</u></b> For example, some care rental agreements don't cover flat tires and blow-outs, nor do most credit card travel insurance policies. When planning your vacation, it's a good idea to review your coverage, and maybe take out a special travel policy...you never know.

(9) <b><u>Avoid filling the tank at motorway service stations</u></b>. Instead, most every hypermarket or supermarket has gas pumps -- buy there. The supermarket chains sell gas at a loss to attract customers. <u>You can save nearly a dollar a gallon!</u>

(10) If your eyesight isn't what it used to be, <b><u>bring a pocket magnifying glass</u></b>. It'll make map reading easier. If you're visiting cathedrals, bring binoculars. <i>And it's not for you to use it to oogle at the pretty French lady seated in the front pew! </i>

(11) If you plan to do a lot of driving, <b><u>make sure your budget for highway tolls</u></b>. The longer the distance, the higher the toll. Some trips can cost upwards of US$30!

Review Helpfulness: 1 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Aug 24, 2002
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