France remains the world’s most-visited country, welcoming over 85 million visitors per year! And with good reason.

Royal Chateau in Amboise, France under blue, semi-cloudy sky.

The capital city of France, Paris, is quite controversial among seasoned travelers. Some love it and some hate it – I find it to be one of the best cities in the world, one I will return to again and again. Still, there is so much more to France than just Paris!

Country French house with light blue shutters and glower bushes in front of the door. Saint Remy de Provence.

France is renowned for its food (particularly cheese, bread, and wine), fairy-tale castles, otherworldly romance, and beautiful countryside. Not to mention world-class skiing, rugged coastlines, and plenty of history.

Practical Info

France Travel Resources

Getting to France

France has a large number of airports, the two busiest being Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Paris Orly (ORY). There are also airports in Marseille, Lyon, and Nice (among many, many others).

Coming from outside Europe, Paris will offer you the cheapest flights. Within Europe, RyanAir serves many of France’s smaller airports for not much money if you’re a budget-conscious traveler.

France has a well-connected railway system within Europe, and taking the train into France is easily accessible from the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Belgium, among others.

When to go

Bag with baguettes and wine on a pebble beach in France with sailboats in the background.

Peak season in all of Europe is summer, when Europeans are taking their holidays and venturing off to neighboring countries. It’s super-hot and crowded, so the larger cities can be a little gross during these months. Your best bet for visiting France during the summer is to go to the coast – prices will be high either way.

Shoulder season is March-May and September-November where you’ll find cheaper prices and less tourists.

Winter is slightly more expensive than shoulder season, particularly around Christmas and New Years. But, with the abundance of Christmas markets and holiday festivities, France is definitely worth visiting during this time. Head to Chamonix for some world-class skiing or hit up the fairy tale locales of Strasbourg and Colmar.

What to see

White cross grave markers at the Normandy American Cemetary in France.

France has an extensive history and a culture like no other. Depending on your interests, you’ll definitely find something to suit your tastes when visiting France.

ParisEiffel Tower, Louvre, Sidewalk Cafés, High Fashion
MarseillePort City, Street Markets, Bouillabaisse
NiceRiviera, Art, Medieval Buildings, Pebble Beaches
BordeauxWine Capital, Grand Cathedrals, Medieval Squares
ReimsChampagne, Important Historical Site, Coronation of French Kings
ChamonixSkiing, Glaciers, Year-Round Outdoor Activities
AvignonProvencal City, Pope’s Palace, Medieval Walls
AmboiseChateaux, Leonardo da Vinci
LyonGothic Cathedral, Roman Amphtheatre, Film History
CarcassoneMedieval History, Chateaux, Museums
BrittanyPink Granite Cliffs, French-Celtic Region, Medieval Towns, Beaches
Aix-en-ProvenceGrand Boulevards, Hot Springs
AnnecyLakeside Town, Outdoor Activities, Medieval Center
Languedoc-RousillonWine, Beaches, Pyrenees Mountains, Roman Ruins
DijonWine, Mustard, Medieval Churches
RouenJoan of Arc, History, Old Town

There are hundreds (at least) of other places in France worth visiting not listed above. Each village, town, and city in the country has something to offer.

Traveling within France

Red Paris metro sign shown with bare-branched trees and a lamp post in the background.

Within Paris, the metro system is my favorite in the world (that I’ve experienced). It’s super-easy to navigate and virtually fool-proof.

France has a great railway system with high-speed trains. Most cities are well connected. Purchase tickets in advance to save money!

Buses are also a good option if you want to save more and take your time. Flixbus provides the best services (be forewarned, they are not pet-friendly).

If renting a car, be sure to have an International Drivers Permit to be on the safe side.

Detailed France articles

Flight resources

Skyscanner is the website I use for all of my flights.

Money-saving tip: Don’t input any dates to scan the best available times to go OR simply input ‘France’ instead of a specific airport – you may get a much cheaper flight!

Accommodation resources

When I travel, I prefer to use VRBO. I book an entire apartment, giving me my privacy and the comfort of home amenities, such as a kitchen and washing machine.

If you’re traveling long-term, VRBO usually offers discounts for stays of a month or more – the discounts are significant, sometimes 50-60%! It winds up being cheaper than what I would have paid for my apartment rent back in the USA.

If you’re a budget-conscious traveler and not traveling long-term, hostels are a great option and are abundant in France.

For standard hotel stays, usually offers the best deals.

Safety Tips

Crowds under the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

France is a relatively safe country, though, as in any popular (and crowded) tourist destination, pick-pockets and scams are a common occurrence. I have never had any issues, but with 80+ million visitors per year, I’m sure there are some horror stories out there.

Trust your judgment and remove yourself from situations that make you uncomfortable, for whatever reason.

Money Saving Tips

France is a pretty expensive country, particularly in the larger cities. Still, there are some ways you can save if you’re budget-conscious.

Head to a couple of specialty shops, such as a fromagerie & a boulangerie to grab some cheese and bread for a picnic in a park. Don’t forget the wine. Speaking of wine, if you’re drinking the local stuff, it’s actually quite cheap since it’s not imported. Stock up!

Get a city pass if you intend to go to more than a couple of tourist attractions in any one city. This can save you quite a bit, and often includes public transportation as well.

Many popular museums have ‘free days,’ where they do not charge any admission. Be sure to check this before purchasing tickets. The only downside is that these days are more crowded.

Grab a jambon-beurre for lunch. It’s a simple ham & butter sandwich on a baguette, but it’s heavenly (plus, cheap and portable!).

A simple search on Pinterest will give you a lot of resources on ‘free things to do in…’. There are ways to save in any city, and French cities are no exception. Pinterest is your friend.

Take a free walking tour or self-guided tour to familiarize yourself with your surroundings. If you’re taking a free tour, be sure to save a few EUR to tip your guide.

FAQs Traveling to France

  1. Do I need a visa to visit France?

    • Travelers from the United States and many other countries within the Schengen area typically do not require a visa for short visits (up to 90 days). However, visa requirements can vary based on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Check with the nearest French embassy or consulate for the latest visa information.
  2. What’s the best time to visit France?

    • France is a year-round destination, with different regions offering distinct experiences. Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are great for pleasant weather and fewer crowds. Summer (June to August) is ideal for beach destinations, while winter (December to February) is perfect for skiing in the French Alps.
  3. What’s the currency in France, and can I use credit cards?

    • The official currency is the Euro (EUR), and credit cards are widely accepted in most establishments. Cash is also commonly used, especially in smaller towns and markets, so it’s a good idea to carry some Euros.
  4. What languages are spoken in France?

    • French is the official language of France. While English is spoken in tourist areas, learning a few basic French phrases can enhance your travel experience and interactions with locals.
  5. Is tap water safe to drink in France?

    • Yes, tap water is safe to drink throughout France. You can refill your water bottle at public fountains and taps in many places.
  6. How do I get around France?

    • France has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including high-speed trains (TGV), trams, buses, and the Paris Metro. Rental cars are also an option for exploring rural areas and scenic routes.
  7. What are some must-visit places in France?

    • France is renowned for its iconic landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Palace of Versailles, the French Riviera, Provence, and the Loire Valley. Explore historic cities, charming villages, and world-class museums.
  8. What is French cuisine like, and are there vegetarian/vegan options?

    • French cuisine is world-famous, with dishes like croissants, escargot, coq au vin, and crepes. You’ll find a variety of vegetarian and vegan options in most restaurants and cafes, especially in larger cities.
  9. Is it customary to tip in France?

    • Tipping is customary in France. Service charges are often included in the bill, but it’s common to leave an additional 5-10% tip for good service. In cafes, rounding up the bill is also appreciated.
  10. Is it safe to travel in France?

    • France is generally a safe destination for travelers. However, exercise caution in crowded areas, be vigilant with your belongings, and stay informed about local security conditions.
  11. What should I pack for my trip to France?

    • Pack clothing appropriate for the season and activities you have planned. Comfortable walking shoes, layers, and an umbrella can be useful for exploring the diverse regions of France.
  12. What is the legal drinking age in France?

    • The legal drinking age for purchasing and consuming alcoholic beverages, including wine and beer, is 18 years old in France. It’s important to adhere to this age restriction when ordering alcohol in bars and restaurants.

france travel resources e1668912471573