FRANCE TRAVEL GUIDE – VISA, SEE, GET AROUND, STAY, FOOD
France is one of Europe’s largest countries. It is one of the most popular tourist destination in the world. There are many reasons why so many people enjoy visiting the diverse country, including the natural beauty, the amazing climate, outdoor recreational activities such as golf courses, art museums and galleries and so much more. There are many different activities that outline the history of the country which is enjoyable to visitors, especially considering its turbulent past.
Visa and Passport Requirements:
All nationals visiting France require a passport valid for three months beyond the length of stay and issued within the past 10 years, except the EU nationals holding a passport or a national ID card which is valid for the duration of the stay.
Visas are not required by nationals of Albania, Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macao, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Uruguay, Vatican and Venezuela, for stays of up to 90 days; and by the nationals of other EU member countries.
Nationals of other countries can apply for a Schengen visa to the nearest Italian embassy. The time taken for the visa processing depends on two things: first is scheduling of appointment (depending upon how busy the VFS (Indian companies processing the visas) is and then the entire procedure of submitting, interview and getting the visa. Therefore, it is recommend getting your appointment date at least a month or month-and-half before your departure. This can be done online or by calling their VSF service. Once the date has been allotted, it takes about 2 to 10 days for the processing to be complete.
The cost of the Schengen visa comes up to around 60 euros. Two Schengen visas are available for short-stay travellers from non-member states. The single-entry visa allows travellers to enter the Schengen area once and travels within it. The multiple-entry visa allows you to enter and leave the Schengen area multiple times within the allocated time permitted.
When to Go:
France being one of the most visited countries in the world sees a lot of crowd during summers. During spring, the city comes to life in the pleasant weather, summer kicks off the long holiday season, fall is a great time to experience the harvest celebrations in the wine yards and during winters the mountain ski resorts come alive with activity. Paris and almost all the major cities can practically shut down during the last two weeks of August when almost the entire country goes on a holiday towards the coast or the countryside. This leaves the months of June and September perfect for visiting as everything is open, the weather is pleasant and the roads are uncongested.
What to See and Experience:
France is the world’s top tourist destination and for good reason. There’s a lot packed into just one country – artistic and architectural masterpieces, remarkable museums and natural landscapes, and a vibrant history making it hard to decide where to go first. Some of the most iconic tours in France include a tour to Paris with its mix picture-postcard icons with elegant Parisian monuments, especially the Eiffel Tower or one can check out the stunning châteaux are scattered around the lush Loire Valley. One can visit the seaside town of Nice is the queen of the French Riviera (a strip of seashore on the blue Mediterranean Sea) with its cutting-edge art museums, belle époque architecture, pebble beaches and legendary promenade or sip Champers in centuries-old cellars and taste your way through vineyards and medieval villages of northern France. You can even visit the massive winter wonderland playground of the French Alps or sink your toes into the sand as you make your way out to the magical abbey of Mont St-Michel.
Getting Around in France:
France has an excellent network of trains, buses and planes with the option of renting a vehicle also being available.
Trains: France has the most efficient, comfortable and user-friendly railway systems in the world. Tickets can be bought online or at train stations along with touch-screen vending machines selling tickets with instructions in English. Fares are cheaper if you travel off-peak (peak hours being Monday mornings and Friday and Sunday evenings) with the tickets starting from as little as 24 euros. Non-Europeans also have the option of picking up the France Rail Pass (starting from $242/$178 for three days unlimited travel in one month) before arriving in France. The pass is available from 3 to 9 day periods.
Bus: Bus services operate between train stations that are no longer accessible by rail. In addition to this, private, municipal and departmental buses can be useful for local and cross-country journeys.
Ferry: Most of France’s coastal islands can only be reached by ferry. Local companies run services, with timetables and prices varying according to the season.
Flights: Air France operates the most routes within the country and one may be able to get a good deal on add-on domestic flights.
Car: Driving in France can be a real pleasure, with a magnificent network of routes providing sweeping views of the countryside. However, there are times when it’s wiser not to drive at all especially in big cities and at peak holiday season.
France has a wide range of hotels and accommodations depending upon your location, needs and budgets ranging from extravagant luxury hotels to small budget hotels and single bed services. The average price for a budget hotel in Paris per night goes to about 52 euros and those for the rest of France are about 28 euros and the average luxury hotel tariff in Paris is about 405 euros and 300 euros for the rest of France.
The Gastronomic Affaire:
Food in France is made with something that is elegant, undeniable and is made with some of the of the most exclusive ingredients and techniques. With dishes like Chocolate mousse, Éclair and Crêpes and are definitely going to leave you craving for more, France has to offer some of the best cheese (There are some 400 different types of French cheeses), bread, pastricentury-oldentic century old barrels of wine.