France is not a country you can go around on a week-tour, but if you do go to France on a week-tour, you need to know that you would be missing out. The good side of this is that you can go back some other time and discover something totally new and different.
Each region in France has its own personality and pace. I’m sure this is true for any country, but it’s most certainly true for France. You can hear a difference accents and even witness a different mentality, depending if you are in the north, in the south or other regions of the country.
The Different Tastes of France
If you hang out in Strasbourg you will observe a German allure, if you hang out in Carcassonne you will find a taste of Spain, if you hang out in large cities such as Paris, Lyon or Marseille you will see a lot of tourists and immigrants which obviously bring their own flavor to the décor, and if you dare to travel in the smaller regions and villages you will be in direct contact with the deep France.
I love all of the facets of France, but my favorite one is the small villages that you can find in the heart of the country. I am talking about the France were you can still find some people who may have never been in another country, and back in the years, some people who had not even been in another region. People who used to speak “Patois”, local French dialects which have basically died with the people who used to speak them, and where older widows would wear black until the end of their days.
I grew up in such place where older folks were speaking among themselves in “patois” unless they were in the presence of young people who didn’t understand it. When I think back, I am so glad I did grow up in such a place, because such types of French regions would give you peace of mind and the love of slow pace and quiet that you would carry with you all through life.
Even though “Patois” are pretty much extinct in most parts of France, accents are still alive and well. You won’t hear the same accent if you go to Lille, Paris, Marseille or Lyon and that’s just few examples. Just about every regions of France has its own accent, more or less. This is what makes France all the more interesting.
I will never forget how years ago in New York, an American friend of mine who loved to practice her French with me got so depressed when she found out while watching a movie from Marcel Pagnol that she couldn’t understand French when spoken by people from the south who have what we call the “accent du midi”. I had to laugh when she asked me if “I” understood it. Well, any French accent is not a problem for anyone born in France, but it can be for a foreigner who is learning French, as words and tunes do sound different. That’s what accents do!
Hotels in France
If you are planning a Trip to France this summer, I would suggest that you decide where you want to go in advance. If you are in France for at least a week I would suggest that you move around if at all possible, versus staying the whole time in one city like Paris, most likely. If you do leave the city, having an itinerary will save you both time and money.
The prices for hotel rooms have gone up, especially during the past 5 to 8 years.
The cheapest hotel rate that you will find in Paris this days for a single room is around 70 Euros, which is around $88 per night (at the time I am writing this article). If you go for double you need to expect to pay a minimum of 115-150 Euros ($146-$190). Just keep in mind that those are the LOWEST prices. Most hotels will be above those rates.
If you manage to find a package where your flight and hotel would be combined you would most likely save money. For packages in Paris, you can check hotels such as Hotel le Petit Paris, Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, Hotel Sainte Beuve and Le Relais Montmartre in Paris.
Your Dollar Bill in France
Remember that your dollar notes won’t be accepted in France. You will need to pay everything you purchase in Euros. It will save you money if you actually use your bankcard at ATM machines to get money which will be cheaper for you as the percentage-based fee is usually less than to exchange you currency.
On the Road of France
If you drive in France, remember that the seat belt is mandatory. The minimum age to drive is 18. While the speed limits are higher than in the US (81 mph on autoroutes) they are more closely watched by police. As most of your know gas is more expensive in France and the price that you see is for the “liter” not gallon (one fourth of a gallon).
It is absolutely prohibited to drive while you are on the phone in France, and you will get a ticket for this more than anything else. A friend of mine who had no cell phone in her car was stopped by police because they “thought” she had one as she was holding her hand nearby her ear.
French people do drive faster in general than American, but are much more disciplined in following the rules. NO slow drivers on the left lane are tolerated. You would be “honked down” if you’d tried and maybe even reported to police. Just remember, slow traffic right, fast traffic left. No exception. The rule of thumb is that unless you are passing a vehicle you have no business on the left lane.
French Food and Wine
French food could be a whole post on it’s own. If you go anywhere in France, ask for what the “special” dish is, and make sure you taste some of it. Of course, we know that the number one favorite drink in France is dry red wine. Make sure you ask for a good quality local wine at your table.
So, what do you think? Are you planning on traveling to France soon, or maybe one of these days? Do tell…
15 thoughts on “France Preview For Travelers”
I was in France years ago.. and spent time traveling with the school program I was there for.. Lots of things that I didn’t see, but lots I did!! I dont’ remember going to Marseilles, but I think it sounds like a great idea.. My daughter may be heading there soon to do an aupere program!! I will have to tell her to make sure she gets to the south if that isn’t where she is stationed!
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I am glad that you’ve been to France and I’m sure you’re daughter will love it. Yes, the south of France is really a jewel and she should go there if she can, especially in the summer 🙂
Thanks for coming by, dear 🙂
One of these days I would love to visit France but I can tell you already, I would have a very difficult time. That is unless I took Annie with me everywhere I went or you Sylviane.
I’m hard of hearing so anyone with a strong accent, I have a hard time understanding. That guys in the video, it was hard for me to understand them. Even when they were talking English.
But I still think it would be a fascinating experience Sylviane and just a culture I would love to be a part of. My gosh, it’s just breathtakingly beautiful.
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Yes, isn’t it beautiful or what? You know I took a friend from New York to France with me before. It was when I traveled back home for my brother’s wedding and we stayed 2 weeks. She loved it there.
I took her to some of my mother’s friends where she had lunches and dinners indoors and outdoors in the country side and in the city. She was amazed by the French hospitality and how much we eat at the table 🙂 She also loved the scenery. She said she’d remember that trip for ever. Maybe one day I can take you 🙂
I love to travel in France too. Wow that awesome road is amazing curve.
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Thanks for coming. Yes, it’s pretty isn’t it. I took that picture about 10 years.
Sounds wonderful Sylviane!
I wish I could go there, because the way you described everything about France- it sure seems temtping enough to visit! And I agree with Adrienne there that what would we do about the accent and I guess Annie or you would have to accompany us 🙂
I would surely like to go to those smaller villages that are still not much in the lime-light and get to know more about the culture and people, as it’s always such places that attract me more than the well known ones. You sure were lucky to have grown up in such a beautiful place.
I loved the way you shared everything so well about France that would make it easier for anyone travelling there. And the blue color of the water in the video along-with the awesome scenery is breathtaking indeed!
I guess I better show this to my husband and plan out something:)
Thanks for sharing this wonderful post and explaning things so well 🙂
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Thanks for coming here, over to my “French” blog.
The nice little places that no one knows or talks about are the best. I love them. I think that it’s because of where I grew up that I develop a great love for nature and the outdoors. Because of this, I’ve never suffered from what many teenagers suffer nowadays such as boredom and the need to try some drugs. Instead, I was biking, walking, and joying the hills and valleys. This was a great heritage indeed.
I hope you can plan a visit one day with your family. I am sure you’ll love it.
Sylviane, you are giving me the travel bug! I went to France (Paris) once many years ago. Ok, now I feel old, I bet it was about 20 years ago… and I loved everything about it. Of course, being in the city most people spoke English and there was more “Americanization” (McDonald’s anyone?) But when I went outside, and not even very far outside, it was very different. Not much English to be found and although I took about 6 years of French in school it still doesn’t prepare you to speak in a whole new language to people who have been doing it their whole lives!
I remember everything being so beautiful, from the gardens to the rivers and the architecture. And your video made me want to sit on a lounge chair on the gorgeous Mediterranean!
I wouldn’t mind a good red wine, either 🙂 Although the only thing I really remember about the food (don’t laugh) is that I ordered a hamburger somewhere and it came with a fried egg on top. That’s the first time I ever saw such a thing and I had no idea what to think about it. I ate a lot of chocolate crepes, though!
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I wish this blog approved comments from people who have posted at least 3 comments here without me having to approve them, in case I run a bit late, but I can’t find the right button.
The “hamburger” that you had with a fried egg on top is called a “croque madame”. They probably didn’t have hamburgers and they gave you the next best thing they could find. LOL!
I am glad that you could find anyone speaking English even in Paris 20 years ago. I never knew that, that many Parisiens did speak English, or just not the ones I knew.
I hope you’ll go back to France one day soon and enjoy more of it 🙂
I have a client that has a home in the south of France. She told me that it is mine anytime I want to visit. Watching this video has given me the “bug” to go. I even have distant relatives, that I have not met that live in Paris. They speak 3 languages, but not English, so I never took the trip.
I appreciate that you told us all the rules and regulations if we do travel there. I am so tempted! I thank you for the virtual tour,
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Well, with such offer to go to the South of France, my advice to you is that you should take advantage of it!
France is beautiful all around, but the south probably gets the the crown, because the weather is the best in the country, and with warm and sunny weather everything is better and even more beautiful.
Thanks for your visit 🙂
you could hire me as a translator 😉
Hey Sylviane, mon amie française and multi-talent !
I am amazed by your French blog and who could be a better fit to run one than you ?
I am wondering if we could do kind of a joint-venture as I love France, especially “la France profonde” but also the cities…
Let me know what you think. You can send me an email anytime.
I’m always in for join-venture. I will contact you through email and see what it this all about 🙂
I am glad that you like my blog. I kind of noticed that you seem to like France 🙂
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