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On the way to a new adventure: this time France.
En route vers une nouvelle avonture: cette fois la France.
France has so much to offer, there is something for everybody. They have mountains to ski (in winter) or hike and climb (in summer). It has beautiful beaches, old buildings, waterfalls, vineyards, big cities, etc. Conclusion: France has all the ingredients for a perfect vacation.
Emergency number: 112
General information about France
Some general information that you need to know:
- Capital: Paris
- Currency: Euro (€)
- Official languages: French although, there is a small group of people that speak Breton, Basque, Italian and even Dutch.
- Largest religion: Catholicism
- Surface: 643,801 km2 , while Belgium (that’s where we come from) is only 30,689 km2.
- Inhabitants: 67,750,000 (2021)
- Neighboring countries: Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra and Spain.
- National day: 14th July
The French Revolution was an important historical happening in the social and political history. After the French Revolution (1789-1799), France was divided in departments, before there were provinces. France has a national board, then there are 18 regions (13 in the homeland) and those regions are divided in 101 departments (96 in the homeland). If you didn’t know France has in total five overseas departments, those are Guadeloupe, Martinique, French-Guyana, Réunion and Mayotte.
Must know about France
‘La France’ is a dream destination for many people. It’s easy to just go and see what this country has to offer but some things are better if you are prepared. I will summarize some things that you have to know before you go to France.
- France is way more than Paris. The whole country is so diverse and beautiful. Of course, do Paris but visit more than only the capital.
- Cash is important, not every shop accepts cards or some have a minimum of €10 to use the card. Try to have some cash with you for small purchases like for the bakery (you must go there to buy a baguette).
- Always start with saying ‘bonjour’ (‘hello’) or ‘bonsoir’ (good evening) before you start a conversation.
- Try to start talking in French if you can. They really appreciate the effort. If you can, try to learn a little French when you go to France.
- Traveling off-season is better because France can be really crowded during July and August. Try to travel to France before June or after September.
- On Sunday almost everything is closed.
- Lunch hour is between 12 am and 2 pm, while dining is around 7.30 pm and 8.45 pm. You must know that French take their time, so if you’re eating out the service can take a while. It’s not obligatory to tip (unless it explicitly says otherwise) but you can if you want.
Transport in France
One of the best ways to discover France is by car. With a car you have the freedom to roam around. They drive on the right side of the road like most countries in Europe and the roads are quite good.
- First of all, you have to know that you pay toll on some roads in France. You can drive without paying toll but then the road is longer and you have to change your settings in Google Maps. If you don’t mind paying toll, know that it can cost quit a bit. For example: we drove from Lille to Lyon and paid around €60.
- The second thing you must know is that in some cities you’ll need an air quality certificate; otherwise you can’t drive in the city center. It’s not that expensive but you have to order it online and it takes some time (there is no other way). You pay €3.67 in France if you receive it outside France, you’ll pay shipping costs. Also, you should buy it on the official website, as other website are often scams.
The public transport in France is good. So, it’s easy to travel around with trains and busses, it just takes more time if you want to visit less touristic places. Read more about getting around in France with public transport on the Rough Guides.
Food and drinks in France
French food and drinks are known around the whole world for the flavor and its finesse. You must eat baguettes, croissants and cheese when you’re in France but of course there is much more. France is also known for their wine and Champagne.
I’m just going to list some things that are typically from France:
- Baguettes and cheese
- Croissants and chocolate croissants
- Oeufs en meurette
- Breton Buckwheat Pancakes
- Soupe à l’oignon (onion soup)
- Escargots (Herb buttered snails)
- Foie Gras
- Steak tartare
- Coq au vin
- Veal Blanquette
- Boeuf Bourguignon
- Frogs’ legs
- Confit de canard
- Salade Niçoise
- Cottage pie
- Croque monsieur
- Quiche Lorraine
- Gratin Dauphinois
- Cheese soufflé
- Wine and cheese
- Chocolate soufflé
- Tarte tatin
- Crème brûlée
- Floating island
It’s difficult to write a blog about such a big country. I now focused on things that I’ve experienced during my previous trips to France.
I will get more into detail if I visit a region. We lived in Lyon from 24/02/2021 until 06/06/2021. After that we travelled around in France and we lived and worked a winter season in the French Alps.
I hope you liked this blog. There is more to come about France. You can read about my experience living in Lyon and living in the French Alps on Life in France.