Things Every Globetrotter Needs to Know Before Heading to France

There are certain things that every traveler should know before traveling to France, from the paperwork necessary to stay for a small season and which nationalities need to manage entrance visas, to tips to make the most of tourist attractions, read on and find out all the details that every traveler must know before boarding the plane.

Required Paperwork

European or Swiss citizens can freely circulate in France for a period of 3 months. Staying longer requires a residence permit valid for 5 years. In the case of non-European citizens, all must have a valid passport, however, the visa is no longer obligatory for most countries, ideally, check at the French embassy or consulate of the origin country before traveling.

For European citizens, travel insurance isn’t required, but all must have a European health card to benefit from health services. Each traveler will ask for it to the medical health service of their country of origin before traveling to France.

Non-European visitors aren’t covered by the French health service. In the case of requiring medical attention, it’s important to store all medical care bills (whether doctors or hospitals) in order to receive a refund back to the country of origin.

Money Management

The official currency is the Euro (€) and the exchange rate is available in any currency converter. All travelers that came from a country outside the European Union, are entitled to a discount of 12% on the rates of some products, provided that the amount paid for the purchase is greater than or equal to € 175 (including taxes).

It’s important to keep the tickets of any purchase made in the country (whether duty-free or not) that will go into the returning luggage; since it could be requested by the customs agents at the airport at the time of return.

The prices of bars and restaurants already include the so-called service compris (15% per service), so the tip is not mandatory. However, if the service has been optimal, it’s usual to leave a small extra tip between € 0.50-1 in bars and between € 1-5 in restaurants. Also, it’s usual to give € 1 per suitcase at hotels, as well as that it’s common to round up the taxi drivers.

For cardholders of European banks apply the same rules as in the country of origin. In the case of non-European banks, the bank may charge commissions calculated in proportion to the amount paid (generally between 2% and 3% of the total) and sometimes a determined amount (between 0.30 and 4 euros) of its ATM withdrawals or card payments.

General Recommendations

Young European students, up to 25 years old, have free entry in almost all the museums of Paris and obtain generous discounts in parks and attractions throughout the country. It’s important to always carry an identification to prove it.

Buying all museum tickets beforehand, either online or at the Fnac app, is a smart way to avoid the endless lines outside the museums. In several kiosks in the city, it’s possible to get tickets for shows on the same day at half price.