Fact file: France

Did you know?
England's King Richard the Lion-Heart and French king Philip Augustus met in Vezelay, a tiny walled village in Burgundy, before embarking on the Third Crusade of 1189 to capture the Holy Land from Muslim leader Saladin.
Country
France
Language
French
Visas
You do not need a visa to go to France, but take your passport.
Flying time from London
One hour to Paris.
Getting there
TGV (high speed) trains from Paris' Gare de Lyon to Dijon-Ville station take an hour and 45 minutes. Non-TGV services take two hours, 45 minutes to reach Dijon. Motorists can take car ferries and Hoverspeed SeaCats from Dover to Calais, the fastest sea route between Britain and France. Catmarans also ply the Channel between Newhaven and Dieppe. Car ferries are also available between Portsmouth and Le Havre.
Getting around
To make the most of Burgundy's wine houses, take the car or hire one when you're there. Dijon has good bus and train networks, as do all big towns in the region.
Currency
Euro
Costs
Half pint of beer £2; roll of film (24) £2.90; glass of wine £1.90, moderate restaurant meal £6; litre of petrol 72p; taxi rides from £1.30, plus from 40p extra per kilometre.
Weather
France has a temperate climate, similar to that of the UK with mild winters except for mountainous areas. The Paris Basin, near Burgundy, records the lowest rainfall in the country.
Time difference
One hour ahead of GMT.
International dialling code from the UK
00 33
Voltage
220V, 50Hz. Plugs are two pin, so adapters are needed.
Opening hours
Most museums close on either Monday or Tuesday. In July and August - France's annual holiday period - many shops and businesses will shut down completely. Shop opening hours vary but most take a long lunch and stay open till 7pm. Few shops open on Sunday.
Health - Before you go
No jabs needed. We have reciprocal medical care agreements with France - take an EHIC form with you (available from your post office).
Health - When you are there
No major health problems in France. French pharmacies are usually marked by a green cross and can be very helpful.
Warnings
Check before swimming off the coast of Brittany, as there are many strong currents.
Emergency
Police, Tel: 17; Ambulance, Tel: 15; Fire, Tel: 18; British Embassy, 35 rue du Faubourg St Honoré
75383 Paris Cedex 08. Consular section Tel: (00 33) 1 44 51 31 27.
Customs
In restaurants, don't call a waiter over by saying "garcon", or boy. These days, say "s'il vous plait" (please) instead, or you'll cause offence.
Pets
Under the pilot Pet Travel Scheme you can now take your dog or cat to France, with all the required paperwork and vaccinations. This takes several months to set up - check with your vet for details.
Tipping
By law, cafe, restaurant and hotel bills include service. Most people leave loose change in a restaurant. In taxis a tip would range from 30p-70p.
Tourist office
French Government Tourist Office, 178 Piccadilly, London W1V 0AL. Tel: 09068 244123 (60p per minute).
Did you know?
Languedoc-Roussillon was formed in the 1960s by the merger of two historic regions.
Language
French.
Visas
You do not need a visa to go to France, but take your passport.
Getting there
A number of airlines, including no-frills carrier Ryanair, offer direct services to Perpignan, Nimes and Montpellier. Eurostar train services from London Waterloo to Montpellier go via Lille or Paris.
Flying time from London
About one hour 55 minutes.
Getting around
Local buses and trains are excellent. Montpellier also has a spanking new tram network. If you're on a self-drive break bear in mind that parking can be limited in city centres. Bikes and cars can also be hired.
Currency
Euro.
Costs
Prices vary greatly but as a very rough guide: Half pint of beer £2; roll of film (24) £2.90; glass of wine £1.90, moderate restaurant meal £6; litre of petrol 72p; taxi rides from £1.30, plus from 40p extra per kilometre.
Weather
France has a temperate climate, similar to that of the UK, with mild winters except in mountainous areas. In Languedoc-Roussillon the weather is warmest in June to September, with temperatures ranging from 24-27C/75F-81F. Winters are cold, with temperatures plummeting to 4C/40F.
Time difference
One hour ahead of the UK.
International dialling code from the UK
00 33.
Voltage
220V, 50Hz. Plugs are two pin, so adaptors are needed.
Opening hours
Most museums close on either Monday or Tuesday. In July and August — France's annual holiday period — many shops and businesses will shut down completely. Shop opening hours vary but most take a long lunch and stay open till 7pm. Few shops open on Sunday.
Health — before you go
No jabs needed. We have reciprocal medical care agreements with France. Take an EHIC form with you (available from your post office).
Health — when you are there
No major health problems in France. French pharmacies are usually marked by a green cross and can be very helpful.
Warnings
Petty theft can be a problem in France, so watch your handbag especially in crowded public places like buses, fast-food restaurants and cinemas.
Emergency
Police, tel 17; Ambulance, tel 15; Fire, tel 19; British Embassy: 16, Rue d'Anjou, Paris. Tel 01 44 51 31 00.
Customs
Try to speak at least a few words of greeting, thanks and goodbye in France — the locals will appreciate the effort and behave more warmly towards you. In restaurants, do not call a waiter over by saying "garcon" (boy). Say "s'il vous plait" (please) instead.
Pets
Under the pilot Pet Travel Scheme you can now take your dog or cat to France, with all the required paperwork and vaccinations. This takes several months to set up — check with your vet for details.
Tipping
By law, cafe, restaurant and hotel bills include service. Most people leave loose change in a restaurant. In taxis a tip would range from 30-70 cents, but you could go mad and leave one euro (about 62p).
Tourist office
French Government Tourist Office, 178 Piccadilly, London W1V 0AL. Tel 09068 244123 (60p per minute).
Did you know?
Less than half (47%) of French people bathe or shower daily. The amount of soap that France consumes is half that of Britain, and the French use less deodorant than any other European country.
Language
Standard French, as well as several traditional languages: Breton in Brittany (a Celtic tongue similar to Cornish and Welsh); Flemish in far northern France; Alsatian in Alsace (a dialect of German); Basque in the Basque Country; Catalan in Roussillon; Provencal in Provence; and Corsican (related to Italian) on the isle of Corsica.
Visas
You do not need a visa to go to France, but take your passport.
Getting there
By budget and scheduled airline to Paris's Orly and Roissy Charles de Gaulle airports, and dozens of other cities. Airports with international services include Lyons, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Nimes, Montpellier, Perpignan, Metz-Nancy-Lorraine, Mulhouse-Basel (EuroAirport), Nantes, Nice, Strasbourg and Toulouse. By train with Eurostar from London Waterloo or Ashford, Kent, to Paris, Calais-Frethun, Lille and Disneyland Paris, or to the Alps in winter or Avignon in the summer. By car via the Channel Tunnel, Eurotunnel shuttle trains and car ferries. Ferry routes for cars and foot passengers include: Dover to Calais; Newhaven-Dieppe; Poole-Cherbourg; Portsmouth-Cherbourg; Portsmouth-Le Havre; Portsmouth-Caen; Plymouth-Roscoff; and Portsmouth-St Malo. By coach from London with Eurolines to various French destinations
Flying time from London
One hour to Paris.
Getting around
France's excellent SNCF rail network links most of the country and trains are the best means of travelling between regions. TGV trains (high-speed services) now connect Paris with western and south-western France, the south-east and Arras, Lille and Calais. Buses are used extensively in rural areas for shorter journeys.
Currency
Euro.
Costs
Half pint of beer £2; roll of film (24) £2.50; moderate restaurant meal £15; litre of petrol 70p; four-mile taxi ride £4. Costs can vary.
Weather
France has a temperate climate, similar to that of the UK, with mild winters except in mountainous areas. The north-west has high humidity, lots of rain compared to the rest of France, and persistent winds. The north-east sees hot summers and cold winters. Storms are common here in June and July. The driest spot in France is the Paris Basin between Brittany and Alsace. Paris's average daily temperature is 12C/54F, but can reach the mid-30s (about 95F) or higher in August. Southern France enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild winters.
Time difference
One hour ahead of the UK.
International dialling code from the UK
00 33.
Voltage
220V, 50Hz. Plugs are two pin, so adaptors are needed.
Opening hours
Most museums close on either Monday or Tuesday. In July and August — France's annual holiday period — many shops and businesses will shut down completely. Shop opening hours vary but most take a long lunch and stay open till 7pm. Few shops open on Sunday.
Health — before you go
No jabs needed. We have reciprocal medical care agreements with France. Take an EHIC form with you (available from your post office).
Health — when you are there
No major health problems in France. French pharmacies are usually marked by a green cross and can be very helpful.
Warnings
Check before swimming off the coast of Brittany, as there are many strong currents.
Emergency
Police, tel 17; Ambulance, tel 15; Fire, tel 19; British Embassy: 16, Rue d'Anjou, Paris. Tel 01 44 51 31 00.
Customs
Try to speak at least a few words of greeting, thanks and goodbye in France — the locals will appreciate the effort and behave more warmly towards you. In restaurants, do not call a waiter over by saying "garcon" (boy). Say "s'il vous plait" (please), instead.
Pets
Under the pilot Pet Travel Scheme you can now take your dog or cat to France, with all the required paperwork and vaccinations. This takes several months to set up — check with your vet for details.
Tipping
By law, cafe, restaurant and hotel bills include service. Most people leave loose change in a restaurant. In taxis a tip would range from 30-70 cents, but you could go mad and leave one euro (about 62p).
Tourist office
French Government Tourist Office, 178 Piccadilly, London W1V 0AL. Tel 09068 244123 (60p per minute).


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