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> France Travel Tips from a Local Expert, Gyl Johnson's Tips for France
gyl.johnson
post Oct 24 2007, 03:40 AM
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Hi, my name is Gyl and I've been living in France for a little over four years. Right now I live in Montpellier which is in the south of France. I enjoy living here and I hope to give advice to others who wish to travel here and/or live here as well.

Here are my travel tips:



1. Some Basics

Business Hours are technically from 9 to 6. However in most parts of France assume that between 12 noon and 2 pm many shops and especially agencies are closed. France has a huge amount of religious holidays which are observed by a day off. This as well will affect all shops and government agencies, which will be closed. If you enjoy eating out, on average, lunchtime is between 12 noon and 2 pm and for dinner it’s safest to get a table between the hours of 7pm and 9:30 pm. Long holidays are in February, and much notably in July and August where all businesses will close for at least one month.

Tipping also known as “service charge” is included in the price that you receive in the form of the check. Do not leave a tip unless the server did something exceptional or if you were a large difficult group. This goes for most people performing a service, such as a cab driver.

Speaking in public is normally more discrete in France. Usually when out in public people will speak in a lower voice. For example, in a typical French restaurant tables are close together so a low tone is appreciated as to not disturb others.

When greeting, always address people you don’t know with Monsieur or Madame. When entering all establishments you are expected to say “Bonjour” and “Au revoir”. When speaking French, use the formal “vous” form until you are invited to use the familiar “tu/toi” If you are in the south, you, yourself may ask early on if you can use the familiar when speaking.

2. The Language

Speaking French in France is a popular topic for foreigners planning to visit. If you plan to stay for two weeks or so, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem especially if you will be in big or famous cities where many tourists visit. However, know that outside of highly touristy areas, even in a big city like Paris, most French people do not speak English and make no apologies for it.

That said, for best results, I suggest you take the initiative to speak a little French. Oddly enough, just showing a small amount of effort to communicate in the native language can make miracles happen. For example, the same French person who said they didn’t speak English suddenly is putting together, albeit odd, sentence in English and doing whatever they can to help you. A simple French phrase book with a vocabulary appendix in the back is all you need. Also remember, when in doubt, the bigger the word, the more likely it’s the same in French.

3. Regions to Visit

When we hear the word France, we automatically think of Paris. This is not unlike many countries where the capital is both the most famous city as well as the least resembling of the said country. Yes, Paris is definitely worth seeing; from the nightlife, the shopping and the museums, it can’t be beat just on mere variety of selection available. However, as New York City certainly can’t be representative of the entire United States, never can Paris for France. Try to visit at least one other region while here.

If you don’t want to travel too far, I suggest Normandy with its half timber construction architecture, beautiful coastline and super friendly people. If you don’t mind a bit longer journey, I suggest, albeit highly popular these days, Provence. For such a small region, it offers a mind boggling range of activities, things to do and see which provide an array of diversity. From bullfighting to lavender fields to kayaking, flamingo watching and, oh my gosh, how could I leave out wine tasting, you can’t get bored. And I haven’t even scratched the surface.

4. Getting Around

When traveling by train, you must buy train tickets in advance and right before boarding your train, you must validate your tickets before getting on board. If not when your ticket is checked on board, you may be fined extra.

Train strikes occur often in France and when one occurs, there is nothing you can do but wait. If you want to avoid serious mishaps, like missing a flight, plan in some space between travel transitions.

Renting a car is reasonably easy and convenient as well as economic. There only possible problems you could encounter is parking in general. Especially in very small villages where it is all pedestrian which means you will have to park outside of the city.

The least expensive form of transport is by bus. France has a reasonably well connected bus system and there shouldn’t be many cultural challenges here.

With local transportation, it varies from city to city, but often when you but a ticket you will be expected to validate the ticket when boarding. If you don’t you could be fined while on the transport of choice.

5. Expenses

As a rule of thumb, France as a whole is an expensive country to spend time. This even holds true when we compare it with its neighbors Spain and Italy. While accommodations, especially outside of Paris and the Cote d’Azur, have a good range of prices from budget housing to mid range to top end, the lowest rates such as what can be found in a youth hostel or said in French,”Auberge de Jeunesse” are not so low as you would have trouble finding something under 23 euros per night.

Transportation all over France is quite expensive when on considers the price in relation to distance. The least expensive option would be the bus. If you want to reach the smaller towns, renting a car would be the next best solution. While you can find some super cheap deals on car rentals, especially on the internet, the real cost comes from buying gas, paying tolls and parking.

The only area where you could find a break on the wallet is eating. That is if you avoid the restaurants and seek out the bakeries and the pork butcher shop,”une charcuterie”. A baguette, salami and red wine can provide a fulfilling meal while being highly easy on the pocketbook. If you have a bit more of a budget, of course there are a wide range of options between this and a five course meal.


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wakingdream
post Oct 24 2007, 09:00 AM
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Thank-you so much for the terrific and useful info! smile.gif

Could I ask where you're originally from and what prompted you to move to France ?

Your local expertise is much appreciated!


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~Susie

'Yesterday's the past and tomorrow's the future. Today is a gift - which is why they call it the present.'
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gyl.johnson
post Oct 25 2007, 04:19 AM
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I am originally for Maryland in the States. Before moving to France, I was an English teacher of ESL (English as a Second Language) and that allowed me to travel and live in a lot of different countries. I have worked in Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Spain and now France. I was sent to France to begin working as a teacher trainer of TESOL (Teachers of English to Students of Other Languages) and that is what I do today. I help people follow their dreams of living and working abroad by teaching them how to teach English as well as setting up and making a life in a new country.


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wakingdream
post Oct 25 2007, 09:01 AM
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Hey Gyl,

Sounds like a very cool job. Having people toward their dreams must be really rewarding.

Very admirable smile.gif


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~Susie

'Yesterday's the past and tomorrow's the future. Today is a gift - which is why they call it the present.'
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kitkatgo
post Oct 25 2007, 11:35 AM
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Your post was very informative, and I agree from my limited experience over there.

I was also very interested to learn of your job. My husband and I (and our 2 kids) may live over there at some point, and I was thinking of teaching English. What kind of credential do you need?

Thanks,


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~Kit
California Local Expert

Visit my travel blogs:
http://www.travelpod.com/members/kitkatgo
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gyl.johnson
post Oct 26 2007, 11:07 AM
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To teach abroad, the best certification is a TESOL/TEFL certificate (Teachers of English to Students of Other Languages) which is a one month course that focuses on teaching people with little or no teaching experience how to teach English as well as aid in helping graduates find work upon completion of the course. A good program provides at least six hours of observed teacher practice, teaching techniques, advice for setting up in a foreign country as well a job assistance.

www.teflanguagehouse.com


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kp1354
post Dec 8 2007, 11:02 AM
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Gyl,
We are presently deciding between England and France for a VERY short break (4 days) between a crossing from the US and our return. Your information is very helpful. I have dreamed since a little girl of going to France.
One question about speaking the language. I read fairly well, and I can put together a sentence. But I am scared to death (especially because I seem to do good accents, so people think I speak fluently, which I don't!) to have to understand what others are saying back to me!
As a teacher, any recommendations?

BTW, after all of my schooling in French growing up, I can ask with utter confidence on any street in Paris, "Ou et ma Regla?" <G> French in school is so useful! (I can say, "the book is on the chair" in Japanese! also useful!)

Thank you,
Karie
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gyl.johnson
post Dec 12 2007, 09:42 AM
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Actually, despite the rumours, the French can be quite helpful towards foreigners who make attempts to speak French. Often Frenchies who speak some English are not far and can help you. Conversely if you go around only speaking English, magically these same individuals forget that they can speak English and tell you, "Desole, je ne parle pas anglais". Making an effort gets you far in France.


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lisetiffner
post Jul 18 2008, 06:46 PM
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QUOTE(gyl.johnson @ Dec 12 2007, 09:42 AM) *

Actually, despite the rumours, the French can be quite helpful towards foreigners who make attempts to speak French. Often Frenchies who speak some English are not far and can help you. Conversely if you go around only speaking English, magically these same individuals forget that they can speak English and tell you, "Desole, je ne parle pas anglais". Making an effort gets you far in France.


This is so true. Making an effort gets you a long way. We were out looking for a place for dinner one night in Paris. In front of us was a group of 2 who were obviously Americans. They went up to the host and said in English, "We need a table for two." To which the waiter replied, "No monsieur." All full. We then walked up and said we need a table for two in french, "Une table pour deux." He immediately seated us in a restaurant which obviously had room.
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ashleyrenee
post Jun 16 2009, 09:52 PM
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Hello, thanks for the advice, my travels are taking me to a small town outside of Castelnaudary in southern France. We are staying at my boyfriends moms house there and we will have a small car to take on day trips. I was curious if you know of any hiking, biking, or day trip places to visit? We will be there in October so hoping the weather is nice enough to do some sight seeing.


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“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”- St. Augustine.
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fratanize
post Jul 29 2009, 03:13 AM
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wicked words of advice. many thanks
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madcaravanner
post Jan 21 2010, 06:02 PM
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QUOTE(gyl.johnson @ Oct 24 2007, 03:40 AM) *

Hi, my name is Gyl and I've been living in France for a little over four years. Right now I live in Montpellier which is in the south of France. I enjoy living here and I hope to give advice to others who wish to travel here and/or live here as well.

Here are my travel tips:



1. Some Basics

Business Hours are technically from 9 to 6. However in most parts of France assume that between 12 noon and 2 pm many shops and especially agencies are closed. France has a huge amount of religious holidays which are observed by a day off. This as well will affect all shops and government agencies, which will be closed. If you enjoy eating out, on average, lunchtime is between 12 noon and 2 pm and for dinner it’s safest to get a table between the hours of 7pm and 9:30 pm. Long holidays are in February, and much notably in July and August where all businesses will close for at least one month.

Tipping also known as “service charge” is included in the price that you receive in the form of the check. Do not leave a tip unless the server did something exceptional or if you were a large difficult group. This goes for most people performing a service, such as a cab driver.

Speaking in public is normally more discrete in France.

2. The Language

Speaking French in France is a popular topic for foreigners
That said, for best results, I suggest you take the initiative to speak a little French.

3. Regions to Visit

When we hear the word France, we automatically think of Paris.

, I suggest Normandy, Provence. how could I leave out wine tasting, you can’t get bored. And I haven’t even scratched the surface.

4.Getting Around

Renting a car is reasonably easy and convenient as well as economic.

The least expensive form of transport is by bus. With local transportation, it varies from city to city,

5.Expenses

As a rule of thumb, France as a whole is an expensive countryThis holds true when we compare it with its neighbors Spain
The only area where you could find a break on the wallet is eating.


Gyl
I've snipped out the bits I am not commenting on
Basics
You may find that Siesta goes to 4pm and opening hours extend to 7:30 out in the country
Holidays you will find EVERYTHING shuts even the bars the only things open is the fuel on the Autoroutes and they're automatic a lot of the time

Language
My French always improves the longer we are there as we tend to go away from the "tourist" areas except For Perpignan area

Regions
I would agree with that every area of France is worth visiting WE like the area of France/Spain called Catelonia as well as the small areas of France that tourists never travel to

Getting Around
Car hire needs one particular thing a Credit Card and they do take the security deposit from your card when you collect the car OK they put it back if the car is fine but you need to budget for it

Expenses
Compared to Spain France is more expensive but now a days Italy is more expensive that ITaly tourist destinations unless you go very native and ignore the restaurants but stick to snack bars and café

On the whole I prefer France to the UK as it is much less intolerant and much more relaxed


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Regards
Graham & Stephanie
website here
The Itinerary 2012

in planning but only 1 definite

September ALL OF IT
Out via P&O Ferry
France - couple of Stop overs probably one in Canet
on into
Spain - a Good Campsite around Benidorm
return via
Twin Lakes - France of course



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madcaravanner
post Aug 16 2010, 02:58 AM
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QUOTE(kristain77 @ Aug 16 2010, 12:13 AM) *

This is very interesting discussion. And it is very informative as well. You like to visit France then before you go there, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash (Euros), debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out whether your ATM card will work overseas, and confirm your ATM and credit card withdrawal limit. Thefts at ATMs, ATM scams and credit card fraud, such as double billing, are increasingly common in France.


Hi Kristain

We have only a few ways of getting money (not having the problem Australians have) we take an amount of cash and 2 different Debit cards (We do not have Credit cards even in the UK )

Even so when we travel anywhere outside of the UK we have to inform our banks as to which country and the dates we are travelling - this is our UK banks efforts to reduce debit card (and credit card) scams and if we have a definitive itinerary they like that too, especially as skimming tends to take place a few days after a legitimate sale

UK banks seem to have no idea where their cards do and do not work - and that does show especially when you get to a 24 hour petrol station, where most UK cards don't work - although there is a slowly increasing number of places where they do work, as Foreign companies upgrade their equipment to the same level as the UK's.

The credit card scams and "double billing" are actually not increasing it's just they are being reported more and the tabloid press are increasing the scare level of the stories. The number of crimes against tourists seem to be more "newsworthy" as more people take more and more vacations overseas, and each country seems to have it's own separate problem but the incidence of reporting is increasing not the crimes occurrences.


--------------------
Regards
Graham & Stephanie
website here
The Itinerary 2012

in planning but only 1 definite

September ALL OF IT
Out via P&O Ferry
France - couple of Stop overs probably one in Canet
on into
Spain - a Good Campsite around Benidorm
return via
Twin Lakes - France of course



Cheap Travel Exspurts
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sandrach
post Sep 3 2010, 08:54 AM
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Hi,

having lived in Paris for 2 years I can tell you that there are lots of things to do and that no one should miss out on seeing the city.
As you all know the Eiffel Tower and the other famous sights let me just point you to a few less common locations:
http://mappedtravel.com/cities/index.php?c...%2017%3A23%3A43

Sandra
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madcaravanner
post Mar 22 2011, 11:32 AM
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QUOTE(myprime @ Mar 22 2011, 01:56 AM) *

Bonjour à tous,
Je viens partager avec vous ce concept de site qui m'a fasciné...
Le site vous permet d'échanger votre crédit téléphonique que vous n'utilisez pas contre de l'argent.
Exemple : Il vous reste 20 minutes de crédit avant le prochain renouvellement, et vous n'allez pas les utiliser.
Connectez-vous au site, vous obtiendrez un numéro spécial qui vous permettra d'échanger votre crédit téléphonique contre
de l'argent réel, cette argent vous sera reversé sur votre compte PayPal.
Adresse du site :
http://www.remboursemoi.com/?id=gogo123


Good job I can read French even badly translated French too

Why are you advertising such a site don't you have a contract phone they are so much cheaper when you are traveling this planet of ours

Have you got some REAL advise for our friends here could use not everyone has visited France as often as some of us


--------------------
Regards
Graham & Stephanie
website here
The Itinerary 2012

in planning but only 1 definite

September ALL OF IT
Out via P&O Ferry
France - couple of Stop overs probably one in Canet
on into
Spain - a Good Campsite around Benidorm
return via
Twin Lakes - France of course



Cheap Travel Exspurts
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vic43ulau
post Mar 4 2013, 07:38 AM
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I seem to do good accents,IPB Image
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