Horseback riding in France

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Equestrian tours in France

France Mini Guide
    Source: World Travel Guide


It is impossible not to like France. As the late French president Charles de Gaulle once remarked, ‘How could one describe a country which has 365 kinds of cheese?' There are myriad attractions in this deeply compelling and multifaceted land that draw millions of visitors back year after year.

France's charms are manifest, whether it is the chic boulevards of Paris, the sparkling ski slopes of the Alps, sunlit vineyards and sun-baked beaches, a dusty game of boules, or coffee and croissants in an undiscovered village. Or perhaps a tour of the majestic chateaux of the Loire, the glamorous jet-set lifestyle of the Mediterranean, or a relaxing picnic in Provence, where the air is fragrant with wild herbs and lavender?

Consider also the delights of other lesser-known regions such as Franche-Comté, Gascony or Berry, deep in the green heart of France - regions firmly rooted to the land, whose sleepy villages offer visitors a chance to sample life in provincial France, and the unspoilt and rugged atmosphere of the island of Corsica, described as ‘a mountain in the sea'.

Eager to avoid a repeat of the destruction caused by two world wars, France was a founding member of the European Union. It continues to be a driving force behind the EU's progress towards economic and political harmonisation and is still active in almost every other part of the world. This arises from a combination of historical reasons (its colonies and self-image as a nuclear and world power), coupled with a desire to confront America-centric global dominance. France also proudly covets its title of the world's number one tourist destination, and this uniquely appealing country has little trouble in tempting first timers back for numerous repeat visits.


For information on French Overseas Departments, Overseas Territories and Overseas Collectivités Territoriales, consult the French Overseas Possessions section. See also the individual sections on French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, New Caledonia, Réunion and Tahiti and her Islands.



Passport Required?









Other EU


Visa Required?









Other EU


Return Ticket Required?









Other EU




Passport valid for at least three months beyond length of stay required by all nationals referred to in the chart above except:
(a) 1. EU nationals holding a valid national ID card. 

If travelling from one border-free Schengen country to another however, EU nationals are not required to show a passport or national ID card. It is still recommended that you travel with your passport or ID card to prove your identity if necessary though. Note that Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the UK are not part of the Schengen area, so a passport or ID card is required if travelling to/from these countries.

EU nationals are not required to possess a return ticket or show sufficient funds.

Passport Note

France is a signatory to the 1995 Schengen Agreement.

The passport and visa requirements for travelers visiting Monaco as tourists are the same as for France. Monaco is not a member of the EU however, so residency and long-stay requirements differ and are liable to change. For further details, contact any French Consulate (or consular section at embassy).


Neither visas, return tickets nor sufficient funds for the length of their proposed visit are required by nationals referred to in the chart above.
Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy for visa requirements.



Euro (EUR; symbol €) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

Currency Exchange

Some first-class hotels are authorised to exchange foreign currency. Shops and hotels are prohibited from accepting foreign currency by law. Travellers should check with their banks for details and current rates.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted.

Traveller's Cheques

Traveller's cheques are accepted nearly everywhere.

Banking Hours

Mon-Sat 0900-1200 and 1400-1700. Some banks close Monday and some are open Saturday. Banks close early (1200) on the day before a bank holiday; in rare cases, they may also close for all or part of the day after.

Exchange Rate Indicators


as of August 28, 2017
€1.00 = $1.20
$1.00 = €0.83
£1.00 = €1.079




Special Precautions



Hepatitis A










Yellow Fever


Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.

* A yellow fever certificate is required for travellers coming from South American and African countries.

Food and Drink

This being France, the only real problems posed by the local food and drink are mild stomach complaints resulting from overindulgence. Tap water is safe to drink (although you’ll find a huge amount of bottled water for sale too) and cooked food, assuming it’s come from a hygienic kitchen, is certainly no more risky to consume than that of any developed country. Some travelers steer clear of unpasteurized dairy products due to a perceived risk of disease, while others laud the same products for their perceived health benefits. If you’re at all unsure, it’s probably best to stick to what you’re used to.

Other Risks

Visitors to forested areas should consider vaccination for tick-borne encephalitis. 

In more universal terms, sunburn is perhaps the most common complaint among visitors to France, particularly over the summer months – temperatures are generally higher in the south but it’s wise to be cautious across the country. The usual precautions apply: use a generous amount of sunscreen and be sensible about how long you spend in direct sunlight. Be aware that a breezy day can sometimes mask high temperatures.

If walking over a long distance in warm weather, it’s advisable to drink – and carry – plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing, including a sun hat. Blisters can be another problem for hikers. These can often occur if new walking shoes are being worn across a long distance. Ideally footwear should be worn in before the trip.

Health Care

If European visitors or any of their dependents are suddenly taken ill or have an accident during a visit to France, free or reduced-cost necessary treatment is available - in most cases on production of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Full travel insurance is advised for all travelers.

If you take regular medication, bring it with you in its original container, ideally clearly labeled. If you have a serious medical condition, meanwhile, it’s worth also bringing a signed and dated letter from your GP, detailing your condition and medication – generic names would be best, as French medicines often use different names. 

The level of healthcare on offer is generally of a very high, professional standard, with the same applying to dental care. Staff at local pharmacies are trained to be able to advise on minor complaints, so if you don’t speak French, it makes sense to carry a relevant phrase book. Pharmacies are recognizable in towns and villages by a green-cross sign outside the door – the sign flashes when the pharmacy’s open.

As ever, health insurance is highly recommended. You’ll have to pay at the time for any healthcare you receive – whether at hospital or a surgery – and while costs for a straightforward doctor’s consultation aren’t too stringent, having an insurance policy in place brings real peace of mind.

If an ambulance is needed, 112 is the EU-wide phone number for the emergency services. 

Getting There

Getting There by Air

The national airline is Air France (AF) (website:

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Paris is 1 hour, and from New York is 7 hours.

Main Airports

Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) (website: is 23km (14 miles) northeast of the city. To/from the airport: Coaches to the city run at least every 20 minutes. Taxis are readily available. Roissybus services operate from the airport to Place de l'Opéra. Air France coaches run to Étoile via Porte Maillot, to Montparnasse via Gare de Lyon and to Orly Airport. Services run every 12 to 20 minutes and take 40 to 50 minutes. The airport is also easily accessible by train on the RER B line or SNCF with connecting ADP shuttle bus. Facilities: Banks/bureaux de change, duty-free shops, restaurants, bars and car hire.

Paris-Orly (ORY) (website: is 14km (9 miles) south of the city. To/from the airport: Coaches and buses run to the city every 12 minutes (journey time - 25 minutes) from outside Orly Ouest. Taxis are available. RER B and C line trains run every 15 minutes via Saint-Michel (journey time - 30 minutes). Facilities: Banks/bureaux de change, duty-free shops, restaurants, bars and car hire.

Lyon (LYS) (Lyon-Saint-Exupéry) (website: is 25km (15 miles) east of the city. To/from the airport: Coaches or taxis are available to the city. Facilities: Banks/bureaux de change, duty-free shops, restaurants, bars and car hire.

Marseille (MRS) (Marseille-Marignane) (website: is 30km (19 miles) northwest of the city. To/from the airport: A coach service departs to the city and taxis are available. Facilities: Banks/bureaux de change, duty-free shops, restaurants, bars and car hire.

Departure Tax


Getting There by Water

Main ports:
Atlantic: La Rochelle (website: leisure boating.
North Sea: Boulogne (website: leisure boating and cross channel services; Calais (website: cross-channel services; Le Havre (website: scheduled services and cruise lines to national and international destinations.
Mediterranean: Marseille (website: cruises and scheduled services to Corsica, Sardinia, Algeria and Tunisia; Nice: leisure boating and ferries to Corsica (website:

The popular Channel passenger services connect the English port of Dover with Calais. Major operators include P&O Ferries (tel: 0870 598 0333, in the UK; website and SeaFrance (tel: 0870 443 1653, in the UK; website: In the Mediterranean Corsica Ferries/Sardinia Ferries (tel: (04) 9532 9595; website: service Sardinia from the French mainland.

Cruise ships regularly stop at various French ports.

Getting There by Rail

International trains run from the channel ports and Paris to destinations throughout Europe. For up-to-date routes and timetables, contact French Railways (SNCF) (tel: (0) 825 888 088; website: or Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064, in the UK; website: Eurostar (tel: 0870 518 6186, in the UK; is a service provided by the railways of Belgium, the UK and France, operating direct high-speed trains from London (St Pancras International) to Paris (Gare du Nord) and to Brussels (Midi/Zuid). It takes 2 hours 15 minutes from London to Paris (via Lille) and 1 hour 51 minutes to Brussels.

Rail Passes

InterRail: offers unlimited first- or second-class travel in up to 30 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass allows travel for 22 days, one month, five days in 10 days or 10 days in 22 days across all countries. The One-Country Pass offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month in any of the countries except Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence. Travellers under 26 years receive a reduction. Children's tickets are reduced by about 50%. Supplements are required for some high-speed services, seat reservations and couchettes. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064, in the UK; website:

Eurailpass: offers unlimited first-class train travel in 17 European countries. Tickets are valid for 15 days, 21 days, one month, two months or three months. The Eurailpass Saver ticket offers discounts for two or more people travelling together. The Eurailpass Youth ticket is available to those aged under 26 and offers unlimited second-class train travel. The Eurailpass Flexi allows either 10 or 15 travel days within a two-month period. The Eurail Selectpass is valid in three, four or five bordering countries and allows five, six, eight or 10 travel days (15 for five countries) in a two-month period. The Eurail Regional Pass allows four to 10 travel days in a two-month period in one of nine regions (usually two or more countries). The passes cannot be sold to residents of Europe, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia or the Russian Federation. Available from The Eurail Group (website:

Getting There by Road

There are numerous and excellent road links with all neighbouring countries.

(tel: 0870 580 8080, in the UK; website: runs regular coach services from the UK to France. Passes: Travellers can buy a 15- or 30-day pass. 

The Channel Tunnel: Eurotunnel runs shuttle trains for cars, bicycles, motorcycles, coaches, minibuses, caravans and campervans between Folkestone in Kent, UK, with direct road access from the M20, and Calais, with links to the A16/A26 motorway (Exit 13). All road vehicles are carried through the tunnel in shuttle trains running between the two terminals. The journey takes about 35 minutes from platform to platform and around 1 hour from motorway to motorway. Fares are charged according to length of stay and time of year and whether or not you have a reservation. For further information, contact Eurotunnel (tel: 0870 535 3535, in the UK; website:


A temperate climate in the north; northeastern areas have a more continental climate with warm summers and colder winters. Rainfall is distributed throughout the year with some snow likely in winter. The Jura Mountains have an alpine climate. Lorraine, sheltered by bordering hills, has a relatively mild climate. Mediterranean climate in the south; mountains are cooler with heavy snow in winter.

The Atlantic influences the climate of the western coastal areas from the Loire to the Basque region where the weather is temperate and relatively mild with rainfall throughout the year. Summers can be very hot and sunny. Inland areas are mild and the French slopes of the Pyrenees are renowned for their sunshine record. A Mediterranean climate exists on the Riviera, and in Provence and Roussillon. Weather in the French Alps is variable. Continental weather is present in Auvergne, Burgundy and the Rhône Valley. Very strong winds (such as the Mistral) can occur throughout the entire region.

Required Clothing

European, according to season. Light breathable clothing for summer in all areas and waterproof winter gear for the mountains all year round. In winter even the Mediterranean resorts often require a sweater or jacket for the evenings.



Embassy of the French Republic in the UK

58 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7JT, UK
Tel: (020) 7073 1000.
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0930-1300, 1430-1800.

Atout France (French Government Tourist Office) in the UK

Lincoln House, 300 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7JH, United Kingdom
Tel: 09068 244 123 (calls cost 60p per minute).
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 1000-1600.

Embassy of the French Republic in the USA

4101 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA
Tel: (202) 944 6000.
Opening times: Visa appointments are scheduled from Mon-Fri from 0845-1200. Appointments can be booked online.

French Government Tourist Office in the USA

444 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10022, USA
Tel: (410) 286 8310.

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