Horseback riding in France

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Equestrian tours in France

France Mini Guide
    Source: World Travel Guide


You could spend a lifetime's worth of holidays in France and still not feel you'd done the country justice. It remains the planet's most visited tourist destination, meriting its standing with an almost overwhelming mass of historical treasures storybook landscapes, and cultural idiosyncrasies. 

The teeming glam of Paris makes for one hell of a centerpiece, matching any city on the planet for ambiance, individually, and set-piece sights. But the real beauty of France, in many ways, lies elsewhere. The country's natural gifts are striking: white sands, hulking mountains, swathes of rolling countryside. It's a land that has inspired dreamers and drinkers, revolutionaries and artists. Little wonder that Francophiles (and it's telling that even the country's devotees have a word to describe them) are found the world over.

You can soak up the A-list beaches of the Cote d'Azur, drowse in the timeless greenery of the Loire Valley or gaze up at the monumental peaks of the Alps. Wander the lavender fields of Provence, eat your way round the legendary bistros of Lyon or sample the rugged charm of Corsica. France's cities, coastline, and countryside all have their own endearing rewards, and when taken as a whole, they present a near-perfect visitor package.

That's not to say France is somewhere easily bracketed. When you're walking the moody portside backstreet of Marseille or delving among the sprawling flea markets of Paris, it can be a job to remember that they're part of the same country as the vineyards of Alsace and the sand dunes of the Atlantic coast.

This diversity, in many ways, is the magic of France. It's why endless magazines, books, and texts have dedicated their works to the joy of French lifestyle. It's why the national spirit is well-known for its boldness and radiance. And it's one reason why, in a world full of historical wonder and natural beauty, France still draws more tourist attention than anywhere else.


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.

Types and Cost

Transit/ short-stay Schengen visa: €60. This typically covers tourism, business, and family visits for nationals requiring a visa.

Long-stay visa: €99


Short-stay/ Schengen visa: up to 90 days within a sex-month period. It can be issued for one entry or multiple entries into the Schengen area and cab be valid for up to five years.

Long-stay visa: this is a national visa that entitles you, whatever the reason for your stay, to live in France for more than three months. It is not a Schengen visa. Some categories are valid as residence permits for the first year of your stay in France.



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

Currency exchange can be made in most banks and post offices as well as in some large stores, train stations, airports, and exchange offices near major tourist sites. Shops and hotels are prohibited by law from accepting foreign currency. Travelers 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 across the country. If you're eating at a restaurant, check prior to the meal that your card will be an acceptable form of payment. Even in cities. it's advisable to carry a supply of cash with you at all times. Cashpoints compatible with international banking networks are located in all town and cities. as well as airports, major train stations, and other spots. They usually offer an attractive exchange rate. Those banks that still exchange foreign currencies into local money will always charge a transaction fee, so withdrawing money from an ATM usually represents the most logical means of obtaining euros.

Traveller's Cheques

Traveller's cheques are accepted nearly everywhere .in France. In Monaco, to avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveler's cheques in Euros, US Dollars, or Pounds Sterling.

Banking Hours

Banking hours in Paris are usually from 1000-1700, Monday through Friday. Throughout the rest of France, banks are usually open from 1000-1300 and 1500-1700, Tuesday to Saturday. Banks often close earlier in the day before a public holiday. In Monaco, banks are normally open between Mon-Fri 0900-1200 and 1400-1700.

Exchange Rate Indicators


as of April 2018
$1.00 = €0.81
£1.00 = €1.15




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: Flights to France are cheapest during the off-peak periods- namely spring and autumn- while simmer and ski season tend to see higher prices.

Air Passes: Various air passes are available which incorporate France, such as OneWorld visit Europe Pass ( and the SkyTeam Go Europe Pass (

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Paris is 1 hour 15 minutes, 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

France is easily reached from the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel, and the Mediterranean Sea, meaning it has a large number of ports. Cross-channel ferry services from the UK frequent such ports as Calais ( and Le Havre ( Marseille ( is the largest, busiest port in the south.

P&O Ferries (tel: 0870 598 0333, in the UK; website connects the English port of Dover with Calais. Brittany Ferries (tel: +44 871 244 0744), in the UK; operates ferries from Portsmouth to Caen, Le Havre, Chebourg, and St Malo; Poole to Cherbourg; and Plymouth to Roscoff. Major operators include In the Mediterranean Corsica Ferries/Sardinia Ferries (tel: (04) 9532 9595; website: service Sardinia and Corsica with Nice and Toulon.

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: +33 892 353 535; website:
Eurostar (tel: +44 03432 186 186, 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 2 hours 10 minutes to Brussels. Eurostar also runs a direct service from London to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille, as well as a ski train to the Alps in the winter.

Rail Passes

InterRail: offers unlimited first- or second-class travel in up to 29 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass allows travel for 22 days, 15 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. Reductions are available for travelers under 26. Children under 12 are free when traveling with an adult using an Adult Pass. Supplements are required fro some high-speed services, seat reservations, and couchettes. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from (tel: +44 844 848 5848, in the UK;

Eurailpass: Offers unlimited train travel in up to 28 countries. Tickets are valid for 15 days, 21 days, one month, two months, three months, five days in 10 days, 10 days in two months, or 15 days in two months. The Global Pass allows travel across all participating countries. The Regional Pass lets you travel in two bordering countries. The One Country Pass offers travel on one of 27 countries.

Adult passes are valid for first-class travel, while youth passes (under 26) are valid for second-class travel. Children under 12 are free when traveling with an adult using an Adult Pass. The passes cannot be sold to EU citizens or residents. Available from Eurail (

Getting There by Road

Eurotunnel runs shuttle trains for cars, bicycles, motorcycles, coaches, minibuses, caravans, and campervans between Folkestone in Kent, UK, and Calais. The journey takes about 35 minutes from platform to platform. 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: +44 8443 353 535, in the UK'


A popular year-round destination, France has an affable climate boasting long hot summers and cool winters, which bring snow to higher ground. Summer (June-August), when it is warm and sunny across much of the country, is peak tourist season. If you're visiting at this time, prepare to face crowds at major sights, attractions, and coastal resorts, particularly along the French Riviera.

Southern France remains balmy throughout spring (March-May) and autumn (September- October), which are decidedly quieter times to visit. Prices are also considerably cheaper. The crowds return during ski season (December- March), packing out resorts in the Alps and Pyrenees, which offers excellent conditions for skiing.

Northeastern areas have warm summers and colder winters with rainfall distributed throughout the year and snowfall likely 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 here can be very hot and sunny- sunburn is a risk if you're unprepared.

One of the prettiest natural spectacles occurs in Provence between the last week of June and the first week of August, when the lavender fields in the Luberon burst into full bloom.

Required Clothing

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:

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.

British Embassy in France

Paris Cedex, 35 rue du Faubourg St-Honore, 08 Paris, 75008
Tel: +33 1 4451 3100.
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0930-1300, 1430-1700

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