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We represent the major car hire companies like:
Avis Car Hire, Hertz Car Rental, Europcar Car Hire, Alamo Car Rental, Budget Car Hire,
Dollar Car Rental, Thrifty Car Rental and Sixt Car Rental

For complicated itineraries, personalised service or any questions - click here

France Country Information
Wherever you choose to begin or end a sojourn in Europe's largest country, and however long you spend exploring you'll simply be scratching the surface of this vast and varied land. France's geography stretches from rugged coastline to seemingly infinite beaches, from bustling cities to quaint countryside villages and from a sun-drenched isle to luxury mountain ski resorts.

This is a country that has inspired Monet's reinvention of colour, Toulouse Lautrec's dark underbelly of Paris society, and the haunting harmonies of Debussy. It has tantalised our taste buds with foie gras and frogs' legs, and captured the imagination of the world's jet-set with the resorts of St Tropez and Port Grimaud. Discover France, and rediscover the meaning of joie de vivre.

Basic Information
Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between last Sunday in March and last Sunday in October).

Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are standard.

Language: French is the official language.

Travel Health: There have been a significant number of cases of Swine Flu confirmed in France. French hospitals and health facilities are first class. British, and visitors from other EU countries, are entitled to heavily discounted medical treatment and medicines on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Otherwise doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Medical insurance is advised. Pharmacies will provide some first aid, but charge for it. Rabies also occurs occasionally. In February 2006, France confirmed its first cases of bird flu; all affected birds have been culled and precautionary measures taken. The risk is low for travellers, but close contact with domestic, wild and caged birds should be avoided, and all poultry and egg dishes well cooked.

Tipping: Most restaurants and hotels automatically add a 15% service charge so a tip is not necessary, although another 2-3% is customary if the service has been good. If service is not included then 15% is customary. Taxi drivers expect 10-15% of the fare and hairdressers 10%. Hotel staff generally receive €1.50 a day and tips of €1 are given to washroom and cloakroom attendants and museum tour guides. Tour bus drivers and guides are also tipped.

Safety Information: Following the London and Madrid bombings, security has been heightened particularly in the transport sector. Unattended luggage left in public places will be removed or destroyed by security staff. While generally safe, visitors to France are advised to take precautions against petty theft and to ensure their personal safety. Thieves and pickpockets operate on the metro and around airports. Theft from cars is prevalent, particularly in the south, around Marseilles, and in Corsica. A Corsican nationalist group FLNC have been responsible for a series of bomb attacks on public buildings and holiday homes in Corsica and visitors should take care, particularly in Ajaccio the capital, and other town centres. Several recent cases of burglary have been reported while visitors were asleep in their caravans or motorhomes and motorists are asked to avoid parking in isolated or darkened areas of camping sites or parking lots. Tourists are advised to conceal bags and purses even when driving, and to never leave valuables unattended in the car. Bag snatching is also common, particularly on public transport and in shopping centres, and visitors should also be vigilant of luggage while loading bags into and out of hire cars at airports.

Local Customs: French culture is of paramount importance to the French and in an increasingly Americanised world they feel duty-bound to protect it. It is appreciated if visitors can speak a few words of French; they do not respond well to being shouted at in English. While the food is second to none, foreigners may find the service in many restaurants sloppy; waiters can appear rude (particularly in Paris) and take their time. This is just the way they are. Traditional games such as pétanque (similar to lawn bowling but played on gravel) are popular in village squares, but the national sports are soccer, rugby and cycling. Smoking in public places is not allowed and will incur heavy fines.

Business: Business etiquette is important in France. A smart, fashionable, sense of dress is common as the nation prides itself on haut couture. Punctuality is not always observed though and the 'fashionably late' tactic may be applied. A handshake is the common form of greeting for men and women upon first introductions. Titles are important and the person is to be referred to as 'monsieur' (Mr.), 'madame' (Mrs.), or 'mademoiselle' (Ms.). Meetings usually occur over lunches, and the French are known to enjoy food. Business hours are generally 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

Communications: The international access code for France is +33. The outgoing code depends on what network is used to dial out on (e.g. 00 for France Telecom), which is followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Other codes are used if using different networks. The area code for Paris is (0)1. Most public telephones accept phone cards, which are available in newsagents. Most hotels add a surcharge to calls, which can be very expensive; the cheapest way to call abroad is often with a phone card from a public telephone or at a post office. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international mobile phone companies. Internet cafes are available in towns throughout France.

Duty Free: Travellers from non-EU countries over 17 years entering France can bring in the following items duty-free: 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 250g tobacco; 1 litre of spirits with alcohol content 22% and over, or 2 litres of dessert wine or sparkling wine not exceeding 22% alcohol volume, and 2 litres of table wine; 50g perfume or 250ml eau de toilette and other goods to the value of €175 per adult or €90 for children under 15 years.

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Visa and Entry Information

  • Entry requirements for Americans: United States citizens must have a passport. A visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for UK nationals: British nationals must have a passport. A visa is not required for endorsed British Citizen passport holders. Visa exemption is for three months for passports endorsed British National (Overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizen and British Subject with the right of abode in UK.
  • Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians must hold a passport for entry to France. A visa is not required for stays of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for Australians: Australians must have a passport. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans must have a passport and a Schengen visa for travel to France.
  • Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals must have a passport. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals must have a passport, but no visa is required.

Passport/Visa Note: Visitors, other than EEA state members, are advised to hold a return or onward ticket, documents for next destination and proof of financial means. The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all.

Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.

Attractions in France

  • Notre-Dame - Notre-Dame looms large over the Place de Parvis, on the Isle de la Cité, and as the most enduring symbol of Paris is an alluring tourist attraction.
  • Louvre - One of the world's great art museums, this vast edifice houses an extraordinary collection of paintings, sculptures and antiquities from all over the world.
  • Pompidou Centre - Built in the 1970s and named after former French president Georges Pompidou, the futuristic Pompidou Centre is now considered part of the Parisian landscape.
  • Musée d'Orsay - This great museum is fairly new by Paris standards. It is situated in a railway station by the Seine and houses a vast collection of works from the significant 1848 to 1914 period.
  • Arc de Triomphe - The world's largest triumphal arch, the Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile is set at the centre of a star-shaped configuration of 12 radiating avenues. It stands 165ft (51 metres) tall and the names of major victories won during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods are engraved around the top of the Arch.

Special Events in France

  • Fete de la Musique - Every year on the summer solstice, Paris hosts amateur and professional musicians who perform in a variety of venues around the city, from public squares, streets and parks to opera houses and castles.
  • Bastille Day Celebrations - France's most important national holiday, Bastille Day commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with ceremonies, dancing, parties and balls all over the city.
  • French Open - Together with Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the US Open, the French Open is one of the four events that together are known as the tennis 'Grand Slam'.
  • Le Salon du Chocolat - An annual festival in celebration of chocolate is a dream come true for chocoholics, and the large convention centre beneath the Louvre hosts just that.
  • Tour de France - What started off as a far-fetched, unimaginable idea dreamed up by two gentlemen in a Parisian brasserie in 1902, has a century later grown into the world's greatest bicycle race, indeed considered by many to be the greatest annual sporting event on earth.
  • Cannes Film Festival - The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most renowned film festivals in the world. Each year a selection of the finest filmmakers from the international scene judge entries from across the globe.
  • Nice Carnival - The main winter event on the French Riviera and one of the major carnivals in the world, the Nice Carnival brings the city to life with a series of flower parades, float processions, fireworks and concerts every year.

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Airports in France

Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG)

  • Location: The airport is 14 miles (23km) north east of Paris.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between last Sunday in March and last Sunday in October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +33 (0)1 48 62 2280.
  • Transfer between terminals: The three terminals are linked by free shuttle buses.
    Getting to the city: There is a good train service with the RER B line that serves the airport with connections to the city centre and the Metro station. From the airport RER B can be accessed from terminal 2 railway station stop on the airport shuttle. The RER B line is serviced every fifteen minutes Monday through Friday and takes 50 minutes to the city centre costing €8.40. The Roissy bus line also connects to the city centre and costs €8.40 for the 50 minute drive which buses depart for every 15 to 20 minutes between 7am and 11pm. Air France also runs buses to certain city destinations. The Noctilien night bus runs between 12.30am and 5am with fares depending on destination but below €7.50. Taxis can be found outside the arrivals terminal and should cost €50 to the city centre (Tel: 01 47 39 00 91).
  • Car rental: All major car rental companies are represented.
  • Airport Taxis: There are taxis outside the baggage reclaim area of the arrival terminals. The taxi fare to the city centre is generally €50.
  • Facilities: There are ATMs, banks and bureaux de change in all terminals as well as a wide selection of shops, restaurants and bars. Terminal 1 also has a hairdresser and a business facility that includes meeting rooms, fax and photocopier. Internet facilities and wireless Internet access are also available. Mobile phones can be rented at the airport. Disabled passengers are well catered for at the airport.
  • Departure Tax: None.

Paris Orly Airport (ORY)

  • Location: The airport is nine miles (14km) south of Paris.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +01 48 62 22 80.
  • Transfer between terminals: The two terminals are linked by a free shuttle bus.
  • Getting to the city: Several choices of public transportaiont methods are the cheapest way to the city centre. RER C trains leave regularly from both terminals and connect to the metro and SNCF train stations. A number of bus services also operate from both terminals such as the Roissy bus line and Air France. Taxis are an expensive albeit fast way to the city centre although they should be avoided in rush hour. Fares usually cost US$35 but are more expensive at night (Tel: 01 47 39 00 91). Airport shuttles also offer door to door service or connections to public transportation stations.
  • Car rental: All the major car rental companies are represented at the airport.
  • Airport Taxis: There are taxis outside the arrival terminals and the taxi fare to the city centre is generally €35.
  • Facilities: There are a number of shops, bars and restaurants throughout the airport and both terminals have ATMs, banks and currency exchange services. Other facilities include information desks, an art gallery, left luggage, and a medical centre offering vaccinations. Internet access points and wireless Internet access is available, and a business centre offers a venue and equipment for business needs. Disabled passengers are well catered for; passengers with special needs are advised to inform their airline in advance.
  • Departure Tax: None.

Bordeaux Airport (BOD)

  • Location: The airport is located eight miles (13km) west of Bordeaux.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +33 (0)5 5634 5050.
  • Transfer between terminals: A short covered walkway links the two terminals/halls.
    Getting to the city: There are regular bus services to the city centre from Terminal B taking about 30-45 minutes. Trains from the Arrivals halls transport passengers to the city centre. Taxis are available outside the airport.
  • Car rental: Car hire firms Avis, Budget, Europcar and Hertz, among others, operate from the airport.
  • Facilities: Airport facilities include a number of bars, shops and restaurants, as well as travel agencies and tour operators. ATMs and bureaux de change are also available. Internet facilities are available in Departures. The airport has good facilities for disabled passengers; those with special needs are advised to let their airline know in advance.
  • Departure Tax: None.

Nice Côte d'Azur Airport (NCE)

  • Location: The airport is situated four miles (6km) west of Nice.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between last Sunday in March and last Sunday in October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +33 (0)4 898 898 28.
  • Transfer between terminals: A free shuttle bus connects the two terminals, which are also within walking distance.
  • Getting to the city: Buses leave regularly for hundreds of destinations between Marseilles and Genoa; details on the airport website. Trains go to Nice and Cannes and most other main towns and cities. Metered taxis are available outside both terminals.
  • Car rental: All major car rental companies are represented opposite Terminal 2.
  • Facilities: There are a number of restaurants, bars and shops, banks and foreign exchange in both terminals. Other facilities include a post office and business centre with meeting rooms, fax, photocopier and Internet facilities and Wi-Fi access. Disabled facilities are good, passengers with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
  • Parking: Plenty of short and long-term parking is available at both terminals.
  • Departure Tax: None.

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Driving Information

Drinking and driving:
If the level of alcohol in the bloodstream is 0.05 per cent or more (0.02% for bus/coach drivers), severe penalties include fine, imprisonment and / or confiscation of the driving licence. Saliva drug tests will be used to detect drivers under the influence of drugs – severe penalties as above.

Driving licence:
Minimum age at which a UK licence holder may drive a temporarily imported car 18, motorcycle (up to 80cc) 16, motorcycle (over 80cc) 18.

Fines:
On-the-spot fines or 'deposits' are severe. An official receipt should be issued. Vehicles parking contrary to regulations may be towed away and impounded.

Fuel:
Unleaded petrol (95 & 98 octane), diesel (Gazole) and LPG available. No leaded petrol (lead replacement petrol “Super carburant” available or lead substitute additive). Petrol in a can is permitted but forbidden by ferry and
Eurotunnel operators.

A new type of fuel, the SP95-E10 (Sans Plomb 95 Octane, Ethanol 10% = Lead Free 95 Octane containing 10% of Ethanol) is now being sold throughout France. This fuel is not suitable for use in all cars and you should check compatibility with your vehicle manufacturer before using it. If in doubt use the standard SP95 or SP98
Octane unleaded fuel which continues to be available alongside the new fuel.

Credit cards accepted at most filling stations; check with your card issuer for usage in France & Monaco before travel. There are now many automatic petrol pumps operated by credit / debit card however, cards issued in the UK are not always accepted by these pumps.

Driving Distances:

From
To
Time
KMS
Paris
London
4hrs 55mins
392km
Paris
Rome
13hrs 38mins
1427km
Paris
Madrid
12hrs 31mins
1265km
Paris
Barcelona
9hrs 35mins
1037km
Paris
Berlin
9hrs 55mins
1056km
Paris
Frankfurt
5hrs 21mins
574km
Paris
Amsterdam
5hrs 8mins
504km
Paris
Zurich
6hrs 28mins
590km
Paris Vienna 11hrs 17mins 1243km
Paris Rome 13hrs 38mins 1427km
Paris Milan 8hrs 23mins 852km
Paris Venice 11hrs 14mins 1115km
Paris Lyon 4hrs 18mins 465km
Paris Nice 8hrs 37mins 940km
Paris Marseille 7hrs 6mins 776km
Paris Montpellier 7hrs 751km
Paris Bordeaux 5hrs 43mins 571km
Paris Calais 2hrs 51mins 293km
Paris Toulouse 6hrs 21mins 678km
Nice London 12hrs 59mins 1347km
Nice Rome 7hrs 9mins 705km
Nice Madrid 12hrs 8mins 1269km
Nice Barcelona 6hrs 19mins 670km
Nice Berlin 13hrs 8mins 1357km
Nice Frankfurt 9hrs 34mins 976km
Nice Amsterdam 13hrs 24mins 1390km
Nice Zurich 6hrs 15mins 591km
Nice Vienna 10hrs 50mins 1163km
Nice Milan 3hrs 23mins 317km
Nice Venice 6hrs 6mins 574km
Nice Lyon 4hrs 25mins 478km
Nice Marseille 2hrs 10mins 212km
Nice Montpellier 3hrs 16mins 334km
Nice Bordeaux 7hrs 23mins 811km
Nice Calais 10hrs 58mins 1237km
Nice Toulouse 5hrs 18mins 570km

Please click here http://www.viamichelin.com/ for more driving distances

Lights:
Dipped headlights must be used in poor daytime visibility. It is highly recommended by the French Government that 4+-wheeled vehicles use dipped headlights day and night (already compulsory for motorcycles).

Motorcycles:
Use of dipped headlights during the day compulsory. The wearing of crash helmets is compulsory for both driver and passenger of any two-wheel motorised vehicle.

Motor Insurance:
Third-party compulsory, including trailers.

Passengers / Children in cars:
Children under the age of 10 are not permitted to travel on the front seats of vehicles, unless there are no rear seats or the rear seats are already occupied with children under 10 or there are no seat belts. In these
circumstances a child must not be placed in the front seats with their back to the road if the vehicle is fitted with a passenger airbag, unless it is deactivated. They must travel in an approved child seat or restraint adapted to their size.

A baby up to 13kg must be carried in a rear facing baby seat.

A child between 9 and 18kg must be seated in a child seat and a child from 15kg up to 10 years can use a booster seat with a seat belt or a harness.

It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers under 18 are appropriately
restrained.

Seat belts:
Compulsory for front/rear seat occupants to wear seat belts, if fitted.

Speed limits:
Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers. In built-up areas 31 mph (50 km/h), outside built-up areas 55 mph (90 km/h), but 68 mph (110 km/h) on urban motorways and dual
carriageways separated by a central reservation and 80 mph (130 km/h) on motorways.

Lower speed limits of 49 mph (80 km/h) outside built-up areas, 62 mph (100 km/h) on dual carriageways and 68 mph (110 km/h) on motorways apply in wet weather and to visiting motorists who have held a driving licence for less than two years. Additionally, speed limits are reduced on stretches of motorways in built up areas.
Minimum speed limit on motorways 49mph (80km/h).

Note: Holders of EU driving licenses exceeding the speed limit by more than 40 km/h will have their licenses confiscated on the spot by the police.

Compulsory equipment in France and Monaco:

  • Warning triangle (excludes motorcycles)
  • Snow chains - must be fitted to vehicles using snow-covered roads in compliance with the relevant road sign.
  • Reflective jackets (EN471) - one reflective jacket in the vehicle. This does not apply to drivers of two-wheeled and three-wheeled vehicles.


Other rules / requirements in France and Monaco:

It is recommended that visitors equip their vehicle with a set of replacement bulbs. In built-up areas give way to traffic coming from the right “priorité a droite”.

At signed roundabouts bearing the words "Vous n'avez pas la priorité" or "Cédez le passage" traffic on the roundabout has priority; where no such sign exists traffic entering the roundabout has priority.

Overtaking stationary trams is prohibited when passengers are boarding / alighting.

Parking discs for ‘blue zone’ parking areas can be obtained from police stations, tourist offices and some shops.

In built up areas the use of the horn is prohibited except in cases of immediate danger.

Apparatus with a screen which can distract a driver (such as television, video, DVD equipment) should be positioned in places where the driver is unable to see them. This excludes GPS systems. It is prohibited to touch or program the device unless parked in a safe place.

It is absolutely prohibited to carry, transport or use radar detectors. Failure to comply with this regulation involves a fine of up to 1500 Euros and the vehicle and/or device may be confiscated.

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