Resources

France.fr (www.france.fr) Official country website.

France 24 (www.france24.com/en/france) French news in English.

Paris by Mouth (www.parisbymouth.com) Dining and drinking; one-stop site for where and how to eat in the capital with plenty of the latest openings.

David Lebovitz (www.davidlebovitz.com) American pastry chef in Paris and author of several French cookbooks; insightful postings and great France-related articles shared on his Facebook page.

French Word-a-Day (http://french-word-a-day.typepad.com) Fun language learning.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/france) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Top Tips

  • Almost every village and town has a weekly morning market brimming with fruit, veg and other regional produce – and there's no finer opportunity for mingling with locals! Take your own shopping bag or basket.
  • To get the best out of a French road trip, avoid autoroutes (highways) and main roads. Opt instead for back roads and country lanes that twist past farms, châteaux, vineyards and orchards – scenic routes are highlighted in green on road maps (print and digital) published by French cartographer Michelin (www.viamichelin.com).
  • For authentic local dining experiences, avoid restaurants that tout a 'menu touristique' or display a sample meal of plastic food on the pavement outside. While it might be tempting to favour restaurants with a menu in English, the very best (and best-loved by locals) rarely offer a translation.

What to Take

  • Two-pin travel plug (electrical adapter)
  • Sunscreen, sunhat and sunglasses (southern France)
  • Rainproof jacket and umbrella (northern France)
  • Pocket knife with corkscrew (pack this in your checked-in luggage)
  • Walking shoes – for hiking paths and cobbled streets
  • Light scarf (to cover bare shoulders in churches)
  • An adventurous appetite

What to Wear

It might be the cradle of haute couture, but Paris sports a mixed bag of styles. To avoid standing out from the urban crowd, smart-casual is the way to go. The further south you are, the more relaxed fashion becomes. Even so, no bikini tops or bare male chests s'il vous plaît, unless you're on the beach.

Countrywide, dress up rather than down in nicer midrange restaurants, clubs and bars – no jeans and sneakers, unless you're at the local village bar (though black or 'smarter' jeans will probably be OK).

If hitting the coastline in summer, bear in mind that some municipalities in Corsica and the Côte d'Azur have had (contested) burkini bans in place – check the local rules.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Check passport validity and visa requirements.
  • Arrange travel insurance.
  • Check airline baggage restrictions.
  • Book accommodation; reserve big-name restaurants.
  • Buy tickets online for the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and other top sights.
  • Download France-related travel apps and music.