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Practical information for your trip to Paris & France

To make the best of your trip, you need to prepare it ahead. Here are some tricks to help you get ready !
On your marks… Ready ? Go !

Best time to come in Paris: there is no time better than another to visit Paris. All seasons are welcoming and have a particular atmosphere. The weather is pretty nice all year long, with temperatures reaching up to 25 to 30° Celsius in summer, and down to 0°C in winter. You can check the weather forecasts for the following weeks here. The touristic season is at its most during December, January, June and July, so if you are not compelled to come during these times, it could be a good idea to think about another time in the year, in order to avoid the crowd. Just remember that ParisByM can find you some “skip-the-line” tickets…

Passport and visa: There are no entry requirement for nationals of EU countries. Citizens of the USA, Canada,  Australia and New Zealand do not need visas to visit France for up to 90 days. Almost everyone from another country (including South Africa and other African countries) are requested to get a Shengen Visa. This visa is valid throughout the so-called Shengen space, which comprehends most of European countries. Please note that the UK and Ireland are not within the Shengen space.  You can check the Official French website for visa information and application for additional information about getting a visa.

Ideas and blogs: there are plenty of blogs over the internet that will give you ideas for planning your visits. We recommend our: Visit Paris and France

Time: Central European Time (= GMT+1 hour). Just to be sure, you can check here.

Mobile phone: don’t forget to check with your provider before you leave about roaming costs and/or ensuring your phone is unlocked so as to accept a French SIM card. If needed, ParisByM can assist you in getting a French SIM card.

How to call in France: from abroad (or from a foreign cell phone in France), you need to dial 00 33 (usually written as +33) followed by the 10 digits phone number, from which you withdraw the first 0. For instance, you were given the number 01 23 45 67 89 : you need to dial 00 33 1 23 45 67 89. When calling from a French phone, either landline or cell phone, you only have to dial the 10 digits you were given, including the first 0. A phone number beginning with 01 indicates a number within or around Paris. How to recognise a cell phone number from a landline: a cell phone number begins with 06 or 07. Other numbers (01 to 05) are landlines.

Public holidays:

France 2014 2015 2016
New Year’s Day 1st January 1st January 1st January
Easter Monday 21st April 6th April 28th March
May Day 1st May 1st May 1st May
8th May 1945 (WWII) 8th May 8th May 8th May
Ascension Thursday 29th May 14th May 5th May
Whit Monday 9th June 25th May 16th May
Bastille Day, national day 14th July 14th July 14th July
Assumption Day 15th August 1th5 August 15th August
All Saint’s Day 1st November 1st November 1st November
Armistice Day (WWI) 11th November 11th November 11th November
Christmas 25th December 25th December 25th December

Opening hours: operating hours for museums are generally from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, nevertheless it can be wise to check ahead of your visit on the website of the museum you are interested in, especially as the entrance desk might close 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to the closing of the museum in some cases. Please check as well which day is the museum closed, as this may vary from a museum to another. If you entrust ParisByM with the organization of your trip, we consider opening and off-peak hours for you when designing your program to make sure you get the most of your trip. In addition, note that some museums may need booking months in advance. ParisByM can book skip-the-line tickets for you for most of them.

As for shops, they usually open at 9:00 or 10:00 am, and close around 7:00 pm. The Galeries Lafayette for instance opens from 9:30 am to 8:00 pm. Shops in touristic areas might have a specific authorization to open until 9:00 pm. As for days of opening, they are generally closed on Sundays, unless again they have a special authorization (DIY stores for instance).  Beware that supermarkets and other food stores are usually not opened on Sundays !

Currency and tax refund: the euro (€), which is used throughout Europe. If you are planning to do some shopping in France, you can expect to be refunded of the VAT either directly in shops that offer duty-free sales, or by the French customs after you leave France. You can find more information about tax-refund here or more generally on the website of the French customs.

Tipping: by law, a service charge is already included in your bill at restaurants, cafés and hotels, and waiters and receptionists cannot and will not ask you openly for tips. Nevertheless, it is up to you to leave a tip (generally some change) if you found the service was nice and efficient. In taxis, it is also up to you to round up to the nearest 1€, but be aware that you are entitled to demand the exact change. Some unscrupulous taxi drivers used not to have change in the past, but the service is now improving a lot and you should not have this kind of problem. You can also use services like Uber to avoid having to deal with change.

Sending mail: the price of the stamps depends on the weight of your envelop, the quickness you want your mail to arrive, and of course the destination. You can find the detailed prices on the Post Office website. In short, for sending a simple postcard that will arrive 2 days later, the prices are the following :
– to France : 0,80 €
– to a country of the EU: 1,20 €
– to the rest of the world: 1,30 €

Movies and books to help you grap the spirit of Paris: check our recommendations here.

Travel Agency Paris

Travel agency Paris: to contact a Paris travel agency that can help you organize your stay, click on the link. You can also see a full list of travel agency in Paris on AngloInfo. You can also contact a Paris trip planner to get some advice. Don’t forget to review the travel agent’s reviews by asking them or try googling key words such as travel agent paris reviews.

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