France is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (G.M.T.
+1). This makes it six hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard
Time (E.S.T. +6, and +9 PST).
You only need a valid passport as a U.S. citizen
to travel to France. You are required to carry identification
with you at all times when traveling in France. If you
lose your passport, contact the American Consulate in
Paris: 2, rue St. Florentin 75001 Paris, telephone: 01.42.96.12.02,
or 01.42.61.80.75. For Canadians: Consular Section, 35
Avenue de Montaigne, Paris; Tel: 01.44.43.32.00. For other
country residents, ask your government for information
before departure. It is strongly recommended that you
make two photocopies of your passport and other important
documentation. Leave one copy at home with family or friends,
and keep another with you but separate from the actual
documents. Never give your passport to anyone except verified
police officers/customs officers.
PASSPORTS: Valid passport required by all, except:
(a) 1. EU nationals holding valid national identification
cards; (b) holders of national identification cards
issued to nationals of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco,
San Marino and Switzerland. Passports must be valid
3 months beyond length of stay.
In France, the post boxes are yellow, and can easily
be found in public places and set into the walls of
the post offices. Collection times are indicated on
the box. Stamps are available in the post office or
in Tabacs. The Tabac is a tobacco shop and often they
sell newspapers, telephone cards, and other items. They
can also be located within cafes. The stamps are the
same price as at the post office. Post office hours
are generally from 9-6 M-F, and Saturday morning. The
post office at the Paris metro station Louvre is open
24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Parcels can be sent home
from France, and depending on what it is, it can be
most convenient rather than carrying something bulky
with you throughout your stay. Some merchants will also
ship items for you for a charge. Be sure to complete
customs forms and get any VAT refund owed on the spot
with the merchant.
Public phones in France require a telephone card which
can be purchased at any Tabac or post office (La Poste).
They come in different denominations or units (unites).
A call to America is dialed 00 plus 1 then the area
code and number. To reach an English speaking operator
in the U.S. dial 19, wait for the tone, then 0011 for
AT&T, or 0019 for MCI, or 0087 for Sprint. La Poste
is open 9-6 daily and 8-noon on Saturday. They can handle
money orders, and other financial transactions, as well
as faxes. Its a sure place to find a telephone. Stamps
can be purchased here but are more conveniently found
Emergency telephone numbers throughout France:
24 hour ambulance: 15
Other telephone numbers in Paris:
24 hour doctor: 01.47.07.77.77
24 hour dentist: 01.43.37.51.00
English language crisis line: 01.47.23.80.80
American Hospital and Pharmacy
63 blvd. Victor Hugo 1, rue Auber
92202 Neuilly 75009 Paris
01.46.41.25.25 Tel: 01.42.60.72.96
Banks are generally open weekdays 9-4:30. In many cities
outside Paris banks close for lunch, sometimes for 2
hours. Most banks are closed Saturday and Sunday and
all holidays. There are many holidays too, so plan ahead.
(May has 5 holidays!) Travelers checks can be exchanged
at the banks for better rates than the change bureaus
on the street, but the change bureaus are open much
longer. The best way to exchange money may be to withdraw
from an ATM against your credit card. It is by far the
best exchange rate, however it depends on your personal
finances and to avoid high interest you should plan
to pay off that withdrawal in one payment upon return.
Check with your credit card company before departure
to know what rates and fees might be applicable. Also,
memorize your PIN for ATM access, (and while you’re
in the process check your automobile rental coverage
for international rentals. Credit cards can be useful
insurance alternatives). Paying for services and goods
is most convenient by credit card. The large grocery
stores accept them, as well as most restaurants and
many merchants. Visa is most widely accepted. Very few
places will allow you to pay directly with a travelers
check in foreign currency (see notes below).
It is suggested you employ a secure method of transporting
your money. A money belt works great, but may become
sweaty. Keep paper money in ziploc bags inside your
money belt to avoid soaking them. Simply take this with
you at all times. Keep your traveler checks logs and
receipts separate from your checks. Keep a photocopy
of your passport and other identification separate as
If you purchase goods at one merchant worth more than
200 euros, be sure to ask for a VAT refund form, which
can be submitted to the customs official at the airport
when you leave. A credit will be issued for VAT (value
added tax - TVA in French) for a range of 13-20 percent.
The Euro: Starting January 1, 2002,
this currency replaced the French Franc officially.
1 euro is equal to about 6.56 French Francs. 100 cents
go into 1 euro.
Currency exchange: Some first-class hotels are authorized
to exchange foreign currency. Also look for the French
equivalent of the Trustee Savings Bank, ‘Crédit
Mutuel’ or’Crédit Agricole’,
which have longer opening hours. Shops and hotels are
prohibited from accepting foreign currency by law. Travelers
should check with their banks for details and current
Credit cards: American Express, Diners Club, Visa and
MasterCard are widely accepted. Check with your credit
card company for details of merchant acceptability and
other services which may be available.
Travelers checks: Travelers checks are accepted almost
everywhere. To avoid additional exchange rate charges,
travelers are advised to take travelers checks in French
Tipping: Almost all restaurants include
tax and a 15 percent service charge with the bill. It
is noted as "service compris". If you really
appreciate the service and/or the meal, an additional
tip is customary. (About FF 10 , or small change left
from your bill.) If service is not included, a 15% tip
In hotels, a FF 10 for each piece of luggage is the
norm for bellmen, and the same for housekeeping. Taxi
drivers should receive about 10% to 15%, hairdressers
10%. Other times a FF 5 tip is appropriate for washroom
attendants, coat room, ushers, museum tour guides, and
bus drivers and tour guides get tipped after an excursion.
Jet Lag. When traveling to France from
North America you will arrive the day after you left,
generally in the morning. You will be somewhere between
6-9 hours ahead of North America. There are several
methods to overcome the change, and many suggestions.
may work for you, but trying to sleep on the plane will
help you. Also, plenty of rest prior to departure will
help. Upon arrival in Paris it will become difficult
as the first day goes on to continue without sleep.
If you cannot go on, take a short nap, with emphasis
on short! Then go to bed early.
Upon return, you will no doubt carry a lag for a few
days. You will arrive home (if you travel to North America)
in the evening on the same day you left Paris. Just
rest if you can, but don’t worry about it now,
your trip is over and its just workdays ahead!
Electric current. Electricity in France
runs on 220 volt, 50 cycle AC current. If you bring
electrical devices, you will need to have a transformer
and plug adapter.
Ear plugs. These can be very useful,
both on the plane and in a hotel at night. They are
light and easy to carry. Every traveler should have
some whether they need them or not.
Arrive early for flights. International
flights require you to be at the airport 2 hours in
advance of your flight. Also, for return flight, the
airlines prefer that you confirm 72 hours in advance
of your flight. This is not critical, but good information
to ensure your preparations to meet your flight time.
at Paris. Most international flights are now
arriving at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport on the
north end of the Paris suburbs. It is about 20 miles,
and 40 to 60 minutes to the city center of Paris. A
taxi may cost FF 220-250 for the ride. Air France has
buses that goes to Opera, Porte Maillot, Arc de Triomphe
(which depart every 15 minutes, FF51), and to Gare Montparnasse
(hourly, FF68). Tickets may be purchased in advance
or at the airport for the Air France Bus. There is also
the R.E.R. B train which departs from Aerogare 2 and
from the SNCF station. If you arrive at Aerogare 1,
take the "navette" shuttle to the SNCF station.
Tickets are FF 40. When you exit from customs you will
be on the arrival level where you will find a Tourist
Information desk. Ask the desk from which door (porte)
the navette for SNCF leaves. Stops in Paris are at Gare
du Nord, Chatelet, St. Michel, Luxembourg, Port Royal,
Cite Universitaire, and Denfert-Rochereau. Finally,
one of the least expensive options for going into the
city is Roissybus which is a direct bus line to the
Rue Scribe, near the Opera Garnier, departs every 15
minutes. Tickets are available at the airport. Private
shuttle transfers are also available through Discover
The SNCF station is also a terminal for the TGV with
direct connections to the south of France.
If you arrive at Orly Airport, you are arriving south
of Paris. Taxis are the quickest and cost about FF120-200.
Orlyval is an automatic train that connects from the
airport to the R.E.R. B line, going north into the city.
The stops are the same as above coming south from Roissy-Charles
de Gaulle. The cost is about FF52. Air France has buses
that connect to Montparnasse, and Invalides for about
45FF each way, departures every 15 minutes. Another
option is the Orlybus which goes directly to Denfert-Rochereau
from Orly, with tickets about 35FF. (Depart every 15
Once in Paris, the metro train system is a fantastic
and extensive network under and around the city. You
may choose to connect from the RER to the metro, or
take a taxi from the RER station to where you disembark.
Once free of baggage, the metro is the best form of
transportation around the city.
Train Stations in Paris - to the provinces
Gare du Nord: North of France, Belgium, Eurostar to
Gare de L’est: Champagne, Alsace
Gare de Lyon: Southeast, Provence
Gare Austerlitz: Loire Valley, Southwest France
Gare Montparnasse: Brittany, TGV to Loire and Southwest
Gare St. Lazare: Normandy, western coast
All train stations are reachable by Metro and taxi.
Trains run on time, plan to be early. Some trains require
advance seat assignments, but many do not. Tickets can
be purchased in advance of your departure by Discover
France Biking, but for reserved seats on specific trains
the maximum advance is 60 days. If you purchase a French
Rail pass, you may be able to transfer to the Paris
airports with it - there is no guarantee, but worth
International airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle
(Web site: http://www.paris.org.Accueil/Airport) is
23km (14.5 miles) northeast of the city (journey time
– 30 minutes). It is also known as Roissy-Charles
de Gaulle. There is a coach to the city every 15 minutes.
Buses and trains run to Paris Gare du Nord or Châtelet
every 15-20 minutes. There are also taxis to the city.
Airport facilities include a bank, post office, duty-free
shops, restaurants, shops and tourist information.
Paris-Orly (ORY) (Web site: http://www.paris.org.Accueil/Airport)
is 14km (9 miles) south of the city. Coaches and buses
run to the city every 12 minutes (travel time –
25 minutes) from outside Orly Ouest. Taxis are available.
RER/SNCF Orly-Rail trains run every 15 minutes (travel
time – 30 minutes).
Carrousel du Louvre
Place de la Pyramide Inversée
99, rue de Rivoli
Metro : Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre (lines
Open 7 days a week from 10am to 6pm.
Partnership with the Ile-de-France Tourist Office.
Tel : 0892 68 3000 (0,34 €/min)
Other locations throughout Paris include:
Pyramides welcome centre
Opéra - Grands Magasins welcome centre
Gare de Lyon welcome centre
Gare du Nord welcome centre
Anvers welcome center
Paris Expo / Porte de Versailles welcome center
Clémenceau welcome centre
Carrousel du Louvre welcome centre (Ile-de-France)
Montmartre Tourist Office
Museum Passes are available for one, three, or five
days, and which allow you to skip over lines waiting
to get into the permanent collections of 70 museums
and monuments in Paris and the surrounding area. The
tourist office and main metro stations carry them, and
as well Discover France can help you get them before
leaving at this site: GotoParis.net
Another tourist office can be found at the Caroussel
du Louvre, at the entrance to the Louvre Museum in the
underground shopping center. Take the metro to Palais
Royale - Musee du Louvre.
Metro: One ticket is FF8, and a carnet
of 10 tickets FF55. Paris Visite passes are good for
unlimited travel within Paris on the metro, bus, and
RER for either 1, 2, 3, and 5 days. They can be purchased
to include airports and Disneyland Paris for a higher
price. They are available at the airports, tourist office,
and major metro stations. They can also be purchased
in the United States - ask Discover France or go to
if you would like to purchase this in advance. The Visite
Pass is a good value for those planning several days
Metro tickets can be used on the bus as well. The Batobus
is boat transportation on the Seine River which is a
less expensive way to travel the Seine than the tourist
boats. This service runs from April to September and
stops at Tour Eiffel, Musee d’Orsay, Quai Malaquais
(across from Louvre), Notre Dame, and Hotel de Ville.
Cost is FF12 per stop or FF60 for all day. Tickets at
Rail: RER (fast suburban services).
Line A: St Germain-en-Laye to Boissy-St-Leger or Marne-la-Vallée;
Line B: Remy-les-Chevreuses to Roissy via Châtelet-les-Halles
and the Gare du Nord; Line C: Gare d’Orleans-Austerlitz
to Versailles. These lines are divided into fare stages
and these vary according to distance, except within
the metropolitan area where the ame system applies as
on the métro. There is also an extensive network
of conventional suburban services run by French Railways
(SNCF), with fare structure and ticketing integrated
with the other modes of public transport.
Bus: The same tickets are used as
on the métro, but bus routes are divided into
fare stages (sections). Inside Paris, one ticket covers
up to two fare stages and two cover two or three stages
or more. The first bus leaves at 0600 and the last bus
at 2100, except on certain lines which run until 0030.
Timetables are posted at bus stops and in bus shelters.
Jan 1 New Year's Day. Apr 5 Easter Monday. May 1 Labor
Day. May 8 VE Day. May 13 Ascension Day. May 24 Pentecost.
Jul 14 Bastille Day. Aug 15 Assumption. Nov 1 All Saints'
Day. Nov 11 Remembrance Day. Dec 25 Christmas Day. Jan
1 2000 New Year's Day. Apr 24 Easter Monday.
Note: In France the months of July and August are traditionally
when the French take their holidays. During these months
tourist areas, coastal resorts, especially in the south,
are very crowded.