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Good to know before you go...
1 - Entry requirements

A valid passport is required of all foreign nationals entering France. Visas are not required for visitors staying less than 90 days who are U.S. citizens, EU nationals, or from Canada or New Zealand.

 

2 - Jetlag

Set your wristwatch to local time while you are still on the airplane and try to "think" in your destination time. If it is night in Paris, try to feel sleepy. Leaving your wristwatch on home time guarantees your adjustment to the new time will take longer, as you constantly look at your watch to validate your circadian clock.

Drink lots of water and other fluids, such as fruit juice, on the airplane and avoid alcohol. However, it is more important to sleep on the plane than to strictly avoid alcohol.

Upon arrival in Paris, do you best to follow local time. If you can, force yourself to stay awake until your normal bedtime, but make it an early night. If you absolutely must get some rest, take a short nap with the apartment curtains open to the sunlight. Don't darken the room, put on your PJ's and get under the sheets. Just a short nap will take the edge off your fatigue and leave you ready to go to bed for real when it is bedtime.

 

3 - Weather Conditions

Paris has the benefit of a temperate, rather agreeable climate. Even if it is impossible to truly predict weather conditions, it’s safe to assume that July and August will be warm. May, June, September and October are the best months to visit as the weather is generally milder. During April and October there can be rain and chilly temperatures in the evening, so be prepared.

4 - Public transportation

Forget about taxis, you will discover a lot more on foot. There is also the excellent Metro (the subway) system when you need to go from one arrondissement to another. There is simply no better way to get around Paris. A ticket costs 1,4 Euro and gives you access to the whole metro and bus network in Paris.

You might also be interested in the “Paris Visite” pass. Each coupon is valid for either a 1, 2, 3 or 5 day period (calendar days and not a 24 hour period). With the Paris Visite pass you can travel freely within the zone area of your choice. This pass is on sale in all metro and railway stations, and at the Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports. Prices go from 8,35 Euros (1 day) to 26,65 Euros (5 days) per adult for the 1-3 zone coupon. Before you use it, just write your name on the card and copy the coupon number on the card, also the pass expiration date.

For more information, check the RATP (public transportation system in Paris) website.

 

5 - Business Hours

Stores are generally open in the morning until 12:30 or 1:00 P.M. Some close for lunch. They reopen at 2:00 P.M., and then close at 6:30 P.M. or 7:00 P.M. Be aware that shops and restaurants can be closed on Sunday and Monday.

 

6 - Money - Banks

Banks are closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. In Paris, banks are generally open from 9:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M., and then again from 1:30 P.M. to 4:30 P.M.

In Paris you will find ATM machines along many streets which will enable you to easily obtain cash with a bank ATM card, Visa, MasterCard, or American (keep in mind that your bank in the US might charge you a fee for each withdrawal).

In order to use your ATM card at a French bank, your PIN number must have just four digits. Make sure that your ATM card is authorized for international use, and that you know which account is your primary account, since the French ATM will automatically debit your primary account.

Most restaurants and shops in Paris take major credit cards.

 

7 - Electricity

Keep in mind that Electric power in France is supplied as 110 volts. Most electrical appliances made for travel are compact, easy to pack and have a 110/220 volt switch. This is very convenient as it removes the necessity of a voltage adaptor. If you have an electrical appliance that does not have this 110/220 volt switch, then you must use a voltage adaptor.

There are certain exceptions, such as laptop computers. Because laptop computers run on DC battery power, the charging cord can be plugged directly into the wall, using just a plug adaptor. Before you go, read your owner's manual or contact the laptop manufacturer for instructions. Le Travel Store in San Diego is a good source for voltage converters and plug adaptors. Their web page store has plug adaptor kits, but you can place an order for individual plug adaptors by calling them at 800-713-4260.

 

8 - Restaurants

In France, the lunch hour usually begins at 12:00 P.M., but you might be turned away after 1:30 or 2:00 P.M. Dinner is served beginning at 7:30 P.M., but most Parisians don’t eat until around 9:00 P.M. or later, especially in the summer. When you get a table in a restaurant, it’s yours for as long as you want it, and no one will try to hurry you along.

In France all prices include service and taxes, with approximately 15% of the price corresponding to the service. However, if the waiter or waitress has been especially attentive, you can leave him or her a tip to show your appreciation. Around 5 to 10% of the bill is usual.


9 - Shopping

Shops everywhere take all the major credit cards: Visa, EuroCard, MasterCard, American Express. At each transaction, the sales person must give you a receipt which you should keep safely. Only checks drawn on French banks will be accepted. You can also pay in cash of course, although it is best to avoid the larger denomination banknotes.

 

10 - Telephone / Internet

Most public telephones are equipped for calling cards and some telephones will take a variety of credit cards, such as MasterCard, Visa. Calling cards can be purchased in train stations, airports, post offices, and news stands.

Cellular phones are as prevalent in Europe as they are in the United States. France is on the GSM system. You can arrange for the rental of a GSM-compatible cellular phone from the U.S. Please note that the average cellular phone available in the U.S. is not GSM-compatible.

By all means, bring your calling cards for international calls. You can find many companies like Nobelcom offering cheap solutions for you to keep in touch with home while staying in Paris.

If you’re taking a laptop computer with the intention of receiving/sending email, it’s a good idea to research your options with your ISP before you leave the U.S.

 

11 - Laundry / Cleaning

If your apartment is not equipped with a washing maching (please check with us), laundromats are available in many places in Paris. Washing machines in France are smaller and more energy efficient than those in the U.S. The cycles take longer, (up to 1½ -2 hours!) so don’t be in a hurry. In addition, be aware that the temperatures listed on the panel are in Centigrade. We recommend selecting a temperature under 40 degrees.

 

12 - Cultural and entertainment city guides

Pick up a copy of Pariscope, 0.40 Euro at newsstands, a weekly entertainment guide with listings for free concerts, galleries, photo and art exhibits plus information on clubs, restaurants etc. Many churches hold free concerts. For English-speakers, try Time Out or Paris Voice, a free magazine for English-speaking Parisians, is a rich resource for free book and poetry readings, lectures and discussions in English.

 

13 - Museums and monuments

Museums National museums such as the Louvre, Pompidou Center and Musée Picasso are closed on Tuesdays, while City museums including the Musée d’Orsay, Musée Carnavalet and Institut du Monde Arabe are closed on Mondays. Some museums stay open late: the Pompidou Center every day to 10pm, the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais till 10pm on Wednesdays, the Louvre until 9:45pm on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the Musée d’Orsay to 9:45pm, on Thursdays.

You might be interested in purchasing the Museum and Monument pass for 1, 3 or 5 days, valid to visit 70 museums and monuments in Paris and the Ile de France region. It gives you free and priority access for permanent collections in the museums and monuments; saves you time: no need to queue; allows unlimited number of visits during the chosen period. The museum and monument pass is on sale in the principal metro stations (this is card is not a transport pass), in the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, in the FNAC stores.

 

  • Eiffel Tower

The lines and crowds at the Eiffel Tower can get very long. If you must see the lights of Paris at night (and you should), go on a week night (not Friday), or make reservations. Tel: 01.44.11.23.23 - from the U.S., first dial 011, then 33 (country code for France) then 1.44.11.23.23.

 

  • Le Louvre

To avoid queuing at the pyramid or ticket windows, you can buy your ticket in advance. The ticket is valid every day except Tuesday (when the museum is closed), and certain bank holidays. You can purchase your ticket online, or at FNAC stores, Virgin Megastore, Le Bon Marché, Printemps, Galeries Lafayette, and BHV (pre-sold tickets cannot be collected at the Louvre).

 

  • Notre Dame

If you like looking at the inside of churches, don’t miss Notre-Dame. If you have a problem with crowds, don't go on the weekend. People are usually pretty respectful inside the cathedral on the weekdays, but there are a lot of people on the weekends and it gets noisy inside. The best time to visit Notre Dame is early in the morning, just after you’ve enjoyed your warm daily croissant…

 

.pdf version for you to bring in Paris

- contains useful
contacts
in Paris -

14 – Need more advice…

Do not hesitate to contact us directly for special advice on our favorite restaurants, shops, bakeries and places to visit. We can make any reservation and travel arrangement for you.

1-866-4-FRANCE (international +1-415-642-1111)

 

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