Dan asked in TravelFranceOther - France · 1 decade ago

Tips for Traveling to and within France; Things to Do There?

Due to our military committments, my friend and I cannot specifically plan out a trip to France quite yet but are in the planning stages for a trip there in the summer of 2007. We are planning on staying a few days in Paris and then northern France. We would like to visit the following places:

1. Paris

2. Normandy

3. Tours

4. Chenonceaux

5. Chambord

6. Orleans

If anyone can give good advice on what things are a definite "must-have" to see in these places (please avoid the obvious like the Eifel Tower or the Louvre, etc.), as well as some "local secrets" that'd be awesome. Also, if there are any hostels in these areas that anyone reccomends or can comment accurately on, it would be appreciated. As far as transportation is concerned, any tips for riding the trains within France?

Thanks.

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  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    I have been living in France for a number of years, and it is great that you are coming to visit. I lived in Paris for a few years and now I am in Normandy. In Paris, there are tons of things to do that are not touristy. If you are into the local bar scene, go to Oberkampf metro station, there are lots of bars that pretty much only locals, kind of artsy types, go to. There is the St. Martin Canal, which during to summer is a popular hang out spot for young people. (It is in the tenth arrondissement, I believe). Also, the bars and restaurants around Bastille (rue de la Roquette) are quite popular. You can also walk around Les Halles (2nd Arrondissement), especially behind the huge church (St. Ouen), where there are a couple of little streets with restaurants and shops. Also, check out the market at Moufftard (6th).

    In Normandy, one of the best places to go is Honfleur. Take the train to Le Havre, and just across the bay, there is a city called Honfleur. (There is most likely a bus to go there from Le Havre). Not many americans go there, but it is very beautiful in the summer time. Also in Normandy, you could go to Giverny. It was the home of Claude Monet, and there are beautiful gardens to walk around in. Only problem, it is very touristy.

    There are a lot of hostels in Paris, and at least one or two in other major French cities. In Normandy, that means Rouen or Le Havre. Or Caen, possibly, but Caen is boring.

    As for the trains, you shouldn't have any problems. Most French people travel by train, and France has one of the best train systems in the world. You can pretty much go anywhere in the country. French trains rarely leave late, unless there is a strike, so be on time and don't forget to time stamp your ticket (the machines are bright yellow) in the machine right before you get on the train. This validates the ticket for the trip. Also, if you get your ticket and don't use it, or miss the train, you can use the same ticket for a later train no problem, just stamp it in the machine before you use it. The ticket is valid for a certain time (I think an hour) after it is stamped.

    Hope this helps, and enjoy your trip!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Hi! Last year, my friend and I planned our mid-tour leave to France, Switzerland and Germany on Expedia.com. Really great rates on hotels. I suggest hotels for the privacy. Not much air conditioning in that country and the rooms are small, but I'd bet they're better than hostels. Take the Eurorail. The countryside is gorgeous and the trains are clean, comfortable, and inexpensive.

    We went to Paris and Nice, but I would love to see the beaches at Normandy for the history. In Paris, you can just go out for a walk and enjoy the sidewalk cafes, bakeries, people...Most neighborhoods are very nice. Be careful if you go into the NE section where the Sacred Heart Basilica is. Very seedy, but worth the trip. It's the highest section of the city.

  • Amber
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    The Europass is a simple must – not only will it save you a ton of money, you can use the pass to get into a lot of things (museums, galleries, etc.) for free or a huge discount – and some restaurants (smaller cafes and such) will also give you a discount, if presented. Oh, and if you buy here, in America, it will be tons cheaper. Passports have a way of sneaking up on you with delayed receipt or little problems – you order at least 4 mos in advance for the trip. Also, regarding your passport – I recommend that you make a few copies and carry that on your person, while traveling thru the city --- unless of course, you plan to cross from one country to another. Also, keep the original in an extremely safe place because if it is stolen or lost – it could turn your trip into a nightmare and you should know that they are extremely valuable to criminals. Also, if possible – you should leave a copy of it with a VERY trusted person, so if something happens and you cannot get to your copies or the original – then at least they can have it faxed to whatever entity is demanding it. Your credit card is great for major purchases (large/ expensive gifts, hotels stay, car rental – whatever) – but most credit cards charge hefty foreign transaction fees, meaning every time you swipe – you are charge (this is really for smaller things – like restaurants, bars, nightclubs, etc). Not to mention that there will be a lot of places who don’t take credit – and ATM fees, from both end, are a *****. So you should take some American currency, so keep some hidden on your person --- and stashed away with your passport at whatever safe location -- for emergencies and the rest have exchanged. If you have your currency exchanged at an airport or a major (at least name brand or 3 star hotels) – you will probably get the best exchange rates. You are lucky that most of Europe know has the same currency – it makes the exchange rates easier to keep track of. Side note – some hotels offer to keep them in safes In major cities you should also get a train/ subway pass - whatever the mass transportation method is. The major cities are easy to navigate and get thru because it is easy to find someone that speaks English – however for other things (reading signs, menus, following road signs) and if you plan to venture to smaller countries/ villages – I recommend getting a electronic translator. They really are not that expensive and quite a few carry a great majority of the most popular languages. Also, they are cheaper than buying a translation book for every country. Whether you plan to minute or like to freeball – you should have some idea about how the weather is going to be because it can greatly vary from place to place. Ask your hotel people about local cafes/ restaurant recommendations. A sound cheesy but it is a great way to find out about the most popular, non-tourist restaurants and that means less of a crowd and cheaper prices. Don’t be the “snooty, arrogant” person. Know it sound like a stereotype or something like that – but a little respect and humility goes a loooonggg way with Europeans and vice versa is the same. Most of Europe take weeks long vacations – where everything but the hotels and major tourist sites are closed. This is especially true in the summer and so you should know the times and places that this occurs because it can suck if you are trying to visits famous places, exhibits and such. Have fun, be safe, use common sense – the same rules of safely you apply at home should follow you there. PS – Sorry it’s so much, I prepared this list for my sister too.

  • 1 decade ago

    Hi there,

    I have been camping in France for many years now and absolutely love the place. There is always plenty to do and see and the locals are always polite, despite what you might here to the contrary.

    The place I always tend to find lots of information and travel guides for France is on Eurocamps website (www.eurocamp.co.uk), where they tell you all about camping in france and even gives a run down on towns in the area and many things to do.

    Take a look at the website and you'll be amazed at the wide range of things to do and see in France. Its a great country!

    Source(s): Eurocamp Website: http://www.eurocamp.co.uk
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Get yourself a Michelin Green Guide to France. It has all kinds of places to visit, the routes to get to them, bus lines, subway lines, restaurants, etc. It's a life saver in France, or any other country. You can buy it at your local bookstore. Close to Normandy, there is a little town called Saint Jacut des la Mer, and it is one of my favorite places in France. Bon Voyage!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Have look at to have some tips to the places you are going to see and of course the surroundings :

    http://www.c-lafrance.com/

  • BobbyD
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    If you're from the United States -- avoid the locals!

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