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{{About|the capital of France}}
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{{quickbar
{{Use dmy dates|date=April 2011}}
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| image=[[Image:ParisView.jpg|250px|noframe]]
{{pp-move-indef}}
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| location=[[Image:LocationFrance.png|France in Europe|250px]]
{{Infobox French commune
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| flag=[[Image:fr-flag.png]]
|name = Paris
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| capital=[[Paris]]
|common name = Paris
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| government=Republic
|image = Paris_-_Eiffelturm_und_Marsfeld2.jpg
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| currency=Euro ()
|image size = 280px
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| area= ''total:'' 643,801 km<sup>2</sup><br />''water:'' 3,374 km<sup>2</sup><br />''land:'' 640,427 km<sup>2</sup>
|caption = Paris, with the [[Eiffel Tower]] in the foreground and the skyscrapers of [[La Défense]] in the background
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| population=64,667,374 (January 2009) in non-overseas France
|image flag = Flag of Paris.svg
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| language=[[French phrasebook|French]], some regional languages and dialects
|image flag = Flag of Paris.svg
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| religion=Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%
|image flag size = 85px
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| callingcode=33
|image coat of arms = Grandes Armes de Paris.svg
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| tld=.fr
|image coat of arms size = 120px
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| timezone=UTC +1
|flag legend = [[Flag of Paris|City flag]]
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| electricity=220..230V, 50Hz. Outlets: CEE7/5 (protruding male earth pin), accepting CEE 7/5 (Grounded), CEE 7/7 (Grounded) or CEE 7/16 (non-grounded) plugs
|coat of arms legend = [[Coat of arms of Paris|City coat of arms]]
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|city motto = ''[[Fluctuat nec mergitur]]'' (Latin: "It is tossed by the waves, but does not sink")
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|latitude = 48.8567
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|longitude = 2.3508
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|time zone = [[Central European Time|CET]] <small>(UTC +1)</small>
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|region = [[Île-de-France (region)|Île-de-France]]
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|department = Paris (75)
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|mayor = [[Bertrand Delanoë]]
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|party = [[Socialist Party (France)|PS]]
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|term = 2008–2014
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|subdivisions entry = [[Administrative division|Subdivisions]]
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|subdivisions. = [[Arrondissements of Paris|20 arrondissements]]
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|area km2 = 105.4
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|area footnotes =<ref name="area">[http://www.statistiques-locales.insee.fr/Fiches%5CRS%5CDEP%5C75%5CCOM%5CRS_COM75056.pdf INSEE local statistics], including [[Bois de Boulogne]] and [[Bois de Vincennes]].</ref>
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|INSEE=75056
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|postal code=75001-75020, 75116
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|population = 2234105
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|population date = Jan.&nbsp;2009<ref name="paris_pop_2009" />
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|population ranking = [[List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants (1999 census)|1st in France]]
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|urban area km2 = 2,845
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|urban area date = 2010
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|urban pop = 10,413,386<ref name="paris_UU10_pop">{{cite web
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|url=http://www.recensement.insee.fr/chiffresCles.action?codeMessage=5&plusieursReponses=true&zoneSearchField=PARIS&codeZone=00851-UU2010&idTheme=3&rechercher=Rechercher
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|title=Unité urbaine 2010 : Paris (00851)
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|publisher=Insee
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|language=French
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|accessdate=2012-07-03}}</ref>
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|urban pop date = Jan.&nbsp;2009
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|metro area km2 = 17175
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|metro area date = 2010
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|metro area pop = 12,161,542<ref name="paris_AU10_pop" />
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|metro area pop date = Jan.&nbsp;2009
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|website = [http://www.paris.fr/ www.paris.fr]
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}}
 
}}
  
'''Paris''' ({{IPAc-en|ˈ|p|ær|ɨ|s|audio=En-Paris.ogg}}; [[French language|French]]: {{IPA-fr|paʁi||Paris1.ogg}}) is the [[Capital city|capital]] and largest city of [[France]]. It is situated on the river [[Seine]], in northern France, at the heart of the [[Île-de-France (region)|Île-de-France]] [[Regions of France|region]] (or Paris Region, {{Lang-fr|Région parisienne}}). As of January 2009 the city of Paris, within its administrative limits (the 20 [[arrondissements of Paris|arrondissements]]) largely unchanged since 1860, has an estimated population of 2,234,105<ref name="paris_pop_2009">{{Fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://www.recensement.insee.fr/chiffresCles.action?codeMessage=5&plusieursReponses=true&zoneSearchField=PARIS&codeZone=75056-COM&idTheme=3&rechercher=Rechercher|title=Commune : Paris (75056) – Thème : Évolution et structure de la population|author=[[INSEE|Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques]]|accessdate=2012-07-03}}</ref> and a [[Metropolitan Area (France)|metropolitan]] population of 12,161,542,<ref name="paris_AU10_pop">{{cite web
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'''France''' is a country located in Western [[Europe]]. Clockwise from the north, France borders [[Belgium]], [[Luxembourg]] and [[Germany]] to the northeast, [[Switzerland]] to the east, [[Italy]] to the south-east and [[Spain]] to the south-west, across the Pyrenees mountain range (the small country of [[Andorra]] lies in between the two countries). The Mediterranean Sea lies to the south of France, with the [[Monaco|Principality of Monaco]] forming a small enclave. To the west, France has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline, while to the north lies the English Channel, across which lies the last of France's neighbours, [[England]] (part of the [[United Kingdom]]).
|url=http://www.recensement.insee.fr/chiffresCles.action?zoneSearchField=PARIS&codeZone=001-AU2010&idTheme=3
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|title=Aire urbaine 2010 : Paris (001)
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|publisher=Insee
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|language=French
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|accessdate=2012-07-03}}</ref> and is one of the [[Largest population centres in the European Union|most populated metropolitan areas]] in [[Europe]].<ref name="metropolitan_areas">{{cite web|url=http://www.world-gazetteer.com/wg.php?x=&men=gcis&lng=en&dat=32&srt=pnan&col=aohdq&va=&pt=a|title=World Metropolitan Areas|author=Stefan Helders, World Gazetteer|accessdate=2007-01-18}}</ref> Paris was the largest city in the Western world for about 1,000 years, prior to the 19th century, and may have been the largest in the entire world between the 16th and 19th centuries.<ref>Josef Gugler, World cities beyond the West: globalization, development, and inequality, 2004 (p. 396)</ref><ref>Frederick Converse Beach, George Edwin Rines, The Americana, Volume 16, 1912.</ref><ref>Frannie Léautier, World Bank, Cities in a globalizing world: governance, performance, and sustainability, 2006. (p. 115)</ref>
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Paris is today one of the world's leading [[business]] and [[culture|cultural]] centres, and its influences in [[politics]], [[education]], [[entertainment]], [[mass media|media]], [[fashion]], [[science]], and the [[arts]] all contribute to its status as one of the world's major [[global city|global cities]].<ref name="GaWC">{{cite web|url=http://www.lboro.ac.uk/gawc/world2010t.html|title=The World According to GaWC 2010|author=Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) Study Group and Network, [[Loughborough University]]|accessdate=2010-04-19}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.ukmediacentre.pwc.com/content/detail.aspx?releaseid=3421&newsareaid=2 |title=PricewaterhouseCoopers Media Centre – Emerging market city economies set to rise rapidly in global GDP rankings says PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP |publisher=Ukmediacentre.pwc.com |date=2009-11-02 |accessdate=2012-06-26}}</ref><ref name="mori-m-foundation.or.jp">{{cite web|url=http://www.mori-m-foundation.or.jp/english/research/project/6/pdf/GPCI2009_English.pdf |title=Global Power City Index 2009 |format=PDF |date= |accessdate=2011-09-25}}</ref><ref name="http://www.knightfrank.com/wealthreport/">{{cite web|url=http://www.knightfrank.com/wealthreport/ |title=The Wealth Report 2010 |publisher=Knight Frank |date= |accessdate=2012-06-26}}</ref> It hosts the headquarters of many international organizations such as [[UNESCO]], the [[Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development|OECD]], the [[International Chamber of Commerce]] or the [[European Space Agency]]. Paris is considered one of the greenest<ref name="http://www.citymayors.com/environment/greenest-cities-europe.html">{{cite web|url=http://www.citymayors.com/environment/greenest-cities-europe.html |title=Greenest cities in Europe |publisher=Citymayors.com |date=2010-03-03 |accessdate=2012-06-26}}</ref> and [[World's most livable cities|most liveable]]<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.monocle.com/specials/35_cities/ |title=Monocle, Issue June 2010 |publisher=Monocle.com |date=2010-03-26 |accessdate=2011-09-25}}</ref> cities in Europe. It is also one of [[list of most expensive cities for expatriate employees|the most expensive]].<ref>{{cite web|author=Gulliver Business travel |url=http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2011/07/worldwide-cost-living |title=Worldwide Cost of Living: The expenses of Japan |publisher=The Economist |date= |accessdate=2012-06-26}}</ref><ref name="ECA International Cost of Living 2010 press release">{{cite web|url=http://www.eca-international.com/showpressrelease.aspx?ArticleID=7184 |title=Singapore is 9th most expensive location in Asia to live |publisher=ECA International |date=2010-06-14 |accessdate=2012-06-26}}</ref>
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France has been the world's most popular tourist destination for over twenty years (81.9 million in 2007) and it's geographically one of the most diverse countries in Europe. Its cities contain some of the greatest treasures in Europe, its countryside is prosperous and well tended and it boasts dozens of major tourist attractions, like [[Paris]], the [[French Riviera]], the Atlantic beaches, the winter sport resorts of the [[French Alps]], the castles of the [[Loire Valley]], [[Brittany]] and [[Normandy]]. The country is renowned for its gastronomy (particularly wines and cheeses), history, culture and fashion.
  
Paris and the [[Île-de-France (region)|Paris Region]], with €572.4&nbsp;billion (US$759.9 billion) in 2010, produce more than a quarter of the [[gross domestic product]] of France.<ref name=Paris_GDP>{{Fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://insee.fr/fr/ppp/bases-de-donnees/donnees-detaillees/pib-va-reg-base-2005/pib-va-reg-pib-base-2005.xls|title=Produits Intérieurs Bruts Régionaux (PIBR) en valeur en millions d'euros|author=Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques|format=XLS|accessdate=2012-07-03}}</ref> According to 2008 estimates, the Paris agglomeration is Europe's biggest<ref>According to [http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&language=en&pcode=tgs00004&plugin=1 Eurostat] : 490,946 million PPS for Île-de-France ; 376,451 million PPS for Greater London (Inner and Outer London)</ref> or second biggest<ref>According to [http://www.ukmediacentre.pwc.com/imagelibrary/downloadMedia.ashx?MediaDetailsID=1562 PricewaterhouseCoopers] : 565 $BN for London ; 564 $BN for Paris</ref> city economy and the sixth largest in the world.<ref>According to [http://www.ukmediacentre.pwc.com/imagelibrary/downloadMedia.ashx?MediaDetailsID=1562 PricewaterhouseCoopers]</ref> The Paris region is the first in Europe in terms of research and development capability and expenditure<ref name="Paris Region Key Figures"/> and through its 17 universities and 55 [[grandes écoles]] has the highest concentration of higher education students in the European Union.<ref name="Paris Region Key Figures">{{cite web |url=http://www.paris-iledefrance.cci.fr/images/publications/pdf/chiffres_cles_en/2011/chiffres_cles_en_2011_complet.pdf |title=Paris Region Key Figures |author=Martine Delassus, Florence Humbert, Christine Tarquis, Julie Veaute |date=February 2011 |work= |publisher=Paris Region Economic Development Agency |accessdate=2011-07-21}} (PDF file)</ref> With about 42 million tourists annually in the city and its suburbs,<ref name="Paris Region Key Figures" /> Paris is the [[Tourism#Most-visited cities by international tourist arrivals|most visited city]] in the world. The city and its region contain 3,800 [[Monument historique|historical monuments]] and four [[World Heritage Site|UNESCO World Heritage Sites]].<ref name="Paris Region Key Figures"/>
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==Understand==
{{TOC limit|limit=2}}
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==Etymology==
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''"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye."'' <small>&mdash; Antoine de Saint Exupéry, from ''The Little Prince''</small>
The name ''Paris'' derives from that of its earliest inhabitants, the [[Gaul]]ish tribe known as the ''[[Parisii (France)|Parisii]]''. The city was called ''[[Lutetia]]'' (more fully, ''Lutetia Parisiorum'', "Lutetia of the Parisii"), during the Roman era of the 1st to the 6th century, but during the reign of [[Julian the Apostate]] (360–363), the city was renamed Paris.<ref>[http://en.parisinfo.com/museums-monuments-paris/special-reports-1/paris-through-the-ages/guide/paris-through-the-ages_the-city-of-antiquity The City of Antiquity], official history of Paris by The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau</ref>
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It is believed that the name of the ''Parisii'' tribe comes from the Celtic Gallic word ''parisio'' meaning "the working people" or "the craftsmen."<ref name="paris_dottin">{{Fr icon}} {{cite book|title=La Langue Gauloise : Grammaire, Textes et Glossaire|author=Georges Dottin|location=Paris|publisher=C. Klincksieck|year=1920|id=isbn = 2051002088}}</ref>
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===Climate===
  
Paris has many nicknames, but its most famous is "La Ville-Lumière" ("The City of Light"),<ref>{{cite web|url = http://www.paris.fr/portail/english/Portal.lut?page_id=8125|title= English Version of "Presentation of the City"|accessdate=2009-04-30}}</ref> a name it owes first to its fame as a centre of education and ideas during the [[Age of Enlightenment]], and later to its early adoption of [[street light]]ing.<ref>It is unlikely that Paris' modern appellation of ''Ville Lumière'' was given to the capital of France because it was a centre of education, ideas and culture, as it had been such a centre since the Middle Ages. It is more likely, however, that, aside from the apparition of street lighting at night, Paris became known as ''Ville Lumière'' in the second half of the 19th century, when baron Haussmann, who had been put in charge by emperor Napoléon III of the drastic transformation of Paris into a modern city, tore down whole ''quartiers'' of houses & narrow streets dating back to the Middle Ages, and opened large avenues which let light (''lumière'') come into the former medieval city.</ref> Since the mid-19th century, Paris has been known as ''Paname''<ref name="linguistik-online1">{{cite web|url=http://www.linguistik-online.com/25_05/abecassis.html |title=M. Abecassis: French of the present and the past: the representation of the Parisian vernacular in Maurice Chevalier's songs |publisher=Linguistik-online.com |accessdate=2010-06-15}}</ref> ({{IPA|[panam]}}) in the Parisian [[slang]] called [[argot]] ([[File:ltspkr.png]] [[Media:Fr-moi-jsuis-dPaname.ogg|''Moi j'suis d'Paname'']], i.e. "I'm from Paname"). The singer [[Renaud]] repopularized the term amongst the young generation<ref name="linguistik-online1"/> with his 1976 album ''[[Amoureux de Paname]]'' ("In love with Paname").
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A lot of variety, but temperate winters and mild summers on most of the territory, and especially in [[Paris]]. Mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean and in the southwest (the latter has lots of rain in winter). Mild winters (with lots of rain) and cool summers in the northwest ([[Brittany]]). Cool to cold winters and hot summer along the German border ([[Alsace]]). Along the [[Rhône Valley]], occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as the ''mistral''.  
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Cold winters with lots of the snow in the Mountainous regions: Alps, Pyrenees, Auvergne.
  
Paris' inhabitants are known in English as "Parisians" and in French as ''Parisiens'' ({{IPA-fr|paʁizjɛ̃||Parisien2.ogg}}). Parisians are often pejoratively called ''Parigots'' ({{IPA-fr|paʁiɡo||Parigot.ogg}}), a term first used in 1900<ref>Dictionnaire de la langue française, ''Larousse étymologique'', Librairie Larousse, Paris, 1971, p. 535</ref> by those living outside the Paris region<!-- word was more likely created by Parisians of the lower popular class who spoke * argot* , then * parigot* was used in a pejorative manner outside the Parisian region & throughout France to mean Parisians in general/FW-->.
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===Terrain===
  
:''See [[wikt:Paris#Translations|Wiktionary]] for the name of Paris in various languages other than English and French.''
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Mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially [[Pyrenees]] in south west, [[Vosges]] , [[Jura (France)|Jura]] and [[Alps]] in east, Massif Central in the mid south.
  
==History==
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===When to travel===
{{Main|History of Paris}}
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[[File:Romanbathparis.jpg|thumb|left|The Gallo-Roman baths [[Thermes de Cluny]] at the [[Musée de Cluny]], in Paris's [[Latin Quarter, Paris|Latin Quarter]].]]
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If possible, try to avoid French school holidays and Easter, hotels are very likely to be overbooked and road traffic awful.
  
===Origins===
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In 2010/2011, holidays are as follows:
  
The earliest archaeological signs of permanent settlements in the Paris area date from around 4200&nbsp;BC.<ref name="roman_chronology">{{cite web|url=http://www.paris.culture.fr/en/ow_chrono.htm|author=Mairie de Paris|title=Paris, Roman City – Chronology|accessdate=2006-07-16}}</ref> The ''[[Parisii (Gaul)|Parisii]]'', a sub-tribe of the [[Celt]]ic [[Senones]], inhabited the area near the river [[Seine]] from around 250 BC.<ref>{{cite book |title= Les premiers habitants de l'Europe at 133|last=  Arbois de
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* autumn: Oct 23-Nov 3
Jubainville|first= Henry|coauthors= Georges Dottin|year= 1889|publisher= E. Thorin|url= http://books.google.com/books?id=QSIDAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA132&lpg=RA1-PA132&dq=quarisii&source=web&ots=wLcrNZxpYd&sig=gN0tGAFAJ6Vgu79BXAZq83KefXY&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=8&ct=result#PRA1-PA132,M1}}</ref><ref name=bcunliffe2004i>{{cite book|last=Cunliffe|first=Barry|title=Iron Age communities in Britain : an account of England, Scotland and Wales from the seventh century BC until the Roman conquest|year=2004|publisher=Routledge|location=London|isbn=978-0-415-34779-2|url=http://books.google.fr/books?id=3lkEgdtOvGEC&pg=PA201&lpg=PA201&dq=Iron+Age+Communities+in+Britain&source=bl&ots=GaeQfeOmOY&sig=dt0IcEaPCBSKLcsDYmu9QVCh5y4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=X1QpT8SNOsTR8gP35oSxAw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false|edition=4th ed.}}</ref>  The [[Roman Empire|Romans]] conquered the Paris basin in 52&nbsp;BC,<ref name="roman_chronology" /> with a permanent settlement by the end of the same century on the [[Rive Gauche|Left Bank]] [[Montagne Sainte-Geneviève|Sainte Geneviève Hill]] and the [[Île de la Cité]]. The [[Gallo-Roman]] town was originally called [[Lutetia]], or Lutetia Parisorum but later Gallicised to ''Lutèce''. It expanded greatly over the following centuries, becoming a prosperous city with a forum, palaces, baths, temples, theatres, and an amphitheatre.<ref name="roman_city">{{cite web|url=http://www.paris.culture.fr/en/|author=Mairie de Paris|title=Paris, Roman City – The City|accessdate=2006-07-16}}</ref>
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&nbsp;
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The collapse of the Roman empire and the 5th-century [[Migration Period|Germanic invasions]] sent the city into a period of decline. By AD&nbsp;400, ''Lutèce'', largely abandoned by its inhabitants, was little more than a garrison town entrenched into a hastily fortified central island.<ref name="roman_chronology" /> The city reclaimed its original appellation of "Paris" towards the end of the Roman occupation.
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* christmas: Dec 18-Jan 2 (not to be confused with winter holidays)
  
===Merovingian and Feudal Eras===
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* summer: Jul 2-Sep 2
  
The Paris region was under full control of the Germanic [[Franks]] by the late 5th century. The Frankish king [[Clovis I|Clovis the Frank]], the first king of the [[Merovingian]] dynasty, made the city his capital from 508. The late 8th century [[Carolingian dynasty]] displaced the Frankish capital to [[Aachen]]; this period coincided with the beginning of Viking invasions that had spread as far as Paris by the early 9th century.  
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* winter and spring holidays: search internet for [french school holidays], as they vary from region to region. Mostly, the winter holidays are from 10th february to 10th march. The spring holidays are from 10th April to 10th May. Winter gets very cold, sometimes freezing. Make sure to bring appropriate clothing to keep you warm while visiting.  
  
Repeated invasions forced Parisians to build a fortress on the [[Île de la Cité]]. One of the most remarkable Viking raids was on 28&nbsp;March 845, when Paris was sacked and held ransom, probably by [[Ragnar Lodbrok]], who left only after receiving a large bounty paid by the crown. The weakness of the late [[Carolingian]] [[King of France|kings of France]] led to the gradual rise in power of the Counts of Paris; [[Odo, Count of Paris]], was elected king of France by feudal lords, and the end of the Carolingian empire came in 987 when [[Hugh Capet]], count of Paris, was elected king of France. Paris, under the [[House of Capet|Capet]]ian kings, became a capital once more.
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Hotels are very likely to be overbooked and road traffic awful during the 1st may, 8th May, 11th november, Easter Weekend, Acsension weekend too.
  
===Middle Ages to 19th century===
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===History===
  
[[File:Chateau-de-Vincennes-donjon.jpg|thumb|right|The [[Château de Vincennes]], with its 52 m high keep, was built between the 14th and 17th century.]]
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France has been populated since the Neolithic period. The Dordogne region is especially rich in prehistoric caves, some used as habitation, others are temples with remarkable paintings of animals and hunters, like those found at [[Lascaux]].  
Paris's population was around 200,000<ref>[http://www1.american.edu/TED/bubonic.htm The Role of Trade in Transmitting the Black Death]. TED Case Studies.</ref> when the [[Black Death]] arrived in 1348, killing as many as 800 people a day; and 40,000 died from the plague in 1466.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Plague |title=Plague - 1911 Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica |publisher=1911encyclopedia.org |date=2010-11-18 |accessdate=2012-06-26}}</ref> During the 16th and 17th centuries, [[Plague (disease)|plague]] visited the city for almost one year out of three.<ref>Vanessa Harding (2002). "''[http://books.google.com/books?id=JCPXfSUlUV8C&pg=PA25&dq&hl=en#v=onepage&q=&f=false The dead and the living in Paris and London, 1500–1670.]''". P. 25. ISBN 0-521-81126-0.</ref> Paris lost its position as seat of the French realm during the occupation by the English-allied [[Duchy of Burgundy|Burgundians]] during the [[Hundred Years' War]], but regained its title when [[Charles&nbsp;VII of France]] reclaimed the city from English rule in 1436. Paris from then on became France's capital once again in title, but France's real centre of power would remain in the [[Loire Valley]]<ref>[http://www.cnn.com/2008/TRAVEL/getaways/03/07/loire.valley/index.html Loire Valley: Land of a thousand chateaux], CNN.com</ref> until [[Francis I of France|King Francis&nbsp;I]] returned France's crown residences to Paris in 1528.
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During the [[French Wars of Religion]], Paris was a stronghold of the [[Catholic League (French)|Catholic party]]. In August 1572, under the reign of [[Charles IX of France|Charles&nbsp;IX]], while many noble Protestants were in Paris on the occasion of the marriage of Henry of Navarre – the future [[Henry IV of France|Henry&nbsp;IV]] – to [[Margaret of Valois]], sister of Charles IX, the [[St.&nbsp;Bartholomew's Day massacre]] occurred; begun on 24&nbsp;August, it lasted several days and spread throughout the country.<ref>[http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/516821/Massacre-of-Saint-Bartholomews-Day Massacre of Saint Bartholomew's Day], Britannica Online Encyclopedia</ref><ref>[[François Bayrou|Bayrou, François]], ''Henri&nbsp;IV, le roi libre'', Flammarion, Paris, 1994, pp. 121–130, (French).</ref>
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'''Rise and fall of the Roman empire'''
  
In 1590 Henry IV unsuccessfully laid siege to the city in the [[Siege of Paris (1590)|Siege of Paris]]. During the [[Fronde]], Parisians rose in rebellion and the royal family fled the city (1648). King [[Louis XIV of France|Louis&nbsp;XIV]] then moved the royal court permanently to [[Palace of Versailles|Versailles]], a lavish estate on the outskirts of Paris, in 1682. A&nbsp;century later, Paris was the centre stage for the [[French Revolution]], with the [[Storming of the Bastille]] on 14&nbsp;July 1789 and the [[French Revolution|overthrow]] of the monarchy in September 1792.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.victorianweb.org/history/hist7.html|title=Consulted 29&nbsp;November 2008|publisher=The Victorian Web|date=2007-08-10|accessdate=2009-05-05}}</ref>
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Written History began in France with the invasion of the territory by the Romans, between 118 and 50 BC. Starting then, the territory which is today called France was part of the Roman Empire, and the Gauls (name given to local Celts by the Romans), who lived there before Roman invasions, became accultured "Gallo-romans".
  
===19th century===
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With the fall of the Roman empire, what was left were areas inhabited by descendants of intermarriages between gallo-romans and "barbaric" easterners (Mainly the Franks, but also other tribes like the "burgondes").
[[File:RéalisationsUrbaines2ndEmpire.jpg|thumb|right|Drilling of numerous streets under the [[French Second Empire|Second Empire]] and the [[third French Republic|Third Republic]].]]
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Paris was occupied by Russian and Allied armies upon [[Napoleon I|Napoleon]]'s defeat on the [[Six Days Campaign|31&nbsp;March 1814]]; this was the first time in 400 years that the city had been conquered by a foreign power.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://napoleonistyka.atspace.com/Paris_1814.htm|title=Battle of Paris 1814|publisher=Napoleonistyka.atspace.com|accessdate=2009-05-05}}</ref> The ensuing [[Bourbon Restoration|Restoration]] period, or the return of the monarchy under [[Louis XVIII of France|Louis XVIII]] (1814–1824) and [[Charles X of France|Charles&nbsp;X]], ended with the [[July Revolution]] Parisian uprising of 1830. The new 'constitutional monarchy' under [[Louis Philippe I|Louis-Philippe]] ended with the 1848 "[[French Revolution of 1848|February Revolution]]" that led to the creation of the [[French Second Republic|Second Republic]].
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Throughout these events, [[cholera]] epidemics in 1832 and 1849 ravaged the population of Paris; the 1832 epidemic alone claimed 20,000 of the population of 650,000.<ref name="cholera">{{cite web|url=http://www.amicale-genealogie.org/Histoires_temps-passe/Epidemies/chol01.htm|title=Le Cholera|author=Amicale Généalogie, La Petite Gazette Généalogique|accessdate=2006-04-10|language=French}}</ref>
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The legacy of the Roman presence is still visible, particularly in the southern part of the country where Roman circuses are still used for bullfights and rock and roll shows. Some of the main roads still follow the routes originally traced 2,000 years ago, and the urban organisation of many old town centres still transcript the ''cardo'' and the ''decumanus'' of the former Roman camp (especially [[Paris]]). The other main legacy was the Catholic Church which can be, arguably, considered as the only remnant of the civilization of that time
  
The greatest development in Paris's history began with the [[Industrial Revolution]] creation of a network of railways that brought an unprecedented flow of migrants to the capital from the 1840s. The city's largest transformation came with the 1852 [[French Second Empire|Second Empire]] under [[Napoleon&nbsp;III]]; his ''[[préfet]]'', [[Baron Haussmann]], [[Haussmann's renovation of Paris|levelled entire districts]] of Paris' narrow, winding medieval streets to create the network of wide avenues and neo-classical façades that still make up much of modern Paris; the reason for this transformation was twofold, as not only did the creation of wide boulevards beautify and sanitize the capital, it also facilitated the effectiveness of troops and artillery against any further uprisings and barricades for which Paris was so famous.<ref>Jones, Colin (2005) ''Paris: The Biography of a City'' (New York, NY: Penguin Viking), pp. 318–319.</ref>
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'''Middle-Ages'''
[[File:Flickr - …trialsanderrors - Tour Eiffel ^ Exposition Universelle, Paris, France, 1889.jpg|thumb|right|[[Exposition Universelle (1889)|The 1889 Universal Exposition]].]]
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The [[French Second Empire|Second Empire]] ended in the [[Franco-Prussian War]] (1870–1871), and a besieged Paris under heavy bombardment surrendered on 28 January 1871. The discontent of Paris' populace with the new armistice-signing government seated in [[Versailles (city)|Versailles]] resulted in the creation of the [[Paris Commune]] government, supported by an army created in large part of members of the city's former [[National Guard (France)|National Guard]] who would both continue resistance against the Prussians and oppose the army of the "Versaillais" government. The Paris Commune ended with the ''[[Paris Commune#La Semaine Sanglante|Semaine Sanglante]]'' ("Bloody Week"), during which roughly 20,000 "Communards" were executed before the fighting ended on 28 May 1871.<ref name="Anderson">In {{cite news|author=[[Benedict Anderson]]|title=In the World-Shadow of Bismarck and Nobel|publisher=[[New Left Review]]|date=July–August 2004|url=http://www.newleftreview.net/?view=2519}}: <blockquote> "In March 1871, the ''Commune'' took power in the abandoned city and held it for two months. Then Versailles seized the moment to attack and, in one horrifying week, executed roughly 20,000 Communards or suspected sympathizers, a number higher than those killed in the recent war or during [[Robespierre]]’s ‘[[Reign of Terror|Terror]]’ of 1793–94. More than 7,500 were jailed or deported to places like [[New Caledonia]]. Thousands of others fled to Belgium, England, Italy, Spain and the United States. In 1872, stringent laws were passed that ruled out all possibilities of organizing on the left. Not until 1880 was there a general amnesty for exiled and imprisoned ''Communards''. Meantime, the Third Republic found itself strong enough to renew and reinforce Napoleon III's imperialist expansion — in [[Indochina]], [[Africa]], and [[Oceania]]. Many of France’s leading intellectuals and artists had participated in the ''Commune'' ([[Gustave Courbet]] was its quasi-minister of culture, [[Arthur Rimbaud|Rimbaud]] and [[Pissarro]] were active propagandists) or were sympathetic to it. The ferocious repression of 1871 and after was probably the key factor in alienating these milieux from the Third Republic and stirring their sympathy for its victims at home and abroad." </blockquote></ref> The ease with which the ''Versaillais'' army overtook Paris owed much to Baron Haussmann's renovations.
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France's late 19th-century [[Paris Exposition (disambiguation)|Universal Expositions]] made Paris an increasingly important centre of technology, trade, and tourism.<ref name=Jones334>Jones, Colin (2005) ''Paris: The Biography of a City'' (New York, NY: Penguin Viking), p. 334.</ref> Its most famous were the [[Exposition Universelle (1889)|1889 ''Exposition universelle'']] to which Paris owes its "temporary" display of architectural engineering progess, the [[Eiffel Tower]], a structure that remained the world's tallest building until 1930; the [[Exposition Universelle (1900)|1900 Universal Exposition]] saw the opening of the first [[Paris Métro]] line.
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Clovis, who died in 511, is considered as the first French king although his realm was not much more than the area of the present Ile de France, around Paris. Charlemagne, who was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 800, was the first strong ruler. He united under his rule territories which extend today in Belgium, Germany and Italy. His capital was Aix-la-Chapelle (now in Germany, known as [[Aachen]]).
  
===20th century===
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The country was under attack by the Vikings who came from the north and navigated upstream the rivers to plunder the cities and abbeys, it was also under attack from the south by the Muslim Saracens who were established in Spain. The Vikings were given a part of the territory (today's Normandy) in 911 and melted fast in the Feudal system. The Saracens were stopped in 732 in [[Poitiers]] by Charles Martel, grand father of Charlemagne, a rather rough warrior who was later painted as a national hero.  
During [[World War I]], Paris was at the forefront of the war effort, having been spared a German invasion by the French and British victory at the [[First Battle of the Marne]] in 1914. In 1918–1919, it was the scene of [[Allies of World War I|Allied]] victory parades and peace negotiations. In the [[Interwar period|inter-war period]], Paris was famed for its cultural and artistic communities and its nightlife. The city became a gathering place of artists from around the world, from exiled Russian composer [[Igor Stravinsky|Stravinsky]] and Spanish painters [[Pablo Picasso|Picasso]] and [[Salvador Dalí|Dalí]] to American writer [[Ernest Hemingway|Hemingway]].<ref>Jones, Colin (2005) Paris: The Biography of a City (New York, NY: Penguin Viking), pp. 388–391</ref>
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[[File:Crowds of French patriots line the Champs Elysees-edit2.jpg|thumb|right|The [[Liberation of Paris]], August 1944.]]
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Starting with Charlemagne, a new society starts to settle, based on the personal links of feudalism. This era is named middle age. Although generally seen as an era of stagnation, it can more be described as a very complex mix of periods of economic and cultural developments (Music and poems of the Troubadours and Trouveres, building of the Romanantic, then Gothic cathedrals), and recessions due to pandemic disease and wars.
On 14 June 1940, five weeks after the start of the [[Battle of France]], an undefended Paris fell to German occupation forces. The Germans marched past the [[Arc de Triomphe]] on the 140th anniversary of [[Napoleon I|Napoleon]]'s victory at the [[Battle of Marengo]].<ref>{{cite book|last=Humphrys|first=Julian|title =BBC History magazine| publisher=Bristol Magazines Ltd|issn=1469-8552|month=June|year=2010}}</ref> German forces remained in Paris until [[Liberation of Paris|the city was liberated]] in August 1944 after a resistance uprising, two and a half months after the Normandy invasion.<ref name="overy">{{cite book|first=Richard|last=Overy|title=Why the Allies Won|pages=215–216|publisher=Pimlico|year=2006|isbn=1-84595-065-8}}</ref> Central Paris endured [[World War&nbsp;II]] practically unscathed, as there were no strategic targets for Allied bombers (train stations in central Paris are [[terminal station]]s; major factories were located in the suburbs). Also, German [[General von Choltitz]] did not destroy all Parisian monuments before any German retreat, as ordered by [[Adolf Hitler]], who had visited the city in 1940.<ref name="historynet">{{cite web|url=http://www.historynet.com/magazines/world_war_2/3031316.html|title=Dietrich von Choltitz: Saved of Paris From Destruction During World War II|accessdate=2007-11-17|first=Kelly|last=Bell|publisher=www.TheHistoryNet.com}}</ref>
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In the post-war era, Paris experienced its largest development since the end of the ''[[Belle Époque]]'' in 1914. The suburbs began to expand considerably, with the construction of large social estates known as ''cités'' and the beginning of the business district [[La Défense]]. A comprehensive express subway network, the [[RER]], was built to complement the Métro and serve the distant suburbs, while a network of freeways was developed in the suburbs, centred on the ''[[Périphérique (Paris)|Périphérique]]'' expressway encircling  the city.<ref>{{Fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://www.cndp.fr/revueTDC/913-81441.htm|title=La région parisienne en chantier|accessdate=2008-08-03|author=Émilie Willaert, professor of History and Geography}}{{dead link|date=February 2012}}</ref><ref>{{Fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://www.univ-mlv.fr/mastergu/Docs_IMO/Memimo_0304/Toulza.PDF|title=La conception du RER|accessdate=2008-08-03|author=Jérome Toulza, [[University of Marne la Vallée|Université de Marne-la-Vallée]]|format=PDF}} {{Dead link|date=September 2010|bot=H3llBot}}</ref><ref>{{cite news|url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3884/is_200603/ai_n17181949/pg_1?tag=artBody;col1|title=City infrastructures and city dwellers: Accommodating the automobile in twentieth-century Paris|accessdate=2008-08-03|author=Mathieu Flonneau|publisher=The Journal of Transport History | year=2006}}{{dead link|date=February 2012}}</ref>
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In 987, Hughes Capet was crowned as king of France ; he is the root of the royal families who later governed France. In 1154 much of the western part of France went under English rule with the wedding of Alienor d'Aquitaine to Henry II (Count of Anjou, born in the town of Le Mans). Some kings of the Plantagenet dynasty are still buried in France, the most famous being Richard I, of Walter Scott's fame, and his father Henry II, who lies in the Abbaye de Fontevraud. The struggle between the English and French kings between 1337 and 1435 is known as the Hundred Years War and the most famous figure, considered as a national heroine, is Joan of Arc.
  
Since the 1970s, many inner suburbs of Paris (especially the northern and eastern ones) have experienced [[deindustrialization]], and the once-thriving ''cités'' have gradually become ghettos for immigrants and experienced significant unemployment.<ref>{{Fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://www.univ-paris8.fr/sociologie/fichiers/sauvadet-journalparis8.pdf|title=Les jeunes de la cité – Processus de ghettoïsation et mode de socialisation|accessdate=2008-08-03|author=Thomas Sauvadet|publisher=[[Paris 8 University|Université Paris 8]]|format=PDF}}</ref><ref>{{Fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://fig-st-die.education.fr/actes/actes_2005/viellard-baron/article.htm|title=Les quartiers sensibles, entre disqualification visible et réseaux invisibles|accessdate=2008-08-03|author=Hervé Vieillard-Baron, professor at the [[Paris 8 University|Université Paris 8]]}}</ref> At the same time, the city of Paris (within its ''Périphérique'' expressway) and the western and southern suburbs have successfully shifted their economic base from traditional manufacturing to high-value-added services and high-tech manufacturing, generating great wealth for their residents whose per capita income is among the highest in Europe.<ref>{{Fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://www.journaldunet.com/solutions/0601/060116_prestas-hauts-de-seine-delaage.shtml|title=Roland de Laage (Devoteam) : "L'Ouest parisien, ce sont des départements technologiques à haute valeur ajoutée"|publisher=Journal du net|date = 16 January 2006|accessdate=2008-08-03}}</ref><ref>{{Fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://strates.revues.org/document1155.html|title=Une région parisienne à deux vitesses – L'accroissement des disparités spatiales dans l'Île-de-France des années 1980|author=Pierre Beckouche|publisher=Strates – Matériaux pour la recherche en sciences sociales|accessdate=2008-08-03}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page?_pageid=1996,39140985&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&screen=detailref&language=en&product=REF_TB_regional&root=REF_TB_regional/t_reg/t_reg_eco/tgs00026|title=Disposable income per NUTS level 2 regions in Europe|accessdate=2008-08-03|publisher=[[Eurostat]]}}</ref> The resulting widening social gap between these two areas has led to periodic unrest since the mid-1980s, such as the [[2005 civil unrest in France|2005 riots]] which were concentrated for the most part in the northeastern suburbs.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/4417096.stm|title=Special Report: Riots in France|date=2005-11-09|accessdate=2007-11-17|publisher=BBC News }}</ref>
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{{Infobox|Reading up|Before you leave you may want to read a book like ''French or Foe'' by Polly Platt or ''Almost French'' by Sarah Turnbull — interesting, well written records from English speaking persons who live in France. For the adult reader interested in the famous reputation enjoyed by Paris for romance and sensuality, try "SENSUAL PARIS: Sex, Seduction and Romance in the Sublime City of Light" by Jonathan LeBlanc Roberts}}
  
===21st century===
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'''The making of a modern state nation'''
[[File:Grand paris express.svg|thumb|right|Map of the future Grand Paris metro.]]
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A massive urban renewal project, the [[Grand Paris]] (''Greater Paris''), has been launched in 2007 by former French President [[Nicolas Sarkozy]].<ref name="Sarkozy20070917">{{cite speech |title=Inauguration de la Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine  |url=http://www.elysee.fr/president/les-actualites/discours/2007/inauguration-de-la-cite-de-l-architecture-et-du.8289.html?search=DISCOURS&xtmc=discours_2007_cite_architecture&xcr=2 |date=2007-09-17 |publisher=Presidency of the French Republic |accessdate=2011-10-28}}</ref> It consists of various economic, cultural, housing, transport and environmental projects to reach a better integration of the territories and revitalise the metropolitan economy. The most emblematic project is the construction by 2025 of a new automatic metro which will consist of 150 km rapid-transit lines connecting the Grand Paris regions to one another and to the centre of Paris.
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Nevertheless, the Paris metropolitan area is still divided into numerous territorial collectivities and their fusion into a more integrated metropolis government, although sometimes discussed<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.leparisien.fr/espace-premium/paris-75/bartolone-prone-la-fusion-des-departements-de-paris-et-de-la-petite-couronne-14-02-2012-1859556.php|title=SBartolone prône la fusion des départements de Paris et de la petite couronne|date=2012-02-14|accessdate=2012-06-13|publisher=Le Parisien}}</ref> is not on the agenda.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.lefigaro.fr/politique/2009/04/09/01002-20090409ARTFIG00352-grand-paris-sarkozy-ecarte-la-fusion-des-departements-.php|title=Grand Paris : Sarkozy écarte la fusion des départements|date=2009-04-09|accessdate=2012-06-13|publisher=Le Figaro}}</ref> An ad-hoc structure, ''Paris Métropole'', has however been established in June 2009 to coordinate the action of 184 "Parisian" territorial collectivities.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.parismetropole.fr/|title=Paris Métropole|accessdate=2012-06-13|publisher=Paris Métropole}}</ref>
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The beginning of the XVIth century saw the end of the feudal system and the emergence of France as a "modern" state with its border relatively close to the present ones (Alsace, Corsica, Savoy, the Nice region weren't yet French). Louis XIV who was king from 1643 to 1715 (72 years) was probably the most powerful monarch of his time. French influence extended deep in western Europe, its language was used in the European courts and its culture was exported all over Europe.
  
In an effort to boost the global economic image of metropolitan Paris, [[La Défense#Upcoming highrise buildings (2010–2016)|several skyscrapers]] ({{convert|300|m|ft|0|abbr=on}} and higher) have been approved since 2006 in the business district of [[La Défense]], to the west of the city proper, and are scheduled to be completed by the early 2010s. Paris authorities also stated publicly that they are planning to authorise the construction of skyscrapers within the city proper by relaxing the cap on building height for the first time since the construction of the [[Tour Montparnasse]] in the early 1970s.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2010/11/17/feu-vert-pour-les-grandes-tours-dans-paris_1441561_3244.html|title=Feu vert pour les grandes tours dans Paris|date=2010-11-18|accessdate=2012-06-13|publisher=Le Monde}}</ref>
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That era and the following century also saw the expansion of France on the other continents. This started a whole series of wars with the other colonial empires, mainly England (later Britain) and Spain over the control of North America.
  
==Geography==
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The French Revolution started in 1789, leading to the creation of the Republic. Although this period was also fertile in bloody excesses it was, and still is, a reference for many other liberation struggles.
[[File:Paris SPOT 1017.jpg|thumb|right|Paris as seen from the [[Spot Satellite]].]]
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{{Main|Topography of Paris}}
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Paris is located in the north-bending arc of the [[Seine|river Seine]] and includes two islands, the [[Île Saint-Louis]] and the larger [[Île de la Cité]], which form the oldest part of the city. Overall, the city is relatively flat, and the lowest point is {{convert|35|m|ft|0|abbr=on}} [[Above mean sea level|above sea level]]. Paris has several prominent hills, of which the highest is [[Montmartre]] at {{convert|130|m|ft|0|abbr=on}}.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.paris-walking-tours.com/montmartre.html|title=Montmartre|publisher=Paris-walking-tours.com|accessdate=2009-01-06}}</ref>
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Napoléon reunited the country but his militaristic ambition which, at first, made him the ruler of most of western Europe were finally his downfall. In 1815 he was defeated in [[Waterloo]] (Belgium) by an alliance of British and Prussian forces. He is still revered in some Eastern European countries as its armies and its government brought with them the thinkings of the French philosophers.
  
Excluding the outlying parks of [[Bois de Boulogne]] and [[Bois de Vincennes]], Paris covers an oval measuring {{convert|86.928|km2|sqmi|0|abbr=on}} in area.{{Citation needed|date=November 2007}} The city's last major annexation of outlying territories in 1860 not only gave it its modern form but also created the twenty clockwise-spiralling [[Arrondissements of Paris|arrondissements]] (municipal boroughs). From the 1860 area of {{convert|78|km2|sqmi|0|abbr=on}}, the city limits were expanded marginally to {{convert|86.9|km2|sqmi|0|abbr=on}} in the 1920s. In 1929, the [[Bois de Boulogne]] and [[Bois de Vincennes]] forest parks were officially annexed to the city, bringing its area to the present {{convert|105.39|km2|sqmi|0|abbr=on}}.<ref>{{cite web|author=Mairie de Paris|url=http://www.paris.fr/portail/english/Portal.lut?page_id=8125&document_type_id=5&document_id=29918&portlet_id=18748|title=Note: 100 ha.=1 km2|publisher=Paris.fr|date=2007-11-15|accessdate=2009-05-05}}</ref>
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France went back to monarchy and another revolution in 1848 which allowed a nephew of Napoleon to be elected president and then become emperor under the name of Napoléon III. The end of the XIX century was the start of the industrialization of the country, the development of the railways but also the start of the bitter wars with Prussia and later Germany.
  
===Climate===
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'''20th and 21st centuries'''
[[File:Pollution paris.jpg|thumb|right|[[Air pollution]] in the vicinity of Paris ([[France]]).]]
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Paris has the typical Western European [[oceanic climate]] which is affected by the [[North Atlantic Current]]. Over a year, Paris' climate can be described as mild and moderately wet.
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Summer days are usually warm and pleasant with average temperatures hovering between 15 and 25 °C, and a fair amount of sunshine. Each year, however, there are a few days where the temperature rises above {{convert|32|°C|0|abbr=on}}. Some years have even witnessed some long periods of harsh summer weather, such as the [[2003 European heat wave|heat wave of 2003]] where temperatures exceeded {{convert|30|°C|0|abbr=on}} for weeks, surged up to {{convert|40|°C|0|abbr=on}} on some days and seldom cooled down at night. More recently, the average temperature for July 2011 was +17.6 °C, with an average minimum temperature of 12.9 °C and an average maximum temperature of 23.7 °C.<ref name="http://www.meteorologic.net/">{{cite web|url=http://www.meteorologic.net/ |title=Météo gratuite, prévisions météo de Météorologic |publisher=Meteorologic.net |date= |accessdate=2012-06-26}}</ref>
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1905 saw the separation of the Church from the State. This was a traumatic process, especially in rural areas. The French state carefully avoids any religious recognition. Under a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy the law forbids French students and civil servants from displaying any sign explicitly showing their religion. This policy applies to wearing Christian crosses, and has recently been applied to the Muslim hijab (and has been copied in countries like Tunisia and Turkey). In the early 21st century, statistics for Church going and belief in God are among the lowest in Europe.
  
Spring and autumn have, on average, mild days and fresh nights, but are changing and unstable. Surprisingly warm or cool weather occurs frequently in both seasons.
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World War I (1914 -18) was a disaster for France, even though the country was ultimately a victor. A significant part of the male workforce had been killed and disabled and a large part of the country and industry destroyed. World War II (1939 - 45) also destroyed a number of areas.
  
In winter, sunshine is scarce; days are cold but generally above freezing with temperatures around {{convert|7|°C|0|abbr=on}}. Light night frosts are however quite common, but the temperature will dip below {{convert|-5|°C|0|abbr=on}} for only a few days a year. Snowfall is rare, but the city sometimes sees light snow or flurries with or without accumulation.
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Since the end of WWII France went through a period of reconstruction and prosperity came back with the development of industry. France and Germany were at the start of the Treaties which eventually became the European Union. One of the most visible consequence being the introduction in 2002 of the Euro (€), the common currency of sixteen European countries.
Recently, notably in 2009, 2010 and 2011, intense cold waves brought repeated heavy snowfalls ({{convert|15|cm|2|abbr=on}} during one of December 2010's fourteen snowstorms) and temperatures plummeting to {{convert|-10|°C|0|abbr=on}} and {{convert|-20|°C|0|abbr=on}} in the Paris suburbs.
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Rain falls throughout the year, and although Paris is not a very rainy city, it is known for heavy sudden showers. Average annual precipitation is {{convert|652|mm|in|1|abbr=on}} with light rainfall fairly distributed throughout the year. The highest recorded temperature is {{convert|40.4|°C|°F|0|abbr=on}} on 28 July 1948, and the lowest is a {{convert|-23.9|°C|°F|0|abbr=on}} on 10 December 1879.<ref name="climate">{{Fr icon}} {{cite web|
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In 2010, France is a republic with a President elected for a 5-year term. Some current main issues are the further integration of the country into the EU and the adoption of common standards for the economy, defense, and so on.
url=http://www.paris.fr/portail/accueil/Portal.lut?page_id=4946&document_type_id=5&document_id=3076&portlet_id=10579
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|title=Géographie de la capitale – Le climat
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|author=Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques
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|accessdate=2006-05-24}}</ref>
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=== Electricity ===
  
{{Weather box
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'''Electricity''' is supplied at 220 to 230V 50Hz. Outlets are CEE7/5 (protruding male earth pin) and accept either CEE 7/5 (Grounded), CEE 7/7 (Grounded) or CEE 7/16 (non-grounded) plugs. Older German-type CEE 7/4 plugs are not compatible as they do not accommodate the earth pin found on this type of outlet. However, most modern European appliances are fitted with the hybrid CEE 7/7 plug which fits both CEE 7/5 (Belgium & France) and CEE 7/4 (Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and most of Europe) outlets.
|location = Paris (1971–2000)
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|metric first = Y
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|single line = Y
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|Jan record high C = 16.1
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|Feb record high C = 21.4
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|Mar record high C = 25.7
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|Apr record high C = 30.2
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|May record high C = 34.8
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|Jun record high C = 37.6
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|Jul record high C = 40.4
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|Aug record high C = 39.5
+
|Sep record high C = 36.2
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|Oct record high C = 28.4
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|Nov record high C = 21
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|Dec record high C = 17.1
+
|year record high C = 40.4
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|Jan high C = 6.9
+
|Feb high C = 8.2
+
|Mar high C = 11.8
+
|Apr high C = 14.7
+
|May high C = 19.0
+
|Jun high C = 22.7
+
|Jul high C = 25.2
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|Aug high C = 25.0
+
|Sep high C = 20.8
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|Oct high C = 15.8
+
|Nov high C = 10.4
+
|Dec high C = 7.8
+
|year high C = 15.5
+
|Jan low C = 2.5
+
|Feb low C = 2.8
+
|Mar low C = 5.1
+
|Apr low C = 6.8
+
|May low C = 10.5
+
|Jun low C = 13.3
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|Jul low C = 15.5
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|Aug low C = 15.4
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|Sep low C = 12.5
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|Oct low C = 9.2
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|Nov low C = 5.3
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|Dec low C = 3.6
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|year low C = 8.5
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|Jan record low C = -14.6
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|Feb record low C = -14.7
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|Mar record low C = -9.1
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|Apr record low C = -3.5
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|May record low C = -0.1
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|Jun record low C = 3.1
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|Jul record low C = 6
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|Aug record low C = 6.3
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|Sep record low C = 1.8
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|Oct record low C = -3.1
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|Nov record low C = -14
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|Dec record low C = -23.9
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|year record low C = -23.9
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|Jan precipitation mm = 53.7
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|Feb precipitation mm = 43.7
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|Mar precipitation mm = 48.5
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|Apr precipitation mm = 53
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|May precipitation mm = 65
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|Jun precipitation mm = 54.6
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|Jul precipitation mm = 63.1
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|Aug precipitation mm = 43
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|Sep precipitation mm = 54.7
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|Oct precipitation mm = 59.7
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|Nov precipitation mm = 51.9
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|Dec precipitation mm = 58.7
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|year precipitation mm = 649.6
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|Jan precipitation days = 10.2
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|Feb precipitation days = 9.3
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|Mar precipitation days = 10.4
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|Apr precipitation days = 9.4
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|May precipitation days = 10.3
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|Jun precipitation days = 8.6
+
|Jul precipitation days = 8
+
|Aug precipitation days = 6.9
+
|Sep precipitation days = 8.5
+
|Oct precipitation days = 9.5
+
|Nov precipitation days = 9.7
+
|Dec precipitation days = 10.7
+
|Jan sun = 55.8
+
|Feb sun = 86.8
+
|Mar sun = 130.2
+
|Apr sun = 174.0
+
|May sun = 201.5
+
|Jun sun = 219.0
+
|Jul sun = 238.7
+
|Aug sun = 220.1
+
|Sep sun = 171.0
+
|Oct sun = 127.1
+
|Nov sun = 75.0
+
|Dec sun = 49.6
+
|year sun = 1630
+
|source 1 = [[Meteo France]]<ref>{{cite web
+
|url=http://climat.meteofrance.com/chgt_climat2/climat_france?CLIMAT_PORTLET.path=climatstationn%2F75114001 |title=Climatological Information for Paris, France|publisher=Meteo France|date=August 2011}}</ref>|date=August 2010}}
+
  
==Cityscape==
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'''Plugs''' Travellers from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and other countries using 230V 50Hz which use different plugs simply require a plug adaptor to use their appliances in France. Plug adaptors for plugs from the US and UK are available from electrical and "do-it-yourself" stores such as Bricorama.
{{wide image|Paris Night.jpg|800px|<center>Panoramic view over the western side of Paris, at dusk, from the top of the [[Tour Montparnasse]].</center>}}
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{{wide image|Tour Eiffel 360 Panorama.jpg|1800px|Panorama of Paris as seen from the [[Eiffel Tower]] as full 360-degree view.}}
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===Architecture===
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'''Voltage:''' Travellers from the US, Canada, Japan and other countries using 110V 60Hz may need a voltage converter. However, some laptops, mobile phone chargers and other devices can accept either 110V or 230V so only require a simple plug adaptor. Check the voltage rating plates on your appliances before connecting them.
{{See also|List of tallest buildings and structures in the Paris region|List of Domes in France}}
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[[File:Jean Béraud La Rue de la Paix.jpg|thumb|right|''La [[Rue de la Paix, Paris|rue de la Paix]]'', by [[Jean Béraud]] (1900).]]
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Much of contemporary Paris is the result of the vast [[Haussmann's renovation of Paris|mid-19th century urban remodelling]]. For centuries, the city had been a labyrinth of narrow streets and [[half-timber]] houses, but, beginning with [[Georges-Eugène Haussmann|Haussman]]'s advent, entire quarters were leveled to make way for wide avenues lined with neo-classical stone buildings of ''bourgeoisie'' standing. Most of this 'new' Paris is the Paris we see today.  
+
  
The building code has seen few changes since, and the [[French Second Empire|Second Empire]] plans are in many cases still followed. The "''alignement''" law is still in place, which regulates building façades of new constructions according to a pre-defined street width. A building's height is limited according to the width of the streets it borders, and under the regulation, it is difficult to get an approval to build a taller building.
+
==Regions==
  
Many of Paris' important institutions are located outside the city limits. The financial ([[La Défense]]) business district; the main food wholesale market ([[Marché d'Intérêt National de Rungis|Rungis]]); schools (''[[École Polytechnique]]''; [[École supérieure des sciences économiques et commerciales|ESSEC]]; [[INSEAD]]; [[HEC School of Management|HEC]]);  research laboratories (in [[Saclay]] or [[Évry, Essonne|Évry]]); the largest stadium (the ''[[Stade de France]]''), and the government offices (Ministry of Transportation) are located in the city's suburbs.
+
France is divided into 22 administrative regions, which themselves can be grouped into seven cultural regions:
  
[[File:Basilique du Sacré-Cœur IMG 1271.jpg|thumb|Montmartre. [[Basilique du Sacré-Cœur]]]]
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{{Regionlist
[[File:Place-de-la-concorde.jpg|thumb|The [[Place de la Concorde]].]]
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| regionmap=France-regions.png
[[File:Galerie Lafayette Haussmann Dome.jpg|thumb|[[Galeries Lafayette]] department store in [[boulevard Haussmann]] during [[Christmas]]]]
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| regionmaptext=Regions of France
 +
| regionmapsize=550px
  
===Districts and historical centres===
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| region1name=[[Île-de-France]]
{{Main|Paris districts}}
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| region1color=#dde58b
 +
| region1items=
 +
| region1description=The region surrounding the French capital, [[Paris]].
  
====City of Paris====
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| region2name=[[Northern France]]
 +
| region2color=#608860
 +
| region2items=[[Nord-Pas de Calais]], [[Picardy]], [[Normandy]]
 +
| region2description=A region where the world wars have left many scars.
  
* [[Place de la Bastille]] (4th, 11th and 12th arrondissements, right bank) is a district of great historical significance, for not just Paris, but also all of France. Because of its symbolic value, the square has often been a site of political demonstrations.
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| region3name=[[Northeastern France]]
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| region3color=#b383b3
 +
| region3items=[[Alsace]], [[Lorraine]], [[Champagne-Ardenne]], [[Franche-Comté]]
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| region3description=A region where wider European culture (and especially Germanic culture) has merged with the French, giving rise to interesting results.  
  
* [[Place de la Concorde]] (8th arrondissement, right bank) is at the foot of the Champs-Élysées, built as the "Place Louis XV", site of the infamous [[guillotine]]. The [[Luxor Obelisk|Egyptian obelisk]] is Paris' "oldest monument". On this place, on either side of the ''Rue Royale'', there are two identical stone buildings: The eastern one houses the French Naval Ministry, the western the luxurious ''[[Hôtel de Crillon]]''. Nearby [[Place Vendôme]] is famous for its fashionable and deluxe hotels ([[Hôtel Ritz Paris|Hôtel Ritz]] and [[Hôtel de Vendôme]]) and its jewellers. Many famous fashion designers have had their salons located here.
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| region4name=[[Great West]]
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| region4color=#c5995c
 +
| region4items=[[Brittany]], [[Pays de la Loire]]
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| region4description=An agriculture-based oceanic region with a culture greatly influenced by the ancient Celtic peoples.
  
* [[Champs-Élysées]] (8th arrondissement, right bank) is a 17th-century garden-promenade-turned-avenue connecting Place de la Concorde and ''[[Arc de Triomphe]]''. It is one of the many tourist attractions and a major shopping street of Paris.
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| region5name=[[Central France]]
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| region5color=#6698bb
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| region5items=[[Centre-Val de Loire]], [[Poitou-Charentes]], [[Burgundy]], [[Limousin]], [[Auvergne]]
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| region5description=A largely agricultural and vinicultural region, featuring river valleys, chateaux and historic towns.
  
* [[Les Halles]] (1st arrondissement, right bank) were formerly Paris' central meat and produce market, and, since the late 1970s, are a major shopping centre around an important [[Rapid transit|metro]] connection station (Châtelet – Les Halles, the biggest in the world). The old Halles were destroyed in 1971 and replaced by the [[Forum des Halles]]. The central market of Paris, the biggest wholesale food market in the world, was transferred to [[Marché d'Intérêt National de Rungis|Rungis]], in the southern suburbs.
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| region6name=[[Southwestern France]]
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| region6color=#a4c28d
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| region6items=[[Aquitaine]], [[Midi-Pyrenees]]
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| region6description=A region of sea and wine, with nice beaches over the Atlantic Ocean and young high mountains close to [[Spain]].  
  
* [[Le Marais]] (3rd and 4th arrondissements) is a trendy Right Bank district. It is architecturally very well-preserved, and some of the oldest houses and buildings of Paris can be found there. It is a very culturally open place. It is also known for its Chinese, Jewish and gay communities.
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| region7name=[[Southeastern France]]
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| region7color=#c8b7b7
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| region7items=[[Rhône-Alpes]], [[Languedoc-Roussillon]], [[Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur]], [[Corsica]]
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| region7description=The primary tourist region of the country outside of Paris, with a warm climate and azure sea, contrasting with the mountainous French Alps.
  
* [[Avenue Montaigne]] (8th arrondissement), next to the Champs-Élysées, is home to luxury brand labels such as [[Chanel]], [[Louis Vuitton]] ([[LVMH]]), [[Christian Dior|Dior]] and [[Givenchy]].
+
}}
  
* [[Montmartre]] (18th arrondissement, right bank) is a historic area on the Butte, home to the [[Basilica of the Sacré Cœur|Basilique du Sacré-Cœur]]. Montmartre has always had a history with artists and has many studios and cafés of many great artists in that area.
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[[Image:Chateau de Chantilly garden.jpg|thumb|Chantilly gardens, Paris, Île-de-France]]
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[[Image:Stjosephs.JPG|thumb|St Joseph's Church by August Peret, Le Havre, Normandy, Northern France]]
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[[Image:LeHavreHoteldeVille.JPG|thumb|Hotel de Ville decorated to celebrate its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Le Havre, Normandy, Northern France]]
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[[Image:Lille-Place-du-General-de-Gaulle.jpg|thumb|Place du General de Gaulle, Lille, Nord-Pas de Calais, Northern France]]
  
* [[Montparnasse]] (14th arrondissement) is a historic Left Bank area famous for artists' studios, music halls, and café life. The large [[Montparnasse - Bienvenüe (Paris Métro)|Montparnasse – Bienvenüe]] ''[[Paris Métro|métro]]'' station and the lone [[Tour Montparnasse]] [[skyscraper]] are located there.
+
Each administrative region is divided into a number of '''departments'''. Each department is allocated a 2 digit number. This number forms the first 2 digits of the 5 digit French postcode.
 +
 
 +
===Overseas departments===
  
* [[Avenue de l'Opéra]] (9th arrondissement, right bank) is the area around the [[Opéra Garnier]] and the location of the capital's densest concentration of both department stores and offices. A few examples are the [[Printemps]] and [[Galeries Lafayette]] ''grands magasins'' (department stores), and the Paris headquarters of financial giants such as [[BNP Paribas]] and [[American Express]].
+
*[[Guadeloupe]]
  
* [[Latin Quarter|Quartier Latin]] (5th and 6th arrondissements, left bank) is a 12th-century scholastic centre formerly stretching between the Left Bank's Place Maubert and the [[University of Paris|Sorbonne]] campus. It is known for its lively atmosphere and many [[bistro]]s. Various higher-education establishments, such as [[Sciences Po Paris]], the [[École Normale Supérieure]], [[Mines ParisTech]], and the [[Jussieu Campus|Jussieu university campus]], make it a major educational centre in Paris.
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*[[Martinique]]
  
* [[Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré|Faubourg Saint-Honoré]] (8th arrondissement, right bank) is one of Paris' high-fashion districts, home to labels such as [[Hermès]] and [[Christian Lacroix]].
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*[[Mayotte]] {{-}} has voted to become a departement, effective 1 January 2011
  
[[File:Champs Elysees Paris Wikimedia Commons.jpg|thumb|center|500px|[[Champs-Élysées|Avenue des Champs-Élysées]] during Christmas 2008]]
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*[[French Guiana]] (''Guyane Française'')
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*[[Reunion|Réunion]].
  
====In the Paris area====
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===Overseas territories===
  
* [[La Défense]] (straddling the [[Communes of France|communes]] of [[Courbevoie]], [[Puteaux]], and [[Nanterre]], {{convert|2.5|km|mi|0|abbr=on}} west of the city proper) is a [[Paris districts#Key Suburbs|key suburb]] of Paris and one of the largest business centres in the world. Built at the western end of a westward extension of Paris' historical axis from the [[Champs-Élysées]], La Défense consists mainly of business high-rises. Initiated by the French government in 1958, the district hosts {{convert|3500000|m2|sqft|0|abbr=on}} of offices, making it the largest district in Europe developed specifically for business. The [[Grande Arche]] (Great Arch) of la Défense, housing a part of the French Transports Minister's headquarters, ends at the central Esplanade, around which the district is organised.
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*[[French Polynesia]] (''Tahiti'') {{-}} post-card tropical islands in Oceania
  
[[File:Val de Seine.jpg|thumb|300px|right|[[Val de Seine]].]]
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*[[New Caledonia]] (''Nouvelle Caledonie'') {{-}} long-shaped island in Oceania
* [[:fr:La Plaine Saint-Denis|Plaine Saint-Denis]] (straddling the communes of [[Saint-Denis]], [[Aubervilliers]], and [[Saint-Ouen, Seine-Saint-Denis|Saint-Ouen]], immediately north of the [[XVIIIe arrondissement|18th arrondissement]], across the ''[[Périphérique (Paris)|Périphérique]]'' ring road) is a former derelict manufacturing area that has undergone large-scale urban renewal in the last 10&nbsp;years. It now hosts the [[Stade de France]], around which is being built the new business district of LandyFrance<!-- do not detach these two words; that's the correct spelling -->, with two [[RER]] stations (on RER lines [[RER B|B]] and [[RER D|D]]) and possibly some skyscrapers. In the Plaine Saint-Denis are also located most of France's [[television studio]]s as well as some major movie studios.
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* [[Val de Seine]] (straddling the [[15th arrondissement of Paris|15th arrondissement]] and the communes of [[Issy-les-Moulineaux]] and [[Boulogne-Billancourt]] to the southwest of central Paris) is the new media hub of Paris and France, hosting the headquarters of most of France's TV networks ([[TF1]] in Boulogne-Billancourt, [[France 2]] in the 15th arrondissement, [[Canal+]] and the international channels [[France 24]] and [[Eurosport]] in Issy-les-Moulineaux), as well as several telecommunication and [[Information technology|IT]] companies such as [[Neuf Cegetel]] in Boulogne-Billancourt or [[Microsoft]]'s Europe, Africa & Middle East regional headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux.
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*[[Saint-Pierre and Miquelon]] (''Saint Pierre et Miquelon'') {{-}} small islands off the Canadian coast
  
===Monuments and landmarks===
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*[[Wallis and Futuna]] {{-}}
{{Main|List of visitor attractions in Paris}}
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Three of the most famous Parisian landmarks are the 12th-century [[cathedral]] [[Notre Dame de Paris]] on the [[Île de la Cité]], the [[Napoleon I of France|Napoleonic]] [[Arc de Triomphe]] and the 19th-century [[Eiffel Tower]]. The Eiffel Tower was a "temporary" construction by [[Gustave Eiffel]] for the 1889 [[Expo (exhibition)|Universal Exposition]], but the tower was never dismantled and is now an enduring symbol of Paris. The [[Axe historique|Historical axis]] is a line of monuments, buildings, and thoroughfares that run in a roughly straight line from the city-centre westwards.
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The following overseas territories are remote possessions kept as natural reservations:
  
The line of monuments begins with the [[Louvre]] and continues through the [[Tuileries Palace|Tuileries Gardens]], the [[Champs-Élysées]], and the [[Arc de Triomphe]], centred in the [[Place de l'Étoile]] circus. From the 1960s, the line was prolonged even farther west to the [[La Défense]] business district dominated by a square-shaped triumphal [[Grande Arche]] of its own; this district hosts most of the [[List of tallest buildings and structures in the Paris region|tallest skyscrapers]] in the Paris urban area. The [[Les Invalides|Invalides]] museum is the burial place for many great French soldiers, including [[Napoleon I of France|Napoleon]]; and the [[Panthéon (Paris)|Panthéon]] church is where many of France's illustrious men and women are buried.
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*[[French Southern and Antarctic territories]] (''Terres Antarctiques et Australes Françaises'', or ''TAAF''), consisting of Terre Adélie in Antarctica and some islands in the Indian Ocean
  
The former [[Conciergerie]] prison held some prominent ''[[Ancien Régime]]'' members before their deaths during the [[French Revolution]]. Another symbol of the Revolution are the two [[Replicas of the Statue of Liberty|Statues of Liberty]] located on the [[Île aux Cygnes]] on the Seine and in the [[Jardin du Luxembourg|Luxembourg Garden]]. A larger version of the statues was sent as a gift from France to [[United States|America]] in 1886 and now stands in [[New York City]]'s harbour.
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*Scattered Islands of the Indian Ocean (''Iles Eparses''): [[Europa Island]], [[Bassas da India]], [[Juan de Nova Island]], [[Glorioso Islands]] (''Glorieuses'')
  
The [[Palais Garnier]], built in the later [[Second French Empire|Second Empire]] period, houses the Paris Opéra and the [[Paris Opera Ballet]], while the former palace of the [[Louvre]] now houses one of the most renowned museums in the world. The [[Sorbonne]] is the most famous part of the [[University of Paris]] and is based in the centre of the [[Latin Quarter, Paris|Latin Quarter]]. Apart from Notre Dame de Paris, there are several other ecclesiastical masterpieces, including the Gothic 13th-century [[Sainte-Chapelle]] palace chapel and the [[Église de la Madeleine]].
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*[[Clipperton Island]]
  
[[File:Pont des Arts Wikimedia Commons.jpg|thumbnail|center|600px|Panorama of Paris which shows some of its landmarks]]
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A very limited form of tourism is available in the TAAF islands.
  
===Parks and gardens===
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==Cities==
{{Main|List of parks and gardens in Paris}}
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[[File:Palais Luxembourg Sunset Edit.JPG|thumb|right|[[Jardin du Luxembourg]].]]
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Two of Paris' oldest and famous gardens are the [[Tuileries Garden]], created in the 16th century for a palace on the banks of the [[Seine]] near the [[Louvre]], and the [[Rive Gauche|Left bank]] [[Luxembourg Garden]], another former private garden belonging to a château built for [[Marie de' Medici]] in 1612. The [[Jardin des Plantes]], created by [[Louis XIII]]'s doctor [[Guy de La Brosse]] for the cultivation of medicinal plants, was Paris' first public garden.
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A few of Paris' other large gardens are [[Second French Empire|Second Empire]] creations: The former suburban parks of [[Montsouris]], [[Parc des Buttes Chaumont]], and [[Parc Monceau]] (formerly known as the "folie de Chartres") are creations of [[Napoleon III of France|Napoleon III]]'s engineer [[Jean-Charles Alphand]]. Another project executed under the orders of [[Baron Haussmann]] was the re-sculpting of Paris' western [[Bois de Boulogne]] forest-parklands; the [[Bois de Vincennes]], on the city's opposite eastern end, received a similar treatment in years following.
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<!-- Please keep this list to just 9 cities!! If you disagree with any of these, please discuss first on the Talk page -->
  
Newer additions to Paris' park landscape are the [[Parc de la Villette]], built by the architect [[Bernard Tschumi]] on the location of Paris' former [[slaughterhouse]]s; the [[Parc André Citroën]], and gardens being laid to the periphery along the traces of its former circular "[[Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture|Petite Ceinture]]" railway line: [[Promenade Plantée]].
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France has numerous cities of interest to travelers, below is a list of '''nine''' of the most notable:
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* [[Paris]] the "City of Light", romance and the Eiffel Tower
  
===Water and sanitation===
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* [[Bordeaux]] — city of wine, traditional stone mansions and smart terraces
[[File:Sena 2010.JPG|thumb|right|A view of the Seine from the [[Pont Neuf]].]]
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Paris in its early history had only the [[Seine]] and [[Bièvre (river)|Bièvre]] rivers for water. Later forms of irrigation were a 1st-century Roman aqueduct from southerly Wissous (later left to ruin); sources from the Right bank hills from the late 11th century; from the 15th century, an [[aqueduct]] built roughly along the path of the abandoned Wissous aqueduct; also, from 1809, the [[canal de l'Ourcq]], providing Paris with water from less-polluted rivers to the northeast of the [[Capital (political)|capital]], and "God's Tears", a bi-annual rainstorm, which stopped in the early 20th century as a natural phenomenon. Paris would have its first constant and plentiful source of drinkable water only from the late 19th century.
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[[File:Canal Saint-Martin 110.jpg|thumb|right|[[Canal Saint-Martin]].]]
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* [[Bourges]] — gardens, canals and a cathedral listed as a UNESCO heritage site
From 1857, the civil engineer [[Eugène Belgrand]], under [[Napoleon III of France|Napoleon&nbsp;III]]'s [[Préfet]] [[Baron Haussmann|Haussmann]], oversaw the construction of a series of new aqueducts that brought water from locations all around the city to several reservoirs built atop the Capital's highest points of elevation. From then on, the new reservoir system became Paris' principal source of drinking water, and the remains of the old system, pumped into lower levels of the same reservoirs, were from then on used for the cleaning of Paris' streets. This system is still a major part of Paris' modern water-supply network.
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Paris has over {{convert|2400|km|0|abbr=on}} of underground passageways<ref name="sewers">{{cite web|url=http://www.paris.fr/portail/Environnement/Portal.lut?page_id=1313&document_type_id=5&document_id=2158&portlet_id=3139|title=Les égouts parisiens|author=Mairie de Paris|accessdate=2006-05-15|language=French}}</ref> dedicated to the evacuation of Paris' liquid wastes. Most of these date from the late 19th century, a result of the combined plans of the [[Préfet]] [[Baron Haussmann]] and the civil engineer [[Eugène Belgrand]] to improve the then-very unsanitary conditions in the Capital. Maintained by a [[24/7|round-the-clock]] service since their construction, only a small percentage of Paris' sewer ''réseau'' has needed complete renovation.{{Citation needed|date=May 2010}}
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* [[Lille]] — a dynamic northern city known for its handsome centre and active cultural life
  
In 1982, then mayor [[Jacques Chirac]] introduced the motorcycle-mounted [[Motocrotte]] to remove [[dog]] [[faeces]] from Paris streets.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.cavi.univ-paris3.fr/fle/DUDLA_2001/GROUPE1/FRED/motocrottes.html |title=100 MOTOCROTTES! |publisher=Cavi.univ-paris3.fr |date= |accessdate=2012-06-26}}</ref> The project was abandoned in 2002 for a new and better enforced local law which now fines dog owners up to 500 [[euros]] for not removing their dog faeces. It was estimated at the time of their removal, that the fleet of 70 Motocrottes were cleaning up only 20% of dog faeces on Parisian street – at an annual cost of £3million.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/apr/12/worlddispatch.jonhenley|title=Merde most foul|work=The Guardian |location=UK |date=12 April 2002|accessdate=29 July 2010  | first=Jon | last=Henley}}</ref>
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* [[Lyon]] — France's second city with a history from Roman times to the Resistance
  
===Cemeteries===
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* [[Marseille]] — Third French city, big harbor and the heart of the Provence, hosting the European Capital of Culture in 2013
[[File:Catacombes De Paris.jpg|thumb|right|The [[Catacombs of Paris|Paris Catacombs]] hold the remains of approximately 6 million people.]]
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Paris' main cemetery was located to its outskirts on its [[Left Bank]] from the beginning of its history{{Citation needed|date=August 2008}}, but this changed with the rise of [[Catholicism]] and the construction of churches towards the city-centre, many of them having adjoining burial grounds for use by their parishes. Generations of a growing city population soon filled these cemeteries to overflowing, creating sometimes very unsanitary conditions.
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* [[Nantes]] the "Greenest City" and according to some the best place to live in Europe
  
Condemned from 1786, the contents of all Paris' parish cemeteries were transferred to a renovated section of Paris' then suburban stone mines outside the [[Left Bank]] "Porte d'Enfer" city gate (today [[14th arrondissement of Paris|14th arrondissement]]'s [[place Denfert-Rochereau]]). Part of this network of tunnels and remains can be visited today on the official tour of the Catacombs. After a tentative creation of several smaller suburban cemeteries, [[Napoleon I of France|Napoleon Bonaparte]] provided a more definitive solution in the creation of three massive Parisian cemeteries outside the city tax wall called the ''[[Wall of the Farmers-General]]''. Open from 1804, these were the cemeteries of [[Père Lachaise Cemetery|Père Lachaise]], [[Montmartre Cemetery|Montmartre]], [[Montparnasse Cemetery|Montparnasse]], and later [[Passy Cemetery|Passy]].
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* [[Strasbourg]] — famous for its historical centre, and home to many European institutions
  
When Paris annexed all communes to the inside of its much larger ring of suburban fortifications in 1860, its cemeteries were once again within its city walls. New suburban cemeteries were created in the early 20th century: The largest of these are the ''Cimetière Parisien de [[Saint-Ouen, Seine-Saint-Denis|Saint-Ouen]]'', the ''Cimetière Parisien de [[Bobigny]]-[[Pantin]]'', the ''Cimetière Parisien d'[[Ivry-sur-Seine|Ivry]]'', and the ''Cimetière Parisien de [[Bagneux, Hauts-de-Seine|Bagneux]]''.
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* [[Toulouse]] the "Pink City", for its distinctive brick architecture, main city of Occitania.
  
==Culture==
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==Other destinations==
{{Main|Culture of Paris}}
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===Entertainment and performing arts===
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<!-- Please keep this list to just 9 destinations -->
{{See also|List of films set in Paris}}
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[[File:Paris Opera full frontal architecture, May 2009.jpg|thumb|right|The [[Opéra Garnier]].]]
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The largest [[opera houses]] of Paris are the 19th century [[Opéra Garnier]] (historical [[Opéra National de Paris|Paris Opéra]]) and modern [[Opéra Bastille]]; the former tends towards the more classic ballets and operas, and the latter provides a mixed repertoire of classic and modern. In middle of 19th century, there were two other active and competing opera houses: [[Opéra-Comique]] (which still exists to this day) and [[Théâtre Lyrique]] (which in modern times changed its profile and name to [[Théâtre de la Ville]]).
+
* [[Camargue]] — one of Europe's largest river deltas and wetlands
  
Theatre traditionally has occupied a large place in Parisian culture. This still holds true today, and many of its most popular actors today are also stars of French television. Some of Paris' major theatres include [[Bobino]], [[Théâtre Mogador]], and the [[Théâtre de la Gaîté-Montparnasse]]. Some Parisian theatres have also doubled as concert halls. Many of France's greatest musical legends, such as [[Édith Piaf]], [[Maurice Chevalier]], [[Georges Brassens]], and [[Charles Aznavour]], found their fame in Parisian concert halls: Legendary yet still-showing examples of these are [[Le Lido]], [[Bobino]], [[l'Olympia]] and [[le Splendid]].
+
* [[Corsica]] the birthplace of Napoleon, a unique island with a distinct culture and language
  
The ''Élysées-Montmartre'', much reduced from its original size, is a concert hall today. The ''New Morning'' is one of few Parisian clubs still holding jazz concerts, but the same also specialises in "indie" music. In more recent times, the ''[[Le Zénith]]'' hall in Paris, [[Parc de la Villette|La Villette]] quarter and a "''parc-omnisports''" stadium in [[Bercy]] serve as large-scale rock concert halls.
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* [[Disneyland Paris]] — the most visited attraction in Europe
  
[[File:Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Le Moulin de la Galette.jpg|thumb|right|''[[Bal du moulin de la Galette|Dance at the Moulin de la Galette]]'', by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1876)]]
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* [[French Alps]] — home to the highest mountain in Western Europe, the Mont Blanc
Several yearly festivals take place in Paris, such as [[Rock en Seine]].
+
Parisians tend to share the same movie-going trends as many of the world's global cities, that is to say with a dominance of Hollywood-generated film entertainment. French cinema comes a close second, with major directors (''réalisateurs'') such as [[Claude Lelouch]], [[François Truffaut]], [[Jean-Luc Godard]], [[Claude Chabrol]], and [[Luc Besson]], and the more slapstick/popular genre with director [[Claude Zidi]] as an example. European and Asian films are also widely shown and appreciated. A specialty of Paris is its very large network of small movie theatres. In a given week, the movie fan has the choice between around 300 old or new movies from all over the world.
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Many of Paris' concert/dance halls were transformed into movie theatres when the media became popular beginning in the 1930s. Later, most of the largest cinemas were divided into multiple, smaller rooms: Paris' largest cinema today is by far ''[[le Grand Rex]]'' theatre with 2,800 seats, whereas other cinemas all have fewer than 1,000 seats. There is now a trend toward modern multiplexes that contain more than 10 or 20 screens.
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* [[French Riviera]] (''Côte d'Azur'') — Mediterranean coastline of France with plenty of upper class seaside resorts, yachts and golf courses
  
===Cuisine===
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* [[Loire Valley]] — the world-famous Loire Valley, best known for its wines and chateaux
[[File:Lesdeuxmagots.jpg|thumb|right|[[Les Deux Magots|Café Les Deux Magots]] in [[Saint-Germain-des-Prés]].]]
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{{See also|French Cuisine}}
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Paris' culinary reputation has its base in the diverse origins of its inhabitants. In its beginnings, it owed much to the 19th-century organisation of a railway system that had Paris as a centre, making the capital a focal point for immigration from France's many different regions and gastronomical cultures. This reputation continues through today in a cultural diversity that has since spread to a worldwide level thanks to Paris' continued reputation for culinary ''finesse'' and further immigration from increasingly distant climes.
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* [[Luberon]] — the stereotypical Provence of picturesque villages, ''joie de vivre'' and wine
  
Hotels were another result of widespread travel and [[tourism]], especially Paris' late-19th-century ''[[Expo (exhibition)|Expositions Universelles]]'' (World's Fairs). Of the most luxurious of these, the [[Hôtel Ritz Paris|Hôtel Ritz]] appeared in the [[Place Vendôme]] in 1898, and the [[Hôtel de Crillon]] opened its doors on the north side of the [[Place de la Concorde]], starting in 1909.
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* [[Mont Saint Michel]] — second most-visited sight in France, a monastery and town built on a tiny outcrop of rock in the sand, which is cut off from the mainland at high tide
  
===Tourism===
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* [[Verdon Gorge]] — beautiful river canyon in a turquoise-green color, great for kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing or just driving around the limestone cliffs
{{Infobox World Heritage Site
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|Name = Paris, Banks of the Seine
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|Image = [[File:DSC00733 Notre Dame Paris from east.jpg|250px]]
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|imagecaption = [[Notre Dame de Paris]] on the Île de la Cité, on the River Seine
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|State Party = France
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|Type = Cultural
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|Criteria = i, ii, iv
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|ID = 600
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|Region = [[List of World Heritage Sites in Europe|Europe and North America]]
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|Year = 1991
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}}
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{{Main|List of museums in Paris}}
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Since 1848, Paris has been a popular destination by rail network, with Paris at its centre. Among Paris' first mass attractions drawing international interest were the above-mentioned ''Expositions Universelles'' that were the origin of Paris' many monuments, namely the [[Eiffel Tower]] from 1889. These, in addition to the capital's [[French Second Empire|Second Empire]] embellishments, did much to make the city itself the attraction it is today.
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==Get in==
  
Paris receives around 28 million tourists per year<ref>{{cite web|url=http://asp.zone-secure.net/v2/index.jsp?id=1203/1515/14072&lng=fr |title=Le Tourisme à Paris – Chiffres clés 2010 |publisher=Asp.zone-secure.net |date= |accessdate=2011-09-15}}</ref>  (42 in the whole Paris Region),<ref name="Paris Region Key Figures" /> of which 17 million are foreign visitors.<ref>http://www.paris.fr/viewmultimediadocument?multimediadocument-id=33133</ref> Its museums and monuments are among its highest-esteemed attractions; tourism has motivated both the city and national governments to create new ones. The city's most prized museum, the [[Louvre]], welcomes over 8&nbsp;million visitors a year, being by far the world's most-visited art museum. The city's cathedrals are another main attraction: [[Notre Dame de Paris]] and the [[Basilique du Sacré-Coeur]] receive 12&nbsp;million and eight&nbsp;million visitors, respectively. The [[Eiffel Tower]], by far Paris' most famous monument, averages over six&nbsp;million visitors per year and more than 200&nbsp;million since its construction. [[Disneyland Paris]] is a major tourist attraction for visitors to not only Paris but also the rest of Europe, with 14.5&nbsp;million visitors in 2007.
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===Entry requirements===
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{{infobox|Minimum validity of travel documents|* EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, as well as non-EU citizens who are visa-exempt (e.g. New Zealanders and Australians), need only produce a passport which is valid for the entirety of their stay in France.
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* Other nationals who are required to have a visa (e.g. South Africans), however, must have a passport which has '''at least 3 months' validity''' beyond their period of stay in France in order for a Schengen visa to be granted.}}
  
The Louvre is one of the world's largest and most famous museums, housing many works of art, including the ''[[Mona Lisa]]'' (''La Joconde'') and the ''[[Venus de Milo]]'' statue. Works by [[Pablo Picasso]] and [[Auguste Rodin]] are found in ''[[Musée Picasso]]'' and ''[[Musée Rodin]]'', respectively, while the [[Montparnasse|artistic community of Montparnasse]] is chronicled at the ''[[Musée du Montparnasse]]''. Starkly apparent with its service-pipe exterior, the [[Centre Georges Pompidou]], also known as ''Beaubourg'', houses the ''[[Musée National d'Art Moderne]]''.
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[[Image:Mont Saint Michel near.jpg|thumb|View of Mont Saint Michel from the causeway carpark, Normandy, Northern France]]
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[[Image:Honfleur Lieutenance Vieux Bassin.jpg|thumb|Yachts moored in Honfleur, Normandy, Northern France]]
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<!--Image:Honfleur Sainte Catherine Church.jpg
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Image:Honfleur Bell Tower.jpg-->
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[[Image:Monet House.jpg|thumb|The French impressionist painter Claude Monet's house in Giverny, Normandy, Northern France]]
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[[Image:DSCF1730.JPG|thumb|Interior of Bayeux Cathedral, Normandy, Northern France]]
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[[Image:Oldtown strasbourg.jpg|thumb|Half-timbered facades in old town Strasbourg, Alsace, Northeastern France]]
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[[Image:450px-Reims Cathedral, exterior (5).jpg|thumb|The cathedral at Reims, Champagne-Ardenne, Northeastern France]]
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[[Image:1011352-01.jpg|thumb|The coast at Quiberon, Brittany]]
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[[Image:Republique.JPG|thumb|Place de la République in Rennes, Brittany]]
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[[Image:StMalo Harbor Boats.JPG|thumb|Boats in the harbour at St Malo, Brittany]]
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[[Image:DSC00137.JPG|thumb|Saumur, Pays de la Loire]]
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[[Image:Lemansoldcity.JPG|thumb|The main street of old city of Le Mans, Pays de la Loire]]
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[[Image:CathedralStJulien.JPG|thumb|The Saint-Julien Cathedral in Le Mans, Pays de la Loire]]
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[[Image:Porte St Michel bis.jpg|thumb|The Saint-Michel gate in Guerande, Pays de la Loire]]
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[[Image:Cathedrale nantes.jpg|thumb|Cathédrale Saint-Pierre in Nantes, Pays de la Loire]]
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{{Schengen}}
  
Art and artifacts from the [[Middle Ages]] and [[Impressionism|Impressionist]] eras are kept in ''[[Musée de Cluny]]'' and ''[[Musée d'Orsay]]'', respectively, the former with the prized tapestry cycle [[The Lady and the Unicorn]]. Paris' newest (and third-largest) museum, the ''Musée du quai Branly'', opened its doors in June 2006 and houses art from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.
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Citizens of Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Israel, Macedonia, Mauritius, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Taiwan and Uruguay, as well as British Nationals (Overseas), '''are''' permitted to work in France without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay. All other visa-exempt nationals are exempt from holding a visa for short-term employment ''if they possess a valid work permit'' and can present this work permit at the port of entry, with limited exceptions. However, this ability to work visa-free does not necessarily extend to other Schengen countries. For more information, visit [http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/france_159/coming-to-france_2045/getting-visa_2046/foreign-nationals-holding-ordinary-passports-exempt-from-visa-requirements_10876.html this webpage of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs].
  
Many of Paris' once-popular local establishments have come to cater to the tastes and expectations of tourists, rather than local patrons. ''[[Le Lido]]'', the ''[[Moulin Rouge]]'' cabaret-dancehall, for example, is a staged dinner theatre spectacle, a dance display that was once but one aspect of the cabaret's former atmosphere. All of the establishment's former social or cultural elements, such as its ballrooms and gardens, are gone today. Much of Paris' hotel, restaurant and night entertainment trades have become heavily dependent on tourism.
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Foreign nationals who are ''not'' visa-exempt (e.g. South Africans) must make a 'declaration of entry' (déclaration d'entrée) at a police station or to border inspection personnel if they arrive in France directly from another country of Schengen Area (e.g. [[Italy]]), unless they hold a long-term visa or residence permit issued by a Schengen member state. Their passports will be endorsed by the authorities to prove that such a declaration has been made. This government webpage (in French) [http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/F2716.xhtml] provides more information.
[[File:Stade de France 2005.jpg|thumb|left|[[Stade de France]].]]
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===Sports===
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If you intend to stay in France for longer than 90 days, regardless of purpose, an advance long-stay visa is ''always'' required of non-EEA or non-Swiss citizens. It is almost impossible to switch from a "C" (visitor) entry status to a "D" (long-stay) status from inside France, and you must apply for a long-stay visa in-person at the consulate responsible for your place of residence.
  
Paris' most popular sport clubs are the [[association football]] club [[Paris Saint-Germain FC]], the [[basketball]] team [[Paris-Levallois Basket]], and the [[rugby union]] club [[Stade Français]]. The 80,000-seat [[Stade de France]], built for the [[1998 FIFA World Cup]], is located in [[Saint-Denis]]. It is used for football, rugby union and track and field athletics. It hosts annually [[France national rugby union team|French national rugby team]]'s home matches of the [[Six Nations Championship]], [[France national football team|French national association football team]] for friendlies and major tournaments qualifiers, and several important matches of the Stade Français rugby team.
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As of 2009, certain categories of long-stay visa, such as "visitor" (''visiteur''), family (''vie privée et familiale''), "student" (''étudiant''), "salaried worker" (''salarié''), and "short-term worker" (''travailleur temporaire''), do not require persons to obtain a separate residence permit (''carte de séjour'') for the first year of stay in France. However, the long-stay visa must be validated by the ''Office Française de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration'' (OFII) within the first three months of entering France to be valid for longer than those three months. This is done by sending in a form to the OFII received along with the visa with the address of residence in France, completing a medical examination, and attending an introductory meeting to validate the visa. The tax required for validation (€58 for students and €349 for salaried workers, visitors, and family) is, as of January 2013, now collected at the consulate when you apply for a long-stay visa. This validated visa will serve as a residence permit and, likewise, allow travel throughout the other Schengen countries for up to 90 days in a 6-month period. To stay in France after your validated visa expires, however, and/or if you hold a visa which states ''carte de séjour à solliciter dès l'arrivée'', a ''carte de séjour'' must be obtained at the ''préfecture'' responsible for your place of residence within two months of entry into France or two months before the visa expires. Please consult [http://www.ofii.fr/venir_en_france_obtenir_son_titre_de_sejour_vls_ts_193/index.html?sub_menu=9 the OFII for more information].  
  
In addition to [[Paris Saint-Germain FC]], the city has a number of other amateur football clubs: [[Paris FC]], [[Red Star Saint-Ouen|Red Star]], [[RCF Paris]] and [[Stade Français Paris (football)|Stade Français Paris]]. The last is the football section of the omnisport club of the same name, most notable for its rugby team.
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Note that French overseas departments and territories are '''not''' part of the Schengen Area and operate a separate immigration regime to metropolitan France.
  
The Paris region currently boasts two teams in the top level of French rugby union, [[Top 14]]. Currently, the most prominent side is Stade Français, which is also the only one of the two to be based in the city proper. The other Top 14 team in the region is [[Racing Métro 92]], currently based in the western suburb of [[Colombes]]. Racing Métro is the successor to Racing Club de France, which contested the first-ever French championship final against Stade Français in 1892.
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===By plane===
  
Paris also hosted the [[1900 Summer Olympics|1900]] and [[1924 Summer Olympics|1924]] [[Olympic Games]] and was venue for the [[1938 FIFA World Cup|1938]] and [[1998 FIFA World Cup|1998]] [[FIFA World Cup]]s and for the [[2007 Rugby World Cup]].
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====Flights to/from Paris====
  
Although the starting point and the route of the famous [[Tour de France]] varies each year, the final stage always finishes in Paris, and, since 1975, the race has [[Champs-Élysées stage in the Tour de France|finished on the Champs-Elysées]]. [[Tennis]] is another popular sport in Paris and throughout France. The [[French Open (tennis)|French Open]], held every year on the red clay of the ''[[Stade Roland Garros|Roland Garros]]'' National Tennis Centre near the ''[[Bois de Boulogne]]'', is one of the four ''[[Grand Slam (tennis)|Grand Slam]]'' events of the world professional tennis tour. The [[2006 UEFA Champions League Final]] between [[Arsenal F.C.|Arsenal]] and [[FC Barcelona]] was played in the [[Stade de France]]. Paris hosted the [[2007 Rugby World Cup]] final at Stade de France on 20 October 2007.
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The main international airport, '''Roissy - Charles de Gaulle''' ({{IATA|CDG}}), [http://www.easycdg.com], is likely to be your port of entry if you fly into France from outside Europe. CDG is the home of Air France (AF), the national company, for most intercontinental flights. AF and the companies forming the SkyTeam Alliance (Dutch KLM, Aeromexico, Alitalia, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air,) use Terminal 2 while most other foreign airlines use Terminal 1. A third terminal is used for charter flights. If transferring through CDG (especially between the various terminals) it is important to leave substantial time between flights. Ensure you have no less than one hour between transfers. Add more if you have to change terminals as you will need to clear through security.
  
==Economy==
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Transfers to another flight in France: AF operates domestic flights from CDG too, but a lot of domestic flights, and also some internal European flights, use '''Orly''', the second Paris airport. For transfers within CDG you can use the free bus shuttle linking all terminals, train station, parking lots and hotels on the platform. For transfers to Orly there is a bus link operated by AF (free for AF passengers). The two airports are also linked by a local train (RER) which is slightly less expensive, runs faster but is much more cumbersome to use with heavy luggage. AF has agreements with the SNCF, the national rail company, which operates TGVs (see below) out of CDG airports (some trains carry flight numbers). The TGV station is in Terminal 2 and is on the route of the free shuttle. For transfers to the city centre of Paris, see [[Paris]]. Paris Star Shuttle [http://www.paristarshuttle.com/indexfr.html] offers transfers from CDG into Paris.
{{Main|Economy of Paris}}
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[[File:2361-Paris.jpg|thumb|French Ministry of Finance]]
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With a 2010 [[Gross domestic product|GDP]] of [[euro|€]]572.4&nbsp;billion<ref name=Paris_GDP /> (US$759.9&nbsp;billion), the Paris region has one of the [[List of metropolitan areas in the European Union by GDP|highest GDPs in Europe]], making it an engine of the global economy; were it a country, it would rank as the seventeenth-largest economy in the world, larger than the Turkish economy and almost as large as the Dutch economy.<ref name="gdp_world_rank">{{cite web|url=http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources/GDP.pdf|format=PDF|title=Gross domestic product 2010|author=World Bank|accessdate=2012-07-03}}</ref> The Paris Region is France's premier centre of economic activity: While its population accounted for 18.8% of the total population of [[metropolitan France]] in 2010,<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.insee.fr/fr/ppp/bases-de-donnees/donnees-detaillees/estim-pop/estim-pop-reg-sca-1990-2010.xls|title=Estimation de population au 1er janvier, par région, sexe et grande classe d'âge|work=Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques|accessdate=2012-07-03|language=French}}</ref> its GDP accounted for 30.2% of metropolitan France's GDP.<ref name=Paris_GDP /> Activity in the [[Paris urban area]], though diverse, does not have a leading specialised industry (such as Los Angeles with entertainment industries or London and New York with financial industries in addition to their other activities). Recently, the Paris economy has been shifting towards high-value-added service industries ([[Financial services|finance]], IT services, etc.) and high-tech manufacturing (electronics, optics, aerospace, etc.).
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The Paris region's most intense economic activity through the central [[Hauts-de-Seine]] [[Département in France|département]] and suburban [[La Défense]] business district places Paris' economic centre to the west of the city, in a triangle between the [[Palais Garnier|Opéra Garnier]], [[La Défense]] (the largest dedicated business district in Europe.<ref name="Logistics-in-Europe.com, Vertical Mail">{{cite web|url=http://www.logistics-in-europe.com/pidf-gb/index.html|title=Paris Île-de-France, a head start in Europe|author=Logistics-in-Europe.com, Vertical Mail|accessdate=2007-10-04}}</ref>), and the [[Val de Seine]]. Paris' administrative borders have little consequences on the limits of its economic activity: Although most workers commute from the suburbs to work in the city, many commute from the city to work in the suburbs. While the Paris economy is largely dominated by [[Service Sector|services]], it remains an important manufacturing powerhouse of Europe, especially in industrial sectors such as automobiles, aeronautics, and electronics. Over recent decades, the local economy has moved towards high-value-added activities, in particular business services. The city is considered one of the best cities in the world for innovation.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.innovation-cities.com/ |title=Innovation Cities Top 100 Index 2011: City Rankings |date=October 2011 |publisher=2 Think Now |accessdate=2011-10-21}}</ref> The Paris Region hosts the headquarters of 33 of the [[Fortune Global 500]] companies.<ref name="Fortune">{{cite news|url=http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/global500/2011/countries/France.html|title=Global Fortune 500 by countries: France|author=[[Fortune (magazine)|Fortune]]|accessdate=2011-07-22 |publisher=CNN}}</ref>
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Some low-cost airlines, including Ryanair and Volare, fly to '''Beauvais''' airport situated about 80&nbsp;km northwest of Paris. Buses to Paris are provided by the airlines. Check schedules and fares on their websites.
  
The 1999 census indicated that, of the 5,089,170 persons employed in the [[Paris urban area]], 16.5% worked in business services; 13.0% in commerce (retail and wholesale trade); 12.3% in manufacturing; 10.0% in [[public administration]]s and [[defense industry|defence]]; 8.7% in [[public health|health]] services; 8.2% in transportation and communications; 6.6% in education, and the remaining 24.7% in many other economic sectors. In the manufacturing sector, the largest employers were the [[electronics|electronic]] and electrical industry (17.9% of the total manufacturing workforce in 1999) and the publishing and printing industry (14.0% of the total manufacturing workforce), with the remaining 68.1% of the manufacturing workforce distributed among many other industries. [[Tourism in Paris|Tourism]] and tourist related services employ 6.2% of Paris' workforce, and 3.6% of all workers within the [[Paris Region]].<ref name="workforce">{{cite web|url=http://www.insee.fr/fr/insee_regions/idf/rfc/docs/alapage234.pdf|title=Les emplois dans les activités liées au tourisme: un sur quatre en Île-de-France|work=Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques|accessdate=2006-04-10|format=PDF|language=French}}</ref> [[Unemployment]] in the Paris "immigrant [[Banlieue|ghettos]]" ranges from 20 to 40%, according to varying sources.<ref name=riot/>
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====Flights to/from regional airports====
  
[[File:Panorama La Défense.jpg||thumb|center|800px|<center>Business district of [[La Défense]]</center>]]
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Other airports outside Paris have flights to/from international destinations: Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Toulouse have flights to cities in western Europe and North Africa; these airports are hubs to smaller airports in France and may be useful to avoid the transfer between the two Paris airports. Two airports, Bâle-Mulhouse and Geneva, are shared by France and Switzerland and can allow entry into either country.
  
===Health===
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Many airlines operate flights between regional airports in the UK and France:
{{unreferenced section|date=March 2011}}
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Health care and emergency medical service in the city of Paris and its suburbs are provided by the ''[[Assistance publique - Hôpitaux de Paris]] (AP-HP)'', a public hospital system that employs more than 90,000 people (including practitioners, support personnel, and administrators) in 44 hospitals. It is the largest hospital system in Europe.
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==Sociology==
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'''bmibaby''' [http://www.bmibaby.com] flies direct from the UK to [[Chambéry]], [[Geneva]], [[Nice]], Paris CDG and [[Toulouse]].
{{Main|Paris Ouest|Rive Droite (Paris)|Rive Gauche (Paris)}}
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Paris Ouest (ie: Western Paris) is an expression referring to the wealthiest, most exclusive and prestigious residential area of France.
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'''British Airways''' [http://www.ba.com] flies direct from the UK to [[Angers]], [[Basel]] (Mulhouse), [[Bordeaux]], [[Chambéry]], [[Geneva]], [[Lyon]], [[Marseille]], [[Nice]], Paris CDG, Paris Orly, [[Quimper]] and [[Toulouse]].
  
Located in the central and western part of Paris, it roughly follows Paris' ''Voie Royale'' (''Royal Way'') or ''Axe historique'' (''historical axis''): a line of monuments, buildings and thoroughfares that extends from the former [[royal Palace]] of the [[Louvre]] through the [[Tuileries]], the [[Place de la Concorde]], the [[Avenue des Champs-Élysées|Champs Élysées]], the [[Place de l'Etoile]] and all the way to [[Neuilly-sur-Seine]].
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'''Cityjet''' [http://www.cityjet.com] flies direct from the UK to [[Avignon]] ([[Provence]]), [[Brest]] ([[Brittany]]), [[Brive la Gaillarde|Brive]] ([[Dordogne]]), [[Deauville]] ([[Normandy]]), [[Nantes]], Paris Orly, [[Pau]] (Pyrénées) and [[Toulon]] (Côte d'Azur).
  
Paris Ouest has long been known as French high society's favorite place of residence, comparable to New York's [[Upper East Side]], LA's [[Beverly Hills]]<ref>[http://www.parislogue.com/places-in-paris/deciphering-the-16th-arrondissement.html] eyes of an American-born on one of the district of the area: the exclusive 16th arrondissement</ref> or London's [[Mayfair]] and [[Belgravia]], to such an extent that the phrase ''"Paris Ouest"'' has been associated with great [[wealth]], [[elitism]] and social hegemony in French popular culture as well as in some masterpieces of French literature such as [[Balzac]]'s ''[[La Comédie humaine|La comédie humaine]]'' or [[Proust]]'s ''[[In Search of Lost Time]]''.
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'''easyJet''' [http://www.easyjet.com] flies direct from the UK to [[Basel]] (Mulhouse), [[Biarritz]], [[Bordeaux]], [[Geneva]], [[Grenoble]], [[La Rochelle]], [[Lyon]], [[Marseille]], [[Montpellier]], [[Nantes]], [[Nice]], Paris CDG, Paris Orly, and [[Toulouse]].
  
The cultural, social and economic influence<ref>For instance, Paris is the world's fashion design capital thanks to ''Paris Ouest's'' customers who historically make it up</ref> of the area has played a prominent role throughout French history and is still highly vivid in nowadays' French elite. ''Paris Ouest'''s standards of life were also highly influential in educating foreign elites, especially in Europe, Russia and Northern America (see [[Frick Collection]]). And so ''Paris Ouest'' should be seen as not only a geographic area but also a social attitude<ref>Sociologists Michel and Monique Pinçon-Charlot's works highlight that trend</ref> symbolized by French high society's [[habit (psychology)|habit]]s and way of life.
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'''Flybe''' [http://www.flybe.com] flies direct from the UK to [[Avignon]] ([[Provence]]), Bergerac, Béziers, [[Bordeaux]], [[Brest]] ([[Brittany]]), [[Chambéry]], [[Clermont-Ferrand]], [[Geneva]], [[La Rochelle]], [[Limoges]], [[Nantes]], [[Nice]], Paris CDG, Paris Orly, [[Pau]] (Pyrénées), [[Perpignan]], [[Rennes]], [[Toulouse]] and [[Tours]].
  
The "[[Rive Gauche (Paris)|Rive Gauche]]" (''Left Bank'' of the [[Seine]]) generally implies a sense of bohemianism and creativity as it was the Paris of artists, writers, philosophers and students. The counterpart of the Rive Gauche of Paris is the [[Rive Droite (Paris)|Rive Droite]] (''Right Bank''), a term used to refer to a level of elegance and sophistication not found in the more bohemian Left Bank.
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'''Jet2.com''' [http://www.jet2.com] flies direct from the UK to Bergerac, [[Chambéry]], [[Geneva]], [[La Rochelle]], [[Nice]], [[Paris]] CDG and [[Toulouse]].
  
==Demographics==
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'''Lydd Air''' [http://www.lyddair.com/] operates a short shuttle flight across the Channel between Lydd in [[Kent]] and Le Touquet.
[[File:Paris Historical Population (1801-2008).png|thumb|right|300px|City proper, urban area, and metropolitan area population from 1800 to 2010.]]
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{{Demographics of Paris}}
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{{Main|Demographics of Paris}}
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The population of the city of Paris was 2,125,246 at the 1999 [[census]], lower than its historical peak of 2.9&nbsp;million in 1921. The city's population loss mirrors the experience of most other core cities in the developed world that have not expanded their boundaries. The principal factors in the process are a significant decline in household size, and a dramatic migration of residents to the suburbs between 1962 and 1975.  
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'''Ryanair''' [http://www.ryanair.com] flies direct from the UK to Bergerac, Béziers, [[Biarritz]], [[Bordeaux]], [[Carcassonne]], Dinard ([[Saint-Malo]]), [[Grenoble]], [[La Rochelle]], [[Limoges]], [[Lourdes]], [[Marseille]], [[Montpellier]], [[Nîmes]], [[Perpignan]], [[Poitiers]], Rodez, [[Toulon]] (Côte d'Azur) and [[Tours]].
  
Factors in the migration include [[Deindustrialization|de-industrialisation]], high rent, the [[gentrification]] of many inner quarters, the transformation of living space into offices, and greater affluence among working families. The city's population loss was one of the most severe among international municipalities and the largest for any that had achieved more than 2,000,000 residents. These losses are generally seen as negative for the city; the city administration is trying to reverse them with some success, as the population estimate of July 2004 showed a population increase for the first time since 1954, reaching a total of 2,144,700 inhabitants.
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===By boat===
  
===Density===
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France is served by numerous services from England to France:
Paris is one of the most densely populated cities in the [[world]]. Its density, excluding the outlying woodland parks of [[Bois de Boulogne|Boulogne]] and [[Bois de Vincennes|Vincennes]], was 24,448 inhabitants per square kilometre (63,320/sq mi) in the 1999 official census, which could be compared only with some [[Asia]]n [[Megalopolis (city type)|megapoli]] and the [[New York City]] [[borough (New York City)|borough]] of [[Manhattan]]. Even including the two woodland areas, its population density was 20,164 inhabitants per square kilometre (52,224.5/sq mi), the fifth-most-densely populated commune in France following [[Le Pré-Saint-Gervais]], [[Vincennes]], [[Levallois-Perret]], and [[Saint-Mandé]], all of which border the city proper.
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The most sparsely populated quarters are the western and central office and administration-focussed ''[[Arrondissements of Paris|arrondissements]]''. The city's population is densest in the northern and eastern arrondissements; the [[11th arrondissement of Paris|11th arrondissement]] had a density of 40,672 inhabitants per square kilometre (105,340/sq mi) in 1999, and some of the same arrondissement's eastern quarters had densities close to 100,000/km<sup>2</sup> (260,000/sq&nbsp;mi) in the same year.
+
* P&amp;O Ferries [http://www.poferries.com/] - operate freight and passenger services from [[Dover]] to [[Calais]].
  
===Paris agglomeration===
+
* My Ferry Link [http://www.seafrance.com/] - operate freight and passenger services from [[Dover]] to [[Calais]].
The city of Paris covers an area much smaller than the urban area of which it is the core. At present, Paris' real urbanisation, defined by the [[pôle urbain]] (urban area) statistical area, covers {{convert|2845|km2|sqmi|0|abbr=on}},<ref name="UU_superficie">{{cite web|url=http://www.insee.fr/fr/themes/document.asp?reg_id=20&ref_id=17915&page=alapage/alap374/alap374_tab.htm#tab1|title=Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques|accessdate=2011-10-20|language=French}}</ref> or an area about 27 times larger than the city itself. The administration of Paris' urban growth is divided between itself and its surrounding départements: Paris' closest ring of three adjoining departments, or petite couronne ("small ring") are fully saturated with urban growth, and the ring of four departments outside of these, the grande couronne [[département in France|départements]], are only covered in their inner regions by Paris' urbanisation. These eight [[département in France|départements]] form the larger administrative [[Île-de-France (region)|Île-de-France]] région; most of this region is filled, and overextended in places, by the Paris aire urbaine.
+
  
The Paris agglomeration has shown a steady rate of growth since the end of the late 16th century [[French Wars of Religion]], save brief setbacks during the [[French Revolution]] and [[World War II]]{{Citation needed|date=January 2007}}. Suburban development has accelerated in recent years: With an estimated total of 11.4&nbsp;million inhabitants for 2005, the [[Île-de-France (region)|Île-de-France]] [[région in France|région]] shows a rate of growth double that of the 1990s.<ref name="99_05">{{cite web|url=http://www.insee.fr/fr/ffc/docs_ffc/IP061058.pdf|title=Enquêtes annuelles de recensement 2004 et 2005|author=Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques|accessdate=2006-04-10|format=PDF}}</ref><ref name="90_99">{{cite web|url=http://www.insee.fr/fr/ffc/docs_ffc/IP1000.pdf|title=Enquêtes annuelles de recensement: premiers résultats de la collecte 2004|work=Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques|accessdate=2006-04-10|format=PDF|language=French}}</ref>
+
* DFDS Seaways [http://www.norfolkline.com/] - operate freight and passenger services from [[Dover]] to [[Dunkerque]].
  
===Immigration===
+
* LD Lines [http://www.ldlines.co.uk/] - operate freight and passenger services from [[Portsmouth]] to [[Le Havre]].
By law, French censuses do not ask questions regarding ethnicity or religion, but do gather information concerning one's country of birth. From this it is still possible to determine that Paris and its ''aire urbaine'' (metropolitan area) is one of the most multi-cultural in Europe: At the 1999 census, 19.4% of its total population was born outside of [[metropolitan France]].<ref name="foreign born">{{cite web|url=http://www.recensement.insee.fr/RP99/rp99/wr_page.affiche?p_id_nivgeo=M&p_id_loca=001&p_id_princ=MIG3&p_theme=ALL&p_typeprod=ALL&p_langue=FR|title=Aire urbaine 99 : Paris – Migrations (caractère socio-économique selon le lieu de naissance)|author=Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques|accessdate=2006-07-06|language=French}}{{dead link|date=February 2012}}</ref> At the same census, 4.2% of the Paris ''aire urbaine'''s population were recent immigrants (people who had immigrated to France between 1990 and 1999),<ref name="recent migrants">{{cite web|url=http://www.recensement.insee.fr/RP99/rp99/wr_page.affiche?p_id_nivgeo=M&p_id_loca=001&p_id_princ=MIG2&p_theme=ALL&p_typeprod=ALL&p_langue=FR|title=Aire urbaine 99 : Paris – Migrations (caractère démographique selon le lieu de résidence au 01/01/90)|author=Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques|accessdate=2006-07-06|language=French}}{{dead link|date=February 2012}}</ref> the majority from [[Asia]] and [[Africa]].<ref name="current immigration">{{cite web|url=http://www.insee.fr/fr/ffc/chifcle_fiche.asp?tab_id=498|title=Flux d'immigration permanente par motif en 2003|author=Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques|accessdate=2006-06-25|language=French}}</ref> 37% of all immigrants in France live in the Paris region.<ref name=riot>{{cite web|url=http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=1280843 |title=Paris Riots in Perspective |publisher=Abcnews.go.com |date=2005-11-04 |accessdate=2012-06-26}}</ref>
+
  
The first wave of international migration to Paris started as early as 1820 with the arrivals of German peasants fleeing an agricultural crisis in their homeland. Several waves of immigration followed continuously until today: Italians and central European Jews during the 19th century; Russians after the [[Russian Revolution of 1917|revolution of 1917]] and Armenians fleeing [[Armenian Genocide|genocide]] in the Ottoman Empire;<ref>"''[http://books.google.com/books?id=uUsLAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA22&dq&hl=en#v=onepage&q=&f=false Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. III. French Government and the Refugees]''". American Philosophical Society, James E. Hassell (1991). P. 22. ISBN 0-87169-817-X.</ref> colonial citizens during [[World War I]] and later; Poles between the two world wars; Spaniards, Italians, Portuguese, and North Africans from the 1950s to the 1970s; North African Jews after the independence of those countries; Africans and Asians since then.<ref name="past immigration">{{cite web|url=http://www.histoire-immigration.fr/index.php?lg=fr&nav=14&flash=0|title=Histoire de l'immigration en France|author=Cité Nationale de l'Histoire de l'Immigration|accessdate=2006-06-25|language=French}}</ref>
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* Brittany Ferries [http://www.brittanyferries.com/] - operate freight and passenger services from [[Portsmouth]] to [[Caen]], [[Portsmouth]] to [[Cherbourg]], [[Portsmouth]] to [[St Malo]], [[Poole]] to [[Cherbourg]] and [[Plymouth]] to [[Roscoff]].
  
The Paris metropolitan region or "aire urbaine" is estimated to be home to some 1.7&nbsp;million Muslims of all races, making up between 10%–15% of the area's population. However, without official data, the margin of error of these estimates is extremely high as it is based on one's country of birth (someone born in a Muslim country or born to a parent from a Muslim country is considered as a "potential Muslim").<ref>Yves Charles Zarka, ''L'Islam en France'', "Les contours d'une population susceptible d'être musulmane d'après la filiation", Michèle Tribalat, p.27</ref> According to the North American Jewish Data Bank, an estimated 310,000 Jews also live in Paris and the surrounding Île-de-France region, an area with a population of 11.7&nbsp;million inhabitants. Paris has historically been a magnet for immigrants, hosting one of the largest concentrations of immigrants in Europe today.<ref>{{cite web|author=Sponsored by |url=http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12724966 |title=Muslims and city politics: When town halls turn to Mecca |publisher=Economist.com |date=2008-12-04 |accessdate=2012-06-26}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/world-jewish-population.htm |title=World Jewish Population &#124; Latest Statistics |publisher=Simpletoremember.com |date= |accessdate=2012-06-26}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|author=Esther |url=http://islamineurope.blogspot.com/2007/11/muslim-population-in-european-cities.html |title=Muslim population in European cities|publisher=Islamineurope.blogspot.com |date=2007-11-23 |accessdate=2012-06-26}}</ref>
+
* Condor Ferries [http://www.condorferries.co.uk/] - operate freight and passenger services from [[Portsmouth]] to [[Cherbourg]], [[Poole]] to [[St Malo]] and  [[Weymouth]] to [[St Malo]].
  
====Immigrants and their children in départements of Île-de-France (Greater Paris)====
+
Prices vary considerably depending on which route you choose. Generally the cheapest route is the short sea route across the English Channel which is [[Dover]] to [[Calais]], so it is worth comparing prices before you decide which is the most suitable route to France.
According to [[INSEE]],  French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies, responsible for the production and analysis of official statistics in France, 20% of people living in the city of Paris are immigrants and 41.3% of people under 20 have at least one immigrant parent.<ref>[http://www.iau-idf.fr/detail-dune-etude/etude/les-immigres-et-leur-famille-en-ile-de-france.html Les immigrés et leur famille en Île-de-France], Note rapide Société, n° 552, Juin 2011</ref> Among the young people under 18, 12.1% are of [[Maghrebis|Maghrebi]] origin, 9.9% of [[Subsaharan Africa]]n origin  (not including persons from French West Indies) and 4.0% of [[South Europe]]an origin.<ref>Michèle Tribalat, ''Les jeunes d'origine étrangère'' in ''Revue Commentaire'', juin 2009, n°126, p.434</ref>  About four million people, or 35% of the population of the [[Île-de-France (region)|Île-de-France]], are either immigrants (17%) or have at least one immigrant parent (18%).<ref>''[http://www.iau-idf.fr/detail-dune-etude/etude/les-descendants-dimmigres-vivant-en-ile-de-france.html Les descendants d'immigrés vivant en Île-de-France]'', IAU Idf, Note rapide Société, n° 531</ref> According to a study in 2008, nearly 56% of all newborns in Île-de-France in 2007 had at least one parent of immigrant origin.<ref>Bardakdjian-Michau, M Bahuau, D Hurtrel, et al.2008, [http://jcp.bmjjournals.com/content/62/1/31.abstract Neonatal screening for sickle cell disease in France], J Clin Pathol 2009 62: 31–33, doi:10.1136/jcp.2008.058867</ref>
+
  
{| class="wikitable" cellpadding="5"
+
Passengers travelling from [[Dover]] by ferry to France go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before boarding, rather than on arrival in France. Passengers travelling from all other UK ports to France go through French passport/identity card checks on arrival in France.
 +
 
 +
There are also connections from Ireland to France:
 +
 
 +
* Brittany Ferries [http://www.brittanyferries.ie/] - operate ferry services from [[Cork]] to [[Roscoff]]
 +
 
 +
* Celtic Link Ferries [http://www.celticlinkferries.com/] - operate ferry services from [[Rosslare]] to [[Cherbourg]]
 +
 
 +
* Irish Ferries [http://www.irishferries.com/ie/index-uk-ie.asp] - operate ferry services from [[Rosslare]] to [[Cherbourg]] and from [[Rosslare]] to [[Roscoff]]
 +
 
 +
Numerous companies now act as agents for the various ferry companies much like Expedia and Travelocity act as agents for airlines allowing the comparison of various companies and routes. Two well known brands are Ferryonline [http://www.ferryonline.co.uk] and AFerry.co.uk [http://www.aferry.co.uk/ferry-to-france-ferries-uk.htm].
 +
 
 +
===By train===
 +
 
 +
The French rail company, SNCF, provides direct service from most European countries using regular trains. French train tickets can be purchased directly in the US from RailEurope [http://www.raileurope.com] a subsidiary of the SNCF.
 +
 
 +
* '''Eurostar''' [http://www.eurostar.com] runs high-speed trains to France from the [[United Kingdom]] and [[Belgium]]. Passengers travelling from the UK to France go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before boarding, rather than on arrival in France. Passengers travelling from Brussels to Lille/Calais/Paris are within the Schengen Area. Eurostar operates the following routes from France:
 +
:'''[[Paris]]''' (Gare du Nord) direct to [[London]] (St Pancras International) (2h 15min), Ebbsfleet and Ashford and via Lille to [[Brussels]] (Zuid-Midi).
 +
:'''[[Lille]]''' (Europe) direct to [[London]] (St Pancras International) (1h 20min), Ebbsfleet, Ashford and [[Brussels]] (Zuid-Midi)
 +
:'''[[Calais]]''' (Fréthun) direct to [[London]] (St Pancras International) (1h 2min; 2-3 daily), Ebbsfleet (44min; 3-4 daily), Ashford (35min; 1 daily) and [[Brussels]] (Zuid-Midi) (1h 9min; 2-3 daily) '''Note:''' Although Brussels Midi-Calais Fréthun can't be purchased on the Eurostar website, it is available on the Belgian Railways website [https://www.b-europe.com]
 +
 
 +
* '''Thalys''' [http://www.thalys.com/] or [http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/thalys/index.htm] service uses high-speed TGV trains [http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/tgv/index.htm] to connect Paris to Brussels and onward to cities in the Netherlands and Germany. It can be a bit expensive compared to normal trains.
 +
 
 +
* '''Intercity''' trains leave for all parts of [[Europe]], including overnight trains to [[San Sebastian]] in [[Spain]], [[Porto]] and [[Lisbon]] in [[Portugal]].
 +
 
 +
===By bus===
 +
 
 +
France has several Eurolines-hubs, [http://www.eurolines.fr].
 +
 
 +
=== By car ===
 +
 
 +
Several weekends each year in France its Black Saturday (''Samedi noir'') because of the start or end of school holidays and the coinciding traffic jams on the French roads. When possible it is wise to avoid these black days. See for the actual forecast the website of the French traffic service [http://www.bison-fute.equipement.gouv.fr/en/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=106].
 +
 
 +
See [[Driving in France]].
 +
 
 +
See the 'By boat' section above for information on car ferries to France from the [[United Kingdom]] and [[Ireland]].
 +
 
 +
===From Belgium===
 +
 
 +
* As according to an agreement with the CFL, the Belgian railways are directing all passenger trains to France through Luxembourg (thus causing an extra unnecessary border crossing), it may be useful to cross the border directly, on foot. The terminus of the French railways in '''Longwy''' can be reached from the Belgian train station of '''Halanzy''' (the line operates only on work days, however), or from the bigger Belgian stations of '''Arlon''' or '''Virton'''. Between these two stations there's a bus operated by the TEC company which stops at '''Aubange Place''', a good point of departure/arrival for the walking tour. The path leads almost exclusively through inhabited areas in the community of Mont-Saint-Martin (yet partially in a forest if you go to/from Halanzy) and takes some 7&nbsp;km. The city of Longwy itself is quite steep in some of its parts, so pay attention to this when planning your route.
 +
 
 +
* There are domestic Belgian trains that terminate in '''Lille''' (station ''Lille-Flanders'').
 +
 
 +
* Between the '''De Panne''' terminus of the Belgian railways (and the Coast tram &ndash; ''Kusttram'') and the French coastal city of ''Dunkerque'', there is a bus line run by DK'BUS Marine: [http://www.dkbus.com/]. It may, however, be operating only in certain time of the year. It is also possible to take a DK'BUS bus which goes to the closest possible distance of the border and then cross it on foot by walking on the beach and arriving at a convenient station of the Coast tram, such as ''Esplanade''.
 +
 
 +
==Get around==
 +
 
 +
===By plane===
 +
 
 +
The following carriers offer domestic flights within France:
 +
 
 +
# '''Air France''' [http://www.airfrance.com] (Ajaccio (Campo Dell Oro Airport), Annecy-Meythet Airport, Avignon-Caum Airport, Bastia (Poretta Airport), Biarritz Parme Airport, Bordeaux Airport, Brest (Guipavas Airport), Caen (Carpiquet Airport), Calvi (Sainte Catherine Airport), Clermont-Ferrand (Aulnat Airport), Figari (Sud Corse Airport), Lannion (Servel Airport), Le Havre (Octeville Airport), Lille (Lesquin Airport), Limoges (Bellegarde Airport), Lorient (Lann Bihoue Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Marseille Airport, Metz/Nancy (Metz-Nancy-Lorraine Airport), Montpellier (Mediterranee Airport), Mulhouse/Basel (EuroAirport French), Nantes Atlantique Airport, Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport), Paris (Charles De Gaulle Airport), Paris (Orly Field), Pau (Uzein Airport), Perpignan (Llabanere Airport), Quimper (Pluguffan Airport), Rennes (St Jacques Airport), Rodez (Marcillac Airport), Rouen (Boos Airport), Strasbourg (Entzheim Airport), Tarbes Ossun Lourdes Airport, Toulon (Hyeres Airport), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
 +
# '''Airlinair''' [http://www.airlinair.com] (Aurillac Airport, Bastia (Poretta Airport), Beziers Vias Airport, Bordeaux Airport, Brest (Guipavas Airport), Brive-La-Gaillarde (Laroche Airport), La Rochelle (Laleu Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Mulhouse/Basel (EuroAirport French), Nantes Atlantique Airport, Paris (Orly Field), Poitiers (Biard Airport), Rennes (St Jacques Airport), Saint Nazaire (Montoir Airport), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
 +
# '''CCM''' [http://www.aircorsica.com] (Ajaccio (Campo Dell Oro Airport), Bastia (Poretta Airport), Calvi (Sainte Catherine Airport), Figari (Sud Corse Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Marseille Airport, Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport))
 +
# '''Twin Jet''' [http://www.twinjet.net] (Cherbourg (Maupertus Airport), Marseille Airport, Metz/Nancy (Metz-Nancy-Lorraine Airport), Paris (Orly Field), Saint Etienne (Boutheon Airport), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
 +
# '''easyJet''' [http://www.easyjet.com] (Bastia, Biarritz, Brest, Lyon, Nantes, Nice (Côte D'Azur Airport), Paris (Charles De Gaulle Airport), Paris (Orly Field), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
 +
# '''Ryanair''' [http://www.ryanair.com] (Marseille to/from Bordeaux/Brest/Lille/Nantes/Paris Beauvais/Paris Vatry/Tours; Paris Beauvais to/from Beziers/Marseille)
 +
# '''Eastern Airways''' [http://www.easternairways.fr] (Dijon to/from Bordeaux/Nantes/Toulouse)
 +
# '''Hex'Air''' [http://www.hexair.com] (Le Puy (Loudes Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Paris (Orly Field), Rodez (Marcillac Airport))
 +
# '''Air Austral''' [http://www.air-austral.com] (Lyon Satolas Airport, Marseille Airport)
 +
# '''Heli Securite''' [http://www.helicopter-saint-tropez.com] (Cannes (Croisette Heliport), Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport))
 +
# '''Nice Helicopteres''' [http://www.capdeveloppement.com/nicehelicopteres] (Cannes (Croisette Heliport), Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport))
 +
 
 +
===By car===
 +
''See also:'' [[Driving in France]]
 +
 
 +
France has a well-developed system of highways. Most of the freeway (''autoroute'') links are toll roads. Some have toll station giving you access to a section, others have entrance and exit toll stations.  Don't lose your entrance ticket or you will be charged for the longest distance.  All toll stations accept major credit cards although may not accept foreign credit cards, or you can use the automatic booth, but only if your card is equipped with a chip.
 +
 
 +
Roads range from the narrow single-lane roads in the countryside to major highways. Most towns and cities were built before the general availability of the automobile and thus city centres tend to be unwieldy for cars. Keep this in mind when renting: large cars can be very unwieldy. It often makes sense to just park and then use public transportation.
 +
 
 +
France drives on the right.
 +
 
 +
A French driver flashing headlights is asserting right of way and warning you of intentions and presence. Do not use it to mean thanks. Flashing headlights can also mean, "Watch out as there's a police speed-check ahead of you!"  Horns should be used only in legitimate emergencies; use of the horn in urban areas outside such circumstances might win you a traffic ticket.  Parisian drivers were notorious for honking their horns at anything and everything, though increased enforcement has greatly reduced this practice.
 +
 
 +
====Renting a car====
 +
 
 +
Once you land in France you may need to use car hire services. Most of the leading companies operate from French airports and there is good merit in booking car hire in advance. It is a regular experience at smaller French airports to not get the type of car you booked online but an alternative model. Sometimes the alternative model is quite different so check carefully before accepting the vehicle and stand your ground if it does not match your booking request and is not suitable to your needs.
 +
 
 +
Most cars in France are equipped with standard transmissions, a fact that derives equally from the preferences of the driving public and the peculiarities of French licensing laws (automatic transmissions are generally only used by the elderly or those with physical disabilities).  This extends to vehicle categories that in other countries (read: the US) are virtually never equipped with a manual transmission, such as vans and large sedans.  Accordingly, virtually all of the vehicles available for rent at the average car hire will be equipped with a manual gearbox.  If you do not know how to drive a car with a manual transmission and don't have the time to learn before your trip, be certain to reserve your rental car well in advance and confirm your reservation.  Otherwise, you may find yourself in a car that is much larger than you can afford (or with no car at all).
 +
 
 +
It is a good tip when travelling in numbers to get one member of the party with hand luggage to go straight through to the car hire desk ahead of everybody else, this will avoid the crush once the main luggage is picked up from the conveyor.
 +
 
 +
For short term rentals, you will find numerous familiar big name agencies (Hertz,SIXT,Avis,Alamo) which you can book through a number of online portals and compare prices side by side (Orbitz,Kayak,Expedia). All of the above rental agencies usually have similar pricing, vehicles and rental policies. Although it not recommended, one will usually be able to wait until near last minute to book online and still get a car when it comes to short term rentals.
 +
 
 +
However, for rentals exceeding three weeks in duration, it is often advantageous to use a "short term" lease buy back programs in which you need to book at least a few weeks in advance before departing. The lease buy back programs are uniquely French and offer a tax-free alternative to car rentals that can often have an overall lower cost and better value than a traditional car rental. The programs are typically run by the big three French auto makers Peugeot, Renault, and Citroen. Short term leasing offers clients a brand new vehicle, full insurance, unlimited mileage, and flexible driving rules compared to traditional car rentals. You must be a NON European resident to take part in this and one downfall is that you must have need for a car for more then three weeks in order to benefit from the service. Only certain agencies are authorized to sell these leases to US residents. Some of them include; Auto France, Inc. Peugeot(US), Citroen Europass (US), Renault USA (US).
 +
 
 +
===By thumb===
 +
 
 +
France is a good country for [[Tips for hitchhiking|hitchhiking]].  Be patient, prepare yourself for a long wait or walk and in the meantime enjoy the landscape. A ride will come along. People who stop are usually friendly and not dangerous. They will like you more if you speak a little French. They never expect any money for the ride.
 +
 
 +
Remember that getting out of Paris by thumb is almost impossible. You can try your luck at the portes, but heavy traffic and limited areas for stopping will try your patience. It's a good idea to take the local train to a nearby suburb as your chance of being picked up will increase dramatically.
 +
 
 +
Outside Paris, it's advisable to try your luck after roundabouts. As it's illegal to hitchhike on the motorways (autoroutes) and they are well observed by the police, you may try on a motorway entry. The greatest chance is at toll plazas (''stations de péage''), some of which require all cars to stop and are thus great places to catch a lift.  Some tollbooths are really good, some not so good. If you've been waiting for a while with an indication of where to go, drop it and try with your thumb only. And also, you can try to get a ride to the next good spot in the wrong direction.
 +
 
 +
Note, though, that hitching from a péage, while a common practice, isn't legal and French police or highway security, who are normally very tolerant of hitchhikers, may stop and force you to leave.  You can get free maps in the toll offices - these also indicate where you can find the "all-stop-Péage".
 +
 
 +
===By train===
 +
 
 +
Trains are a great way to get around in France. You can get pretty much from anywhere to anywhere else by train. For long distances, use the TGV (''Train a Grande Vitesse'' - High-Speed Train) on which reservations are obligatory. But, if you have time, take the slow train and enjoy the scenery. The landscape is part of what makes France one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
 +
 
 +
The French national railway network is managed by Réseaux Ferrés de France, and most of the trains are run by the SNCF  [http://www.sncf.com/indexe.htm] (''Société nationale des chemins de fer français''). For interregional trains you can get schedules and book tickets online at voyages-sncf.com [http://www.voyages-sncf.com/dynamic/_SvHomePage?_DLG=SvHomePage&_CMD=cmdHomepageUK&WB=HP]. For regional trains, schedules can be found at ter-sncf.com [http://www.ter-sncf.com/index.asp] (choose your region, then "Carte and horaires" for maps and timetables). Booking is available in two classes: ''première classe'' (first class) is less crowded and more comfortable but can also be about 50% more expensive than ''deuxième classe'' (second class). Note that if your TGV is fully booked, step aboard seconds before the doors close, and look for the guard ("contrôleur"). He will find you a seat somewhere.
 +
 
 +
There are a number of different kinds of high speed and normal trains:
 +
 
 +
* ''TER'' (''Train Express Régional''): Regional trains and the backbone of the SNCF system. TER are slow but do serve most stations. Available on [[Eurail]] and [[InterRail]] passes.
 +
 
 +
* ''Intercités'': As of 2012, the bundling of the former Corail services. Includes trains with compulsory reservation (former ''Téoz'' and the ''Lunéa'' night trains) and those for which reservations are optional (former ''Intercités''). The reservation-optional trains are what one will often use on passes. Some trains go to regions that the TGV services don't, namely in Auvergne.
 +
 
 +
* ''TGV'' (''Trains à Grande Vitesse''): The world-famous French high-speed trains run several times a day to the Southeast [[Nice]](5-6h), Marseille (3h) and [[Avignon]] (2.5 h), the East [[Geneva]] (3h) or [[Lausanne]], [[Switzerland]] and [[Dijon]] (1h15) , the Southwest [[Bordeaux]] (3h), the West [[Rennes]] (2h), [[Nantes]] (2h), [[Brest (France)|Brest]] (4h) and the North [[Lille]] (1h). Eurostar to London (2h15) and Thalys to Brussels (1h20) use almost identical trains. Reservations are compulsory.
 +
 
 +
If you'll be doing more than about 2 return journeys in France and are younger than 26, getting a "Carte 12-25" will save you money.  They cost €50, last a year, and give anywhere from a 25% to 60% discount depending on when you book the ticket and when you travel.
 +
 
 +
Booking tickets online can be quite a confusing process as it is possible to book the same journey through a number of different websites (in different languages and currencies). The fares are not always consistent so it pays to check the same trip on a number of sites.
 +
 
 +
* '''www.voyages-sncf.com''' [http://www.voyages-sncf.com/] This is the French language booking website of the SNCF.
 +
 
 +
* '''www.tgv-europe.com''' [http://www.tgv-europe.com/] English language version of the SNCF site. Confusingly this site has a completely different layout and style from the French language version. There are a few strange quirks. The booking window requires you to enter your "country", and if you select France (as someone already in France is likely to do), you are directed back to the French language site.
 +
 
 +
* '''www.raileurope.com''' [http://www.raileurope.com/][http://www.raileurope.co.uk/] [http://www.raileurope.com.au/] The RailEurope sites are booking agencies owned by the SNCF. Fares will often be more expensive on these sites than on the "official" sites, however they are generally easier to use than the SNCF sites.
 +
 
 +
Both TGV-Europe and Voyages-SNCF frequently report errors in booking attempts; one of the workarounds is to call SNCF to book over the phone (00.33.892.35.35.35 "from outside France" per [http://www.sncf.com/en_EN/html/page/CONTACT.html]). The most attractive internet-only rates are not available there, but still it secures you a seat, and likely cheaper than if you buy in ticket office upon arrival.
 +
 
 +
If you've booked online on Voyages SNCF [http://www.voyages-sncf.com], you can pick up your ticket when you get to the train station. Contrary to a common misunderstanding, this web site allows you to order even if you live in the US; it is not concerned where you live, but where you will pick up the tickets or have them sent; thus if you wish to pick up the tickets at a SNCF train station or office, answer "France". When at the station, just go to the counter ("Guichet") and ask to have your ticket issued ("retirer votre billet").  You can ask "Je voudrais retirer mon billet, s'il vous plait", or 'zhe voo dray ruh teer ay mon bee yay, sill voo play' and then hand them the paper with the reference number. 
 +
 
 +
To find your train, locate your train number and the departure time on the departures board. There will be a track ("Voie") number next to the train and departure time. Follow signs to that track to board the train.  You will have a reserved seat on TGV trains. On other long-distance trains, you can optionally make reservations (at least one day in advance); if you do not have one you may use any unused seat not marked as reserved. To find your reserved seat, first look for the train coach number ("Voit. No"). Pay attention to the possible confusion between track number (Voi'''e''') and coach (voiture) number (abbreviated Voi'''t''')  As you go down the track, the coach number will be displayed on an LCD screen on the car, or maybe just written in the window or right next to the doors.
 +
 
 +
The reserved seat rules are lax; you are allowed if you switch seats or use another seat (of the same class of course) if it is empty because the TGV is not fully booked or the other person agrees to switch with you. The only requirement is not to continue using a reserved seat if the person holding the reservation claims it.
 +
 
 +
On the main lines, TGVs often run in twos. There are two possibilities: either the two TGVs are considered as one train with one train number (in this case each coach has a different number); or the two TGVs are considered as separate trains which run together during a part of their journey, with two different train numbers (in this case, the two trains may have two close numbers such as 1527 and 1537), and each train will have its own coach numbering. So be sure you are in the right train (the train number is shown on the LCD screen, with the coach number).
 +
 
 +
If you are early, there is often a map somewhere on the track that will show how the train and car numbers will line up on the track according to letters that appear either on the ground or on signs above. That way, you can stand by the letter corresponding with your coach number and wait to board the train closest to your coach. You can easily go from one coach to another, so if you are very late, jump in any coach of the same class before the train starts, wait until most people are seated, then walk to your coach and seat number.
 +
 
 +
'''Beware''': To avoid any form of fraud, your ticket '''must''' be punched by an automatic machine ("composteur") ''before entering the platform area'' to be valid. Older machines are bright orange, newer machines are yellow and gray. The machines are situated at the entrance of all platforms. Failure to punch the ticket may entitle you to a fine even if you are a foreigner with a limited French vocabulary, depending on how the conductor feels, unless you approach the conductor as quickly as possible and request that your ticket be validated. Likewise if you step aboard a train without a ticket, you '''must''' find the conductor ("contrôleur") and tell him about your situation before he finds you.
 +
 
 +
French information booths, especially in larger train stations, can be quite unhelpful, especially if you do not understand much French. If something does not seem to make sense, just say "excusez-moi" and they should repeat it.
 +
 
 +
Night train services also exist. These include ''couchettes'' second class (6 bunk beds in a compartment), first class (4 bunks) and Reclining seats.
 +
''Wagon-lits'' (a compartment with 2 real beds) were totally withdrawn from French overnight trains. However, you can ask for a "private room" (in first class). Night trains have occasionally been targeted by criminals, though this is not a widespread problem.
 +
 
 +
==== Troc des trains ====
 +
 
 +
As it is cheaper to book and purchase train tickets, especially those with reservations, in advance, there is a relatively lively trading of non-exchangeable and non-reimburseable train tickets on the Internet. See http://www.trocdestrains.com/recherche-billet-train.html and http://www.kelbillet.com/billet-de-train-pas-cher/
 +
 
 +
===By bus===
 +
Intercity bus service is new in France. Currently Eurolines[http://www.eurolines.fr/en/] is the only operator but with destinations across the country.
 +
 
 +
Elsewhere, intercity coaches can only be found in departmental/regional service. So check for the peculiarities of bus service in the region you are in.
 +
 
 +
Tickets for local service are usually affordable, i.e. in the region of Île De France generally cost €1.60 (10 cents more if purchased from the driver).
 +
 
 +
==Talk==
 +
 
 +
{{infobox|L'anglais et les Français|Yes, it's true: while most people in France under the age of 60 have studied English, they are often unable or unwilling to use it. This is not necessarily linguistic snobbery, but is usually due to lack of practice, or fear that their little-used-since-high-school English will sound ridiculous. If you really must speak English, be sure to begin the conversation in French and ask if the person can speak English, as assuming someone can speak a foreign language is considered very rude. Please note that British English, spoken with the carefully articulated "received pronunciation", is what is generally taught in France; thus, other accents (such as Irish, Scottish, Southern US or Australian accents) may be understood with difficulty, if at all. Try to speak clearly and slowly, and avoid slang or US-specific words or phrases. There is no need to speak loudly (unless in a loud environment) to be understood; doing so is considered impolite. Don't forget that French people will really appreciate any attempts you do to speak French.}}
 +
 
 +
See also: [[French phrasebook]]
 +
 
 +
'''French''' (français) is the official language of France, although there are regional variations in pronunciation and local words.  For example, throughout France the word for yes, oui, said "we", but you will often hear the slang form "ouais", said "waay." It's similar to the English language usage of "Yeah" instead of "Yes".
 +
 
 +
In [[Alsace]] and part of [[Lorraine]], a dialect of German called "Alsatian", which is almost incomprehensible to speakers of standard High German, is spoken. In the south, some still speak dialects of the ''Langue d'Oc'' (because the word for "yes" is ''oc''): Languedocien, Limousin, Auvergnat, or Provençal. Langue d'Oc is a Romance language, a very close relative of Italian, Spanish, or Catalan. In the west part of Brittany, a few people, mainly old or scholars, speak Breton; this Celtic language is closer to Welsh than to French. In parts of [[Aquitaine]], [[Basque phrasebook|Basque]] is spoken, but not as much as on the Spanish side of the border. In Corsica a kind of Italian is spoken.In [[Provence]], [[Provençal phrasebook|Provençal]] is most likely to be spoken, especially along the Riviera. In Paris, the ethnic Chinese community in Chinatown also speaks '''Teochew'''.
 +
 
 +
However, almost everyone speaks French and tourists are unlikely to ever come across regional languages, except in order to give a "folkloric" flair to things.
 +
 
 +
Hardly anybody understands imperial units such as gallons or Fahrenheit. Stick to metric units (after all, French invented this system!).
 +
 
 +
The French are generally attached to politeness (some might say excessively) and will react coolly to strangers that forget it. You might be surprised to see that you are greeted by other customers when you walk into a restaurant or shop.  Return the courtesy and address your hellos/goodbyes to everyone when you enter or leave small shops and cafes.  It is, for the French, very impolite to start a conversation with a stranger (even a shopkeeper or client) without at least a polite word like "bonjour". For this reason, starting the conversation with at least a few basic [[French phrasebook|French phrases]], or some equivalent polite form in English, goes a long way to convince them to try and help you.
 +
 
 +
* "Excusez-moi Monsieur/Madame":  Excuse me (ex-COO-zay-mwah mih-SYOOR/muh-DAM)
 +
 
 +
* "S'il vous plaît Monsieur/Madame" : Please (SEEL-voo-PLAY)
 +
 
 +
* "Merci Monsieur/Madame" : Thank you (mare-SEE)
 +
 
 +
* "Au revoir Monsieur/Madame" : Good Bye (Ore-vwar)
 +
 
 +
Avoid "Salut" (Hi); it is reserved for friends and relatives, and to use it with people you are not acquainted with is considered quite impolite.
 +
 
 +
Some travel phrases:
 +
 
 +
* Où est l'hôtel? - Where is the hotel?
 +
 
 +
* Où sont les toilettes? - Where can I find a restroom?
 +
 
 +
* Où est la gare? Where is the train station
 +
 
 +
* Parlez-vous Français? Do you speak French
 +
 
 +
* Parlez-vous Anglais? Do you speak English
 +
 
 +
Note that French spoken with an hard English accent or an American accent can be very difficult for the average French person to understand.  In such circumstances, it may be best to write down what you are trying to say. But tales of waiters refusing to serve tourists because their pronunciation doesn't meet French standards are highly exaggerated. A good-faith effort will usually be appreciated, but don't be offended if a waiter responds to your fractured French, or even fluent but accented, in English (If you are a fluent French speaker and the waiter speaks to you in English when you'd prefer to speak French, continue to respond in French and the waiter will usually switch back - this is a common occurrence in the more tourist-orientated areas, especially in Paris).
 +
 
 +
Please note that some parts of France (such as [[Paris]]) are at times overrun by tourists. The locals there may have some blasé feelings about helping for the umpteenth time foreign tourists who speak in an unintelligible language and ask for directions to the other side of the city. Be courteous and understanding.
 +
 
 +
As France is a very multicultural society, many African languages, Arabic, Chinese dialects, Vietnamese or Cambodian could be spoken. [[Spanish]], [[Italian]], [[Portuguese]] and even [[Romanian]] are comprehensible to a French speaker to a reasonably wide extent, as they are all mutually intelligible through most words and come from the same family tree, but you should stick to French unless you're in a large city.
 +
 
 +
==See==
 +
 
 +
Thinking of France, you might imagine the iconic '''Eiffel Tower''', the '''Arc de Triomphe''' or the famous smile of '''Mona Lisa'''. You might think of drinking coffee in the lively '''Paris cafés''' where great intellectuals lingered in past times, or of eating croissants in a local bistro of a sleepy but gorgeous '''village''' in the countryside. Probably, images of splendid '''châteaux''' will spring to your mind, of '''lavender fields''' or perhaps of '''vineyards''' as far as the eye can see. Or perhaps, you'd envisage the chic resorts of the '''Cote D'Azur'''. And you wouldn't be wrong. However, they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to France's many sights and attractions.
 +
 
 +
===Cities===
 +
 
 +
'''[[Paris]]'''. the "City of Light" and the capital of romance has been a travellers' magnet for centuries and a real must-see. Of course, no visit would be complete without a glance at its world famous landmarks. The Eiffel Tower is hard to miss, especially when it is lit beautifully at night, but the Arc de Triomphe, '''Notre Dame''' and '''Sacré Coeur''' are both famous and stunning sights too. With no less than '''3,800 national monuments''' in and around Paris, history is literally around every corner. Stroll through the city's spacious green parks, with the '''Luxembourg Gardens''' as one of the favourites, and make sure to spend some time on the famous banks of the '''river Seine'''. Also, don't miss the magnificent '''[[Versailles|Palace of Versailles]]''', the most grand reminder of the Ancient Regime located just 20 km away from the capital.
 +
 
 +
'''[[Bordeaux]]''' is famous for its wine but is also a bustling city with lots of historic sights to discover. It is listed as a World Heritage Site for being ''"an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble"''. '''[[Lyon]]''', the country's second largest city, is listed too, and boasts a beautiful '''old centre''' as well as a number of '''Roman ruins'''. '''[[Strasbourg]]''', one of the EU headquarters, has a character of its own, with clear [[Germany|German]] influences. '''[[Montpellier]]''' is one of the best places in the south, with lots of monumental buildings and nice cafés. In the west there's the beautiful historic city of [[Nantes]], home to the '''Château des ducs de Bretagne''' and many other monuments. The '''Capitole de [[Toulouse]]''' is situated right at the heart that famous university city's street plan. Last but not least, don't overlook '''[[Arles]]''', with its World Heritage Listed '''Roman and Romanesque Monuments'''.
 +
 
 +
===French Riviera===
 +
 
 +
And then there are the magnificent cities of the '''[[Côte d'Azur]]''', once the place to be for the rich and famous but now equally popular with a general crowd. Its sandy beaches, beautiful bays, rocky cliffs and lovely towns has made it one of the main yachting and cruising areas in the world as well as popular destination for land-bound travellers. There's bustling '''[[Nice]]''', where some 4 million tourists a year enjoy the stony beaches and stroll over the '''Promenade des Anglais'''. '''[[Avignon]]''' with its splendid ramparts and '''Palais-des-Papes''' was once the seat of popes. Although '''[[Saint-Tropez]]''' gets overcrowded in summer, it's a delightful place in any other season. The same goes for '''[[Cannes]]''', where the jet-set of the film industry gathers each year for the famous '''Cannes Film Festival'''. From there, you can hop on a boat to the much more peaceful '''[[Îles de Lérins]]'''.
 +
 
 +
Much smaller in size but just as gorgeous (and popular) are the perched villages of '''[[Gourdon]]''' and '''[[Èze]]''', which is located on a 427 meter high cliff, much like an “eagle's nest”. Both offer some stunning panoramic views. From Èze, its a very short trip to the glitter and glamour of '''[[Monaco]]'''. For the world's millionaires and aristocracy, the green peninsula of '''[[Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat]]''' is an old time favourite with the impressive '''Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild''' full of impressionist art as its main sight. A bit more inland but well-worth a visit are the towns of '''[[Grasse]]''', famous for its '''perfumeries''', and '''[[Biot]]''', known for its glass blowers. The huge city and arts-hub '''[[Marseille]]''' is usually not considered part of the Cote D'Azur, but is very close. It has plenty of historic sights and nearby are the stunning '''Calanques''', a series of miniature fjords it shares with [[Cassis]].
 +
 
 +
===Countryside &amp; villages===
 +
 
 +
You haven't seen the best of France if you haven't had at least a taste of its amazing countryside, dotted with wonderful '''medieval villages and castles'''. There are great examples in any part of the country, but some 156 small towns have been identified as the most beautiful villages in France[http://www.les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france.org/en]. The country's landscapes vary from the snow-covered peaks of the '''[[Alps]]''' and the '''[[Pyrenees]]''' with their many winter sports resorts to lush river valleys, dense forests and huge stretches of farmland and vineyards. The '''[[Provence]]''', backing a good part of the Côte d'Azur, is one of the most beloved regions. It has a typical Mediterranean atmosphere and is famous for its lavender fields and rosé wines. It's also home to the stunning '''[[Verdon Gorge]]''', one of the most beautiful gorges in [[Europe]]. The rolling riverine landscape of the '''[[Loire Valley]]''' is home to many great castles, of which [[Amboise|Châteaux Amboise]], [[Château de Villandry]], [[Azay-le-Rideau]], [[Chambord]] and [[Châteaux du Pin]] are some of the finest examples. The western region of '''[[Brittany]]''' reaches far into the Atlantic and boasts many '''megalith monuments''' such as those near [[Carnac]]. The beaches of '''[[Normandy]]''', also on the Atlantic coast, are famed for the D-Day Allied invasion on June 6, 1944. Although the humbling '''Normandy American Cemetery''' and countless museums, memorials and war time remains keep memory of those dark days alive, the region is now a pleasant and popular destination. Its picturesque coast line includes both long stretches of beach and steep limestone cliffs, such as those near [[Étretat]]). The region is also home to the splendid and World Heritage listed '''[[Mont-Saint-Michel]] and its Bay'''. The lush hills of the '''[[Dordogne]]''' form another region famous for its '''castles''', with over 1500 of them on its 9000 km2 area.
 +
 
 +
===Art museums===
 +
 
 +
As the French have a real taste for art, the country has numerous art galleries and museums. Several of them are widely considered to be among the finest museums in the world of art, art-history, and culture. The grandeur and fame of the '''Musée du Louvre''' in [[Paris]] can hardly be matched by any other museum in the world. It boasts a fabulous collection of art from antiquity to the 19th century and is home of the Mona Lisa and many other renowned works. At just a 15 minute walk from there is the '''Musée d'Orsay''', another world class museum that picks up roughly where the Louvre's collections ends. It's located in an old railway station and houses the national collection of art works from the 1848 to 1914 period. Its excellent collection includes some of the best French Impressionist, post-Impressionist and Art Nouveau works, including Degas' ballerinas and Monet's waterlillies. The '''Musée National d'Art Moderne''' in '''Centre Pompidou''', still in France's capital, is the largest museum for modern art in Europe. The '''Museum of Fine Arts''' in [[Lyon]] has an excellent collection varying from ancient Egypt antiquities to Modern art paintings and sculptures. In [[Lille]] you'll find the '''Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille''', one of the country's largest museums. Its varied collection is second in size after the Louvre and boasts anything from antiquities to modern art. Smaller but still outstanding are the collections of the '''Musée Fabre''' in [[Montpellier]], '''Musée Toulouse-Lautrec''' in [[Albi]] and the '''Picasso Museum''' in Paris. [[Marseille]] has many galleries and its '''Musée Cantini''' has a good collection of modern art associated with Marseille as well as several works by Picasso. '''Fondation Maeght''' houses modern art too and is situated in [[Saint-Paul de Vence]].
 +
 
 +
===Parks &amp; natural attractions===
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 +
'''[[Disneyland Resort Paris]]''' is by far France's most popular park, visited by families from all over Europe. The country's national parks have quite some visitors too though, due to their splendid scenery and great opportunities for outdoor sports. '''[[Vanoise National Park]]''' is the oldest and one of the largest parks, named after the Vanoise massif. Its highest peak is the '''Grande Casse''' at 3,855 m. The impressive natural landscapes of '''[[Parc national des Pyrénées]]''' are right on the southern border of France and extend well into [[Spain]], where they are part of the '''Parc National Ordesa y Monte Perdido''' The whole area is listed as UNESCO World Heritage. In the French part, the glacial '''cirques of Gavarnie, Estaubé and Troumouse''' are some of the best sights, as is the '''wall of Barroud'''. The again mountainous '''Cévennes National Park''' covers parts of the [[Languedoc-Roussillon]] (including te popular '''[[Ardèche]]'''), [[Midi-Pyrenees|Midi-Pyrénées]] and the [[Rhône-Alpes]] regions. Its headquarters is in the castle of [[Florac]], but there are towns all over the park. Donkey rides are available and the '''Cave formation of Aven Armand''' is one of the parks' best sights.
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 +
Not yet under a protective status but highly popular is '''[[Mont Blanc]]''', the highest peak in Europe and attractive for climbing, hiking and skiing. From the French side, it is mostly explored from '''[[Chamonix]]''', a well known resort on the foot of the mountain.
 +
 
 +
==Do==
 +
 
 +
*Go to the top of the '''Eiffel Tower''' in [[Paris]]
 +
 
 +
*Stroll grand Parisian Boulevards
 +
 
 +
*Climb '''Montmartre''' Hill in [[Paris]]
 +
 
 +
*See a managable amount of art in the Louvre, or see the art in the Orsay Museum, in a former train station
 +
 
 +
*See the modern architecture in the business district of [[Paris/La Defense|La Defense]]
 +
 
 +
*See the Science Museum in Villette Park, and the other odd attractions assembled there
 +
 
 +
*Stroll an old train viaduct on the Promenade Plantee in [[Paris]]
 +
 
 +
*See the stunning, but crowded, [[Versailles|Versailles Palace]]
 +
 
 +
*Ride the '''TGV''', one of the fastest trains in the world, from [[Paris]] to [[Lyon]]
 +
 
 +
*See the "[[D-Day beaches]]" of [[Normandy]]
 +
 
 +
*Cross the beach at low tide and then climb to the top of [[Mont Saint Michel]]
 +
 
 +
*Explore [[Chartres]] Cathedral
 +
 
 +
*See the quaintness of the [[Alsace]]
 +
 
 +
*Sunbathe on the beaches of the [[French Riviera]]
 +
 
 +
* Ride a bike along a section of Tour De France
 +
 
 +
==Buy==
 +
 
 +
===Vacations===
 +
 
 +
Many of the French take their vacations in August. As a result, outside of touristic areas, many of the smaller stores (butcher shops, bakeries...) will be closed in parts of August. This also applies to many corporations as well as physicians. Obviously, in touristy areas, stores will tend to be open when the tourists come, especially July and August. In contrast, many attractions will be awfully crowded during those months, and during Easter week-end.
 +
 
 +
Some attractions, especially in rural areas, close or have reduced opening hours outside the touristic season.
 +
 
 +
Mountain areas tend to have two touristic seasons: in the winter, for skiing, snowshoeing and other snow-related activities, and in the summer for sightseeing and hiking.
 +
 
 +
===Money===
 +
{{Euro}}
 +
 
 +
Some foreign currencies such as the US dollar and the British Pound are occasionally accepted, especially in touristic areas and in higher-end places, but one should not count on it; furthermore, the merchant may apply some unfavourable rate. In general, shops will refuse transactions in foreign currency.
 +
 
 +
It is compulsory, for the large majority of businesses, to post prices in windows. Hotels and restaurants must have their rates visible from outside (note, however, that many hotels propose lower prices than the posted ones if they feel they will have a hard time filling up their rooms; the posted price is only a maximum).
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 +
Almost all stores, restaurants and hotels take the CB French debit card, and its foreign affiliations, Visa and Mastercard. American Express tends to be accepted only in high-end shops. Check with your bank for applicable fees (typically, banks apply the wholesale inter-bank exchange rate, which is the best available, but may slap a proportional and/or a fixed fee).
 +
 
 +
French CB cards (and CB/Visa and CB/Mastercard cards) have a "smart chip" on them allowing PIN authentication of transactions. This system, initiated in France, has now evolved to an international standard and newer British cards are compatible. Some automatic retail machines (such as those vending tickets) may be compatible only with cards with the microchip. In addition, cashiers unaccustomed to foreign cards possibly do not know that foreign Visa or Mastercard cards have to be swiped and a signature obtained, while French customers systematically use PIN and don't sign the transactions.
 +
 
 +
There is (practically) no way to get a cash advance from a credit card without a PIN in France.
 +
 
 +
Automatic teller machines (ATM) are by far the best way to get money in France. They all take CB, Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus and Plus and are plentiful throughout France. They may accept other kinds of card; check for the logos on the ATM and on your card (on the back, generally) if at least one matches. It is possible that some machines do not handle 6-digit PIN codes (only 4-digit ones), or that they do not offer the choice between different accounts (defaulting on the checking account). Check with your bank about applicable fees, which may vary greatly (typically, banks apply the wholesale inter-bank exchange rate, which is the best available, but may slap a proportional and/or a fixed fee; because of the fixed fee it is generally better to withdraw money in big chunks rather than €20 at a time). Also, check about applicable maximal withdrawal limits.
 +
 
 +
Traveller's cheques are difficult to use &mdash; most merchants will not accept them, and exchanging them may involve finding a bank that accepts to exchange them and possibly paying a fee.
 +
 
 +
Note that the postal service doubles as a bank, so often post offices will have an ATM. As a result, even minor towns will have ATMs usable with foreign cards.
 +
 
 +
Exchange offices (''bureaux de change'') are now rarer with the advent of the Euro - they will in general only be found in towns with a significant foreign tourist presence, such as Paris. Some banks exchange money, often with high fees. The Bank of France no longer does foreign exchange.
 +
 
 +
'''Do's''' Put money into your checking account, carry an ATM card with a Cirrus or Plus logo on it and a 4-digit pin that does not start with '0' and withdraw cash from ATMs. Pay larger transactions (hotel, restaurants...) with Visa or Mastercard. Always carry some € cash for emergencies.
 +
 
 +
'''Don't's''' Carry foreign currency ($, £...) or traveller's cheques, and exchange them on the go, or expect them to be accepted by shops.
 +
 
 +
===Stores===
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 +
Inside city centre, you will find smaller stores, chain grocery stores (''Casino'') as well as, occasionally, department stores and small shopping malls. Residential areas will often have small supermarkets (''Champion'', ''Intermarché''). Large supermarkets (''hypermarchés'' such as ''Géant Casino'' or ''Carrefour'') are mostly located on the outskirts of towns and are probably not useful unless you have a car.
 +
 
 +
Prices are indicated with all taxes (namely, the TVA, or value-added tax) included. It is possible for non-EU residents to get a partial refund upon departure from certain stores that have a "tax-free shopping" sticker; inquire within. TVA is 19.6% on most things, but 7% on some things such as books, restaurant meals, and public transport and 5.5% on food purchased from grocery stores (except for sweets and candies!). Alcoholic beverages are always taxed at 19.6%, regardless of where they're purchased.
 +
 
 +
==Eat==
 +
 
 +
With its international reputation for fine dining, few people would be surprised to hear that French cuisine can certainly be very good.  Unfortunately, it can also be quite disappointing; many restaurants serve very ordinary fare, and some in touristy areas are rip-offs.  Finding the right restaurant is therefore very important - try asking locals, hotel staff or even browsing restaurant guides for recommendations as simply walking in off the street can be a hit and miss affair. 
 +
 
 +
There are many places to try French food in France, from three-star Michelin restaurants to French "brasseries" or "bistros" that you can find at almost every corner, especially in big cities.  These usually offer a relatively consistent and virtually standardised menu of relatively inexpensive cuisine.  To obtain a greater variety of dishes, a larger outlay of money is often necessary.  In general, one should try to eat where the locals do for the best chance of a memorable meal.  Most small cities or even villages have local restaurants which are sometimes listed in the most reliable guides. There are also specific local restaurants, like "bouchons lyonnais" in Lyons, "crêperies" in Brittany (or in the Montparnasse area of Paris), etc.
 +
 
 +
Chinese, Vietnamese, even Thai eateries are readily available in Paris, either as regular restaurants or "traiteurs" (fast-food). They are not so common, and are more expensive, in smaller French cities. Many places have "Italian" restaurants though these are often little more than unimaginative pizza and pasta parlors. You will also find North African (Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian) as well as Greek and Lebanese food. The ubiquitous hamburger eateries (US original or their French copies) are also available; note that McDonalds is more upmarket in France than in the US.
 +
 
 +
In France, taxes (7 per cent of the total in restaurants) and service (usually 15 per cent) are always included in the bill, so anything patrons add to the bill amount is an "extra-tip". French people usually leave one or two coins if they were happy with the service. 
 +
 
 +
Fixed price menus seldom include beverages. If you want water, waiters will often try to sell you mineral water (Évian, Thonon) or fizzy water (Badoit, Perrier), at a premium; ask for a ''carafe d'eau'' for tap water, which is free and safe to drink. Water ''never'' comes with ice in it unless so requested (and water with ice may not be available).
 +
 
 +
As in other countries, restaurants tend to make a large profit off beverages. Expect wine to cost much more than it would in a supermarket.
 +
 
 +
Ordering is made either from fixed price menus (''prix fixe'') or ''à la carte''.
 +
 
 +
A typical fixed price menu will comprise:
 +
 
 +
* appetizer, called ''entrées'' or ''hors d'œuvres''
 +
* main dish, called ''plat''
 +
* dessert (''dessert'') or cheese (''fromage'')
 +
 
 +
Sometimes, restaurants offer the option to take only two of three steps, at a reduced price.
 +
 
 +
Coffee is always served as a final step (though it may be followed by liquors). A request for coffee during the meal will be considered strange.
 +
 
 +
Not all restaurants are open for lunch and dinner, nor are they open all year around. It is therefore advisable to check carefully the opening times and days. A restaurant open for lunch will usually start service at noon and accept patrons until 13:30. Dinner begins at around 19:30 and patrons are accepted until 21:30. Restaurants with longer service hours are usually found only in the larger cities and in the downtown area. Finding a restaurant open on Saturday and especially Sunday can be a challenge unless you stay close to the tourist areas.
 +
 
 +
In a reasonable number of restaurants, especially outside tourist areas, a booking is compulsory and people may be turned away without one, even if the restaurant is clearly not filled to capacity.  For this reason, it can be worthwhile to research potential eateries in advance and make the necessary reservations to avoid disappointment, especially if the restaurant you're considering is specially advised in guide books.
 +
 
 +
A lunch or dinner for two on the "menu" including wine and coffee will cost you (as of 2004) €70 to €100 in a listed restaurant in Paris. The same with beer in a local "bistro" or a "crêperie" around €50. A lunch or dinner for one person in a decent Chinese restaurant in Paris can cost as little as €8 if one looks carefully.
 +
 
 +
Outside of Paris and the main cities, prices are not always lower but the menu will include a fourth course, usually cheese. As everywhere beware of the tourist traps which are numerous around the heavy travelled spots and may offer a nice view but not much to remember in your plate.
 +
 
 +
===Bread===
 +
 
 +
All white bread variants keep for only a short time and must be eaten the same day.  Hence bakers bake at least twice a day.
 +
 
 +
*The famous '''baguette''': a long, thin loaf
 +
 
 +
*Variants of the baguette : la ficelle (even thinner), la flûte
 +
 
 +
*''Pain de campagne'' or ''Pain complet'': made from whole grain which keeps relatively well.
 +
 
 +
===Pastries===
 +
 
 +
Pastries are a large part of French cooking. Hotel breakfasts tend to be light, consisting of ''tartines'' (pieces of bread with butter or jam) or the famous ''croissants'' and ''pains au chocolat'', not dissimilar to a  chocolate filled croissant (but square rather than crescent shaped).
 +
 
 +
Pastries can be found in a ''pâtisserie'' but also in most boulangeries.
 +
 
 +
===Regional dishes===
 +
 
 +
Every French region has dishes all its own. These dishes follow the resources (game, fish, agriculture, etc) of the region, the vegetables (cabbage, turnip, endives, etc) which they grow there. Here is a small list of regional dishes which you can find easily in France. Generally each region has a unique and widespread dish (usually because it was poor people's food):
 +
 
 +
*'''Cassoulet''' (in south west) : Beans, duck, pork &amp; sausages
 +
 
 +
*'''Choucroute''', or sauerkraut (in Alsace) : stripped fermented cabbage + pork
 +
 
 +
*'''Fondue Savoyarde''' (central Alps) : Melted/hot cheese with alcohol
 +
 
 +
*'''Fondue Bourguignonne''' (in Burgundy) : Pieces of beef (in boiled oil), usually served with a selection of various sauces.
 +
 
 +
*'''Raclette''' (central Alps) : melted cheese & potatoes/meat
 +
 
 +
*'''Pot-au-feu''' boiled beef with vegetables
 +
 
 +
*'''Boeuf Bourguignon''' (Burgundy) : slow cooked beef with gravy
 +
 
 +
*'''Gratin dauphinois''' (Rhone-Alpes) : oven roasted slices of potatoes
 +
 
 +
*'''Aligot''' (Auvergne) : melted cheese mixed with a puree of potatoes
 +
 
 +
*'''Bouillabaisse''' (fish + saffron) (Marseille and French Riviera). Don't be fooled. A real bouillabaisse is a really expensive dish due to the amount of fresh fish it requires. Be prepared to pay at least €30/persons. If you find restaurants claiming serving bouillabaisse for something like €15/persons, you'll get a very poor quality.
 +
 
 +
*'''Tartiflette''' (Savoie) Reblochon cheese, potatoes and pork or bacon.
 +
 
 +
*'''Confit de Canard''' (Landes) : Duck Confit, consists of legs and wings bathing in grease. That grease is actually very healthy and, with red wine, is one of the identified sources of the so-called "French Paradox" (eat richly, live long).
 +
 
 +
*'''Foie Gras''' (Landes) : The liver of a duck or goose. Although usually quite expensive, foie gras can be found in supermarkets for a lower price (because of their purchasing power) around the holiday season. It is the time of year when most of foie gras is consumed in France. It goes very well with Champagne.
 +
 +
Cooking and drinking is a notable part of the French culture, take time to eat and discover new dishes...
 +
 
 +
===Unusual foods===
 +
 
 +
Contrary to stereotype, snails and frog legs are quite infrequent foods in France, with many French people enjoying neither, or sometimes having never even tasted them. Quality restaurants sometimes have them on their menu: if you're curious about trying new foods, go ahead.
 +
*'''Frogs' legs''' have a very fine and delicate taste with flesh that is not unlike chicken.  They are often served in a garlic dressing and are no weirder to eat than, say, crab.
 +
*Most of the taste of '''Bourgogne snails''' (escargots de bourgogne) comes from the generous amount of butter, garlic and parsley in which they are cooked.  They have a very particular spongy-leathery texture that is what is liked by people who like snails. Catalan style snails ("cargols") are made a completely different way, and taste much weirder.
 +
 
 +
Let us also cite:
 +
* '''Rillettes sarthoises''' also known as Rillettes du Mans.  A sort of potted meat, made from finely shredded and spiced pork. A delicious speciality of the Sarthe area in the north of the Pays de la Loire and not to be confused with rillettes from other areas, which are more like a rough pate.
 +
* '''Beef bone marrow''' (os à moelle). Generally served in small quantities, with a large side. So go ahead: If you don't like it, you'll have something else to eat in your plate.
 +
* '''Veal sweetbread''' (ris de Veau), is a very fine (and generally expensive) delicacy, often served with morels, or in more elaborates dishes like "bouchees a la reine".
 +
* '''Beef bowels''' (''tripes'') is served either "A la mode de Caen" (with a white wine sauce, named after the town in Normandy) or "A la catalane" (with a slightly spiced tomato sauce)
 +
* '''Andouillettes''' are sausages made from tripe, a specialty of Lyon
 +
* '''Tricandilles''' are seasoned and grilled pork tripe from the Bordeaux region
 +
* '''Beef tongue''' (''langue de bœuf'') and '''beef nose'''(museau) and  Veal head (tête de veau) are generally eaten cold (but thoroughly cooked!) as an appetizer.
 +
* '''Oysters''' (Huîtres) are most commonly served raw in a half shell. They are often graded by size, No1 being the largest (and most expensive).
 +
* '''Oursins''' (sea urchins) For those who like concentrated iodine.
 +
* '''Steak tartare''' a big patty of ground beef cured in acid as opposed to cooked, frequently served with a raw egg.  Good steak tartare will be prepared to order at tableside.  A similar dish is '''boeuf carpaccio''', which is thin slices or strips of raw steak drizzled with olive oil and herbs.
 +
* '''Cervelle''' (pronounced ser-VELL), lamb brain.
 +
 
 +
===Cheese===
 +
 
 +
France is certainly THE country of cheese, with nearly 400 different kinds. Indeed, former president General Charles De Gaulle was quoted as saying "How can you govern a country which has 365 varieties of cheese?".
 +
 
 +
Here is a far from exhaustive list of what one can find:
 +
 
 +
{| cellpadding="4" border="0" align="center"
 
|-
 
|-
!scope="col" rowspan="2"|Département
+
| Bleu des Causses || Livarot || Roquefort
!scope="col" colspan="3"|Immigrants
+
!scope="col" colspan="3"|Children under 20 with at least one immigrant parent
+
|-  style="text-align:center; background:#f0f0f0;"
+
!scope="col" |Number
+
!scope="col" |% département
+
!scope="col" |% Île-de-France
+
!scope="col" |Number
+
!scope="col" |% département
+
!scope="col" |% Île-de-France
+
 
|-
 
|-
| Paris (75)||436'576||20||22.4||162'635||41.3||15.4
+
| Bleu du Vercors || Morbier || Saint Nectaire
 
|-
 
|-
| [[Seine-Saint-Denis]] (93)||394'831||26.5||20.2||234'837||57.1||22.2
+
| Boulette d'Avesnes || Maroilles || Salers
 
|-
 
|-
| [[Hauts-de-Seine]] (92)||250'190||16.3||12.8||124'501||34||11.8
+
| Brie de Meaux || Munster || Sainte Maure de Touraine
 
|-
 
|-
| [[Val-de-Marne]] (94)||234'633||18.1||12||127'701||40||12.1
+
| Brie de Melun || Murol || Selles-sur-Cher
 
|-
 
|-
| [[Val-d’Oise]] (95)||185'890||16.1||9.5||124'644||38.5||11.8
+
| Broccio || Neufchâtel || Saint Marcellin
 
|-
 
|-
| [[Yvelines]] (78)||161'869||11.6||8.3||98'755||26.4||9.3
+
| Camembert || Ossau-Iraty || Sainte Maure de Touraine
 
|-
 
|-
| [[Essonne]] (91)||150'980||12.6||7.7||94'003||29.6||8.9
+
| Cantal || Pelardon || Tomme de chèvre
 
|-
 
|-
| [[Seine-et-Marne]] (77)||135'654||10.7||7||90'319||26||8.5
+
| Chaource || Pérail || Tomme des Cévennes
 +
|-
 +
| Comté || Picodon  ||Valençay
 +
|-
 +
| ... ||
 
|-
 
|-
| [[Île-de-France (region)|Île-de-France]]||1'950'623||16.9||100||1'057'394||37.1||100
 
 
|}
 
|}
(source : Insee, EAR 2006)
 
  
Reading: 436 576 immigrants live in Paris, representing 20% of Parisians and 22.4% of immigrants in Île-de-France.
+
===Dietary restrictions===
162 635 children under 20 with at least one immigrant parent live in Paris, representing 41.3% of the total of children under 20 in Paris
+
and 15.4% of the total of children under 20 with at least one immigrant parent in Île-de-France.
+
  
==Administration==
+
Vegetarianism is not as uncommon as it used to be, especially in larger cities. Still, very few restaurants offer vegetarian menus, thus if you ask for something vegetarian the only things they may have available are salad and vegetable side dishes.
  
Paris, its administrative limits unchanged since 1860 (save for the addition of two large parks), is one of a few cities that have not evolved politically with their real demographic growth; this issue is at present being discussed in plans for a "Grand Paris" (Greater Paris) which could extend Paris' administrative limits to embrace much more of its urban tissue.<ref name="grand_paris">{{Fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://www.20minutes.fr/article/169001/Paris-Sarkozy-relance-le-projet-d-un-Grand-Paris.php|title=Sarkozy relance le projet d'un Grand Paris|author=20mins.fr|accessdate=2008-04-13}}</ref>
+
There may still be confusions between vegetarianism and pesce/pollotarianism. Vegetarian/organic food restaurants are starting to appear. However, "traditional" French restaurants may not have anything vegetarian on the menu, so you may have to pick something "à la carte", which is usually more expensive.
 +
Veganism is still very uncommon and it may be difficult to find vegan eateries.
  
===Capital of France===
+
===Breakfast===
[[File:Elysée Palace, Paris 2005.jpg|thumb|right|The [[Élysée Palace]], residence of the [[President of France|French President]].]]
+
Paris is the seat of France's national government. For the executive, the two chief officers each have their own official residences, which also serve as their offices. The [[President of France]] resides at the [[Élysée Palace]] in the [[8th arrondissement of Paris|8th arrondissement]], while the [[Prime Minister of France|Prime Minister]]'s seat is at the [[Hôtel Matignon]] in the [[7th arrondissement of Paris|7th arrondissement]]. Government ministries are located in various parts of the city; many are located in the 7th arrondissement, near the Matignon.
+
  
The two houses of the French Parliament are also located on the [[Rive Gauche|Left Bank]]. The upper house, the [[Senate of France|Senate]], meets in the [[Palais du Luxembourg]] in the [[6th arrondissement of Paris|6th arrondissement]], while the more important lower house, the [[Assemblée Nationale]], meets in the [[Palais Bourbon]] in the [[7th arrondissement of Paris|7th]]. The [[List of Presidents of the French Senate|President of the Senate]], the second-highest public official in France after the President of the Republic, resides in the "Petit Luxembourg", a smaller palace annex to the [[Palais du Luxembourg]].{{Citation needed|date=June 2010}}
+
Breakfast in France isn't the most important meal of the day and is usually very light. The most typical breakfast consists of a coffee and a croissant or some other "viennoiserie", but since it implies going to the baker's store early in the morning to buy fresh croissant, it's typically reserved for somewhat special occasions. On normal days most people have a beverage (coffee, tea, hot chocolate, orange juice) and either toasts ("tartines" made of baguette or toast bread with butter and jam/honey/Nutella) that can be dipped in the hot beverage, or cereals with milk. People who eat healthy may go for fruits and yoghurt. As a general rule, the french breakfast is mostly sweet, but everything changes and you can have salty breakfasts everywhere today.
  
France's highest courts are located in Paris. The [[Court of Cassation (France)|Court of Cassation]], the highest court in the judicial order, which reviews criminal and civil cases, is located in the [[Palais de Justice, Paris|Palais de Justice]] on the ''[[Île de la Cité]]'', while the [[Council of State (France)|Conseil d'État]], which provides legal advice to the executive and acts as the highest court in the administrative order, judging litigation against public bodies, is located in the [[Palais Royal]] in the [[Ier arrondissement|1st arrondissement]].{{Citation needed|date=June 2010}}
+
==Drink==
 +
Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, the Loire Valley... France is the home of wine.  It can be found cheaply just about anywhere. Beer (lager) is also extremely popular, in particular in northern France, where "[[Biere de Garde]]" can be found.  The alcohol purchase age was recently raised to '''18''' for all drinks, but this is not always strictly enforced; however, laws against drunk driving are strictly enforced, with stiff penalties.
  
The [[Constitutional Council of France|Constitutional Council]], an advisory body with ultimate authority on the constitutionality of laws and government decrees, also meets in the [[Palais Royal]].{{Citation needed|date=June 2010}}
+
Wine and liquors may be purchased from supermarkets, or from specialized stores such as the Nicolas chain. Nicolas offers good advice on what to buy (specify the kind of wine and the price range you desire). In general, only French wines are available unless a foreign wine is a "specialty" with no equivalent in France (such as port), and they are classified by region of origin, not by grape.
  
===City government===
+
Never drink alcoholic beverages (especially red wine or strong alcohol such as cognac) directly from a 70 cl bottle. Such behaviour is generally associated with bums and drunkards (though if you are surrounded by college students, you may be OK). Drinking beer from a 25 to 50cl can or bottle is ok.
{{Main|Paris mayors|Arrondissements of Paris}}
+
[[File:Par Arr.svg|thumb|300px|right|The [[arrondissements of Paris]].]]
+
  
Paris has been a ''[[Communes of France|commune]]'' (municipality) since 1834 (and also briefly between 1790 and 1795). At the 1790 division (during the [[French Revolution]]) of France into communes, and again in 1834, Paris was a city only half its modern size, but, in 1860, it annexed bordering communes, some entirely, to create the new administrative map of twenty ''[[Arrondissements of Paris|municipal arrondissements]]'' the city still has today. These municipal subdivisions describe a clockwise spiral outward from its most central, the [[1st arrondissement of Paris|1st arrondissement]].{{Citation needed|date=June 2010}}
+
Prices of food and beverages will vary on whether they're served to you at the bar or sitting at a table - the same cup of espresso might cost €0.50 more if served at a table than at the bar, and €0.50 more again if served out on the terrace. Really, you're not paying so much for the beverage as for the table spot.  Do consider the bar, though - while you will have to stand, café bars are often where a great deal of public discourse and interaction happens.  In any event, cafés are required by law to post their prices somewhere in the establishment, usually either in the window or on the wall by the bar.  Note also that cafés in touristy areas, especially in Paris, tend to serve very expensive food of rather average quality.  Unless you are dying of hunger or thirst, avoid the places that have menus in multiple languages or are near heavily-trafficked attractions. Instead, consider buying snacks and beverages from a grocery store and enjoying them in a nearby park.
  
In 1790, Paris became the ''[[préfecture]]'' (seat) of the [[Seine (department)|Seine]] ''[[département in France|département]]'', which covered much of the Paris region. In 1968, it was split into four smaller ones: The city of Paris became a distinct ''département'' of its own, retaining the Seine's departmental number of 75 (originating from the Seine ''département'''s position in France's alphabetical list), while three new ''départements'' of [[Hauts-de-Seine]], [[Seine-Saint-Denis]] and [[Val-de-Marne]] were created and given the numbers 92, 93, and 94, respectively. The result of this division is that today Paris' limits as a ''département'' are exactly those of its limits as a ''commune'', a situation unique in France.{{Citation needed|date=June 2010}}
+
There are a couple of mixed drinks which seem to be more or less unique to France, and nearby francophone countries.
 +
*'''Panaché''' is a mix of beer and lemonade, basically a beer shandy. (Same as "Radler" in Central Europe.)
 +
*'''Monaco''' is a Panaché with some grenadine syrup added.
 +
*'''Kir''' is a pleasant aperitif of white wine (in theory, ''Bourgogne Aligoté'') or, less frequently, of champagne (then named ''kir royal'' and about twice the price of regular kir) and cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), or peche (peach), or ''mûre'' (blackberry).
 +
*'''Pastis''' is an anise-based (licorice-flavored) spirit, similar in taste to Sambuca or Ouzo, that is served with a few lumps of sugar and a small pitcher of cold water to dilute the liquor.  It is traditionally enjoyed on very hot days, and as such is more popular in the south of the country but available more or less everywhere.
  
===Municipal offices===
+
There is a variety of bottled water, including:
Each of Paris' twenty arrondissements has a directly elected council (''conseil d'arrondissement''), which, in turn, elects an arrondissement mayor. A selection of members from each arrondissement council form the [[Council of Paris]] (''conseil de Paris''), which, in turn, elects the [[mayor of Paris]].
+
* Évian, Thonon, Contrex, Volvic: mineral water
 +
* Perrier: fizzy water
 +
* Badoit: slightly fizzy and salty water.
  
In [[medieval]] times, Paris was governed by a merchant-elected municipality whose head was the [[List of mayors of Paris|provost of the merchants]]. In addition to regulating city commerce, the provost of the merchants was responsible for some civic duties such as the guarding of city walls and the cleaning of city streets. The creation of the [[provost (civil)|provost of Paris]] from the 13th century diminished the merchant Provost's responsibilities and powers considerably.
+
==Sleep==
  
{|border="1" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="0" style="float:right; margin:1em; background:#f9f9f9; border:1px #aaa solid; border-collapse:collapse; font-size:95%;"
+
===Short term rentals===
|+ '''Composition of the Council of Paris'''
+
|- style="background:#e9e9e9; border-bottom:2px solid gray;"
+
!colspan=2|Party||Seats
+
|-
+
! style="background-color: {{Socialist Party (France)/meta/color}}"|<span style="color:white; font-size:140%;">•</span>
+
|[[Socialist Party (France)|Socialist Party]]||align="right"|72
+
|-
+
! style="background-color: {{Union for a Popular Movement/meta/color}}"|
+
|[[Union for a Popular Movement]]||align="right"|55
+
|-
+
! style="background-color: {{The Greens (France)/meta/color}}"|<span style="color:white; font-size:140%;">•</span>
+
|[[The Greens (France)|The Greens]]||align="right"|9
+
|-
+
! style="background-color: {{French Communist Party/meta/color}}"|<span style="color:white; font-size:140%;">•</span>
+
|[[French Communist Party]]||align="right"|8
+
|-
+
! style="background-color: {{New Centre/meta/color}}"|
+
|[[New Centre]]||align="right"|8
+
|-
+
! style="background-color: {{Citizen and Republican Movement/meta/color}}"|<span style="color:white; font-size:140%;">•</span>
+
|[[Citizen and Republican Movement]]||align="right"|5
+
|-
+
! style="background-color: {{Miscellaneous Left/meta/color}}"|<span style="color:white; font-size:140%;">•</span>
+
|Miscellaneous Left||align="right"|2
+
|-
+
! style="background-color: {{Left Party (France)/meta/color}}"|<span style="color:white; font-size:140%;">•</span>
+
|[[Left Party (France)|Left Party]]||align="right"|2
+
|-
+
! style="background-color: {{Democratic Movement (France)/meta/color}}"|
+
|[[Democratic Movement (France)|MoDem]]||align="right"|1
+
|}
+
  
A direct representative of the king, in a role resembling somewhat the ''préfet'' of later years, the Provost (''prévôt'') of Paris oversaw the application and execution of law and order in the city and its surrounding ''prévôté'' (county) from his office in the [[Grand Châtelet]]. Many functions from both provost offices were transferred to the office of the crown-appointed [[Lieutenant général de police|lieutenant general of police]] upon its creation in 1667. For centuries, the ''prévôt'' and magistrates of the Châtelet clashed with the administrators of the [[Hôtel de Ville, Paris|Hôtel de Ville]] over jurisdiction;<ref>Léon Bernard, ''The Emerging City: Paris in the Age of Louis XIV'' (Duke University Press, 1970), p. 34.</ref> the latter notably included the ''quartiniers'', each of whom was responsible for one of the sixteen ''[[Quarter (country subdivision)|quartiers]]'' (which were in turn divided into four ''cinquantaines'', each with its ''cinquantainier'', and those in turn were divided into ''dizaines'', administered by ''dizainiers''):<blockquote>
+
Travelers should definitely consider short term villa/apartment/studio rentals as an alternative to other accommodations options.  Short term can be as few as several days up to months at a stretch. Summer rentals are usually from Saturday to Saturday only (July & August). This type accommodation belongs to a private party, and can range from basic to luxurious. A particular advantage, aside from competitive prices, is that the accommodations come with fully fitted kitchens.  
All of these men were in principle elected by the local bourgeois. At any one time, therefore, 336 men had shared administrative responsibility for street cleaning and maintenance, for public health, law, and order. The ''quartiniers'' maintained the official lists of ''bourgeois de Paris'', ran local elections, could impose fines for breaches of the bylaws, and had a role in tax assessment. They met at the Hôtel de Ville to confer on matters of citywide importance and each year selected eight of "the most notable inhabitants of the quarter", who together with other local officials would elect the city council.<ref>David Garrioch, ''The Making of Revolutionary Paris'' (University of California Press, 2002: ISBN 0-520-23253-4), p. 128–29.</ref></blockquote>
+
  
Even though in the course of the 18th century these elections became purely ceremonial, choosing candidates already selected by the royal government, the memory of genuine municipal independence remained strong: "The Hôtel de Ville continued to bulk large in the awareness of bourgeois Parisians, its importance extending far beyond its real role in city government."<ref>Garrioch, ''The Making of Revolutionary Paris'', p. 132.</ref>
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Hundreds of agencies offer accommodation for short term rentals on behalf of the owner, and can guide you into finding the best property, at the best price in the most suitable location for you. An internet search for the location and type of property you're looking for will usually return the names of several listing sites, each of which may have hundreds or thousands of properties for you to choose from. There are plenty of sites in both English and French, and the rental properties may be owned by people of any nationality.  
  
Paris' last ''[[Provost (civil)|Prévôt des marchands]]'' was assassinated the afternoon of the 14 July 1789 uprising that was the [[French Revolution]] [[Storming of the Bastille]]. Paris became an official "commune" from the creation of the administrative division on 14 December the same year, and its provisional "Paris commune" revolutionary municipality was replaced with the city's first municipal constitution and government from 9 October 1790.<ref name="1790_municipality">{{cite web|title=Improvising a Government in Paris in July 1789|url=http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-8762%28190501%2910%3A2%3C280%3AIAGIPI%3E2.0.CO%3B2-V&size=LARGE|author=Henry E. Bourne|work=The American Historical Review|accessdate=2006-09-14}}</ref> Through the turmoil of the 1794 [[Thermidorian Reaction]], it became apparent that revolutionary Paris' political independence was a threat to any governing power: The office of mayor was abolished the same year, and its municipal council one year later.
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France is a diverse and colourful country, and you'll find everything from stunning log chalets in the Alps, Chateaux in the countryside and beach front villas on the Riviera...plus everything in between!
  
[[File:Hotel de Ville Paris Wikimedia Commons.jpg|thumb|350px|right|The [[Hôtel de Ville, Paris|Hôtel de Ville]], Paris.]]
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===Hotels===
Although the municipal council was recreated in 1834, for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, Paris — along with the larger [[Seine (department)|Seine]] ''[[départements of France|département]]'' of which it was a centre — was under the direct control of the state-appointed ''[[préfet]]'' of the Seine, in charge of general affairs there; the state-appointed [[prefecture of Police|Prefect of Police]] was in charge of police in the same jurisdiction. Save for a few brief occasions, the city did not have a mayor until 1977, and the Paris Prefecture of Police is still under state control today.
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Despite its dual existence as ''commune'' and ''département'', Paris has a single council to govern both; the Council of Paris, presided over by the mayor of Paris, meets as either as a municipal council (''conseil municipal'') or a departmental council (''conseil général''), depending on the issue to be debated.
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Hotels come in 4 categories from 1 to 4 stars. This is the official rating given by the Ministry of Tourism, and it is posted at the entrance on a blue shield. Stars are awarded according to objective yet somewhat outdated administrative criteria (area of the reception hall, percentage of rooms with ensuite bathroom...).
  
Paris' modern administrative organisation still retains some traces of the former Seine ''département'' jurisdiction. The ''[[Prefecture of Police]]'' (also directing Paris' fire brigades), for example, has still a jurisdiction extending to Paris' ''petite couronne'' of bordering three ''départements'' for some operations such as fire protection or rescue operations, and is still directed by France's national government. Paris has no municipal police force, although it does have its own brigade of traffic wardens.
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Rates vary according to accommodation, location and sometimes high or low season or special events.
  
===Capital of the Île-de-France ''région''===
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As of 2004, the rate for a *** hotel listed in a reliable guidebook falls between €70 (cheap) and €110 (expensive) for a double without breakfast.
[[File:ile-de-France jms.png|thumb|250px|right|Departments of [[Île-de-France (region)|Île-de-France]].]]
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As part of a 1961 nation-wide administrative effort to consolidate regional economies, Paris as a ''[[département in France|département]]'' became the capital of the new ''[[Regions of France|région]]'' of the District of Paris, renamed the [[Île-de-France (region)|Île-de-France]] ''[[région in France|région]]'' in 1976. It encompasses the Paris ''département'' and its seven closest ''départements''. Its regional council members, since 1986, have been chosen by direct elections.  
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The prefect of the Paris ''département'' (who served as the prefect of the Seine ''département'' before 1968) is also prefect of the Île-de-France ''région'', although the office lost much of its power following the creation of the office of mayor of Paris in 1977.
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All hotels, by law, must have their rates posted outside (or visible from outside). Note that these are maximal rates: a hotel can always propose a lower rate in order to fill up its rooms. Bargaining is not the norm but you can always ask for a discount.
  
===Intercommunality===
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Hotels located in city centres or near train stations are often very small (15-30 rooms) which means that you should book ahead. Many newer hotels, business oriented, are found in the outskirts of cities and are sometimes larger structures (100 rooms or more); they may not be easy to reach with public transportation. The newer hotels are often part of national or international chains and have high standards. Many older hotels are now part of chains and provide standardized service but they retain their own atmosphere.
Few of the above changes have taken into account Paris' existence as an [[agglomeration]]. Unlike in most of France's major urban areas such as [[Lille]] and [[Lyon]], there is no [[commune in France#Intercommunality|intercommunal]] entity in the Paris urban area, no intercommunal council treating the problems of the region's dense urban core as a whole; Paris' alienation of its suburbs is indeed a problem today, and considered by many {{Who|date=April 2011}} to be the main causes of civil unrest such as the suburban riots in 2005. A direct result of these unfortunate events is propositions for a more efficient metropolitan structure to cover the city of Paris and some of the suburbs, ranging from a socialist idea of a loose "metropolitan conference" (''conférence métropolitaine'') to the right-wing idea of a more integrated ''Grand Paris'' ("Greater Paris").
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One of the main reasons for such incoherence has been the fear felt by the French State in front of such a huge agglomeration and the desire to tap its wealth. {{Citation needed|date=April 2011}} Since the Middle Ages and particularly since the 1649 troubles (La Fronde), Paris has been considered as a source of danger. The authoritarian king Louis the XIVth built Versailles as a new political center, away from the dangerous city crowds. The conflict between the State and the City reached a climax with the Revolution of 1871 (La Commune) : the French Assembly in Bordeaux decided Paris would no longer be the capital city, while the Paris Commune discussed declaring Paris independent of France. Since then, one of the foundations of the centralized French State has been to widely distribute Paris wealth while depriving the agglomeration and keeping it divided into 8 departments and 1 200 communes. (For an analysis of the long hostility against Paris, see [http://www-ohp.univ-paris1.fr/] {{Verify source|date=April 2011}} ). Of the 22 metropolitan French regions, 19 are regularly subsidized — mostly by Paris resources — while Paris suburbs lack necessary equipment.
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When visiting Paris, it is essential to stay in the city; there are cheaper tourism hotels in the suburbs, but these cater to groups in motor coaches; they will be hard to reach by public transportation.
  
==Education==
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Along the highways, at the entrance of cities, you find US-like motels ; they are very often reachable only by car.  Some motels (e.g. ''Formule 1'') have minimal service, if you come in late you find an ATM-like machine, using credit cards, which will deliver a code in order to reach your assigned room.
In the early 9th century, the emperor [[Charlemagne]] mandated all churches to give lessons in reading, writing and basic arithmetic to their parishes, and cathedrals to give a higher-education in the finer arts of language, [[physics]], [[music]], and [[theology]]; at that time, Paris was already one of France's major cathedral towns and beginning its rise to fame as a scholastic centre. By the early 13th century, the [[Île de la Cité]] [[Notre Dame de Paris|Notre-Dame]] cathedral school had many famous teachers, and the controversial teachings of some of these led to the creation of a separate Left-Bank [[Genevieve|Sainte-Genevieve]] University that would become the centre of Paris' scholastic [[Latin Quarter, Paris|Latin Quarter]] best represented by the [[Sorbonne]] university.
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Twelve centuries later, education in Paris and the Paris region ([[Île-de-France (region)|Île-de-France]] ''[[région in France|région]]'') employs approximately 330,000 persons, 170,000 of whom are teachers and professors teaching approximately 2.9&nbsp;million children and students in around 9,000 primary, secondary, and higher education schools and institutions.<ref name="idf_education">{{Fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://www.idf.pref.gouv.fr/donnees/enseignement.htm|author=La Préfecture de la Région d'Île-de-France|title=L'enseignement|accessdate=2007-10-09 |archiveurl = http://web.archive.org/web/20070824203147/http://www.idf.pref.gouv.fr/donnees/enseignement.htm |archivedate = 24 August 2007}}</ref>
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===B &amp; Bs and Gîtes ===
[[File:Rue St Jacques Louis Le Grand DSC09316.jpg|thumb|The [[Lycée Louis-le-Grand]].]]
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===Primary and secondary education===
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Throughout France, mainly in rural areas but also in towns and cities, you can find '''[[Bed and breakfasts|B&Bs]]''' and '''gîtes'''.  
Paris is home to several of France's most prestigious high-schools such as [[Lycée Louis-le-Grand]], [[Lycée Henri-IV]] and [[Lycée Condorcet]]. Other high-schools of international renown in the Paris area include the [[Lycée International de Saint Germain-en-Laye]] and the [[École Active Bilingue Jeannine Manuel]].
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===Higher-education===
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'''B&B's''' are known in French as "Chambres d'hôtes" and are generally available on a nightly basis.  By law, breakfast MUST be included in the advertised price for a "chambre d'hôte". Bear this in mind when comparing prices with hotels, where breakfast is NOT included in the room price.
As of the academic year 2004–2005, the Paris Region's 17 public universities, with its 359,749 registered students,<ref name="StudentNumbers">{{cite web|author=Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Paris – Île-de-France|year=2006|url=http://www.paris-iledefrance.cci.fr/pdf/eco_regionale/chiffres_cles/2006/anglais/cc_2006_en_15-21.pdf|title=Paris Region : key figures 2006|format=PDF|accessdate=2006-07-04 |archiveurl = http://web.archive.org/web/20060722235423/http://www.paris-iledefrance.cci.fr/pdf/eco_regionale/chiffres_cles/2006/anglais/cc_2006_en_15-21.pdf |archivedate = 22 July 2006}}</ref> comprise the largest concentration of university students in Europe.<ref name="EuropeanStudents">{{Fr icon}} {{cite web|author=Céline Rozenblat, Patricia Cicille, Delegation for Spatial Planning and Regional Action (Datar)|year=2006|url=http://www.diact.gouv.fr/Datar_Site/DATAR_Metropoles.nsf/76f84e7666af90b6c125655a0046b83c/30207c6b28edd873c1256e59003d0619/$FILE/Villes%20europ%C3%A9ennes.pdf|title=Les villes européennes – Analyse comparative (page 42)|format=PDF|accessdate=2006-07-04}}{{dead link|date=February 2012}}</ref> The Paris Region's prestigious ''[[grandes écoles]]'' and scores of university-independent private and public schools have an additional 240,778 registered students, that, together with the university population, creates a grand total of 600,527 students in higher education that year.<ref name="StudentNumbers" />
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===Universities===
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'''Gites''' or '''gites ruraux''' are holiday cottages, and generally rented out as a complete accommodation unit including a kitchen, mostly on a weekly basis. There are very few near or in the cities. Finding them requires buying a guide or, for greater choice, using the internet, as you will not find a lot of signposts on the road.
[[File:Sorbonne-2002.jpg|thumb|[[Paris-Sorbonne University]].]]
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The cathedral of [[Notre Dame de Paris|Notre-Dame]] was the first centre of higher-education before the creation of the [[University of Paris]]. The ''universitas'' was chartered by King [[Philip II of France|Philip Augustus]] in 1200, as a corporation granting teachers (and their students) the right to rule themselves independently from crown law and taxes. At the time, many classes were held in open air. Non-Parisian students and teachers would stay in hostels, or "colleges", created for the ''boursiers'' coming from afar.  
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Already famous by the 13th century, the University of Paris had students from all of Europe. Paris' [[Rive Gauche]] [[Scholasticism|scholastic]] centre, dubbed "[[Latin Quarter]]" as classes were taught in Latin then, would eventually regroup around the college created by [[Robert de Sorbon]] from 1257, the [[Collège de Sorbonne]]. The University of Paris in the 19th century had six faculties: law, science, medicine, pharmaceutical studies, literature, and theology.  
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Traditionally, gites provided basic good value accommodation, typically adjacent to the owners household or in a nearby outbuilding. More recently the term has been extended, and can now be used to describe most country-based self-catering accommodation in France. Hence it includes accommodation as varied as small cottages villas with private swimming pools.
  
Following the [[May 1968 in France|1968 student riots]], there was an extensive reform of the University of Paris, in an effort to disperse the centralised student body. The following year, the former unique University of Paris was split between thirteen autonomous universities ("Paris I" to "Paris XIII") located throughout the City of Paris and its suburbs. Each of these universities inherited only some of the departments of the old University of Paris, and are not generalist universities. Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne, Paris II Pantheon-Assas, Paris-Descartes, and Paris-Nanterre, inherited the Law School; [[Paris Descartes University]] inherited the School of Medicine as well; Pierre and Marie Curie University and Paris-Diderot the scientific departments, the [[Paris-Sorbonne University]] inherited the Arts and Humanities, etc.
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During peak summer months the best self-catering gites require booking several months in advance.
  
In 1991, four more universities were created in the suburbs of Paris, reaching a total of seventeen public universities for the Paris ([[Île-de-France (region)|Île-de-France]]) ''[[région in France|région]]''. These new universities were given names (based on the name of the suburb in which they are located) and not numbers like the previous thirteen: [[University of Cergy-Pontoise]], [[University of Évry Val d'Essonne]], [[University of Marne la Vallée|University of Marne-la-Vallée]], École supérieure Robert De Sorbon and [[Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines University|University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines]].
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There are thousands of B&Bs and gites in France rented out by foreign owners, particularly British and Dutch, and these tend to be listed, sometimes exclusively, with English-language or international organisations and websites that can be found by keying the words "chambres d'hotes", "gites" or "gites de france" into any of the major search engines.  
  
===''Grandes écoles''===
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There is a large number of organisations and websites offering "gites". Literally the French word gite just means a place to spend the night; however it now largely used to describe rental cottages or self-catering holiday homes, usually in rural parts of France.
The Paris region hosts France's highest concentration of the prestigious ''[[grandes écoles]]'' – specialised centres of higher-education outside the public university structure. The prestigious public universities are usually considered ''[[grands établissements]]''. Most of the ''grandes écoles'' were relocated to the suburbs of Paris in the 1960s and 1970s, in new campuses much larger than the old campuses within the crowded city of Paris, though the [[École Normale Supérieure]] has remained on rue d'Ulm in the [[5th arrondissement of Paris|5th arrondissement]].  
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The Paris area has a high number of engineering schools, led by the prestigious Paris Institute of Technology ([[ParisTech]]) which comprises several colleges such as ''[[École Polytechnique]]'', ''[[École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris|École des Mines]]'', ''[[AgroParisTech]]'', ''[[École nationale supérieure des télécommunications|Télécom Paris]]'', ''[[École nationale supérieure d'arts et métiers|Arts et Métiers]]'', and ''[[École nationale des ponts et chaussées|École des Ponts et Chaussées]]''. There are also many business schools, including [[INSEAD]], [[École supérieure des sciences économiques et commerciales|ESSEC]], [[HEC School of Management|HEC]] and [[ESCP Europe]]. The administrative school such as [[École nationale d'administration|ENA]] has been relocated to [[Strasbourg]], the political science school [[Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris|Sciences-Po]] is still located in Paris' [[Rive Gauche|Left bank]] [[7th arrondissement of Paris|7th arrondissement]]. The Parisian school of journalism [[CELSA]] department of the [[Paris-Sorbonne University]] is located in Neuilly-sur-Seine .
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==== Gîtes de France ====
  
The ''grandes écoles'' system is supported by a number of preparatory schools that offer courses of two to three years' duration called [[Classes Préparatoires]], also known as ''classes prépas'' or simply ''prépas''. These courses provide entry to the grandes écoles. Many of the best prépas are located in Paris, including [[Lycée Louis-le-Grand]], [[Lycée Henri-IV]], [[Lycée Saint-Louis]], [[Lycée Janson de Sailly]], and [[Lycée Stanislas]].<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.letudiant.fr/palmares/classement-prepa/maths-spe-mp.html?crit_region=&crit_ecole=Panier|title=L'étudiant League Table 2008|publisher=Letudiant.fr|accessdate=2009-05-05}}</ref> Two other top-ranking ''prépas'' ([[Lycée Hoche]] and [[Lycée privé Sainte-Geneviève]]) are located in [[Versailles (city)|Versailles]], near Paris. Student selection is based on school grades and teacher remarks. ''Prépas'' are known to be very demanding in terms of work load and psychological stress.
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A France-wide cooperative organisation, '''Gites de France''' regroups on a voluntary basis more than 50,000 rural accommodations and was the first in France to offer a consistent rating system with comprehensive descriptions.  
  
===Libraries===
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Despite the name, Gites de France offers B&B as well as holiday rental (gite) accommodation.
The [[Bibliothèque nationale de France]] (BnF) operates libraries in Paris, among them François-Mitterrand Library, Richelieu Library, Louvois, Opéra Library, and Arsenal Library.<ref>"[http://www.bnf.fr/pages/zNavigat/frame/version_anglaise.htm?ancre=english.htm How to find us]." ''[[Bibliothèque nationale de France]]''. Retrieved on 21 January 2009.</ref>
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The American Library in Paris opened in 1920. It is a part of a private, non-profit organization.<ref>"[http://www.youseemore.com/alip/about.asp?p=1 History of the Library]{{dead link|date=February 2012}}." ''American Library in Paris''. Retrieved on 21 January 2009.</ref> The modern library originated from cases of books sent by the American Library Association to U.S. soldiers in France.<ref>"[http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20A12FE3C55147A93CBAB178DD85F448385F9 The American Library in Paris]." ''[[The New York Times]]''. 29 June 1930. Retrieved on 21 January 2009.</ref> An incarnation existed in the 1850s.<ref>"[http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A02E0D61530EE34BC4B51DFB566838E649FDE American Library in Paris]." ''The New York Times''. 23 March 1855. Retrieved on 21 January 2009.</ref>
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The "Gites de France" rating system uses wheat stalks called ''Epis'' (equivalent to stars), based on amenities rather than quality - though generally the two go together.  
  
==Transport==
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Through its website, bookings can be done directly with owners or through the local Gîtes de France booking agency (no extra fee for the traveler). Although an English language version is available for many of the website pages, for some departments the pages giving details of an individual gite are only in French.
{{Main|Transport in Paris}}
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{{See also|List of railway stations in Paris}}
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[[File:Gare du Nord night Paris FRA 002.JPG|thumb|right|The [[Gare du Nord]] train station is the busiest in Europe.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2009/02/07/saint-lazare-terminus-des-mecontents_1152202_3224.html#ens_id=628859 |title=Recherche |publisher=LeMonde.fr |date= |accessdate=2011-09-15}}{{dead link|date=February 2012}}</ref>]]
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There is no particular advantage in using Gites de France rather than one of the other online gites sites, or booking directly with a gite. The procedure is pretty standard for all gite booking sites, whether French or foreign - with the advantage that absolutely all the booking process can be done in English if you use an English-language portal, which is not always the case with Gites de France.
Paris is the head of barge and ship navigation on the Seine and is the fourth most important port in France (after Marseille, Le Havre, and Dunkerque). The Loire, Rhine, Rhone, Meuse and Scheldt rivers can be reached by canals connecting with the Seine. Paris is also a major rail, highway, and air transportation hub. Three international airports, [[Paris-Orly Airport|Orly]], [[Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport|Roissy]] and [[Paris – Le Bourget Airport|le Bourget]], serve the city. The city's subway system, the {{lang|fr|[[Paris Métro|''métro'']]}}, was opened in 1900.
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Paris has been building its transportation system throughout history and continuous improvements are on-going. The Syndicat des transports d'Île-de-France (STIF), formerly ''Syndicat des transports parisiens'' (STP) oversees the transit network in the region.<ref name="stif">{{cite web|url=http://www.stif-idf.fr|title=Le web des voyageurs franciliens|author=Syndicat des Transports d'Île-de-France (STIF)|accessdate=2006-04-10|language=French}}</ref>
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After making a gite booking you will receive, by post, a contract to sign (gites only). Sign and return one copy. When signing write the words "Read and approved", and the name of your home town, before signing and dating the contract. You will normally be asked to pay a deposit of a quarter to a third of the booking fee. The rest will be required one month before the start of your holiday. When you arrive at the gite a security deposit, specified in the contact, should be given to the owner in cash. This will be returned at the end of your stay, less any fuel charges and breakages.
  
The members of this syndicate are the [[Île-de-France (region)|Île-de-France region]] and the eight departments of this region. The syndicate coordinates public transport and contracts it out to the [[Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens|RATP]] (operating 654 [[Bus (RATP)|bus]] lines, the [[Paris Métro|Métro]], three [[Tramways in Île-de-France|tramway]] lines, and sections of the [[RER]]), the [[SNCF]] (operating [[Transilien|suburban rails]], one [[Tramways in Île-de-France|tramway]] line and the other sections of the RER) and the [[Optile]] consortium of private operators managing 1,070 minor bus lines.
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Another great resource for booking Gites and Villas in France is Holiday France Direct, It enables you to deal directly with the property owners and offers customers discounted ferry travel with Brittany Ferries. www.holidayfrancedirect.co.uk
  
The [[Paris Métro|Métro]] is Paris' most important transportation system. The system, with 300 stations (384 stops) connected by {{convert|214|km|mi|1|abbr=on}} of rails, comprises 16 lines, identified by numbers from 1 to 14, with two minor lines, 3bis and 7bis, so numbered because they used to be branches of their respective original lines, and only later became independent. In October 1998, the new [[Paris Métro Line 14|line 14]] was inaugurated after a 70‑year hiatus in inaugurating fully new métro lines. Because of the short distance between stations on the Métro network, lines were too slow to be extended further into the suburbs, as is the case in most other cities. As such, an additional express network, the [[RER]], has been created since the 1960s to connect more-distant parts of the urban area. The RER consists in the integration of modern city-centre subway and pre-existing suburban rail. Nowadays, the RER network comprises five lines, 257 stops and {{convert|587|km|mi|0|abbr=on}} of rails.
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==== Gîtes d'étape ====
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Another possibility is ''gîtes d'étape''. These are more like overnight stays for hikers, like a mountain hut. They are mostly cheaper than the ''Gîtes de France'' but also much more basic.
  
In addition, the [[Île-de-France (region)|Paris region]] is served by a light rail network of four lines, the [[Tramways in Île-de-France|tramway]]: [[Île-de-France tramway Line 1|Line T1]] runs from [[Saint-Denis]] to [[Noisy-le-Sec]], [[Île-de-France tramway Line 2|line T2]] runs from [[La Défense]] to Porte de Versailles, [[Paris tramway Line 3|line T3]] runs from Pont du Garigliano to Porte d'Ivry, [[Île-de-France tramway Line 4|line T4]] runs from [[Bondy]] to [[Aulnay-sous-Bois]]. Six new light rail lines are currently in various stages of development.
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===Camping===
  
[[File:Station Velib DSC 3497.JPG|thumb|right|[[Vélib']] at [[Place de la Bastille]].]]
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Camping is very common in France. Most campsite are a little way out of the city centre and virtually all cater not just for tents but for Camper Vans/Caravans also. While all campsites have the basic facilities of Shower/toilet blocks, larger sites tend to offer a range of additional facilities such as bars and restaurants, self-service laundries, swimming pools or bicycle hire.
Paris is a central hub of the national rail network. The six major railway stations — [[Gare du Nord]], [[Gare Montparnasse]], [[Gare de l'Est]], [[Gare de Lyon]], [[Gare d'Austerlitz]], and [[Gare Saint-Lazare]] — are connected to three networks: The [[TGV]] serving four [[High-speed rail]] lines, the normal speed [[Corail (train)|Corail]] trains, and the suburban rails ([[Transilien]]).
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All campsites except for very small "farm camping" establishments must be registered with the authorities, and are officially graded  using a system of stars.  
Paris is served by two major airports: [[Orly Airport (Paris)|Orly Airport]], which is south of Paris; and the [[Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport]], in [[Roissy-en-France]], which is one of the busiest in the world and is the hub for the unofficial [[flag carrier]] [[Air France]]. A third and much smaller airport, [[Beauvais-Tillé Airport|Beauvais Tillé Airport]], located in the town of [[Beauvais]], {{convert|70|km|mi|0|abbr=on}} to the north of the city, is used by charter and low-cost airlines. The fourth airport, [[Le Bourget airport|Le Bourget]], nowadays hosts only business jets, air trade shows and the aerospace museum.
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The city is also the most important hub of France's [[motorway]] network, and is surrounded by three orbital freeways: the [[Périphérique (Paris)|Périphérique]], which follows the approximate path of 19th-century fortifications around Paris, the [[A86 autoroute|A86]] motorway in the inner suburbs, and finally the [[Francilienne]] motorway in the outer suburbs. Paris has an extensive road network with over {{convert|2000|km|mi|0|abbr=on}} of highways and motorways. By road, Brussels can be reached in three hours, Frankfurt in six&nbsp;hours and Barcelona in 12&nbsp;hours. By train, London is now just two hours and 15 minutes away, Brussels can be reached in 1 hour and 22 minutes (up to 26 departures/day), Amsterdam in 3 hours and 18 minutes (up to 10 departures/day), Cologne in 3 hours and 14 minutes (6 departures/day), and Marseille, Bordeaux, and other cities in southern France in three hours.
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In coastal areas, three-star and four-star campgrounds must generally be booked in advance during the months of July and August, and many people book from one year to the next. In rural areas, outside of popular tourist spots, it is usually possible to show up unannounced, and find a place; this is particularly true with the municipal campsites that can be found in most small towns; though even then it may be advisable to ring up or email in advance to make sure. There are always exceptions.
  
=== Cycling ===
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In France it's forbidden to camp:
{{main|Cycling in Paris}}
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*in woods, natural, regional and national parks
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*on public roads and streets
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*on the seaside
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*less than 200 meters from watering place used for human consumption
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*on natural protected sites
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*less than 500 meters from a protected monument
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*everywhere where it's forbidden by local laws
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*on private properties without the owner's consent.
  
[[File:P1010452 Paris V Val de Grâce reductwk.JPG|thumb|right|The [[Val-de-Grâce]] military hospital.]]
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==Learn==
Paris offers a [[community bicycle program|bike sharing]] system called [[Vélib']] with more than 20,000 public bicycles distributed at 1,450 parking stations, which can be rented for short and medium distances including [[One-way traffic|one way]] trips.
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==International relations==
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France, of course, is the best place to acquire, maintain and develop your French. A number of institutions offer a variety of courses for travellers.
Paris and its region host several international organisations including : the [[UNESCO]], the [[Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development]], the [[International Chamber of Commerce]], the [[Paris Club]], the [[European Space Agency]], the [[International Energy Agency]], the [[Organisation internationale de la Francophonie]], the [[European Union Institute for Security Studies]], the [[International Bureau of Weights and Measures]], the [[Bureau of International Expositions|International Exhibition Bureau]] and the [[International Federation for Human Rights]].
+
  
Paris has [[List of sister and partner cities of Paris|numerous partner cities]],<ref name="partners1">{{cite web|url=http://www.paris.fr/portail/accueil/Portal.lut?page_id=6587&document_type_id=5&document_id=16468&portlet_id=14974|work=Mairie de Paris|title=Les pactes d'amitié et de coopération|accessdate=2007-10-14}}</ref><ref name="partners2">{{cite web
+
==Work==
|url=http://www.paris.fr/en/city_government/international/special_partners.asp|work=Mairie de Paris|title=International relations : special partners|accessdate=2007-10-14}}{{dead link|date=February 2012}}</ref> but according to the motto "Only Paris is worthy of Rome; only Rome is worthy of Paris.",<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.paris.fr/portail/english/Portal.lut?page_id=8139&document_type_id=5&document_id=29903&portlet_id=18784|title=Twinning with Rome
+
|accessdate=2010-05-27}}</ref><ref name="Paris1">{{cite web|url=http://www.paris.fr/portail/accueil/Portal.lut?page_id=6587&document_type_id=5&document_id=16468&portlet_id=14974 |work=Mairie de Paris |title=Les pactes d'amitié et de coopération |accessdate=2007-10-14}}</ref><ref name="Paris2">{{cite web|url=http://www.paris.fr/en/city_government/international/special_partners.asp |work=Mairie de Paris |title=International relations: special partners |accessdate=2007-10-14}}{{Dead link|date=August 2010}}</ref> the only [[Town twinning|sister city]] of Paris is [[Rome]].
+
  
==Gallery==
+
If you are by law required to obtain a visa or other type of authorisation to work and fail to do so, you risk possible arrest, prosecution, expulsion and prohibition from reentering France and the Schengen area.
{{Panorama simple
+
|image      = File:IMA-Ile-St-Louis.jpg
+
|fullwidth  = 4486
+
|fullheight = 315
+
|caption    = Panoramic view of the [[Île Saint-Louis]] with Notre Dame in the background
+
|height    = 220
+
}}
+
  
==See also==
+
Citizens of EU and EEA countries (save from some Eastern European countries, for a temporary period) and Switzerland can work in France without having to secure a work permit. Most non-EU citizens will need a work permit - however, some non-EU citizens (such as Canadians, Croatians, New Zealanders etc) do '''not''' require a visa or work permit to work during their 90 day visa-free period of stay in France (see the 'Get in' section above for more information).
{{portal|Geography|Europe|European Union|France|Paris}}
+
* [[Outline of France]]
+
* [[Large Cities Climate Leadership Group]]
+
* [[Megacity]]
+
* [[Paris chronology]]
+
* [[Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes|Paris Exposition]]
+
{{clear}}
+
  
==References==
+
If you are an EU citizen or from an EEA country and  want to earn money to continue traveling, Interim agencies (e.g. Adecco, Manpower) are a good source of temporary jobs. You can also consider working in bars, restaurants, and/or nightclubs (they are often looking for English-speaking workers, particularly those restaurants in tourist areas - fast-food restaurants such as McDonald's and Quick are also always looking for people).
{{Reflist|colwidth=30em}}
+
  
==Further reading==
+
A lot of "student jobs", if you happen to be in a big city, are also available for younger travelers, and foreigners are often very welcome. Such jobs include, for example, [[Teaching English|giving private English lessons]], taking care of young children or many other things...check out the university buildings, they often have a lot of advertisements. An easy way to find job offers in France is to use Trovit.fr [http://emploi.trovit.fr/], search engine for job offers in France.
* {{cite book|author=[[Vincent Cronin]]|title=Paris on the Eve, 1900–1914|publisher=[[Harper Collins]]|location=New York|year=1989|isbn=0-312-04876-9}}
+
* {{cite book|author=Vincent Cronin|title=Paris:City of Light, 1919–1939|publisher=Harper Collins|location=New York|year=1994|isbn=0-00-215191-X }}
+
* {{cite book|author=Jean Favier|title=Paris|publisher=[[Fayard]]|date=1997-04-23|isbn=2-213-59874-6|language=French}}
+
* {{cite book|author=Jacques Hillairet|title=Connaissance du Vieux Paris|publisher=Rivages|date=2005-04-22|isbn=2-86930-648-2|language=French}}
+
* {{cite book|author=Colin Jones|title=Paris: The Biography of a City|publisher=[[Penguin Books|Penguin Viking]]|location=New York|year=2004|isbn=0-670-03393-6}}
+
* {{cite book|author=Bernard Marchand|title=Paris, histoire d'une ville : XIXe-XXe siècle|publisher=Le Seuil|location=Paris|year=1993|isbn=978-2-02-012864-3|language=French}}
+
* {{cite book|author=Rosemary Wakeman|title=The Heroic City: Paris, 1945–1958|publisher=University of Chicago Press|year=2009|isbn=978-0-226-87023-6}}
+
  
==External links==
+
Don't forget that being an English speaker is a big advantage when you're looking for a job - French employers really have a problem finding English-speaking workers. Do note, however, that it will be much easier for you if you know a bit of French, for the same reason (your colleagues are not likely to speak English). However, don't overestimate your chances of finding work; in March 2005 unemployment is back at 10%, and a whopping 22% among under-25's.... many of whom speak or understand English. There are a lot more people looking for jobs than there are jobs - except those unattractive jobs that no-one wants to do.
{{Sister project links}}
+
* {{Official|1=www.paris.fr/portail/english/Portal.lut?page_id=8118|2=Official Paris website}}
+
*{{Dmoz|Regional/Europe/France/Regions/Ile-de-France/Paris|Paris}}
+
*{{Wikitravel}}
+
  
{{Navboxes
+
The French work market tends to operate through personal contacts - if you know someone that works somewhere, you can probably figure out quite an easy way to work at that place too. It always helps to know people living in the area you wish to work.
|title = Administrative structures
+
 
|list =
+
==Stay safe==
{{Paris Metropolitan Area}}
+
===Crimes===
{{Prefectures of departments of France}}
+
Crime-related emergencies can be reported to the toll-free number 17. Law enforcement forces are the National Police (''Police Nationale'') in urban area and the Gendarmerie in rural area, though for limited issues such as parking and traffic offenses some towns and villages also have a municipal police.
{{Prefectures of regions of France}}
+
 
{{Departments of France}}
+
France is a very low-crime area, and is one of the safest countries in the world, but large cities are plagued with the usual woes. Violent crime against tourists or strangers is very  rare, but there is pickpocketing and purse-snatching.
}}
+
 
{{Navboxes
+
The inner city areas and a few select suburbs are usually safe at all hours. In large cities, especially Paris, there are a few areas which are better to avoid. Parts of the suburban are sometimes grounds for youth gang violent activities and drug dealing; however these are almost always far from touristic points and you should have no reason to visit them. Common sense applies: it is very easy to spot derelict areas.
|title = Paris in the European Union
+
 
|list =
+
The subject of crime in the poorer suburbs is very touchy as it may easily have racist overtones, since many people associate it with working-class youth of North African origin. You should probably not express any opinion on the issue.
{{List of European capitals by region}}
+
 
{{Capital cities of the European Union}}
+
 
{{European Capital of Culture}}
+
Usual caution apply for tourists flocking around sights as they may become targets for pickpockets. A usual trick is to ask tourists to sign fake petitions and give some money, which is a way to put pressure on the victim. Stay away from people requesting money without any organization badge.
}}
+
 
{{Olympic Summer Games Host Cities}}
+
While it is not compulsory for French citizens to carry identification, they usually do so. Foreigners should carry some kind of official identity document. Although random checks are not the norm you may be asked for an ID in some kinds of situations, for example if you cannot show a valid ticket when using public transportation; not having one in such cases will result in you being taken to a police station for further checks. Even if you feel that law enforcement officers have no right to check your identity (they can do so only in certain circumstances), it is a bad idea to enter a legal discussion with them; it is better to put up with it and show ID. Again, the subject is touchy as the police have often been accused of targeting people according to criteria of ethnicity (e.g. ''délit de sale gueule'' = literally "crime of a dirty face" but perhaps equivalent to the American "driving while black.")
 +
 
 +
Due to the terrorist factor, police, with the help of military units, are patrolling monuments, the Paris subway, train stations and airports. Depending on the status of the "Vigipirate" plan (anti terrorist units) it is not uncommon to see armed patrols in those areas. The presence of police is of help for tourists, as it also deters pickpockets and the like. However, suspicious behaviour, public disturbances etc., may result in policemen asking to see an ID.
 +
 
 +
In France, failing to offer assistance to 'a person in danger' is illegal. This means that if you fail to stop upon witnessing a motor accident, fail to report such an accident to emergency services, or ignore appeals for help or urgent assistance, you may be charged. Penalties include suspended prison sentence and fines. The law does not apply in situations where to answer an appeal for help might endanger your life or the lives of others.
 +
 
 +
===Controlled substances===
 +
Carrying or using narcotic substances, from marijuana to hard drugs, is illegal whatever the quantity. The penalty can be severe especially if you are suspected of dealing. Trains and cars coming from countries which have a more lenient attitude (like the Netherlands) are especially targeted. Police have often been known to stop entire coaches and search every passenger and their bags thouroughly just because they're coming from Amsterdam.
 +
 
 +
France has a liberal policy with respect to alcohol; there are usually no ID checks for purchasing alcohol (unless you look much younger than 18). However, causing problems due to public drunkenness is a misdemeanor and may result in a night in a police station. Drunk driving is a severe offense and may result in heavy fines and jail sentences.
 +
 
 +
A little etiquette note: while it is common to drink beer straight from the bottle at informal meetings, doing the same with wine is normally only done by tramps (''clochards'').
 +
 
 +
 
 +
 
 +
==Stay healthy==
 +
=== Tap water ===
 +
Tap water (''Eau du robinet'') is drinkable, except in rare cases such as rural rest areas and sinks in train bathrooms, in which case it will be clearly signposted as ''Eau non potable''. ''Eau potable'' is potable water. (You may, however, not like the taste which may be chlorinated, botteled water is common.)
 +
 
 +
===Medical help===
 +
The health care in France is of a very high standard.
 +
 
 +
Pharmacies in France are denoted by a green cross, usually in neon. They sell medicines, contraceptives, and often beauty and related products (though these can be very expensive). Medicines must be ordered from the counter, even non-prescription medicines. The pharmacist is able to help you about various medicines and propose you generic drugs.
 +
 
 +
Since drug brand names vary across countries even though the effective ingredients stay the same, it is better to carry prescriptions using the international nomenclature in addition to the commercial brand name. Prescription drugs, including oral contraceptives (aka "the pill"), will only be delivered if a doctor's prescription is shown.
 +
 
 +
In addition, supermarkets sell condoms (''préservatifs'') and also often personal lubricant, bandages, disinfectant and other minor medical item.  Condom machines are often found in bar toilets, etc.
 +
 
 +
Medical treatment can be obtained from self-employed physicians, clinics and hospitals. Most general practitioners, specialists (e.g. gynecologists), and dentists are self-employed; look for signs saying ''Docteur'' (''médecine générale'' is general practitioner). The normal price for a consultation with a general practitioner is €23, though some physicians charge more (this is the full price and not a co-payment). Physicians may also do home calls, but these are more expensive.
 +
 
 +
Residents of the European Union are covered by the French social security system, which will reimburse or directly pay for 70% of health expenses (30% co-payment) in general, though many physicians and surgeons apply surcharges. Other travellers are ''not'' covered and will be billed the full price, even if at a public hospital; non-EU travellers should have travel insurance covering medical costs.
 +
 
 +
===Emergencies===
 +
Hospitals will have an emergency room signposted ''Urgences''.
 +
 
 +
The following numbers are toll-free:
 +
* '''15''' Medical emergencies
 +
* '''17''' Law enforcement emergencies (for e.g. reporting a crime)
 +
* '''18''' Firefighters
 +
* '''112''' European standard emergency numbers.
 +
Operators at these numbers can transfer requests to other services if needed (e.g. some medical emergencies may be answered by firefighter groups).
 +
 
 +
===Smoking===
 +
Smoking is prohibited by law in all enclosed spaces accessible to the public (this includes train and subway cars, train and subway station enclosures, workplaces, restaurants and cafés) unless in areas specifically designated for smoking, and there are few of these. There was an exception for restaurants and cafés, but since the 1st January 2008, the smoking ban law is also enforced there. You may face a fine of €68 if you are found smoking in these places.
 +
 +
Smoking is banned in métro and trains, as well as enclosed stations. Subway and train conductors do enforce the law and will fine you for smoking in non-designated places; if you encounter problems with a smoker in train, you may go find the conductor.
 +
 
 +
As hotels are not considered as public places, some offer smoking vs non-smoking rooms.
 +
 
 +
Only people over the age 18 may purchase tobacco products. Shopkeepers may request a photo ID.
 +
 
 +
==Respect==
 +
 
 +
===On the Métro===
 +
The Métro subway system is a great way to get around Paris (or Lyon, Marseille, et al.), which is readily apparent in the throngs of people that use it to go to work, school, and the like.  If you do not ride the train  at home, or if you come from a place that doesn't have a subway system, there are certain points of etiquette that you may not be aware of.  When boarding at the station, let those exiting the train step off onto the platform before boarding, and once aboard move to the centre of the car.  If you have luggage, move it as far out of the path of others as possible (on the RER B to Charles de Gaulle airport, use the luggage racks above the seats instead). Certain stations have moving sidewalks to cover the distances between platforms - '''walk on the left and stand on the right!'''  Finally, do note that the doors on French subway cars don't generally open automatically once the train has stopped at the station; rather, most cars have a small button or lever on the doors that opens them.  If you should happen to be standing near the door in a crowded car you might hear someone behind you say "la porte, s'il vous plait," which means that person would like to get off the train and is asking you to open the door for him/her.  Pop the door open and step aside (or down onto the platform) while that person exits the train - the driver will wait for you to get back on.
 +
 
 +
===Loudness===
 +
 
 +
It is considered very rude to be loud in a crowded place, such as a subway car or restaurant. Keep in mind that, though you may be enjoying your holiday, most people around you in the ''métro'' or other places are probably going to or back from work and may be tired and thus will react very coldly to tourists babbling at the top of their lungs.  If you listen to the locals talk, you will notice that they talk rather softly.
 +
 
 +
===Shopping Etiquette===
 +
 
 +
In many shops/stores in France, you should ask the shopkeeper to take items from the shelf; as opposed to picking it up yourself. This applies in liquor or wine stores, clothing stores, etc. Failure to respect this policy might result in confused and/or angered reactions from the shopkeeper.
 +
 
 +
===Dress code===
 +
 
 +
Dress codes are fast disappearing, but if you want to avoid looking like a tourist, then  avoid white sneakers, baseball caps, tracksuit pants, shorts and flip-flops (except at the beach).  Generally speaking, business casual dress code is sufficient in cities and in all but the most formal occasions.
 +
 
 +
Usual courtesy applies when entering churches, and although you may not be asked to leave, it is better to avoid short pants and halter tops.
 +
 
 +
Some restaurants will frown if you come in dressed for trekking but very few will insist upon a jacket and tie. You may be surprised by the number of French twenty-somethings who show up at a grungy bar in jacket and tie, even if obviously from a thrift-shop.
 +
 
 +
Beaches and swimming pools (in hotels) are used for getting a tan. Taking off your bra will not usually create a stir if you don't mind a bevy of oglers. Taking off the bottom part is reserved to designated nude beaches. People on beaches are usually not offended by a young boy or girl undressed. Most resort cities insist on your wearing a shirt when leaving the beach area. Many pools will not allow baggy or "board" swim trunks, insisting on snug fitting speedo type trunks.
 +
 
 +
Breastfeeding in public is very rare but nobody will mind if you do.
 +
 
 +
===Talking to people===
 +
 
 +
The French language has two different forms of the pronoun "you" that are used when addressing someone in the second person.  "Tu" is the second-person singular and "Vous" is nominally the second-person plural.  However, in some situations, French speakers will use "Vous" for the second-person ''singular.''  While one will use "Vous" to address a group of people no matter what the circumstances, non-native speakers will invariably have some difficulty when trying to determine whether to address a person with the informal and friendly "tu" or the formal and respectful "vous."  The language even has two special verbs reflecting this difference: "tutoyer" (to address a person using "tu"), and "vouvoyer" (to address a person using "vous"), each of them carrying their own connotations and implications.  Unfortunately, the rules as to when to use which form can sometimes seem maddeningly opaque to the non-native French speaker.
 +
 
 +
Generally speaking, one will only use the "tu" form to address someone in an informal situation where there is familiarity or intimacy between the two parties.  For example, "tu" is used when addressing a close friend or spouse, or when an adult child is addressing a parent.  "Tu" is also used in situations where the other party is very young, such as a parent speaking to a child or a schoolteacher to a student.  In contrast, "vous" is used in situations where the parties are not familiar, or where it is appropriate to convey respect and/or deference.  For example, an office worker might use "tu" to address co-workers that he works closely with, but he would probably use "vous" when speaking to the receptionist he rarely talks to.  He certainly wouldn't use "tu" when speaking with his boss.  In that same vein, police officers and other authorities should ''always'' be addressed with "vous."
 +
 
 +
If that's confusing (or not confusing enough) the key thing to remember is that it's all about distance.  For example, a bartender is ''vous'' up until the moment that he or she gives you a complementary drink, at which point ''tu'' becomes more appropriate, and the use of ''vous'' would be a bit ungrateful and off-putting.
 +
 
 +
For foreigners, the best way to deal with the "tu" and "vous" problem is to address people using "vous" until invited to say "tu", or until addressed by the first name. Doing so will look perhaps a shade old fashioned, but always respectful.  In most cases, if French is not your native language most French people will overlook any such overly formal and polite language without thinking much about it anyway.  Doing the opposite can be pretty rude and embarrassing in some situations, so it's probably best to err on the side of caution.
 +
 
 +
Simplified: Use ''vous'' unless:
 +
*the person is genuinely your friend;
 +
*the person is under 16; or
 +
*you've been explicitly told to use "tu"
 +
 
 +
===Sensitive topics===
 +
As a general rule, debates, discussions, and friendly arguments are something that the French enjoy, but there are certain topics that should be treated more delicately or indirectly than others:
 +
 
 +
'''Politics:''' French people have a wide variety of opinions about many subjects. Unless you really follow French news closely, you should probably steer clear of discussing internal French politics, especially sensitive issues such as immigration - you may come across as judgmental and uninformed.  Reading French newspapers to get a feel for the wide spectrum of political opinions in France &ndash; from the revolutionary left to the nationalistic right &ndash; may help.  That said, don't be discouraged from engaging in political discussions with French people, just be aware of the position that being a foreigner puts you in.  Also, it is considered to be quite rude to ask a person point-blank about which candidate he/she voted for in the last election (or will vote for in the next); instead, talk about the issues and take it from there.
 +
 
 +
'''Religion:''' The French seldom advertise their religious feelings, however, and expect you to avoid doing so as well. Doing so might make people feel uneasy. It is also generally considered impolite to inquire about religious or other personal issues.
 +
 
 +
'''Money:''' You should also avoid presenting yourself through what you own (house, car, etc.).  It is also considered to be quite crass to discuss your salary, or to ask someone else directly about theirs. Instead express your enthusiasm about how great are the responsibilities, or how lucky you were to get there, etc.
 +
 
 +
'''City/Rural Differences:''' While it is true that roughly 1/6th of the country's population lives in the Paris region, don't make the mistake of reducing France to Paris or assuming that all French people act like Parisians.  Life in Paris can be closer to life in London or New York City than in the rest of France; just as New Yorkers or Londoners might act and feel differently than people from, say, Oklahoma or Herefordshire, so might Parisian customs and opinions differ from those found "en province."
 +
 
 +
==Contact==
 +
===Phone numbers===
 +
To call a French number from abroad, dial: international prefix + ''33'' + local number ''without the leading 0''.
 +
For example: ++33 247 664 118
 +
 
 +
All french numbers have 10 digits. The first two digits are:
 +
 
 +
* '''01''' for Parisian region
 +
* '''02''' for Northwest
 +
* '''03''' for Northeast
 +
* '''04''' for Southeast
 +
* '''05''' for Southwest
 +
* '''06''' for the cellphones
 +
* '''07''' for the cellphones since 2010.
 +
* '''08''' have special prices (from free to very costly) (Skype numbers start with ''08'').
 +
* '''09''' if they are attached to Voice over IP telephones connected to DSL modems from French DSL providers that integrate such functions.
 +
 
 +
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telephone_numbers_in_France] [http://annuairepagesblanches.org/]
 +
 
 +
You cannot drop the first two digits even if your call remains within the same area. The initial '0' may be replaced by some other digit or longer code indicating a choice of long-distance operator. Don't use this unless explicitly told to.
 +
 
 +
When speaking phone numbers, people will usually group the digits by sets of two.  For example, ''02 47 66 41 18'' will be said as "zero two, forty-seven, sixty-six, forty-one, eighteen" (but in French, of course). The two-digit pair ''00'' is said as "zero zero", not "double zero". for example if your phone number is 02 47 66 41 18 in France, it would be said as "zéro deux, quarante-sept, soixante-six, quarante et un, dix-huit." If you find it too hard to follow, you may ask the person to say the number digit-by-digit ("chiffre par chiffre"). It would then be "zero, two, four, seven,
 +
six, six, four, one, one, eight" ("zéro, deux, quatre, sept, six, six, quatre, un, un, huit").
 +
 
 +
You can to visit this site to find instructions about the nationals and internationals calls: [http://www.kropla.com/dialcode.htm].
 +
 
 +
====Toll-free====
 +
There are few companies that provide toll-free numbers (starting with ''08 00'') but many have numbers starting with ''081'', for which you pay the cost of a local call regardless of where you are in the country.
 +
 
 +
Numbers starting with ''089'' are heavily surtaxed. They provide service to some legitimate businesses but the ones you see advertised all over the country are usually for adult services.
 +
 
 +
Emergency numbers are '''15''' (medical aid), '''17''' (police station) and '''18''' (fire/rescue). You can also use the European emergency number ''112'' (perhaps a better choice if you don't speak French). These calls are free and accessible from virtually any phone, including locked cellphones. In case of a ''serious'' emergency, if you find a code-protected cellphone, enter a random code three times: the phone will lock, but you will be able to dial emergency numbers.
 +
 
 +
===Cheap international calls===
 +
To enjoy cheap international calls from France travelers can get a local France Sim Card [http://www.rebelfone.com/france_simcards.asp] online before they leave or use low-cost dial-around services such as
 +
appellemonde [http://www.appellemonde.fr/] or
 +
allo2556 [http://www.allo2556.fr/].
 +
Dial-around services are directly available from any landline in France. No contract, no registration is required. Most dial-around services allows you to call USA, Canada, Western Europe and many other countries at local rate (''tarif local'') so you can easily save on your phone bill. They also work from payphones, though the first minute is surcharged by France Telecom.
 +
 
 +
===Fixed line===
 +
To know how to order a landline (''ligne fixe'') in France you can click on landline providers in France [http://www.justlanded.com/francais/france/tools/just_landed_guide/telephone/fixed_lines/]. Another method, if you stay long, is to use VoIP over DSL, such as the Livebox or Freebox service (free long distance calls within France and to a number of countries).
 +
 
 +
===Phone booths===
 +
Phone booths are available in train or subway stations, bus stops, near tourist attractions, etc.  There is at least one phone booth in every village (look on the main plaza). Due to the widespread use of mobile phones, there are now fewer booths than a few years ago.  Most use a card (no coins). France Télécom public phones accept CB/Visa/Mastercard cards but almost always only with a microchip.  Otherwise, post offices, café-tabacs (recognizable by a red sign hanging outside), and stores that sell magazines sell phone cards.  Ask for a "carte telephonique"; these come with differing units of credit, so you may want to specify "petit" if you just want to make a short local call or two.  If you get the kind with a computer chip in it, you just have to slide it into the phone, listen for the dial tone, and dial. The US-style cards require you to dial a number and then enter a code (but with spoken instructions in French).
 +
 
 +
===Mobile===
 +
France uses the GSM standard of cellular phones (900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands) used in most of the world outside of the U.S. There are several companies (Orange, SFR/simpleo, Virgin Mobile, and Bouygues Telecom) offering wireless service. The country is almost totally covered but you may have difficulties using your mobile phone in rural or mountainous areas. However, for emergency numbers, the three companies are required by law to accept your call if they technically can, even if you are not one of their customers, thus maximizing your chance of being helped even in areas with spotty service.
 +
 
 +
If you stay for some time, it may be advisable to buy a pre-paid cell phone card that you can use in any phone that supports the GSM standard on the 900/1800 Mhz bands. Then incoming calls are free. You can get it from most mobile service provider (Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom), but they have a very short validity for the card if you don't recharge it.
 +
 
 +
Orange pre-paid SIM card is called Mobicarte, costs &euro;9.90, comes with a credid of &euro;5 included. SMSes within Orange France cost &euro;0.12; to international mobile GSM users &euro;0.28. Other operators (SFR, Bouygues) have similar prices. Since 2012, Free mobile operator also offer 2€/month subscription without any minimum subscription time including 60min+60sms/month, only available through web so you need a postal address.
 +
 
 +
===Internet===
 +
'''Internet cafes:''' Internet access is available in cyber cafes all over large and medium-sized cities. Service is usually around €4 per hour.
 +
 
 +
'''Residential broadband:''' In all major cities, there are multiple companies offering residential broadband service. Typical prices are €30  a month for unmetered ADSL (in speeds up to 24 megabits per second), digital HDTV over DSL and free unlimited voice-over-IP phone calls to land lines within France and about twenty other countries (EU,US,...) with external SIP access too (the price includes a modem/routeur/switch with integrated WiFi MiMo access point). Broadband services are very common in France, all over the country.
 +
 
 +
'''Wifi:''' You'll also find wifi access (in Paris) in a lot of cafés usually those labelled a bit "trendy". There will be a sign on the door or on the wall.  Also look for the ''@'' symbol prominently displayed, which indicates internet availability.  However, with most homes now wired for the internet, cyber cafes are increasingly hard to find, especially outside the major cities.  In Paris, one popular WIFI free spot is the Pompidou Centre.  There is talk that the city intends to become the first major European capital providing free WIFI coverage for the whole city. Public parks and libraries in Paris are also covered.
 +
 
 +
====Short-term SIM cards====
 +
(for smartphones and tablets)
 +
 
 +
Orange has nearly-unlimited Internet 1-month package for &euro;9 called InternetMax. Official limit of 500MB is not enforced. Tethering is not allowed, but this is not enforced. Email (POP3/SMTP/IMAP) is not covered, and sold as a separate package for &euro;9 per month. P2P, VoIP and USENET are specifically banned, and risk getting your plan cancelled as well as the loss of any call credit remaining on your account.
 +
 
 +
It is called InternetMax; to set it up:
 +
# buy a Mobicarte (generic prepaid SIM card) at Orange outlet for &euro;9.90 which comes included with credit of &euro;5
 +
# recharge it with &euro;4 (with credit card at Orange outlet or with &euro;5-euro recharge cards sold at tobacco kiosks and newsstands everywhere).
 +
# turn off mobile data connection and  disable all email applications using POP3/IMAP/SMTP at smartphone before inserting SIM card, otherwise it will suck up the credit well before you activate the unlimited data plan
 +
# wait for 24 hours for SIM card to be activated before you can add packages
 +
# activate the InternetMax data plan with #123#. Menu is in French, refer to the link below for summary in English.
 +
# allow several hours (officially up to 48hrs) for InternetMax to be activated. There's no notification, so check it regularly: surf a bit and check your credit with #123#
 +
 
 +
As the plan is not marketed by Orange, staff at outlets and hotline operators are completely unaware of it, and Orange website tells very little on it even in French. If your French is poor, a detailed third-party instruction like [http://paygsimwithdata.wikia.com/wiki/France] can be very helpful.
 +
 
 +
===Post===
 +
 
 +
Post offices are found in all cities and villages but their time of operation vary. In the main cities the downtown office may be open during lunchtime, typically 09:00 to 18:00. Most offices are only open on Saturday morning and there is only one office in Paris which is open 24 hours and 365 days (in rue du Louvre).
 +
 
 +
Letter boxes are colored in yellow.
 +
 
 +
===Parcels===
 +
International delivery services like FedEx, UPS, are available in cities, however you generally have to call them for them to come to you as they have very few physical locations.
 +
 
 +
Another option is to simply use ''La Poste'' with a wide network around the country and the same services as its competitors.
 +
 
 +
==Cope==
 +
 
 +
'''Toilets''' are available in restaurants, cafés; there are also public facilities, which generally charge a fee. Note that American euphemisms such as "restroom", "washroom" etc. will often not be understood; ask for "toilets". In older public facilities, particularly those that do not charge or isolated rest areas, you may encounter squat toilets.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
<!--Some images from Shared and En: for possible use here:
 +
Normandy:
 +
Image:P1040767.JPG (in En:, Open fishing boats pulled up on a pebble beach)
 +
Image:P1040695.JPG (in En:, not very good quality, pictureque buildings below cliffs)
 +
 
 +
Transport:
 +
Image:Chunnel.JPG|Tour Bus, in train, in the Chunnel
 +
-->
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Revision as of 00:51, 14 February 2013

[[File:noframe|250px|frameless|France]]
Location
[[File:France in Europe|250px|frameless]]
Flag
[[File:Fr-flag.png|108px|frameless]]
Quick Facts
Capital Paris
Government Republic
Currency Euro (€)
Area total: 643,801 km2
water: 3,374 km2
land: 640,427 km2
Population 64,667,374 (January 2009) in non-overseas France
Language French, some regional languages and dialects
Religion Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%
Electricity 220..230V, 50Hz. Outlets: CEE7/5 (protruding male earth pin), accepting CEE 7/5 (Grounded), CEE 7/7 (Grounded) or CEE 7/16 (non-grounded) plugs
Country code 33
Internet TLD .fr
Time Zone UTC +1

France is a country located in Western Europe. Clockwise from the north, France borders Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland to the east, Italy to the south-east and Spain to the south-west, across the Pyrenees mountain range (the small country of Andorra lies in between the two countries). The Mediterranean Sea lies to the south of France, with the Principality of Monaco forming a small enclave. To the west, France has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline, while to the north lies the English Channel, across which lies the last of France's neighbours, England (part of the United Kingdom).

France has been the world's most popular tourist destination for over twenty years (81.9 million in 2007) and it's geographically one of the most diverse countries in Europe. Its cities contain some of the greatest treasures in Europe, its countryside is prosperous and well tended and it boasts dozens of major tourist attractions, like Paris, the French Riviera, the Atlantic beaches, the winter sport resorts of the French Alps, the castles of the Loire Valley, Brittany and Normandy. The country is renowned for its gastronomy (particularly wines and cheeses), history, culture and fashion.

Contents

Understand

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint Exupéry, from The Little Prince

Climate

A lot of variety, but temperate winters and mild summers on most of the territory, and especially in Paris. Mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean and in the southwest (the latter has lots of rain in winter). Mild winters (with lots of rain) and cool summers in the northwest (Brittany). Cool to cold winters and hot summer along the German border (Alsace). Along the Rhône Valley, occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as the mistral. Cold winters with lots of the snow in the Mountainous regions: Alps, Pyrenees, Auvergne.

Terrain

Mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south west, Vosges , Jura and Alps in east, Massif Central in the mid south.

When to travel

If possible, try to avoid French school holidays and Easter, hotels are very likely to be overbooked and road traffic awful.

In 2010/2011, holidays are as follows:

  • autumn: Oct 23-Nov 3
  • christmas: Dec 18-Jan 2 (not to be confused with winter holidays)
  • summer: Jul 2-Sep 2
  • winter and spring holidays: search internet for [french school holidays], as they vary from region to region. Mostly, the winter holidays are from 10th february to 10th march. The spring holidays are from 10th April to 10th May. Winter gets very cold, sometimes freezing. Make sure to bring appropriate clothing to keep you warm while visiting.

Hotels are very likely to be overbooked and road traffic awful during the 1st may, 8th May, 11th november, Easter Weekend, Acsension weekend too.

History

France has been populated since the Neolithic period. The Dordogne region is especially rich in prehistoric caves, some used as habitation, others are temples with remarkable paintings of animals and hunters, like those found at Lascaux.

Rise and fall of the Roman empire

Written History began in France with the invasion of the territory by the Romans, between 118 and 50 BC. Starting then, the territory which is today called France was part of the Roman Empire, and the Gauls (name given to local Celts by the Romans), who lived there before Roman invasions, became accultured "Gallo-romans".

With the fall of the Roman empire, what was left were areas inhabited by descendants of intermarriages between gallo-romans and "barbaric" easterners (Mainly the Franks, but also other tribes like the "burgondes").

The legacy of the Roman presence is still visible, particularly in the southern part of the country where Roman circuses are still used for bullfights and rock and roll shows. Some of the main roads still follow the routes originally traced 2,000 years ago, and the urban organisation of many old town centres still transcript the cardo and the decumanus of the former Roman camp (especially Paris). The other main legacy was the Catholic Church which can be, arguably, considered as the only remnant of the civilization of that time

Middle-Ages

Clovis, who died in 511, is considered as the first French king although his realm was not much more than the area of the present Ile de France, around Paris. Charlemagne, who was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 800, was the first strong ruler. He united under his rule territories which extend today in Belgium, Germany and Italy. His capital was Aix-la-Chapelle (now in Germany, known as Aachen).

The country was under attack by the Vikings who came from the north and navigated upstream the rivers to plunder the cities and abbeys, it was also under attack from the south by the Muslim Saracens who were established in Spain. The Vikings were given a part of the territory (today's Normandy) in 911 and melted fast in the Feudal system. The Saracens were stopped in 732 in Poitiers by Charles Martel, grand father of Charlemagne, a rather rough warrior who was later painted as a national hero.

Starting with Charlemagne, a new society starts to settle, based on the personal links of feudalism. This era is named middle age. Although generally seen as an era of stagnation, it can more be described as a very complex mix of periods of economic and cultural developments (Music and poems of the Troubadours and Trouveres, building of the Romanantic, then Gothic cathedrals), and recessions due to pandemic disease and wars.

In 987, Hughes Capet was crowned as king of France ; he is the root of the royal families who later governed France. In 1154 much of the western part of France went under English rule with the wedding of Alienor d'Aquitaine to Henry II (Count of Anjou, born in the town of Le Mans). Some kings of the Plantagenet dynasty are still buried in France, the most famous being Richard I, of Walter Scott's fame, and his father Henry II, who lies in the Abbaye de Fontevraud. The struggle between the English and French kings between 1337 and 1435 is known as the Hundred Years War and the most famous figure, considered as a national heroine, is Joan of Arc.

Reading up
Before you leave you may want to read a book like French or Foe by Polly Platt or Almost French by Sarah Turnbull — interesting, well written records from English speaking persons who live in France. For the adult reader interested in the famous reputation enjoyed by Paris for romance and sensuality, try "SENSUAL PARIS: Sex, Seduction and Romance in the Sublime City of Light" by Jonathan LeBlanc Roberts


The making of a modern state nation

The beginning of the XVIth century saw the end of the feudal system and the emergence of France as a "modern" state with its border relatively close to the present ones (Alsace, Corsica, Savoy, the Nice region weren't yet French). Louis XIV who was king from 1643 to 1715 (72 years) was probably the most powerful monarch of his time. French influence extended deep in western Europe, its language was used in the European courts and its culture was exported all over Europe.

That era and the following century also saw the expansion of France on the other continents. This started a whole series of wars with the other colonial empires, mainly England (later Britain) and Spain over the control of North America.

The French Revolution started in 1789, leading to the creation of the Republic. Although this period was also fertile in bloody excesses it was, and still is, a reference for many other liberation struggles.

Napoléon reunited the country but his militaristic ambition which, at first, made him the ruler of most of western Europe were finally his downfall. In 1815 he was defeated in Waterloo (Belgium) by an alliance of British and Prussian forces. He is still revered in some Eastern European countries as its armies and its government brought with them the thinkings of the French philosophers.

France went back to monarchy and another revolution in 1848 which allowed a nephew of Napoleon to be elected president and then become emperor under the name of Napoléon III. The end of the XIX century was the start of the industrialization of the country, the development of the railways but also the start of the bitter wars with Prussia and later Germany.

20th and 21st centuries

1905 saw the separation of the Church from the State. This was a traumatic process, especially in rural areas. The French state carefully avoids any religious recognition. Under a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy the law forbids French students and civil servants from displaying any sign explicitly showing their religion. This policy applies to wearing Christian crosses, and has recently been applied to the Muslim hijab (and has been copied in countries like Tunisia and Turkey). In the early 21st century, statistics for Church going and belief in God are among the lowest in Europe.

World War I (1914 -18) was a disaster for France, even though the country was ultimately a victor. A significant part of the male workforce had been killed and disabled and a large part of the country and industry destroyed. World War II (1939 - 45) also destroyed a number of areas.

Since the end of WWII France went through a period of reconstruction and prosperity came back with the development of industry. France and Germany were at the start of the Treaties which eventually became the European Union. One of the most visible consequence being the introduction in 2002 of the Euro (€), the common currency of sixteen European countries.

In 2010, France is a republic with a President elected for a 5-year term. Some current main issues are the further integration of the country into the EU and the adoption of common standards for the economy, defense, and so on.

Electricity

Electricity is supplied at 220 to 230V 50Hz. Outlets are CEE7/5 (protruding male earth pin) and accept either CEE 7/5 (Grounded), CEE 7/7 (Grounded) or CEE 7/16 (non-grounded) plugs. Older German-type CEE 7/4 plugs are not compatible as they do not accommodate the earth pin found on this type of outlet. However, most modern European appliances are fitted with the hybrid CEE 7/7 plug which fits both CEE 7/5 (Belgium & France) and CEE 7/4 (Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and most of Europe) outlets.

Plugs Travellers from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and other countries using 230V 50Hz which use different plugs simply require a plug adaptor to use their appliances in France. Plug adaptors for plugs from the US and UK are available from electrical and "do-it-yourself" stores such as Bricorama.

Voltage: Travellers from the US, Canada, Japan and other countries using 110V 60Hz may need a voltage converter. However, some laptops, mobile phone chargers and other devices can accept either 110V or 230V so only require a simple plug adaptor. Check the voltage rating plates on your appliances before connecting them.

Regions

France is divided into 22 administrative regions, which themselves can be grouped into seven cultural regions:

Regions of France
Île-de-France
The region surrounding the French capital, Paris.
Northern France (Nord-Pas de Calais, Picardy, Normandy)
A region where the world wars have left many scars.
Northeastern France (Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne-Ardenne, Franche-Comté)
A region where wider European culture (and especially Germanic culture) has merged with the French, giving rise to interesting results.
Great West (Brittany, Pays de la Loire)
An agriculture-based oceanic region with a culture greatly influenced by the ancient Celtic peoples.
Central France (Centre-Val de Loire, Poitou-Charentes, Burgundy, Limousin, Auvergne)
A largely agricultural and vinicultural region, featuring river valleys, chateaux and historic towns.
Southwestern France (Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrenees)
A region of sea and wine, with nice beaches over the Atlantic Ocean and young high mountains close to Spain.
Southeastern France (Rhône-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Corsica)
The primary tourist region of the country outside of Paris, with a warm climate and azure sea, contrasting with the mountainous French Alps.
Chantilly gardens, Paris, Île-de-France
St Joseph's Church by August Peret, Le Havre, Normandy, Northern France
Hotel de Ville decorated to celebrate its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Le Havre, Normandy, Northern France
Place du General de Gaulle, Lille, Nord-Pas de Calais, Northern France

Each administrative region is divided into a number of departments. Each department is allocated a 2 digit number. This number forms the first 2 digits of the 5 digit French postcode.

Overseas departments

  • Mayotte — has voted to become a departement, effective 1 January 2011

Overseas territories

  • New Caledonia (Nouvelle Caledonie) — long-shaped island in Oceania

The following overseas territories are remote possessions kept as natural reservations:

A very limited form of tourism is available in the TAAF islands.

Cities

France has numerous cities of interest to travelers, below is a list of nine of the most notable:

  • Paris — the "City of Light", romance and the Eiffel Tower
  • Bordeaux — city of wine, traditional stone mansions and smart terraces
  • Bourges — gardens, canals and a cathedral listed as a UNESCO heritage site
  • Lille — a dynamic northern city known for its handsome centre and active cultural life
  • Lyon — France's second city with a history from Roman times to the Resistance
  • Marseille — Third French city, big harbor and the heart of the Provence, hosting the European Capital of Culture in 2013
  • Nantes — the "Greenest City" and according to some the best place to live in Europe
  • Strasbourg — famous for its historical centre, and home to many European institutions
  • Toulouse — the "Pink City", for its distinctive brick architecture, main city of Occitania.

Other destinations

  • Camargue — one of Europe's largest river deltas and wetlands
  • Corsica — the birthplace of Napoleon, a unique island with a distinct culture and language
  • French Alps — home to the highest mountain in Western Europe, the Mont Blanc
  • French Riviera (Côte d'Azur) — Mediterranean coastline of France with plenty of upper class seaside resorts, yachts and golf courses
  • Loire Valley — the world-famous Loire Valley, best known for its wines and chateaux
  • Luberon — the stereotypical Provence of picturesque villages, joie de vivre and wine
  • Mont Saint Michel — second most-visited sight in France, a monastery and town built on a tiny outcrop of rock in the sand, which is cut off from the mainland at high tide
  • Verdon Gorge — beautiful river canyon in a turquoise-green color, great for kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing or just driving around the limestone cliffs

Get in

Entry requirements

Minimum validity of travel documents

  • EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, as well as non-EU citizens who are visa-exempt (e.g. New Zealanders and Australians), need only produce a passport which is valid for the entirety of their stay in France.
  • Other nationals who are required to have a visa (e.g. South Africans), however, must have a passport which has at least 3 months' validity beyond their period of stay in France in order for a Schengen visa to be granted.


View of Mont Saint Michel from the causeway carpark, Normandy, Northern France
Yachts moored in Honfleur, Normandy, Northern France
The French impressionist painter Claude Monet's house in Giverny, Normandy, Northern France
Interior of Bayeux Cathedral, Normandy, Northern France
Half-timbered facades in old town Strasbourg, Alsace, Northeastern France
The cathedral at Reims, Champagne-Ardenne, Northeastern France
The coast at Quiberon, Brittany
Place de la République in Rennes, Brittany
Boats in the harbour at St Malo, Brittany
Saumur, Pays de la Loire
The main street of old city of Le Mans, Pays de la Loire
The Saint-Julien Cathedral in Le Mans, Pays de la Loire
The Saint-Michel gate in Guerande, Pays de la Loire
Cathédrale Saint-Pierre in Nantes, Pays de la Loire

France is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented this treaty - the European Union (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs checks but no immigration checks (travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country) or you may have to clear immigration but not customs (travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country).

Please see the article Travel in the Schengen Zone for more information about how the scheme works and what entry requirements are.

Citizens of Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Israel, Macedonia, Mauritius, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Taiwan and Uruguay, as well as British Nationals (Overseas), are permitted to work in France without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay. All other visa-exempt nationals are exempt from holding a visa for short-term employment if they possess a valid work permit and can present this work permit at the port of entry, with limited exceptions. However, this ability to work visa-free does not necessarily extend to other Schengen countries. For more information, visit this webpage of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign nationals who are not visa-exempt (e.g. South Africans) must make a 'declaration of entry' (déclaration d'entrée) at a police station or to border inspection personnel if they arrive in France directly from another country of Schengen Area (e.g. Italy), unless they hold a long-term visa or residence permit issued by a Schengen member state. Their passports will be endorsed by the authorities to prove that such a declaration has been made. This government webpage (in French) [1] provides more information.

If you intend to stay in France for longer than 90 days, regardless of purpose, an advance long-stay visa is always required of non-EEA or non-Swiss citizens. It is almost impossible to switch from a "C" (visitor) entry status to a "D" (long-stay) status from inside France, and you must apply for a long-stay visa in-person at the consulate responsible for your place of residence.

As of 2009, certain categories of long-stay visa, such as "visitor" (visiteur), family (vie privée et familiale), "student" (étudiant), "salaried worker" (salarié), and "short-term worker" (travailleur temporaire), do not require persons to obtain a separate residence permit (carte de séjour) for the first year of stay in France. However, the long-stay visa must be validated by the Office Française de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration (OFII) within the first three months of entering France to be valid for longer than those three months. This is done by sending in a form to the OFII received along with the visa with the address of residence in France, completing a medical examination, and attending an introductory meeting to validate the visa. The tax required for validation (€58 for students and €349 for salaried workers, visitors, and family) is, as of January 2013, now collected at the consulate when you apply for a long-stay visa. This validated visa will serve as a residence permit and, likewise, allow travel throughout the other Schengen countries for up to 90 days in a 6-month period. To stay in France after your validated visa expires, however, and/or if you hold a visa which states carte de séjour à solliciter dès l'arrivée, a carte de séjour must be obtained at the préfecture responsible for your place of residence within two months of entry into France or two months before the visa expires. Please consult the OFII for more information.

Note that French overseas departments and territories are not part of the Schengen Area and operate a separate immigration regime to metropolitan France.

By plane

Flights to/from Paris

The main international airport, Roissy - Charles de Gaulle (IATA: CDG), [2], is likely to be your port of entry if you fly into France from outside Europe. CDG is the home of Air France (AF), the national company, for most intercontinental flights. AF and the companies forming the SkyTeam Alliance (Dutch KLM, Aeromexico, Alitalia, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air,) use Terminal 2 while most other foreign airlines use Terminal 1. A third terminal is used for charter flights. If transferring through CDG (especially between the various terminals) it is important to leave substantial time between flights. Ensure you have no less than one hour between transfers. Add more if you have to change terminals as you will need to clear through security.

Transfers to another flight in France: AF operates domestic flights from CDG too, but a lot of domestic flights, and also some internal European flights, use Orly, the second Paris airport. For transfers within CDG you can use the free bus shuttle linking all terminals, train station, parking lots and hotels on the platform. For transfers to Orly there is a bus link operated by AF (free for AF passengers). The two airports are also linked by a local train (RER) which is slightly less expensive, runs faster but is much more cumbersome to use with heavy luggage. AF has agreements with the SNCF, the national rail company, which operates TGVs (see below) out of CDG airports (some trains carry flight numbers). The TGV station is in Terminal 2 and is on the route of the free shuttle. For transfers to the city centre of Paris, see Paris. Paris Star Shuttle [3] offers transfers from CDG into Paris.

Some low-cost airlines, including Ryanair and Volare, fly to Beauvais airport situated about 80 km northwest of Paris. Buses to Paris are provided by the airlines. Check schedules and fares on their websites.

Flights to/from regional airports

Other airports outside Paris have flights to/from international destinations: Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Toulouse have flights to cities in western Europe and North Africa; these airports are hubs to smaller airports in France and may be useful to avoid the transfer between the two Paris airports. Two airports, Bâle-Mulhouse and Geneva, are shared by France and Switzerland and can allow entry into either country.

Many airlines operate flights between regional airports in the UK and France:

bmibaby [4] flies direct from the UK to Chambéry, Geneva, Nice, Paris CDG and Toulouse.

British Airways [5] flies direct from the UK to Angers, Basel (Mulhouse), Bordeaux, Chambéry, Geneva, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Quimper and Toulouse.

Cityjet [6] flies direct from the UK to Avignon (Provence), Brest (Brittany), Brive (Dordogne), Deauville (Normandy), Nantes, Paris Orly, Pau (Pyrénées) and Toulon (Côte d'Azur).

easyJet [7] flies direct from the UK to Basel (Mulhouse), Biarritz, Bordeaux, Geneva, Grenoble, La Rochelle, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Nice, Paris CDG, Paris Orly, and Toulouse.

Flybe [8] flies direct from the UK to Avignon (Provence), Bergerac, Béziers, Bordeaux, Brest (Brittany), Chambéry, Clermont-Ferrand, Geneva, La Rochelle, Limoges, Nantes, Nice, Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Pau (Pyrénées), Perpignan, Rennes, Toulouse and Tours.

Jet2.com [9] flies direct from the UK to Bergerac, Chambéry, Geneva, La Rochelle, Nice, Paris CDG and Toulouse.

Lydd Air [10] operates a short shuttle flight across the Channel between Lydd in Kent and Le Touquet.

Ryanair [11] flies direct from the UK to Bergerac, Béziers, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Dinard (Saint-Malo), Grenoble, La Rochelle, Limoges, Lourdes, Marseille, Montpellier, Nîmes, Perpignan, Poitiers, Rodez, Toulon (Côte d'Azur) and Tours.

By boat

France is served by numerous services from England to France:

  • P&O Ferries [12] - operate freight and passenger services from Dover to Calais.
  • My Ferry Link [13] - operate freight and passenger services from Dover to Calais.

Prices vary considerably depending on which route you choose. Generally the cheapest route is the short sea route across the English Channel which is Dover to Calais, so it is worth comparing prices before you decide which is the most suitable route to France.

Passengers travelling from Dover by ferry to France go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before boarding, rather than on arrival in France. Passengers travelling from all other UK ports to France go through French passport/identity card checks on arrival in France.

There are also connections from Ireland to France:

Numerous companies now act as agents for the various ferry companies much like Expedia and Travelocity act as agents for airlines allowing the comparison of various companies and routes. Two well known brands are Ferryonline [21] and AFerry.co.uk [22].

By train

The French rail company, SNCF, provides direct service from most European countries using regular trains. French train tickets can be purchased directly in the US from RailEurope [23] a subsidiary of the SNCF.

  • Eurostar [24] runs high-speed trains to France from the United Kingdom and Belgium. Passengers travelling from the UK to France go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before boarding, rather than on arrival in France. Passengers travelling from Brussels to Lille/Calais/Paris are within the Schengen Area. Eurostar operates the following routes from France:
Paris (Gare du Nord) direct to London (St Pancras International) (2h 15min), Ebbsfleet and Ashford and via Lille to Brussels (Zuid-Midi).
Lille (Europe) direct to London (St Pancras International) (1h 20min), Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Brussels (Zuid-Midi)
Calais (Fréthun) direct to London (St Pancras International) (1h 2min; 2-3 daily), Ebbsfleet (44min; 3-4 daily), Ashford (35min; 1 daily) and Brussels (Zuid-Midi) (1h 9min; 2-3 daily) Note: Although Brussels Midi-Calais Fréthun can't be purchased on the Eurostar website, it is available on the Belgian Railways website [25]
  • Thalys [26] or [27] service uses high-speed TGV trains [28] to connect Paris to Brussels and onward to cities in the Netherlands and Germany. It can be a bit expensive compared to normal trains.

By bus

France has several Eurolines-hubs, [29].

By car

Several weekends each year in France its Black Saturday (Samedi noir) because of the start or end of school holidays and the coinciding traffic jams on the French roads. When possible it is wise to avoid these black days. See for the actual forecast the website of the French traffic service [30].

See Driving in France.

See the 'By boat' section above for information on car ferries to France from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

From Belgium

  • As according to an agreement with the CFL, the Belgian railways are directing all passenger trains to France through Luxembourg (thus causing an extra unnecessary border crossing), it may be useful to cross the border directly, on foot. The terminus of the French railways in Longwy can be reached from the Belgian train station of Halanzy (the line operates only on work days, however), or from the bigger Belgian stations of Arlon or Virton. Between these two stations there's a bus operated by the TEC company which stops at Aubange Place, a good point of departure/arrival for the walking tour. The path leads almost exclusively through inhabited areas in the community of Mont-Saint-Martin (yet partially in a forest if you go to/from Halanzy) and takes some 7 km. The city of Longwy itself is quite steep in some of its parts, so pay attention to this when planning your route.
  • There are domestic Belgian trains that terminate in Lille (station Lille-Flanders).
  • Between the De Panne terminus of the Belgian railways (and the Coast tram – Kusttram) and the French coastal city of Dunkerque, there is a bus line run by DK'BUS Marine: [31]. It may, however, be operating only in certain time of the year. It is also possible to take a DK'BUS bus which goes to the closest possible distance of the border and then cross it on foot by walking on the beach and arriving at a convenient station of the Coast tram, such as Esplanade.

Get around

By plane

The following carriers offer domestic flights within France:

  1. Air France [32] (Ajaccio (Campo Dell Oro Airport), Annecy-Meythet Airport, Avignon-Caum Airport, Bastia (Poretta Airport), Biarritz Parme Airport, Bordeaux Airport, Brest (Guipavas Airport), Caen (Carpiquet Airport), Calvi (Sainte Catherine Airport), Clermont-Ferrand (Aulnat Airport), Figari (Sud Corse Airport), Lannion (Servel Airport), Le Havre (Octeville Airport), Lille (Lesquin Airport), Limoges (Bellegarde Airport), Lorient (Lann Bihoue Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Marseille Airport, Metz/Nancy (Metz-Nancy-Lorraine Airport), Montpellier (Mediterranee Airport), Mulhouse/Basel (EuroAirport French), Nantes Atlantique Airport, Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport), Paris (Charles De Gaulle Airport), Paris (Orly Field), Pau (Uzein Airport), Perpignan (Llabanere Airport), Quimper (Pluguffan Airport), Rennes (St Jacques Airport), Rodez (Marcillac Airport), Rouen (Boos Airport), Strasbourg (Entzheim Airport), Tarbes Ossun Lourdes Airport, Toulon (Hyeres Airport), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
  2. Airlinair [33] (Aurillac Airport, Bastia (Poretta Airport), Beziers Vias Airport, Bordeaux Airport, Brest (Guipavas Airport), Brive-La-Gaillarde (Laroche Airport), La Rochelle (Laleu Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Mulhouse/Basel (EuroAirport French), Nantes Atlantique Airport, Paris (Orly Field), Poitiers (Biard Airport), Rennes (St Jacques Airport), Saint Nazaire (Montoir Airport), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
  3. CCM [34] (Ajaccio (Campo Dell Oro Airport), Bastia (Poretta Airport), Calvi (Sainte Catherine Airport), Figari (Sud Corse Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Marseille Airport, Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport))
  4. Twin Jet [35] (Cherbourg (Maupertus Airport), Marseille Airport, Metz/Nancy (Metz-Nancy-Lorraine Airport), Paris (Orly Field), Saint Etienne (Boutheon Airport), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
  5. easyJet [36] (Bastia, Biarritz, Brest, Lyon, Nantes, Nice (Côte D'Azur Airport), Paris (Charles De Gaulle Airport), Paris (Orly Field), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
  6. Ryanair [37] (Marseille to/from Bordeaux/Brest/Lille/Nantes/Paris Beauvais/Paris Vatry/Tours; Paris Beauvais to/from Beziers/Marseille)
  7. Eastern Airways [38] (Dijon to/from Bordeaux/Nantes/Toulouse)
  8. Hex'Air [39] (Le Puy (Loudes Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Paris (Orly Field), Rodez (Marcillac Airport))
  9. Air Austral [40] (Lyon Satolas Airport, Marseille Airport)
  10. Heli Securite [41] (Cannes (Croisette Heliport), Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport))
  11. Nice Helicopteres [42] (Cannes (Croisette Heliport), Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport))

By car

See also: Driving in France

France has a well-developed system of highways. Most of the freeway (autoroute) links are toll roads. Some have toll station giving you access to a section, others have entrance and exit toll stations. Don't lose your entrance ticket or you will be charged for the longest distance. All toll stations accept major credit cards although may not accept foreign credit cards, or you can use the automatic booth, but only if your card is equipped with a chip.

Roads range from the narrow single-lane roads in the countryside to major highways. Most towns and cities were built before the general availability of the automobile and thus city centres tend to be unwieldy for cars. Keep this in mind when renting: large cars can be very unwieldy. It often makes sense to just park and then use public transportation.

France drives on the right.

A French driver flashing headlights is asserting right of way and warning you of intentions and presence. Do not use it to mean thanks. Flashing headlights can also mean, "Watch out as there's a police speed-check ahead of you!" Horns should be used only in legitimate emergencies; use of the horn in urban areas outside such circumstances might win you a traffic ticket. Parisian drivers were notorious for honking their horns at anything and everything, though increased enforcement has greatly reduced this practice.

Renting a car

Once you land in France you may need to use car hire services. Most of the leading companies operate from French airports and there is good merit in booking car hire in advance. It is a regular experience at smaller French airports to not get the type of car you booked online but an alternative model. Sometimes the alternative model is quite different so check carefully before accepting the vehicle and stand your ground if it does not match your booking request and is not suitable to your needs.

Most cars in France are equipped with standard transmissions, a fact that derives equally from the preferences of the driving public and the peculiarities of French licensing laws (automatic transmissions are generally only used by the elderly or those with physical disabilities). This extends to vehicle categories that in other countries (read: the US) are virtually never equipped with a manual transmission, such as vans and large sedans. Accordingly, virtually all of the vehicles available for rent at the average car hire will be equipped with a manual gearbox. If you do not know how to drive a car with a manual transmission and don't have the time to learn before your trip, be certain to reserve your rental car well in advance and confirm your reservation. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a car that is much larger than you can afford (or with no car at all).

It is a good tip when travelling in numbers to get one member of the party with hand luggage to go straight through to the car hire desk ahead of everybody else, this will avoid the crush once the main luggage is picked up from the conveyor.

For short term rentals, you will find numerous familiar big name agencies (Hertz,SIXT,Avis,Alamo) which you can book through a number of online portals and compare prices side by side (Orbitz,Kayak,Expedia). All of the above rental agencies usually have similar pricing, vehicles and rental policies. Although it not recommended, one will usually be able to wait until near last minute to book online and still get a car when it comes to short term rentals.

However, for rentals exceeding three weeks in duration, it is often advantageous to use a "short term" lease buy back programs in which you need to book at least a few weeks in advance before departing. The lease buy back programs are uniquely French and offer a tax-free alternative to car rentals that can often have an overall lower cost and better value than a traditional car rental. The programs are typically run by the big three French auto makers Peugeot, Renault, and Citroen. Short term leasing offers clients a brand new vehicle, full insurance, unlimited mileage, and flexible driving rules compared to traditional car rentals. You must be a NON European resident to take part in this and one downfall is that you must have need for a car for more then three weeks in order to benefit from the service. Only certain agencies are authorized to sell these leases to US residents. Some of them include; Auto France, Inc. Peugeot(US), Citroen Europass (US), Renault USA (US).

By thumb

France is a good country for hitchhiking. Be patient, prepare yourself for a long wait or walk and in the meantime enjoy the landscape. A ride will come along. People who stop are usually friendly and not dangerous. They will like you more if you speak a little French. They never expect any money for the ride.

Remember that getting out of Paris by thumb is almost impossible. You can try your luck at the portes, but heavy traffic and limited areas for stopping will try your patience. It's a good idea to take the local train to a nearby suburb as your chance of being picked up will increase dramatically.

Outside Paris, it's advisable to try your luck after roundabouts. As it's illegal to hitchhike on the motorways (autoroutes) and they are well observed by the police, you may try on a motorway entry. The greatest chance is at toll plazas (stations de péage), some of which require all cars to stop and are thus great places to catch a lift. Some tollbooths are really good, some not so good. If you've been waiting for a while with an indication of where to go, drop it and try with your thumb only. And also, you can try to get a ride to the next good spot in the wrong direction.

Note, though, that hitching from a péage, while a common practice, isn't legal and French police or highway security, who are normally very tolerant of hitchhikers, may stop and force you to leave. You can get free maps in the toll offices - these also indicate where you can find the "all-stop-Péage".

By train

Trains are a great way to get around in France. You can get pretty much from anywhere to anywhere else by train. For long distances, use the TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse - High-Speed Train) on which reservations are obligatory. But, if you have time, take the slow train and enjoy the scenery. The landscape is part of what makes France one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

The French national railway network is managed by Réseaux Ferrés de France, and most of the trains are run by the SNCF [43] (Société nationale des chemins de fer français). For interregional trains you can get schedules and book tickets online at voyages-sncf.com [44]. For regional trains, schedules can be found at ter-sncf.com [45] (choose your region, then "Carte and horaires" for maps and timetables). Booking is available in two classes: première classe (first class) is less crowded and more comfortable but can also be about 50% more expensive than deuxième classe (second class). Note that if your TGV is fully booked, step aboard seconds before the doors close, and look for the guard ("contrôleur"). He will find you a seat somewhere.

There are a number of different kinds of high speed and normal trains:

  • TER (Train Express Régional): Regional trains and the backbone of the SNCF system. TER are slow but do serve most stations. Available on Eurail and InterRail passes.
  • Intercités: As of 2012, the bundling of the former Corail services. Includes trains with compulsory reservation (former Téoz and the Lunéa night trains) and those for which reservations are optional (former Intercités). The reservation-optional trains are what one will often use on passes. Some trains go to regions that the TGV services don't, namely in Auvergne.
  • TGV (Trains à Grande Vitesse): The world-famous French high-speed trains run several times a day to the Southeast Nice(5-6h), Marseille (3h) and Avignon (2.5 h), the East Geneva (3h) or Lausanne, Switzerland and Dijon (1h15) , the Southwest Bordeaux (3h), the West Rennes (2h), Nantes (2h), Brest (4h) and the North Lille (1h). Eurostar to London (2h15) and Thalys to Brussels (1h20) use almost identical trains. Reservations are compulsory.

If you'll be doing more than about 2 return journeys in France and are younger than 26, getting a "Carte 12-25" will save you money. They cost €50, last a year, and give anywhere from a 25% to 60% discount depending on when you book the ticket and when you travel.

Booking tickets online can be quite a confusing process as it is possible to book the same journey through a number of different websites (in different languages and currencies). The fares are not always consistent so it pays to check the same trip on a number of sites.

  • www.voyages-sncf.com [46] This is the French language booking website of the SNCF.
  • www.tgv-europe.com [47] English language version of the SNCF site. Confusingly this site has a completely different layout and style from the French language version. There are a few strange quirks. The booking window requires you to enter your "country", and if you select France (as someone already in France is likely to do), you are directed back to the French language site.
  • www.raileurope.com [48][49] [50] The RailEurope sites are booking agencies owned by the SNCF. Fares will often be more expensive on these sites than on the "official" sites, however they are generally easier to use than the SNCF sites.

Both TGV-Europe and Voyages-SNCF frequently report errors in booking attempts; one of the workarounds is to call SNCF to book over the phone (00.33.892.35.35.35 "from outside France" per [51]). The most attractive internet-only rates are not available there, but still it secures you a seat, and likely cheaper than if you buy in ticket office upon arrival.

If you've booked online on Voyages SNCF [52], you can pick up your ticket when you get to the train station. Contrary to a common misunderstanding, this web site allows you to order even if you live in the US; it is not concerned where you live, but where you will pick up the tickets or have them sent; thus if you wish to pick up the tickets at a SNCF train station or office, answer "France". When at the station, just go to the counter ("Guichet") and ask to have your ticket issued ("retirer votre billet"). You can ask "Je voudrais retirer mon billet, s'il vous plait", or 'zhe voo dray ruh teer ay mon bee yay, sill voo play' and then hand them the paper with the reference number.

To find your train, locate your train number and the departure time on the departures board. There will be a track ("Voie") number next to the train and departure time. Follow signs to that track to board the train. You will have a reserved seat on TGV trains. On other long-distance trains, you can optionally make reservations (at least one day in advance); if you do not have one you may use any unused seat not marked as reserved. To find your reserved seat, first look for the train coach number ("Voit. No"). Pay attention to the possible confusion between track number (Voie) and coach (voiture) number (abbreviated Voit) As you go down the track, the coach number will be displayed on an LCD screen on the car, or maybe just written in the window or right next to the doors.

The reserved seat rules are lax; you are allowed if you switch seats or use another seat (of the same class of course) if it is empty because the TGV is not fully booked or the other person agrees to switch with you. The only requirement is not to continue using a reserved seat if the person holding the reservation claims it.

On the main lines, TGVs often run in twos. There are two possibilities: either the two TGVs are considered as one train with one train number (in this case each coach has a different number); or the two TGVs are considered as separate trains which run together during a part of their journey, with two different train numbers (in this case, the two trains may have two close numbers such as 1527 and 1537), and each train will have its own coach numbering. So be sure you are in the right train (the train number is shown on the LCD screen, with the coach number).

If you are early, there is often a map somewhere on the track that will show how the train and car numbers will line up on the track according to letters that appear either on the ground or on signs above. That way, you can stand by the letter corresponding with your coach number and wait to board the train closest to your coach. You can easily go from one coach to another, so if you are very late, jump in any coach of the same class before the train starts, wait until most people are seated, then walk to your coach and seat number.

Beware: To avoid any form of fraud, your ticket must be punched by an automatic machine ("composteur") before entering the platform area to be valid. Older machines are bright orange, newer machines are yellow and gray. The machines are situated at the entrance of all platforms. Failure to punch the ticket may entitle you to a fine even if you are a foreigner with a limited French vocabulary, depending on how the conductor feels, unless you approach the conductor as quickly as possible and request that your ticket be validated. Likewise if you step aboard a train without a ticket, you must find the conductor ("contrôleur") and tell him about your situation before he finds you.

French information booths, especially in larger train stations, can be quite unhelpful, especially if you do not understand much French. If something does not seem to make sense, just say "excusez-moi" and they should repeat it.

Night train services also exist. These include couchettes second class (6 bunk beds in a compartment), first class (4 bunks) and Reclining seats. Wagon-lits (a compartment with 2 real beds) were totally withdrawn from French overnight trains. However, you can ask for a "private room" (in first class). Night trains have occasionally been targeted by criminals, though this is not a widespread problem.

Troc des trains

As it is cheaper to book and purchase train tickets, especially those with reservations, in advance, there is a relatively lively trading of non-exchangeable and non-reimburseable train tickets on the Internet. See http://www.trocdestrains.com/recherche-billet-train.html and http://www.kelbillet.com/billet-de-train-pas-cher/

By bus

Intercity bus service is new in France. Currently Eurolines[53] is the only operator but with destinations across the country.

Elsewhere, intercity coaches can only be found in departmental/regional service. So check for the peculiarities of bus service in the region you are in.

Tickets for local service are usually affordable, i.e. in the region of Île De France generally cost €1.60 (10 cents more if purchased from the driver).

Talk

L'anglais et les Français
Yes, it's true: while most people in France under the age of 60 have studied English, they are often unable or unwilling to use it. This is not necessarily linguistic snobbery, but is usually due to lack of practice, or fear that their little-used-since-high-school English will sound ridiculous. If you really must speak English, be sure to begin the conversation in French and ask if the person can speak English, as assuming someone can speak a foreign language is considered very rude. Please note that British English, spoken with the carefully articulated "received pronunciation", is what is generally taught in France; thus, other accents (such as Irish, Scottish, Southern US or Australian accents) may be understood with difficulty, if at all. Try to speak clearly and slowly, and avoid slang or US-specific words or phrases. There is no need to speak loudly (unless in a loud environment) to be understood; doing so is considered impolite. Don't forget that French people will really appreciate any attempts you do to speak French.


See also: French phrasebook

French (français) is the official language of France, although there are regional variations in pronunciation and local words. For example, throughout France the word for yes, oui, said "we", but you will often hear the slang form "ouais", said "waay." It's similar to the English language usage of "Yeah" instead of "Yes".

In Alsace and part of Lorraine, a dialect of German called "Alsatian", which is almost incomprehensible to speakers of standard High German, is spoken. In the south, some still speak dialects of the Langue d'Oc (because the word for "yes" is oc): Languedocien, Limousin, Auvergnat, or Provençal. Langue d'Oc is a Romance language, a very close relative of Italian, Spanish, or Catalan. In the west part of Brittany, a few people, mainly old or scholars, speak Breton; this Celtic language is closer to Welsh than to French. In parts of Aquitaine, Basque is spoken, but not as much as on the Spanish side of the border. In Corsica a kind of Italian is spoken.In Provence, Provençal is most likely to be spoken, especially along the Riviera. In Paris, the ethnic Chinese community in Chinatown also speaks Teochew.

However, almost everyone speaks French and tourists are unlikely to ever come across regional languages, except in order to give a "folkloric" flair to things.

Hardly anybody understands imperial units such as gallons or Fahrenheit. Stick to metric units (after all, French invented this system!).

The French are generally attached to politeness (some might say excessively) and will react coolly to strangers that forget it. You might be surprised to see that you are greeted by other customers when you walk into a restaurant or shop. Return the courtesy and address your hellos/goodbyes to everyone when you enter or leave small shops and cafes. It is, for the French, very impolite to start a conversation with a stranger (even a shopkeeper or client) without at least a polite word like "bonjour". For this reason, starting the conversation with at least a few basic French phrases, or some equivalent polite form in English, goes a long way to convince them to try and help you.

  • "Excusez-moi Monsieur/Madame": Excuse me (ex-COO-zay-mwah mih-SYOOR/muh-DAM)
  • "S'il vous plaît Monsieur/Madame" : Please (SEEL-voo-PLAY)
  • "Merci Monsieur/Madame" : Thank you (mare-SEE)
  • "Au revoir Monsieur/Madame" : Good Bye (Ore-vwar)

Avoid "Salut" (Hi); it is reserved for friends and relatives, and to use it with people you are not acquainted with is considered quite impolite.

Some travel phrases:

  • Où est l'hôtel? - Where is the hotel?
  • Où sont les toilettes? - Where can I find a restroom?
  • Où est la gare? Where is the train station
  • Parlez-vous Français? Do you speak French
  • Parlez-vous Anglais? Do you speak English

Note that French spoken with an hard English accent or an American accent can be very difficult for the average French person to understand. In such circumstances, it may be best to write down what you are trying to say. But tales of waiters refusing to serve tourists because their pronunciation doesn't meet French standards are highly exaggerated. A good-faith effort will usually be appreciated, but don't be offended if a waiter responds to your fractured French, or even fluent but accented, in English (If you are a fluent French speaker and the waiter speaks to you in English when you'd prefer to speak French, continue to respond in French and the waiter will usually switch back - this is a common occurrence in the more tourist-orientated areas, especially in Paris).

Please note that some parts of France (such as Paris) are at times overrun by tourists. The locals there may have some blasé feelings about helping for the umpteenth time foreign tourists who speak in an unintelligible language and ask for directions to the other side of the city. Be courteous and understanding.

As France is a very multicultural society, many African languages, Arabic, Chinese dialects, Vietnamese or Cambodian could be spoken. Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and even Romanian are comprehensible to a French speaker to a reasonably wide extent, as they are all mutually intelligible through most words and come from the same family tree, but you should stick to French unless you're in a large city.

See

Thinking of France, you might imagine the iconic Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe or the famous smile of Mona Lisa. You might think of drinking coffee in the lively Paris cafés where great intellectuals lingered in past times, or of eating croissants in a local bistro of a sleepy but gorgeous village in the countryside. Probably, images of splendid châteaux will spring to your mind, of lavender fields or perhaps of vineyards as far as the eye can see. Or perhaps, you'd envisage the chic resorts of the Cote D'Azur. And you wouldn't be wrong. However, they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to France's many sights and attractions.

Cities

Paris. the "City of Light" and the capital of romance has been a travellers' magnet for centuries and a real must-see. Of course, no visit would be complete without a glance at its world famous landmarks. The Eiffel Tower is hard to miss, especially when it is lit beautifully at night, but the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and Sacré Coeur are both famous and stunning sights too. With no less than 3,800 national monuments in and around Paris, history is literally around every corner. Stroll through the city's spacious green parks, with the Luxembourg Gardens as one of the favourites, and make sure to spend some time on the famous banks of the river Seine. Also, don't miss the magnificent Palace of Versailles, the most grand reminder of the Ancient Regime located just 20 km away from the capital.

Bordeaux is famous for its wine but is also a bustling city with lots of historic sights to discover. It is listed as a World Heritage Site for being "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble". Lyon, the country's second largest city, is listed too, and boasts a beautiful old centre as well as a number of Roman ruins. Strasbourg, one of the EU headquarters, has a character of its own, with clear German influences. Montpellier is one of the best places in the south, with lots of monumental buildings and nice cafés. In the west there's the beautiful historic city of Nantes, home to the Château des ducs de Bretagne and many other monuments. The Capitole de Toulouse is situated right at the heart that famous university city's street plan. Last but not least, don't overlook Arles, with its World Heritage Listed Roman and Romanesque Monuments.

French Riviera

And then there are the magnificent cities of the Côte d'Azur, once the place to be for the rich and famous but now equally popular with a general crowd. Its sandy beaches, beautiful bays, rocky cliffs and lovely towns has made it one of the main yachting and cruising areas in the world as well as popular destination for land-bound travellers. There's bustling Nice, where some 4 million tourists a year enjoy the stony beaches and stroll over the Promenade des Anglais. Avignon with its splendid ramparts and Palais-des-Papes was once the seat of popes. Although Saint-Tropez gets overcrowded in summer, it's a delightful place in any other season. The same goes for Cannes, where the jet-set of the film industry gathers each year for the famous Cannes Film Festival. From there, you can hop on a boat to the much more peaceful Îles de Lérins.

Much smaller in size but just as gorgeous (and popular) are the perched villages of Gourdon and Èze, which is located on a 427 meter high cliff, much like an “eagle's nest”. Both offer some stunning panoramic views. From Èze, its a very short trip to the glitter and glamour of Monaco. For the world's millionaires and aristocracy, the green peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is an old time favourite with the impressive Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild full of impressionist art as its main sight. A bit more inland but well-worth a visit are the towns of Grasse, famous for its perfumeries, and Biot, known for its glass blowers. The huge city and arts-hub Marseille is usually not considered part of the Cote D'Azur, but is very close. It has plenty of historic sights and nearby are the stunning Calanques, a series of miniature fjords it shares with Cassis.

Countryside & villages

You haven't seen the best of France if you haven't had at least a taste of its amazing countryside, dotted with wonderful medieval villages and castles. There are great examples in any part of the country, but some 156 small towns have been identified as the most beautiful villages in France[54]. The country's landscapes vary from the snow-covered peaks of the Alps and the Pyrenees with their many winter sports resorts to lush river valleys, dense forests and huge stretches of farmland and vineyards. The Provence, backing a good part of the Côte d'Azur, is one of the most beloved regions. It has a typical Mediterranean atmosphere and is famous for its lavender fields and rosé wines. It's also home to the stunning Verdon Gorge, one of the most beautiful gorges in Europe. The rolling riverine landscape of the Loire Valley is home to many great castles, of which Châteaux Amboise, Château de Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau, Chambord and Châteaux du Pin are some of the finest examples. The western region of Brittany reaches far into the Atlantic and boasts many megalith monuments such as those near Carnac. The beaches of Normandy, also on the Atlantic coast, are famed for the D-Day Allied invasion on June 6, 1944. Although the humbling Normandy American Cemetery and countless museums, memorials and war time remains keep memory of those dark days alive, the region is now a pleasant and popular destination. Its picturesque coast line includes both long stretches of beach and steep limestone cliffs, such as those near Étretat). The region is also home to the splendid and World Heritage listed Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay. The lush hills of the Dordogne form another region famous for its castles, with over 1500 of them on its 9000 km2 area.

Art museums

As the French have a real taste for art, the country has numerous art galleries and museums. Several of them are widely considered to be among the finest museums in the world of art, art-history, and culture. The grandeur and fame of the Musée du Louvre in Paris can hardly be matched by any other museum in the world. It boasts a fabulous collection of art from antiquity to the 19th century and is home of the Mona Lisa and many other renowned works. At just a 15 minute walk from there is the Musée d'Orsay, another world class museum that picks up roughly where the Louvre's collections ends. It's located in an old railway station and houses the national collection of art works from the 1848 to 1914 period. Its excellent collection includes some of the best French Impressionist, post-Impressionist and Art Nouveau works, including Degas' ballerinas and Monet's waterlillies. The Musée National d'Art Moderne in Centre Pompidou, still in France's capital, is the largest museum for modern art in Europe. The Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon has an excellent collection varying from ancient Egypt antiquities to Modern art paintings and sculptures. In Lille you'll find the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, one of the country's largest museums. Its varied collection is second in size after the Louvre and boasts anything from antiquities to modern art. Smaller but still outstanding are the collections of the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi and the Picasso Museum in Paris. Marseille has many galleries and its Musée Cantini has a good collection of modern art associated with Marseille as well as several works by Picasso. Fondation Maeght houses modern art too and is situated in Saint-Paul de Vence.

Parks & natural attractions

Disneyland Resort Paris is by far France's most popular park, visited by families from all over Europe. The country's national parks have quite some visitors too though, due to their splendid scenery and great opportunities for outdoor sports. Vanoise National Park is the oldest and one of the largest parks, named after the Vanoise massif. Its highest peak is the Grande Casse at 3,855 m. The impressive natural landscapes of Parc national des Pyrénées are right on the southern border of France and extend well into Spain, where they are part of the Parc National Ordesa y Monte Perdido The whole area is listed as UNESCO World Heritage. In the French part, the glacial cirques of Gavarnie, Estaubé and Troumouse are some of the best sights, as is the wall of Barroud. The again mountainous Cévennes National Park covers parts of the Languedoc-Roussillon (including te popular Ardèche), Midi-Pyrénées and the Rhône-Alpes regions. Its headquarters is in the castle of Florac, but there are towns all over the park. Donkey rides are available and the Cave formation of Aven Armand is one of the parks' best sights.

Not yet under a protective status but highly popular is Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe and attractive for climbing, hiking and skiing. From the French side, it is mostly explored from Chamonix, a well known resort on the foot of the mountain.

Do

  • Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
  • Stroll grand Parisian Boulevards
  • Climb Montmartre Hill in Paris
  • See a managable amount of art in the Louvre, or see the art in the Orsay Museum, in a former train station
  • See the modern architecture in the business district of La Defense
  • See the Science Museum in Villette Park, and the other odd attractions assembled there
  • Stroll an old train viaduct on the Promenade Plantee in Paris
  • Ride the TGV, one of the fastest trains in the world, from Paris to Lyon
  • See the quaintness of the Alsace
  • Ride a bike along a section of Tour De France

Buy

Vacations

Many of the French take their vacations in August. As a result, outside of touristic areas, many of the smaller stores (butcher shops, bakeries...) will be closed in parts of August. This also applies to many corporations as well as physicians. Obviously, in touristy areas, stores will tend to be open when the tourists come, especially July and August. In contrast, many attractions will be awfully crowded during those months, and during Easter week-end.

Some attractions, especially in rural areas, close or have reduced opening hours outside the touristic season.

Mountain areas tend to have two touristic seasons: in the winter, for skiing, snowshoeing and other snow-related activities, and in the summer for sightseeing and hiking.

Money

France has the euro (€) as its sole currency along with 24 other countries that use this common European money. These 24 countries are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain (official euro members which are all European Union member states) as well as Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican which use it without having a say in eurozone affairs and without being European Union members. Together, these countries have a population of 327 million.

One euro is divided into 100 cents. While each official euro member (as well as Monaco, San Marino and Vatican) issues its own coins with a unique obverse, the reverse, as well as all bank notes, look the same throughout the eurozone. Every coin is legal tender in any of the eurozone countries.


Some foreign currencies such as the US dollar and the British Pound are occasionally accepted, especially in touristic areas and in higher-end places, but one should not count on it; furthermore, the merchant may apply some unfavourable rate. In general, shops will refuse transactions in foreign currency.

It is compulsory, for the large majority of businesses, to post prices in windows. Hotels and restaurants must have their rates visible from outside (note, however, that many hotels propose lower prices than the posted ones if they feel they will have a hard time filling up their rooms; the posted price is only a maximum).

Almost all stores, restaurants and hotels take the CB French debit card, and its foreign affiliations, Visa and Mastercard. American Express tends to be accepted only in high-end shops. Check with your bank for applicable fees (typically, banks apply the wholesale inter-bank exchange rate, which is the best available, but may slap a proportional and/or a fixed fee).

French CB cards (and CB/Visa and CB/Mastercard cards) have a "smart chip" on them allowing PIN authentication of transactions. This system, initiated in France, has now evolved to an international standard and newer British cards are compatible. Some automatic retail machines (such as those vending tickets) may be compatible only with cards with the microchip. In addition, cashiers unaccustomed to foreign cards possibly do not know that foreign Visa or Mastercard cards have to be swiped and a signature obtained, while French customers systematically use PIN and don't sign the transactions.

There is (practically) no way to get a cash advance from a credit card without a PIN in France.

Automatic teller machines (ATM) are by far the best way to get money in France. They all take CB, Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus and Plus and are plentiful throughout France. They may accept other kinds of card; check for the logos on the ATM and on your card (on the back, generally) if at least one matches. It is possible that some machines do not handle 6-digit PIN codes (only 4-digit ones), or that they do not offer the choice between different accounts (defaulting on the checking account). Check with your bank about applicable fees, which may vary greatly (typically, banks apply the wholesale inter-bank exchange rate, which is the best available, but may slap a proportional and/or a fixed fee; because of the fixed fee it is generally better to withdraw money in big chunks rather than €20 at a time). Also, check about applicable maximal withdrawal limits.

Traveller's cheques are difficult to use — most merchants will not accept them, and exchanging them may involve finding a bank that accepts to exchange them and possibly paying a fee.

Note that the postal service doubles as a bank, so often post offices will have an ATM. As a result, even minor towns will have ATMs usable with foreign cards.

Exchange offices (bureaux de change) are now rarer with the advent of the Euro - they will in general only be found in towns with a significant foreign tourist presence, such as Paris. Some banks exchange money, often with high fees. The Bank of France no longer does foreign exchange.

Do's Put money into your checking account, carry an ATM card with a Cirrus or Plus logo on it and a 4-digit pin that does not start with '0' and withdraw cash from ATMs. Pay larger transactions (hotel, restaurants...) with Visa or Mastercard. Always carry some € cash for emergencies.

Don't's Carry foreign currency ($, £...) or traveller's cheques, and exchange them on the go, or expect them to be accepted by shops.

Stores

Inside city centre, you will find smaller stores, chain grocery stores (Casino) as well as, occasionally, department stores and small shopping malls. Residential areas will often have small supermarkets (Champion, Intermarché). Large supermarkets (hypermarchés such as Géant Casino or Carrefour) are mostly located on the outskirts of towns and are probably not useful unless you have a car.

Prices are indicated with all taxes (namely, the TVA, or value-added tax) included. It is possible for non-EU residents to get a partial refund upon departure from certain stores that have a "tax-free shopping" sticker; inquire within. TVA is 19.6% on most things, but 7% on some things such as books, restaurant meals, and public transport and 5.5% on food purchased from grocery stores (except for sweets and candies!). Alcoholic beverages are always taxed at 19.6%, regardless of where they're purchased.

Eat

With its international reputation for fine dining, few people would be surprised to hear that French cuisine can certainly be very good. Unfortunately, it can also be quite disappointing; many restaurants serve very ordinary fare, and some in touristy areas are rip-offs. Finding the right restaurant is therefore very important - try asking locals, hotel staff or even browsing restaurant guides for recommendations as simply walking in off the street can be a hit and miss affair.

There are many places to try French food in France, from three-star Michelin restaurants to French "brasseries" or "bistros" that you can find at almost every corner, especially in big cities. These usually offer a relatively consistent and virtually standardised menu of relatively inexpensive cuisine. To obtain a greater variety of dishes, a larger outlay of money is often necessary. In general, one should try to eat where the locals do for the best chance of a memorable meal. Most small cities or even villages have local restaurants which are sometimes listed in the most reliable guides. There are also specific local restaurants, like "bouchons lyonnais" in Lyons, "crêperies" in Brittany (or in the Montparnasse area of Paris), etc.

Chinese, Vietnamese, even Thai eateries are readily available in Paris, either as regular restaurants or "traiteurs" (fast-food). They are not so common, and are more expensive, in smaller French cities. Many places have "Italian" restaurants though these are often little more than unimaginative pizza and pasta parlors. You will also find North African (Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian) as well as Greek and Lebanese food. The ubiquitous hamburger eateries (US original or their French copies) are also available; note that McDonalds is more upmarket in France than in the US.

In France, taxes (7 per cent of the total in restaurants) and service (usually 15 per cent) are always included in the bill, so anything patrons add to the bill amount is an "extra-tip". French people usually leave one or two coins if they were happy with the service.

Fixed price menus seldom include beverages. If you want water, waiters will often try to sell you mineral water (Évian, Thonon) or fizzy water (Badoit, Perrier), at a premium; ask for a carafe d'eau for tap water, which is free and safe to drink. Water never comes with ice in it unless so requested (and water with ice may not be available).

As in other countries, restaurants tend to make a large profit off beverages. Expect wine to cost much more than it would in a supermarket.

Ordering is made either from fixed price menus (prix fixe) or à la carte.

A typical fixed price menu will comprise:

  • appetizer, called entrées or hors d'œuvres
  • main dish, called plat
  • dessert (dessert) or cheese (fromage)

Sometimes, restaurants offer the option to take only two of three steps, at a reduced price.

Coffee is always served as a final step (though it may be followed by liquors). A request for coffee during the meal will be considered strange.

Not all restaurants are open for lunch and dinner, nor are they open all year around. It is therefore advisable to check carefully the opening times and days. A restaurant open for lunch will usually start service at noon and accept patrons until 13:30. Dinner begins at around 19:30 and patrons are accepted until 21:30. Restaurants with longer service hours are usually found only in the larger cities and in the downtown area. Finding a restaurant open on Saturday and especially Sunday can be a challenge unless you stay close to the tourist areas.

In a reasonable number of restaurants, especially outside tourist areas, a booking is compulsory and people may be turned away without one, even if the restaurant is clearly not filled to capacity. For this reason, it can be worthwhile to research potential eateries in advance and make the necessary reservations to avoid disappointment, especially if the restaurant you're considering is specially advised in guide books.

A lunch or dinner for two on the "menu" including wine and coffee will cost you (as of 2004) €70 to €100 in a listed restaurant in Paris. The same with beer in a local "bistro" or a "crêperie" around €50. A lunch or dinner for one person in a decent Chinese restaurant in Paris can cost as little as €8 if one looks carefully.

Outside of Paris and the main cities, prices are not always lower but the menu will include a fourth course, usually cheese. As everywhere beware of the tourist traps which are numerous around the heavy travelled spots and may offer a nice view but not much to remember in your plate.

Bread

All white bread variants keep for only a short time and must be eaten the same day. Hence bakers bake at least twice a day.

  • The famous baguette: a long, thin loaf
  • Variants of the baguette : la ficelle (even thinner), la flûte
  • Pain de campagne or Pain complet: made from whole grain which keeps relatively well.

Pastries

Pastries are a large part of French cooking. Hotel breakfasts tend to be light, consisting of tartines (pieces of bread with butter or jam) or the famous croissants and pains au chocolat, not dissimilar to a chocolate filled croissant (but square rather than crescent shaped).

Pastries can be found in a pâtisserie but also in most boulangeries.

Regional dishes

Every French region has dishes all its own. These dishes follow the resources (game, fish, agriculture, etc) of the region, the vegetables (cabbage, turnip, endives, etc) which they grow there. Here is a small list of regional dishes which you can find easily in France. Generally each region has a unique and widespread dish (usually because it was poor people's food):

  • Cassoulet (in south west) : Beans, duck, pork & sausages
  • Choucroute, or sauerkraut (in Alsace) : stripped fermented cabbage + pork
  • Fondue Savoyarde (central Alps) : Melted/hot cheese with alcohol
  • Fondue Bourguignonne (in Burgundy) : Pieces of beef (in boiled oil), usually served with a selection of various sauces.
  • Raclette (central Alps) : melted cheese & potatoes/meat
  • Pot-au-feu boiled beef with vegetables
  • Boeuf Bourguignon (Burgundy) : slow cooked beef with gravy
  • Gratin dauphinois (Rhone-Alpes) : oven roasted slices of potatoes
  • Aligot (Auvergne) : melted cheese mixed with a puree of potatoes
  • Bouillabaisse (fish + saffron) (Marseille and French Riviera). Don't be fooled. A real bouillabaisse is a really expensive dish due to the amount of fresh fish it requires. Be prepared to pay at least €30/persons. If you find restaurants claiming serving bouillabaisse for something like €15/persons, you'll get a very poor quality.
  • Tartiflette (Savoie) Reblochon cheese, potatoes and pork or bacon.
  • Confit de Canard (Landes) : Duck Confit, consists of legs and wings bathing in grease. That grease is actually very healthy and, with red wine, is one of the identified sources of the so-called "French Paradox" (eat richly, live long).
  • Foie Gras (Landes) : The liver of a duck or goose. Although usually quite expensive, foie gras can be found in supermarkets for a lower price (because of their purchasing power) around the holiday season. It is the time of year when most of foie gras is consumed in France. It goes very well with Champagne.

Cooking and drinking is a notable part of the French culture, take time to eat and discover new dishes...

Unusual foods

Contrary to stereotype, snails and frog legs are quite infrequent foods in France, with many French people enjoying neither, or sometimes having never even tasted them. Quality restaurants sometimes have them on their menu: if you're curious about trying new foods, go ahead.

  • Frogs' legs have a very fine and delicate taste with flesh that is not unlike chicken. They are often served in a garlic dressing and are no weirder to eat than, say, crab.
  • Most of the taste of Bourgogne snails (escargots de bourgogne) comes from the generous amount of butter, garlic and parsley in which they are cooked. They have a very particular spongy-leathery texture that is what is liked by people who like snails. Catalan style snails ("cargols") are made a completely different way, and taste much weirder.

Let us also cite:

  • Rillettes sarthoises also known as Rillettes du Mans. A sort of potted meat, made from finely shredded and spiced pork. A delicious speciality of the Sarthe area in the north of the Pays de la Loire and not to be confused with rillettes from other areas, which are more like a rough pate.
  • Beef bone marrow (os à moelle). Generally served in small quantities, with a large side. So go ahead: If you don't like it, you'll have something else to eat in your plate.
  • Veal sweetbread (ris de Veau), is a very fine (and generally expensive) delicacy, often served with morels, or in more elaborates dishes like "bouchees a la reine".
  • Beef bowels (tripes) is served either "A la mode de Caen" (with a white wine sauce, named after the town in Normandy) or "A la catalane" (with a slightly spiced tomato sauce)
  • Andouillettes are sausages made from tripe, a specialty of Lyon
  • Tricandilles are seasoned and grilled pork tripe from the Bordeaux region
  • Beef tongue (langue de bœuf) and beef nose(museau) and Veal head (tête de veau) are generally eaten cold (but thoroughly cooked!) as an appetizer.
  • Oysters (Huîtres) are most commonly served raw in a half shell. They are often graded by size, No1 being the largest (and most expensive).
  • Oursins (sea urchins) For those who like concentrated iodine.
  • Steak tartare a big patty of ground beef cured in acid as opposed to cooked, frequently served with a raw egg. Good steak tartare will be prepared to order at tableside. A similar dish is boeuf carpaccio, which is thin slices or strips of raw steak drizzled with olive oil and herbs.
  • Cervelle (pronounced ser-VELL), lamb brain.

Cheese

France is certainly THE country of cheese, with nearly 400 different kinds. Indeed, former president General Charles De Gaulle was quoted as saying "How can you govern a country which has 365 varieties of cheese?".

Here is a far from exhaustive list of what one can find:

Bleu des Causses Livarot Roquefort
Bleu du Vercors Morbier Saint Nectaire
Boulette d'Avesnes Maroilles Salers
Brie de Meaux Munster Sainte Maure de Touraine
Brie de Melun Murol Selles-sur-Cher
Broccio Neufchâtel Saint Marcellin
Camembert Ossau-Iraty Sainte Maure de Touraine
Cantal Pelardon Tomme de chèvre
Chaource Pérail Tomme des Cévennes
Comté Picodon Valençay
...

Dietary restrictions

Vegetarianism is not as uncommon as it used to be, especially in larger cities. Still, very few restaurants offer vegetarian menus, thus if you ask for something vegetarian the only things they may have available are salad and vegetable side dishes.

There may still be confusions between vegetarianism and pesce/pollotarianism. Vegetarian/organic food restaurants are starting to appear. However, "traditional" French restaurants may not have anything vegetarian on the menu, so you may have to pick something "à la carte", which is usually more expensive. Veganism is still very uncommon and it may be difficult to find vegan eateries.

Breakfast

Breakfast in France isn't the most important meal of the day and is usually very light. The most typical breakfast consists of a coffee and a croissant or some other "viennoiserie", but since it implies going to the baker's store early in the morning to buy fresh croissant, it's typically reserved for somewhat special occasions. On normal days most people have a beverage (coffee, tea, hot chocolate, orange juice) and either toasts ("tartines" made of baguette or toast bread with butter and jam/honey/Nutella) that can be dipped in the hot beverage, or cereals with milk. People who eat healthy may go for fruits and yoghurt. As a general rule, the french breakfast is mostly sweet, but everything changes and you can have salty breakfasts everywhere today.

Drink

Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, the Loire Valley... France is the home of wine. It can be found cheaply just about anywhere. Beer (lager) is also extremely popular, in particular in northern France, where "Biere de Garde" can be found. The alcohol purchase age was recently raised to 18 for all drinks, but this is not always strictly enforced; however, laws against drunk driving are strictly enforced, with stiff penalties.

Wine and liquors may be purchased from supermarkets, or from specialized stores such as the Nicolas chain. Nicolas offers good advice on what to buy (specify the kind of wine and the price range you desire). In general, only French wines are available unless a foreign wine is a "specialty" with no equivalent in France (such as port), and they are classified by region of origin, not by grape.

Never drink alcoholic beverages (especially red wine or strong alcohol such as cognac) directly from a 70 cl bottle. Such behaviour is generally associated with bums and drunkards (though if you are surrounded by college students, you may be OK). Drinking beer from a 25 to 50cl can or bottle is ok.

Prices of food and beverages will vary on whether they're served to you at the bar or sitting at a table - the same cup of espresso might cost €0.50 more if served at a table than at the bar, and €0.50 more again if served out on the terrace. Really, you're not paying so much for the beverage as for the table spot. Do consider the bar, though - while you will have to stand, café bars are often where a great deal of public discourse and interaction happens. In any event, cafés are required by law to post their prices somewhere in the establishment, usually either in the window or on the wall by the bar. Note also that cafés in touristy areas, especially in Paris, tend to serve very expensive food of rather average quality. Unless you are dying of hunger or thirst, avoid the places that have menus in multiple languages or are near heavily-trafficked attractions. Instead, consider buying snacks and beverages from a grocery store and enjoying them in a nearby park.

There are a couple of mixed drinks which seem to be more or less unique to France, and nearby francophone countries.

  • Panaché is a mix of beer and lemonade, basically a beer shandy. (Same as "Radler" in Central Europe.)
  • Monaco is a Panaché with some grenadine syrup added.
  • Kir is a pleasant aperitif of white wine (in theory, Bourgogne Aligoté) or, less frequently, of champagne (then named kir royal and about twice the price of regular kir) and cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), or peche (peach), or mûre (blackberry).
  • Pastis is an anise-based (licorice-flavored) spirit, similar in taste to Sambuca or Ouzo, that is served with a few lumps of sugar and a small pitcher of cold water to dilute the liquor. It is traditionally enjoyed on very hot days, and as such is more popular in the south of the country but available more or less everywhere.

There is a variety of bottled water, including:

  • Évian, Thonon, Contrex, Volvic: mineral water
  • Perrier: fizzy water
  • Badoit: slightly fizzy and salty water.

Sleep

Short term rentals

Travelers should definitely consider short term villa/apartment/studio rentals as an alternative to other accommodations options. Short term can be as few as several days up to months at a stretch. Summer rentals are usually from Saturday to Saturday only (July & August). This type accommodation belongs to a private party, and can range from basic to luxurious. A particular advantage, aside from competitive prices, is that the accommodations come with fully fitted kitchens.

Hundreds of agencies offer accommodation for short term rentals on behalf of the owner, and can guide you into finding the best property, at the best price in the most suitable location for you. An internet search for the location and type of property you're looking for will usually return the names of several listing sites, each of which may have hundreds or thousands of properties for you to choose from. There are plenty of sites in both English and French, and the rental properties may be owned by people of any nationality.

France is a diverse and colourful country, and you'll find everything from stunning log chalets in the Alps, Chateaux in the countryside and beach front villas on the Riviera...plus everything in between!

Hotels

Hotels come in 4 categories from 1 to 4 stars. This is the official rating given by the Ministry of Tourism, and it is posted at the entrance on a blue shield. Stars are awarded according to objective yet somewhat outdated administrative criteria (area of the reception hall, percentage of rooms with ensuite bathroom...).

Rates vary according to accommodation, location and sometimes high or low season or special events.

As of 2004, the rate for a *** hotel listed in a reliable guidebook falls between €70 (cheap) and €110 (expensive) for a double without breakfast.

All hotels, by law, must have their rates posted outside (or visible from outside). Note that these are maximal rates: a hotel can always propose a lower rate in order to fill up its rooms. Bargaining is not the norm but you can always ask for a discount.

Hotels located in city centres or near train stations are often very small (15-30 rooms) which means that you should book ahead. Many newer hotels, business oriented, are found in the outskirts of cities and are sometimes larger structures (100 rooms or more); they may not be easy to reach with public transportation. The newer hotels are often part of national or international chains and have high standards. Many older hotels are now part of chains and provide standardized service but they retain their own atmosphere.

When visiting Paris, it is essential to stay in the city; there are cheaper tourism hotels in the suburbs, but these cater to groups in motor coaches; they will be hard to reach by public transportation.

Along the highways, at the entrance of cities, you find US-like motels ; they are very often reachable only by car. Some motels (e.g. Formule 1) have minimal service, if you come in late you find an ATM-like machine, using credit cards, which will deliver a code in order to reach your assigned room.

B & Bs and Gîtes

Throughout France, mainly in rural areas but also in towns and cities, you can find B&Bs and gîtes.

B&B's are known in French as "Chambres d'hôtes" and are generally available on a nightly basis. By law, breakfast MUST be included in the advertised price for a "chambre d'hôte". Bear this in mind when comparing prices with hotels, where breakfast is NOT included in the room price.

Gites or gites ruraux are holiday cottages, and generally rented out as a complete accommodation unit including a kitchen, mostly on a weekly basis. There are very few near or in the cities. Finding them requires buying a guide or, for greater choice, using the internet, as you will not find a lot of signposts on the road.

Traditionally, gites provided basic good value accommodation, typically adjacent to the owners household or in a nearby outbuilding. More recently the term has been extended, and can now be used to describe most country-based self-catering accommodation in France. Hence it includes accommodation as varied as small cottages villas with private swimming pools.

During peak summer months the best self-catering gites require booking several months in advance.

There are thousands of B&Bs and gites in France rented out by foreign owners, particularly British and Dutch, and these tend to be listed, sometimes exclusively, with English-language or international organisations and websites that can be found by keying the words "chambres d'hotes", "gites" or "gites de france" into any of the major search engines.

There is a large number of organisations and websites offering "gites". Literally the French word gite just means a place to spend the night; however it now largely used to describe rental cottages or self-catering holiday homes, usually in rural parts of France.

Gîtes de France

A France-wide cooperative organisation, Gites de France regroups on a voluntary basis more than 50,000 rural accommodations and was the first in France to offer a consistent rating system with comprehensive descriptions.

Despite the name, Gites de France offers B&B as well as holiday rental (gite) accommodation.

The "Gites de France" rating system uses wheat stalks called Epis (equivalent to stars), based on amenities rather than quality - though generally the two go together.

Through its website, bookings can be done directly with owners or through the local Gîtes de France booking agency (no extra fee for the traveler). Although an English language version is available for many of the website pages, for some departments the pages giving details of an individual gite are only in French.

There is no particular advantage in using Gites de France rather than one of the other online gites sites, or booking directly with a gite. The procedure is pretty standard for all gite booking sites, whether French or foreign - with the advantage that absolutely all the booking process can be done in English if you use an English-language portal, which is not always the case with Gites de France.

After making a gite booking you will receive, by post, a contract to sign (gites only). Sign and return one copy. When signing write the words "Read and approved", and the name of your home town, before signing and dating the contract. You will normally be asked to pay a deposit of a quarter to a third of the booking fee. The rest will be required one month before the start of your holiday. When you arrive at the gite a security deposit, specified in the contact, should be given to the owner in cash. This will be returned at the end of your stay, less any fuel charges and breakages.

Another great resource for booking Gites and Villas in France is Holiday France Direct, It enables you to deal directly with the property owners and offers customers discounted ferry travel with Brittany Ferries. www.holidayfrancedirect.co.uk

Gîtes d'étape

Another possibility is gîtes d'étape. These are more like overnight stays for hikers, like a mountain hut. They are mostly cheaper than the Gîtes de France but also much more basic.

Camping

Camping is very common in France. Most campsite are a little way out of the city centre and virtually all cater not just for tents but for Camper Vans/Caravans also. While all campsites have the basic facilities of Shower/toilet blocks, larger sites tend to offer a range of additional facilities such as bars and restaurants, self-service laundries, swimming pools or bicycle hire. All campsites except for very small "farm camping" establishments must be registered with the authorities, and are officially graded using a system of stars.

In coastal areas, three-star and four-star campgrounds must generally be booked in advance during the months of July and August, and many people book from one year to the next. In rural areas, outside of popular tourist spots, it is usually possible to show up unannounced, and find a place; this is particularly true with the municipal campsites that can be found in most small towns; though even then it may be advisable to ring up or email in advance to make sure. There are always exceptions.

In France it's forbidden to camp:

  • in woods, natural, regional and national parks
  • on public roads and streets
  • on the seaside
  • less than 200 meters from watering place used for human consumption
  • on natural protected sites
  • less than 500 meters from a protected monument
  • everywhere where it's forbidden by local laws
  • on private properties without the owner's consent.

Learn

France, of course, is the best place to acquire, maintain and develop your French. A number of institutions offer a variety of courses for travellers.

Work

If you are by law required to obtain a visa or other type of authorisation to work and fail to do so, you risk possible arrest, prosecution, expulsion and prohibition from reentering France and the Schengen area.

Citizens of EU and EEA countries (save from some Eastern European countries, for a temporary period) and Switzerland can work in France without having to secure a work permit. Most non-EU citizens will need a work permit - however, some non-EU citizens (such as Canadians, Croatians, New Zealanders etc) do not require a visa or work permit to work during their 90 day visa-free period of stay in France (see the 'Get in' section above for more information).

If you are an EU citizen or from an EEA country and want to earn money to continue traveling, Interim agencies (e.g. Adecco, Manpower) are a good source of temporary jobs. You can also consider working in bars, restaurants, and/or nightclubs (they are often looking for English-speaking workers, particularly those restaurants in tourist areas - fast-food restaurants such as McDonald's and Quick are also always looking for people).

A lot of "student jobs", if you happen to be in a big city, are also available for younger travelers, and foreigners are often very welcome. Such jobs include, for example, giving private English lessons, taking care of young children or many other things...check out the university buildings, they often have a lot of advertisements. An easy way to find job offers in France is to use Trovit.fr [55], search engine for job offers in France.

Don't forget that being an English speaker is a big advantage when you're looking for a job - French employers really have a problem finding English-speaking workers. Do note, however, that it will be much easier for you if you know a bit of French, for the same reason (your colleagues are not likely to speak English). However, don't overestimate your chances of finding work; in March 2005 unemployment is back at 10%, and a whopping 22% among under-25's.... many of whom speak or understand English. There are a lot more people looking for jobs than there are jobs - except those unattractive jobs that no-one wants to do.

The French work market tends to operate through personal contacts - if you know someone that works somewhere, you can probably figure out quite an easy way to work at that place too. It always helps to know people living in the area you wish to work.

Stay safe

Crimes

Crime-related emergencies can be reported to the toll-free number 17. Law enforcement forces are the National Police (Police Nationale) in urban area and the Gendarmerie in rural area, though for limited issues such as parking and traffic offenses some towns and villages also have a municipal police.

France is a very low-crime area, and is one of the safest countries in the world, but large cities are plagued with the usual woes. Violent crime against tourists or strangers is very rare, but there is pickpocketing and purse-snatching.

The inner city areas and a few select suburbs are usually safe at all hours. In large cities, especially Paris, there are a few areas which are better to avoid. Parts of the suburban are sometimes grounds for youth gang violent activities and drug dealing; however these are almost always far from touristic points and you should have no reason to visit them. Common sense applies: it is very easy to spot derelict areas.

The subject of crime in the poorer suburbs is very touchy as it may easily have racist overtones, since many people associate it with working-class youth of North African origin. You should probably not express any opinion on the issue.


Usual caution apply for tourists flocking around sights as they may become targets for pickpockets. A usual trick is to ask tourists to sign fake petitions and give some money, which is a way to put pressure on the victim. Stay away from people requesting money without any organization badge.

While it is not compulsory for French citizens to carry identification, they usually do so. Foreigners should carry some kind of official identity document. Although random checks are not the norm you may be asked for an ID in some kinds of situations, for example if you cannot show a valid ticket when using public transportation; not having one in such cases will result in you being taken to a police station for further checks. Even if you feel that law enforcement officers have no right to check your identity (they can do so only in certain circumstances), it is a bad idea to enter a legal discussion with them; it is better to put up with it and show ID. Again, the subject is touchy as the police have often been accused of targeting people according to criteria of ethnicity (e.g. délit de sale gueule = literally "crime of a dirty face" but perhaps equivalent to the American "driving while black.")

Due to the terrorist factor, police, with the help of military units, are patrolling monuments, the Paris subway, train stations and airports. Depending on the status of the "Vigipirate" plan (anti terrorist units) it is not uncommon to see armed patrols in those areas. The presence of police is of help for tourists, as it also deters pickpockets and the like. However, suspicious behaviour, public disturbances etc., may result in policemen asking to see an ID.

In France, failing to offer assistance to 'a person in danger' is illegal. This means that if you fail to stop upon witnessing a motor accident, fail to report such an accident to emergency services, or ignore appeals for help or urgent assistance, you may be charged. Penalties include suspended prison sentence and fines. The law does not apply in situations where to answer an appeal for help might endanger your life or the lives of others.

Controlled substances

Carrying or using narcotic substances, from marijuana to hard drugs, is illegal whatever the quantity. The penalty can be severe especially if you are suspected of dealing. Trains and cars coming from countries which have a more lenient attitude (like the Netherlands) are especially targeted. Police have often been known to stop entire coaches and search every passenger and their bags thouroughly just because they're coming from Amsterdam.

France has a liberal policy with respect to alcohol; there are usually no ID checks for purchasing alcohol (unless you look much younger than 18). However, causing problems due to public drunkenness is a misdemeanor and may result in a night in a police station. Drunk driving is a severe offense and may result in heavy fines and jail sentences.

A little etiquette note: while it is common to drink beer straight from the bottle at informal meetings, doing the same with wine is normally only done by tramps (clochards).


Stay healthy

Tap water

Tap water (Eau du robinet) is drinkable, except in rare cases such as rural rest areas and sinks in train bathrooms, in which case it will be clearly signposted as Eau non potable. Eau potable is potable water. (You may, however, not like the taste which may be chlorinated, botteled water is common.)

Medical help

The health care in France is of a very high standard.

Pharmacies in France are denoted by a green cross, usually in neon. They sell medicines, contraceptives, and often beauty and related products (though these can be very expensive). Medicines must be ordered from the counter, even non-prescription medicines. The pharmacist is able to help you about various medicines and propose you generic drugs.

Since drug brand names vary across countries even though the effective ingredients stay the same, it is better to carry prescriptions using the international nomenclature in addition to the commercial brand name. Prescription drugs, including oral contraceptives (aka "the pill"), will only be delivered if a doctor's prescription is shown.

In addition, supermarkets sell condoms (préservatifs) and also often personal lubricant, bandages, disinfectant and other minor medical item. Condom machines are often found in bar toilets, etc.

Medical treatment can be obtained from self-employed physicians, clinics and hospitals. Most general practitioners, specialists (e.g. gynecologists), and dentists are self-employed; look for signs saying Docteur (médecine générale is general practitioner). The normal price for a consultation with a general practitioner is €23, though some physicians charge more (this is the full price and not a co-payment). Physicians may also do home calls, but these are more expensive.

Residents of the European Union are covered by the French social security system, which will reimburse or directly pay for 70% of health expenses (30% co-payment) in general, though many physicians and surgeons apply surcharges. Other travellers are not covered and will be billed the full price, even if at a public hospital; non-EU travellers should have travel insurance covering medical costs.

Emergencies

Hospitals will have an emergency room signposted Urgences.

The following numbers are toll-free:

  • 15 Medical emergencies
  • 17 Law enforcement emergencies (for e.g. reporting a crime)
  • 18 Firefighters
  • 112 European standard emergency numbers.

Operators at these numbers can transfer requests to other services if needed (e.g. some medical emergencies may be answered by firefighter groups).

Smoking

Smoking is prohibited by law in all enclosed spaces accessible to the public (this includes train and subway cars, train and subway station enclosures, workplaces, restaurants and cafés) unless in areas specifically designated for smoking, and there are few of these. There was an exception for restaurants and cafés, but since the 1st January 2008, the smoking ban law is also enforced there. You may face a fine of €68 if you are found smoking in these places.

Smoking is banned in métro and trains, as well as enclosed stations. Subway and train conductors do enforce the law and will fine you for smoking in non-designated places; if you encounter problems with a smoker in train, you may go find the conductor.

As hotels are not considered as public places, some offer smoking vs non-smoking rooms.

Only people over the age 18 may purchase tobacco products. Shopkeepers may request a photo ID.

Respect

On the Métro

The Métro subway system is a great way to get around Paris (or Lyon, Marseille, et al.), which is readily apparent in the throngs of people that use it to go to work, school, and the like. If you do not ride the train at home, or if you come from a place that doesn't have a subway system, there are certain points of etiquette that you may not be aware of. When boarding at the station, let those exiting the train step off onto the platform before boarding, and once aboard move to the centre of the car. If you have luggage, move it as far out of the path of others as possible (on the RER B to Charles de Gaulle airport, use the luggage racks above the seats instead). Certain stations have moving sidewalks to cover the distances between platforms - walk on the left and stand on the right! Finally, do note that the doors on French subway cars don't generally open automatically once the train has stopped at the station; rather, most cars have a small button or lever on the doors that opens them. If you should happen to be standing near the door in a crowded car you might hear someone behind you say "la porte, s'il vous plait," which means that person would like to get off the train and is asking you to open the door for him/her. Pop the door open and step aside (or down onto the platform) while that person exits the train - the driver will wait for you to get back on.

Loudness

It is considered very rude to be loud in a crowded place, such as a subway car or restaurant. Keep in mind that, though you may be enjoying your holiday, most people around you in the métro or other places are probably going to or back from work and may be tired and thus will react very coldly to tourists babbling at the top of their lungs. If you listen to the locals talk, you will notice that they talk rather softly.

Shopping Etiquette

In many shops/stores in France, you should ask the shopkeeper to take items from the shelf; as opposed to picking it up yourself. This applies in liquor or wine stores, clothing stores, etc. Failure to respect this policy might result in confused and/or angered reactions from the shopkeeper.

Dress code

Dress codes are fast disappearing, but if you want to avoid looking like a tourist, then avoid white sneakers, baseball caps, tracksuit pants, shorts and flip-flops (except at the beach). Generally speaking, business casual dress code is sufficient in cities and in all but the most formal occasions.

Usual courtesy applies when entering churches, and although you may not be asked to leave, it is better to avoid short pants and halter tops.

Some restaurants will frown if you come in dressed for trekking but very few will insist upon a jacket and tie. You may be surprised by the number of French twenty-somethings who show up at a grungy bar in jacket and tie, even if obviously from a thrift-shop.

Beaches and swimming pools (in hotels) are used for getting a tan. Taking off your bra will not usually create a stir if you don't mind a bevy of oglers. Taking off the bottom part is reserved to designated nude beaches. People on beaches are usually not offended by a young boy or girl undressed. Most resort cities insist on your wearing a shirt when leaving the beach area. Many pools will not allow baggy or "board" swim trunks, insisting on snug fitting speedo type trunks.

Breastfeeding in public is very rare but nobody will mind if you do.

Talking to people

The French language has two different forms of the pronoun "you" that are used when addressing someone in the second person. "Tu" is the second-person singular and "Vous" is nominally the second-person plural. However, in some situations, French speakers will use "Vous" for the second-person singular. While one will use "Vous" to address a group of people no matter what the circumstances, non-native speakers will invariably have some difficulty when trying to determine whether to address a person with the informal and friendly "tu" or the formal and respectful "vous." The language even has two special verbs reflecting this difference: "tutoyer" (to address a person using "tu"), and "vouvoyer" (to address a person using "vous"), each of them carrying their own connotations and implications. Unfortunately, the rules as to when to use which form can sometimes seem maddeningly opaque to the non-native French speaker.

Generally speaking, one will only use the "tu" form to address someone in an informal situation where there is familiarity or intimacy between the two parties. For example, "tu" is used when addressing a close friend or spouse, or when an adult child is addressing a parent. "Tu" is also used in situations where the other party is very young, such as a parent speaking to a child or a schoolteacher to a student. In contrast, "vous" is used in situations where the parties are not familiar, or where it is appropriate to convey respect and/or deference. For example, an office worker might use "tu" to address co-workers that he works closely with, but he would probably use "vous" when speaking to the receptionist he rarely talks to. He certainly wouldn't use "tu" when speaking with his boss. In that same vein, police officers and other authorities should always be addressed with "vous."

If that's confusing (or not confusing enough) the key thing to remember is that it's all about distance. For example, a bartender is vous up until the moment that he or she gives you a complementary drink, at which point tu becomes more appropriate, and the use of vous would be a bit ungrateful and off-putting.

For foreigners, the best way to deal with the "tu" and "vous" problem is to address people using "vous" until invited to say "tu", or until addressed by the first name. Doing so will look perhaps a shade old fashioned, but always respectful. In most cases, if French is not your native language most French people will overlook any such overly formal and polite language without thinking much about it anyway. Doing the opposite can be pretty rude and embarrassing in some situations, so it's probably best to err on the side of caution.

Simplified: Use vous unless:

  • the person is genuinely your friend;
  • the person is under 16; or
  • you've been explicitly told to use "tu"

Sensitive topics

As a general rule, debates, discussions, and friendly arguments are something that the French enjoy, but there are certain topics that should be treated more delicately or indirectly than others:

Politics: French people have a wide variety of opinions about many subjects. Unless you really follow French news closely, you should probably steer clear of discussing internal French politics, especially sensitive issues such as immigration - you may come across as judgmental and uninformed. Reading French newspapers to get a feel for the wide spectrum of political opinions in France – from the revolutionary left to the nationalistic right – may help. That said, don't be discouraged from engaging in political discussions with French people, just be aware of the position that being a foreigner puts you in. Also, it is considered to be quite rude to ask a person point-blank about which candidate he/she voted for in the last election (or will vote for in the next); instead, talk about the issues and take it from there.

Religion: The French seldom advertise their religious feelings, however, and expect you to avoid doing so as well. Doing so might make people feel uneasy. It is also generally considered impolite to inquire about religious or other personal issues.

Money: You should also avoid presenting yourself through what you own (house, car, etc.). It is also considered to be quite crass to discuss your salary, or to ask someone else directly about theirs. Instead express your enthusiasm about how great are the responsibilities, or how lucky you were to get there, etc.

City/Rural Differences: While it is true that roughly 1/6th of the country's population lives in the Paris region, don't make the mistake of reducing France to Paris or assuming that all French people act like Parisians. Life in Paris can be closer to life in London or New York City than in the rest of France; just as New Yorkers or Londoners might act and feel differently than people from, say, Oklahoma or Herefordshire, so might Parisian customs and opinions differ from those found "en province."

Contact

Phone numbers

To call a French number from abroad, dial: international prefix + 33 + local number without the leading 0. For example: ++33 247 664 118

All french numbers have 10 digits. The first two digits are:

  • 01 for Parisian region
  • 02 for Northwest
  • 03 for Northeast
  • 04 for Southeast
  • 05 for Southwest
  • 06 for the cellphones
  • 07 for the cellphones since 2010.
  • 08 have special prices (from free to very costly) (Skype numbers start with 08).
  • 09 if they are attached to Voice over IP telephones connected to DSL modems from French DSL providers that integrate such functions.

[56] [57]

You cannot drop the first two digits even if your call remains within the same area. The initial '0' may be replaced by some other digit or longer code indicating a choice of long-distance operator. Don't use this unless explicitly told to.

When speaking phone numbers, people will usually group the digits by sets of two. For example, 02 47 66 41 18 will be said as "zero two, forty-seven, sixty-six, forty-one, eighteen" (but in French, of course). The two-digit pair 00 is said as "zero zero", not "double zero". for example if your phone number is 02 47 66 41 18 in France, it would be said as "zéro deux, quarante-sept, soixante-six, quarante et un, dix-huit." If you find it too hard to follow, you may ask the person to say the number digit-by-digit ("chiffre par chiffre"). It would then be "zero, two, four, seven, six, six, four, one, one, eight" ("zéro, deux, quatre, sept, six, six, quatre, un, un, huit").

You can to visit this site to find instructions about the nationals and internationals calls: [58].

Toll-free

There are few companies that provide toll-free numbers (starting with 08 00) but many have numbers starting with 081, for which you pay the cost of a local call regardless of where you are in the country.

Numbers starting with 089 are heavily surtaxed. They provide service to some legitimate businesses but the ones you see advertised all over the country are usually for adult services.

Emergency numbers are 15 (medical aid), 17 (police station) and 18 (fire/rescue). You can also use the European emergency number 112 (perhaps a better choice if you don't speak French). These calls are free and accessible from virtually any phone, including locked cellphones. In case of a serious emergency, if you find a code-protected cellphone, enter a random code three times: the phone will lock, but you will be able to dial emergency numbers.

Cheap international calls

To enjoy cheap international calls from France travelers can get a local France Sim Card [59] online before they leave or use low-cost dial-around services such as appellemonde [60] or allo2556 [61]. Dial-around services are directly available from any landline in France. No contract, no registration is required. Most dial-around services allows you to call USA, Canada, Western Europe and many other countries at local rate (tarif local) so you can easily save on your phone bill. They also work from payphones, though the first minute is surcharged by France Telecom.

Fixed line

To know how to order a landline (ligne fixe) in France you can click on landline providers in France [62]. Another method, if you stay long, is to use VoIP over DSL, such as the Livebox or Freebox service (free long distance calls within France and to a number of countries).

Phone booths

Phone booths are available in train or subway stations, bus stops, near tourist attractions, etc. There is at least one phone booth in every village (look on the main plaza). Due to the widespread use of mobile phones, there are now fewer booths than a few years ago. Most use a card (no coins). France Télécom public phones accept CB/Visa/Mastercard cards but almost always only with a microchip. Otherwise, post offices, café-tabacs (recognizable by a red sign hanging outside), and stores that sell magazines sell phone cards. Ask for a "carte telephonique"; these come with differing units of credit, so you may want to specify "petit" if you just want to make a short local call or two. If you get the kind with a computer chip in it, you just have to slide it into the phone, listen for the dial tone, and dial. The US-style cards require you to dial a number and then enter a code (but with spoken instructions in French).

Mobile

France uses the GSM standard of cellular phones (900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands) used in most of the world outside of the U.S. There are several companies (Orange, SFR/simpleo, Virgin Mobile, and Bouygues Telecom) offering wireless service. The country is almost totally covered but you may have difficulties using your mobile phone in rural or mountainous areas. However, for emergency numbers, the three companies are required by law to accept your call if they technically can, even if you are not one of their customers, thus maximizing your chance of being helped even in areas with spotty service.

If you stay for some time, it may be advisable to buy a pre-paid cell phone card that you can use in any phone that supports the GSM standard on the 900/1800 Mhz bands. Then incoming calls are free. You can get it from most mobile service provider (Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom), but they have a very short validity for the card if you don't recharge it.

Orange pre-paid SIM card is called Mobicarte, costs €9.90, comes with a credid of €5 included. SMSes within Orange France cost €0.12; to international mobile GSM users €0.28. Other operators (SFR, Bouygues) have similar prices. Since 2012, Free mobile operator also offer 2€/month subscription without any minimum subscription time including 60min+60sms/month, only available through web so you need a postal address.

Internet

Internet cafes: Internet access is available in cyber cafes all over large and medium-sized cities. Service is usually around €4 per hour.

Residential broadband: In all major cities, there are multiple companies offering residential broadband service. Typical prices are €30 a month for unmetered ADSL (in speeds up to 24 megabits per second), digital HDTV over DSL and free unlimited voice-over-IP phone calls to land lines within France and about twenty other countries (EU,US,...) with external SIP access too (the price includes a modem/routeur/switch with integrated WiFi MiMo access point). Broadband services are very common in France, all over the country.

Wifi: You'll also find wifi access (in Paris) in a lot of cafés usually those labelled a bit "trendy". There will be a sign on the door or on the wall. Also look for the @ symbol prominently displayed, which indicates internet availability. However, with most homes now wired for the internet, cyber cafes are increasingly hard to find, especially outside the major cities. In Paris, one popular WIFI free spot is the Pompidou Centre. There is talk that the city intends to become the first major European capital providing free WIFI coverage for the whole city. Public parks and libraries in Paris are also covered.

Short-term SIM cards

(for smartphones and tablets)

Orange has nearly-unlimited Internet 1-month package for €9 called InternetMax. Official limit of 500MB is not enforced. Tethering is not allowed, but this is not enforced. Email (POP3/SMTP/IMAP) is not covered, and sold as a separate package for €9 per month. P2P, VoIP and USENET are specifically banned, and risk getting your plan cancelled as well as the loss of any call credit remaining on your account.

It is called InternetMax; to set it up:

  1. buy a Mobicarte (generic prepaid SIM card) at Orange outlet for €9.90 which comes included with credit of €5
  2. recharge it with €4 (with credit card at Orange outlet or with €5-euro recharge cards sold at tobacco kiosks and newsstands everywhere).
  3. turn off mobile data connection and disable all email applications using POP3/IMAP/SMTP at smartphone before inserting SIM card, otherwise it will suck up the credit well before you activate the unlimited data plan
  4. wait for 24 hours for SIM card to be activated before you can add packages
  5. activate the InternetMax data plan with #123#. Menu is in French, refer to the link below for summary in English.
  6. allow several hours (officially up to 48hrs) for InternetMax to be activated. There's no notification, so check it regularly: surf a bit and check your credit with #123#

As the plan is not marketed by Orange, staff at outlets and hotline operators are completely unaware of it, and Orange website tells very little on it even in French. If your French is poor, a detailed third-party instruction like [63] can be very helpful.

Post

Post offices are found in all cities and villages but their time of operation vary. In the main cities the downtown office may be open during lunchtime, typically 09:00 to 18:00. Most offices are only open on Saturday morning and there is only one office in Paris which is open 24 hours and 365 days (in rue du Louvre).

Letter boxes are colored in yellow.

Parcels

International delivery services like FedEx, UPS, are available in cities, however you generally have to call them for them to come to you as they have very few physical locations.

Another option is to simply use La Poste with a wide network around the country and the same services as its competitors.

Cope

Toilets are available in restaurants, cafés; there are also public facilities, which generally charge a fee. Note that American euphemisms such as "restroom", "washroom" etc. will often not be understood; ask for "toilets". In older public facilities, particularly those that do not charge or isolated rest areas, you may encounter squat toilets.




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