Travel Destinations / France

Originally known as Gaul during the Iron Age, France is heavily influenced by Celtic and Gallo-Roman Culture. One would typically associate the French with their cuisine, art, fashion and architecture as the country is commonly known as one of the World’s most romantic cities.

Unlike other countries that have differing communities within regions, France does not have diverse variations of French culture within the country. France was initially named Rhineland and recognised as western Germany, before being named Gaul during the Roman era. Hence, French culture being influenced by Celtic and Gallo Roman culture, as well as the Germanic tribe, the Franks.

LANGUAGE

French is France’s official language - the second most learned foreign language in the world. With over 60 million residents, majority of the country are French speaking, although variations of the language are present according to region.

RELIGION

Over 40 million French residents identify as Roman Catholic, while about 4.7 million French residents are Muslim. The smaller populations are Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu communities.

FOOD

The French are known to dine for hours, savouring their sophisticated dishes and premium wines. Breakfasts typically include bread, cereal, croissants, butter and jam, while luncheons may include up to three courses, starting with salads, soup, or pâtés. City restaurant dinners are usually served from 8 pm, while self-service restaurant dining is set up much earlier.

HISTORIC SITES AND LANDMARKS

France may as well be the poster child for art, and more specifically the Impressionism Movement as history’s most famous artists sought inspiration in Paris and other major French cities. You may want to visit Paris’ largest museum, the Louvre, where renowned artwork such as the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo are located.

SHOPPING

If you’re interested in world-famous fashion brands, Paris is the place to be. France is where Haute Couture was born. You’re likely to find most French residents dressed in effortless fashionable, professional, and sophisticated clothing, consisting of trench coats, scarves and dresses.

MONEY

The currency is the Euro. One euro can be divided into 100 euro-cents. And overall, there are eight different coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro-cents) and seven notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros).
Credit cards
Credit card payments can easily be made via credit card in France as the system has been implemented for years. You will usually spot valid credit card icons on the front door of a department store. Credit cards payments require identification so be sure to carry your I.D along with you.

NB: Travellers’ cheques in USD and Euros can be cashed in French banks.

TRANSPORT

There are various forms of transport systems available in France. All major cities such as Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Toulouse, and Strasbourg, have international airports, which are also used for domestic flights.

The Eurostar train system is often described as the most convenient form of transport for travelling within France, although one can also access France via ferry, bus, and car.  Driving in France requires that you have a valid International driving license (if you are not an EU citizen). You can easily rent a car from a rental company – you should be able to find a rental car company at every airport. You would need to change your license and have your car inspected after 6 months of living in France. Other essential driving tips while in France are as follows:

  • The minimum driving age is 18
  • You drive on the right-hand side of the road in France
  • The city speed limit is 50km/h (30mph), while the speed limit in regional areas is 90km/h (60mph) and 130km/h (78mph) on freeways unless indicated otherwise.
  • Seatbelts must be fastened by passengers of a moving vehicle at all times.
  • It’s illegal to use of a mobile phone while driving, unless you’re using a Bluetooth or hands-free device.

HEALTH REQUIREMENTS

Ensure that have routine, up-to-date vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

Nationality Requires Visa
South African
Yes
American
Yes
United Kingdom
No
European Union
No
New Zealand Yes
Australian Yes

Should your nationality not be listed above, kindly contact our dedicated consultants for assistance.

South Africans must apply for an French Schengen visa more than three months prior to travel, ensuring that their passports are valid and will remain valid by the time they leave France.

France is the third largest country in Europe after Russia and Ukraine. Metropolitan France has four coastlines, including the North Sea, English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The coastline collectively reaches an impressive 3427 km. The country is nearly bound by seas, with the exception of the north eastern border.

The climate is dependent on which region of the country you’re visiting, for instance, in central and eastern France you will experience cold winters and hot summers, whereas weather in the south eastern part of France is warm and dry during summer. Be sure to check the weather forecast for the region you’re visiting, at the appropriate time.