Language: French is the official language. There are many regional dialects, including Basque, which is spoken as a first language by some people in the southwest, and Breton, which is spoken by some in Brittany.
Time Zone: Central European Standard Time = GMT+1, Central European Summer Time = GMT+2
Tipping: Tips are not compulsory and in France there are no generally established rules, although it is common practice to leave a sum amounting to around 10% of the bill if you are satisfied with the service you have received.
It may be a country renowned for its good food and wine but coach holidays to France will soon reveal that gastronomy is a just a small (and no doubt garlicky) but tasty portion of the other delights on offer. From the poignant landing beaches of Normandy to the alpine air of Chamonix, the chateaux of the unspoilt Loire Valley to landscapes brushed with rolling vineyards, France has a lot to fall in love with.
With Disneyland Paris and the capital forming two of the country's biggest draws, it's hard to overlook Paris on a coach holiday to France. Disneyland Paris offers families world-class attractions within a stone's throw of the UK with the chance to explore Paris at the same time, and Paris is such a romantic and cultural powerhouse that it speaks for itself. The fact that you could be cruising down the Seine one day, then cheering on the Tour de France or the adrenalin-buzzing Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe the next only adds to its excitement. Coach tours to these quintessentially French events do exist, and are a fantastic way to combine a moment in history with some sightseeing.
Away from Paris, a number of impressive destinations continue to add to that 'je ne sais quoi'. Cycle at low tide to the stunning backdrop of Mont St Michel or take a relaxing walk around Monet's Garden in Giverny. Slurp oysters in Gujan Mestras – the oyster farming capital of Bordeaux - and find out what goes into making real champagne with a tour of Moet and Chandon. Enter the world of William the Conqueror and admire the magnificent Bayeux Tapestry, holiday like an A-Lister on the star-studded French Rivieraor take an exciting road trip through the beautiful Loire Valley. With so many France coach holidays on offer, culture, gastro and history lovers should not be disappointed.
To help you have an enjoyable holiday in France, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Local Laws and Customs
Health and Travel Insurance
When visiting France you should always ensure you have a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travelling. The EHIC isn't a substitute for travel and medical insurance, however it does entitle you to state-provided medical treatment should it become necessary during your trip. Any treatment is on the same terms as the French nationals. The EHIC does not cover medical repatriation, on-going treatment or non-urgent medical treatment, so you should always make sure you have adequate travel insurance in addition to the EHIC and also access to funds which can cover the cost of any medical treatments and also repatriation.
As with a lot of destinations, common sense applies. Always take sensible precautions against car and street crime and do not keep your passport, money, credit cards and valuables in the same place. Inside pockets and compartments of bags can be useful also. Always try to carry your bag across your body rather than on one shoulder. Do not be distracted close to tourist attractions and be observant when using cash points. Pickpockets can work in groups; one person might try to distract you whilst another goes into your bag, and always keep your belongings close by when in bars and restaurant.
Pickpockets and thieves operate on the Paris underground system and also on the R E R lines. There have been a number of victims of serious assault on line B of the R E R, which serves the major tourist hubs; Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports and also Paris Gare du Nord Eurostar terminal. There have also been assaults on line D of the RER, which serves the Stade de France.
Please also note that drinks served in bars and restaurants overseas often have a higher alcohol content than those in the UK.
Local Laws and Customs
In France concealing your face in public places is illegal, which includes full veils, balaclavas or any other mask or garment that conceals the face. Failure to comply with this ban can incur a maximum fine of €150. Under this law, if you force someone to hide their face, you may be entitled to year's imprisonment in addition to a fine of up to €30,000. The sentence will be doubled if the it is a minor who has been forced to hide their face. The law doesn't provide any exemption for tourists and visitors, so beware if you're visiting in the winter.
If your passport is that of a British Citizen you do not need a visa to enter France. However, if you are another type of British nationality it is advised to check the current entry requirements on the French Foreign Ministry website. When staying up to 3 months your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay; you do not need to have any additional period of validity beyond this.
Any other nationality looking to visit France must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
To find out more about visiting France, check out the official French tourism website at uk.franceguide.com
France is vast in terms of what's available to see and do whilst staying here. Destinations popular on the tourist trail include:
The capital city of Paris is said to be one of the most romantic and chic cities in the world, so why not see if you agree? It is home to a vast array of museums, iconic landmarks, designer shops, and for the foodies amongst you, some veritable gastronomic delights.
For those with families or for people who enjoy theme parks then head to Disneyland Paris. There are two theme parks to choose from: Disneyland Park or Walt Disney Studios Park, with a range of on and off site hotels on offer. Most trips to Disneyland Paris incorporate tickets to both park during your stay and some also include Paris. As well as the rides, there are spectacular family parades and shows to be enjoyed by all. Look out for seasonal events like the Disneyland Bonfire Spectacular and fireworks at New Year.
Normandy is a fascinating area to visit; not only is it full of natural beauty with gardens including Monet's Garden at Giverney and pretty coastal and harbour towns such as Deauville and Honfleur, it is packed full of historic sites such as the D Day landing beaches.
This Mediterranean coastline is home to the rich and famous and is a great area to spend some time relaxing. To get the best views of this coastline take the Corniche Coastal Road which winds from the coast through opulent villas to medieval hilltop villages. The cosmopolitan cities of Cannes and Nice offer atmospheric street life as well as chic cafes and designer shops. The town of Grasse (the world's capital of perfume) isn't far off and offers visitors the opportunity to visit the world-famous lavender perfumery.