Tourism Rating Travel
Safety Entry Requirements
Avoiding Petty Theft
France: Destination of a Lifetime (Our highest rating)
France is one of the jewels of world travel and deservedly one of the world's most popular vacation destination. Steeped in history, featuring a proud and unique culture, France offers the tourist an almost endless list of world-class travel destinations. It is clearly among the "Best of the Best" vacation travel destinations and an experience not to be missed.
|Travel Safety||Top of Page|
Overall, France is a safe destination for tourists.
|Entry Requirements||Top of Page|
A valid passport is required for entry to France. A visa is not required for tourist/business stays up to 90 days in France.
France is party to the Schengen agreement. As such, U.S. citizens may enter France for tourist/business stays up to 90 daysfor tourist or business purposes without a visa. A passport is required and should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. Anyone intending to stay more than 90 days must obtain the appropriate visa issued by one of the French Consulates in the U.S., prior to departure for France. This also applies to anyone considering marriage in France.
For further information concerning entry requirements for France , travelers may contact the Embassy of France at 4101 Reservoir Road, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20007, tel. (202) 944-6000, or the French Consulates General in Atlanta , Boston , Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles , Miami, New Orleans, New York, or San Francisco .
The web site for the Consular section of the French Embassy in the United States is: http://www.consulfrance-washington.org.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure
DUAL NATIONALITY: U.S. citizens who are also French citizens under French law may be subject, while in France, to certain aspects of French law . Those who may be affected should inquire at a French Embassy or Consulate regarding their status.
In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide protection abroad. For additional information, please see the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page at http://travel.state.gov for an explanation of dual nationality issues.
U.S. citizens who are also citizens of France or any other nation are reminded that U.S. law requires they enter and depart the United States documented as U.S. citizens.
|Avoiding Petty Theft||Top of Page|
Be alert! Before you travel, read our articles on Pickpockets, Con Artists, and ATM safety in the ThereArePlaces Information Guide on Personal Safety for travelers.
While both France has relatively low rate of violent crime, a limited number of neighborhoods in the larger French cities merit extra caution. Additionally, although the overall crime rate has fallen slightly in recent years, the violent crime rate has increased. Thieves commonly target vehicles with non-local license plates, and work in or near tourist attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, hotels, beaches, trains, train stations, airports, and subways.
Americans in France should be particularly alert to
pickpockets in train stations and subways. Photocopies of travel documents
and credit cards should be kept separate from the originals.
Gangs of thieves operate on the rail link (RER) from Charles de
Gaulle Airport to downtown Paris, where they prey on jet-lagged,
luggage-burdened tourists. In one common ruse, a thief distracts a tourist
with a question about directions, while an accomplice steals a momentarily
unguarded backpack, briefcase, or purse. Thieves also time their thefts to
coincide with train stops so they may quickly exit the car just before the
automatic doors close. Travelers should consider taking a bus or taxi from the airport into the city.
Travelers should monitor their bags
at all times and never leave them unattended. As thieves commonly target
laptop bags, travelers should avoid carrying passports and other valuables
in computer bags. Unattended bags are subject to destruction by airport
Pickpockets are especially active
on this metro line during the summer months and use a number of
techniques. The most common, and unfortunately the most successful, is the
simple "bump and snatch," where an individual bumps into the tourist while
at the same time reaching into the pockets/purse/bag. Visitors should be
particularly careful when metro doors are closing, as this is a favored
moment for the less-sophisticated pickpockets to simply grab valuables and
jump through the closing doors, leaving the victim helplessly watching as
the thief flees. Visitors are encouraged NOT to aggressively confront
thieves, who often operate in groups and may become violent if cornered.
Simply drawing attention to an attempted theft will most likely stop the
operation and cause a tactical withdrawal by the thief.
Thefts also occur at the major department stores (Galeries
Lafayette and Printemps,) where tourists often place wallets, passports,
and credit cards on cashier counters during transactions.
Normandy: There has been an increase in break-ins and thefts from vehicles
in the parking lots at the Normandy beaches and American cemeteries.
Valuables should not be left unattended in a car, and locking valuables in
the trunk should not be considered a safeguard. Thieves often pry open car
trunks to steal bags.
If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members of friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution for the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney.
|Special Note||Top of Page|
1. Maison de la France,
www.franceguide.com, provides an
email newsletter that contains timely information on tourism in France.
Sign-up for the newsletter at the Maison de La France Website.
2. Contrary to popular opinion in
America, we have found Parisians and the French, in general, to be good
hosts and helpful to visitors. Of course, it pays to be polite and to try to
use as many French terms as possible during conversation. Before starting
ANY conversation use "Bonjour" or the appropriate phrase for the time of
day. The French regard this introduction as a requirement for initiating a
conversation. Adding “s'il vous plait" to the end of any request is also
helpful. It is always a good idea to take a phrase book with you or to print
out a list of everyday terms from one of the many Internet sites that
specialize in foreign language phrases for travelers. Although you will find
many restaurants provide a menu in English, it is also helpful to take a
menu dictionary for those occasions when there in no English language menu
and the server does not speak English.
5. In shops or restaurants, always greet the proprietor with a "Bonjour" when you arrive and a "Merci" when you depart. If you do so, your visit will be a lot smoother. The French are very proud of their language and expect visitors to know a little French.
6. ThereArePlaces makes every attempt to ensure that the travel information we present to you is current. Before you depart, be sure to check with official government sources to determine the status of critical information relating to a particular county.
|Road Safety and Conditions||Top of Page|
While in France, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States .
The information below concerning France is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Roads in France are generally comparable to those in the United States , but traffic engineering and driving habits pose special dangers. Usually, lane markings and sign placements are not as clear as in the United States . Drivers should be prepared to make last-minute maneuvers, as most French drivers do. French drivers usually drive more aggressively and faster than Americans and tend to exceed posted speed limits. Right-of-way rules in France may differ from those in the United States . Drivers entering intersections from the right have priority over those on the left (unless specifically indicated otherwise), even when entering relatively large boulevards from small side streets. Many intersections in France are being replaced by traffic circles, where the right-of-way belongs to drivers in the circle.
On the major highways, service stations are situated every 25 miles or less. Service stations are as plentiful on secondary roads as in the United States.
Paris , the capital and largest city in France , has an extensive and efficient public transportation system. The interconnecting system of buses, subways, and commuter rails serves more than 4 million people a day with a safety record comparable to or better than the systems of major American cities. Similar transportation systems are found in all major French cities. Between cities, France is served by an equally extensive rail service, which is safe and reliable. High-speed rail links connect the major cities in France . Many cities are also served by frequent air service.
Speed Limits in France:
Our information on speed limits is as current as possible. Always confirm the speed limits with your rental car agent and observe the posted speeds limits whenever and wherever you drive.
Use of mobile telephones while driving is against the law in most European countries. The fine for violating laws against the use of mobile phone while driving is significant. If you need to use your mobile phone while on the road, stop your car in a designated parking area and place your call.
Drivers of rental cars should ensure that they are familiar with the terms of their rental car contracts. In addition, we strongly urge you to determine that you have appropriate insurance coverage. See our article on Rental Car Costs for a description of the various rental contract terms.
Do not drink and drive anywhere at anytime. In most foreign countries, especially in Europe and the UK, penalties and punishments are significant. See our article on drinking and driving in foreign countries for more information.
For specific information concerning French and Monegasque driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the French and Monegasque National Tourist Office hotline at New York at (202) 659-7779 or via the Internet at: http://www.franceguide.com.
For information on obtaining international drivers licenses, contact AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance. For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1179.html#safety .
|Medical Care||Top of Page|
Medical care comparable to that in the United States is widely available in France.
The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States . However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
We strongly urge you to consult your medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, you should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing medical service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your departure, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.
Your existing medical insurance carrier may cover "customary and reasonable" medical care while you are abroad. Usually, if reimbursement is provided, it is paid at a reduced rate (due to the use of an "out of system" provider). Check with your insurance carrier before you depart to determine the type and amount of coverage that may be provided. If coverage is provided, be sure to ask how claims should be filed and ask them to send some claim forms, in case you require any medical treatment while on vacation.
Read our article on travel insurance to learn the factors that you should consider before you purchase or decline to purchase a travel related insurance policy.
ThereArePlaces Information Guide on Health is another valuable resource for the traveler considering a trip abroad.
|U.S. Consular Locations||Top of Page|
The Consulate General in Marseille is located at Place Varian Fry, 13006 Marseille, telephone: in country 04-91-54-92-00; from the U.S. 011-33-4-91-54-92-00 (24 hours); Consular Section fax: in country 04-91-55-56-95 and main fax 04-91-55-09-47; Consular Section fax from the U.S. 011-33-4-91-55-56-95, and main fax from the U.S. 011-33-4-91-55-09-47.
The Consulate General in Strasbourg is located at 15 Avenue d'Alsace, 67082 Strasbourg, telephone: in country 03-88-35-31-04; from the U.S. 011-33-3-88-35-31-04; fax: in country 03-88-24-06-95; from the U.S. 011-33-3-88-24-06-95. The Consulate General in Strasbourg does not produce passports on the premises. American citizens in this area whose passports are lost or stolen and have urgent travel needs should contact the U.S. Embassy in Paris.
The U.S. Government also has consular representation in Bordeaux, Lyon, Rennes, Nice and Toulouse that provide limited services to Americans, by appointment only.
The American Presence Posts in Bordeaux, Lyon and Rennes do not produce passports on the premises. American citizens in this area whose passports are lost or stolen and have urgent travel needs should contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Paris.
The American Presence Post in Bordeaux is located at 10 place de la Bourse, 33076 Bordeaux (entry on 1 rue Fernand Philippart); telephone: in country 05-56-48-63-80; from the U.S. 011-33-5-56-48-63-80; fax: in country 05-56-51-61-97; from the U.S. 011-33-5-56-51-61-97.
The American Presence Post in Lyon is located at 1, quai Jules Courmont, 69002 Lyon; telephone: in country 04-78-38-33-03; from the U.S. 011-33-4-78-38-33-03; fax: in country 04-72-41-71-81; from the U.S. 011-33-4-72-41-71-81. Web site:
The American Presence Post in Rennes is located at 30, quai Duguay Trouin, 35000 Rennes; telephone: in country 02-23-44-09-60; from the U.S. 011-33-2-23-44-09-60; fax: in country 02-99-35-00-92; from the U.S. 011-33-2-99-35-00-92. Web site: .
The American Presence Post in Toulouse is located at 25, Allée Jean Jaures, 31000 Toulouse; telephone: in country 05-34-41-36-50; from the U.S. 011-33-5-34-41-36-50; fax: in country 05-34-41-16-19; from the U.S. 011-33-5-34-41-16-19.
The Consular Agency in Nice is located at 7, Avenue Gustave V, 3rd floor, 06000 Nice, telephone: in country 04-93-88-89-55; from the U.S. 011-33-4-93-88-89-55; fax: in country 04-93-87-07-38; from the U.S. 011-33-4-93-87-07-38.
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