France is the biggest country in Western Europe and is a land of great contrasts, offering an endless choice of destinations, a rich diversity of landscapes, cuisines, climates and peoples, with an exceptional cultural heritage.

The Atlantic coast is the best place to visit one of the many beaches of France’s coastline, the west resembles Cornwall, while the Loire Valley is home to ancient Chateaux. The famous Champagne region to the north-east and the gentle slopes of Burgundy are the places to taste renowned wines. The Alps and Pyrenees are home to some of the most spectacular ski resorts during the winter.


The official language is French, but widely spoken with regional accents. Most people, especially those in tourist areas, will happily speak English.


The French currency is the (€)=100cents. The most common paper currency in France comes in denominations of €500, €200, €50, €20, €10 and €5. Coins appear in denominations of €2 and €1. Coins also come in 50 cents, 20 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents, 2 cents and 1 cent.


The north and eastern parts of the country have a more continental climate, with warm summers and cold winters. Rain is likely throughout the year and snow likely through the winter. The south has a more Mediterranean climate, with snow covered mountains in the winter, and waterfalls, streams, grassy plains and record sunshine hours in the summer.


One of France’s most popular destinations, and definitively 'romantic', Paris is a must. Stroll along the Siene and take in world famous sights, such as the spectacular Avenue Champs Elysee and Arch du Triomphe; the Gothic masterpiece Notre Dame, and of course the Eiffel Tower. For culture, visit the magnificent Louvre Musee and the Musee d’Orsay.

Elsewhere in France historic cities include Nice with its winding streets, historic buildings, galleries and museums and Avignon with its Roman history and architecture.

The South of France is the perfect destination for those seeking sun, sea and sand. Gorgeous beaches offer various water-sports, or simply the opportunity to top up the tan.


  • The Blood alcohol limit in France is 50mg.
  • Traffic on major roads always has priority.
  • Where two major roads cross, traffic coming from the right has priority as warned by the sign 'danger priorité droite'. Where there is no sign, give way to the right.
  • It is compulsory for the driver and all passengers to wear seat belts, if they have been fitted.
  • You must carry a hazard warning lights or a warning triangle, and it is recommended that visitors ensure they have replacement bulbs.
  • Traffic on a roundabout has priority when signs saying 'cedez le passage' or 'vous n'avez pas la prioritè' are displayed. An old rule which says that traffic entering a roundabout has priority is still used in some areas, so if there is no sign approach with caution.
  • If a driver flashes their headlights in France, they will be indicating that he has priority and you should give way. This can be confusing as in the UK it usually indicates that a car is letting you out.
  • Stopping for someone waiting at a zebra crossing is considered holding up traffic, and is a fineable offence.
  • The crossings indicate where it is best to cross.
  • Do not overtake a tram when it is stationary with passengers getting on or off.
  • Traffic lights don't show amber after red. Flashing amber means continue with caution.
  • At night, park on the right.

Food and Drink

France is a country with one of the most highly-evolved cuisines known to man. France is famous for everything from the cafés, to bistros to restaurants.

Some French Specialites include Homard l'amoricaine -lobster with cream sauce; Gigot de présalé - leg of lamb roasted or broiled; Moules – mussels; Soufflé Grand-Marnier for dessert, and a large selection of cheeses to finish: Camembert, Brie, and Roquefort, to name but a few. French’s national drink is of course locally produced wine.


In the large cities, such as Paris, Lyon or Marseille there is an abundance of lively clubs, which often don’t charge admission. There are numerous late-night cafés and bars as an alternative to the many nightclubs, and there are over 130 casinos in the country.

In the more rural areas the summer festivals are usually worth a visit, but the French people normally spend their time in the evenings eating and drinking with family and friends.


France is a good place to buy traditional goods such as lace from Flanders, crystal from Arques, glass, cheese, alcohol and coffee. Small towns host fruit and vegetable markets every Saturday, while just outside larger cities and towns you can find hypermarkets, which sell everything from food and drink to household goods and electrical equipment and even clothes.

Tourist Information

Tourist Office: The French Government Tourist Office in England is at:178 Piccadilly London W1J 9AL

All car hire locations in France