France

Where else in the world can you find such a high concentration of classic art, celebrated architecture, stylish boutiques, award-winning restaurants, chic galleries and world-class wineries? Home to culinary icons, influential artists, political masters and fashion greats, France is a captivating, enriching place to visit – be beguiled by the passion, spirit and irrepressible essence of France.

France Tours & Travel

All our France trips

Cote d'Azur Sailing Adventure - Marseille to Nice

8 days from
USD $1,784
CAD $1,848
AUD $1,811
EUR €1,250
GBP £1,044
NZD $2,019
ZAR R18,133
CHF FR1,511

Sail from Marseille to Nice along France's gorgeous Cote d'Azur. Stop in at the beautiful islands of the Iles d...

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Sail Cote D'Azur - Nice to Marseille

8 days from
USD $1,666
CAD $1,675
AUD $1,641
EUR €1,133
GBP £946
NZD $1,830
ZAR R16,436
CHF FR1,370

Embrace Mediterranean life while sailing along the French Riviera, taking in the high lives of Cannes and St Tropez,...

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Paris to Madrid

15 days from
USD $3,595
CAD $3,695
AUD $3,635
EUR €2,495
GBP £2,095
NZD $4,050
ZAR R36,390
CHF FR3,030

Travel through France and Spain, exploring the delights of Paris, going on a wine tour in Bordeaux, hiking in the...

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Paris to Marrakech

29 days from
USD $6,195
CAD $6,395
AUD $6,270
EUR €4,320
GBP £3,625
NZD $6,985
ZAR R62,760
CHF FR5,225

Travel to France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco on a trip from Paris to Marrakech. Visit Bordeaux, Madrid, Lisbon, the...

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Barcelona to Berlin

15 days from
USD $3,130
CAD $3,230
AUD $3,165
EUR €2,180
GBP £1,830
NZD $3,525
ZAR R31,680
CHF FR2,635

Packed with historical, culinary and artistic attractions, this journey from Barcelona to Berlin encapsulates much of...

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Europe Explorer

36 days from
USD $6,420
CAD $6,625
AUD $6,495
EUR €4,470
GBP £3,755
NZD $7,235
ZAR R65,020
CHF FR5,395

Visit Spain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy on this epic journey that includes the best of Europe's...

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Cote D'Azur Family Sailing - Nice to Marseille

8 days from
USD $2,279
CAD $2,358
AUD $2,311
EUR €1,590
GBP £1,334
NZD $2,574
ZAR R23,133
CHF FR1,926

Sail from Marseille to Nice along France's gorgeous Cote d'Azur. Stop in at the beautiful islands of the Iles d...

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Cote D'Azur family sailing Marseille - Nice

8 days from
USD $2,279
CAD $2,358
AUD $2,311
EUR €1,590
GBP £1,334
NZD $2,574
ZAR R23,133
CHF FR1,926

Sail from Marseille to Nice along France's gorgeous Cote d'Azur. Stop in at the beautiful islands of the Iles d...

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Highlights of France

9 days from
USD $3,410
CAD $3,520
AUD $3,450
EUR €2,375
GBP £1,995
NZD $3,840
ZAR R34,530
CHF FR2,875

Travel to France to discover the food, fashion and fun of the world's most romantic country. See the Eiffel Tower and...

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Walking in the French & Swiss Alps

8 days from
USD $2,840
CAD $2,930
AUD $2,875
EUR €1,980
GBP £1,660
NZD $3,200
ZAR R28,780
CHF FR2,395

Walk the French and Swiss Alps on a hiking tour. See chateaux, glaciers and the mighty Matterhorn mountain on this...

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France trip reviews

Our France trips score an average of 4.6 out of 5 based on 25 reviews in the last year.

Paris to Madrid, June 2014

Paris to Madrid, May 2014

Articles on France

Trip or treat? Our spookiest adventures from around the world

Posted on Thu, 30 Oct 2014 by James Shackell

With Halloween fast approaching, things are getting spooky at Intrepid. Here are some of our spookiest trips from around the world.

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How to avoid travel bulge syndrome

Posted on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 by Lucy Piper

How do you choose a destination and an adventure that will provide you with just the right balance of exercise and exploration?

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Living the dream in Paris

Posted on Tue, 4 Sep 2012 by Sue Elliot

"I will come back, even if it be to just eat baguette and drink champagne under the Arc de Triomphe on Bastille Day..."

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Table for two in Paris

Posted on Thu, 9 Feb 2012 by Sue Elliot

Paris was the perfect place for Michelle Aguiar to indulge in a romantic dinner for two...

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Transport

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun!

Depending on which trip you're on while in France, you may find yourself travelling by:

Accommodation

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When travelling with us in France you may find yourself staying in a:

About France

At a glance

Trips Available: 0
Capital city: Paris (population 2.1 million)
Population: 65.3 million
Language: French
Currency: EUR
Time zone: (GMT+01:00) Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris
Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin) Type E (French 2-pin, female earth)
Dialing code: +33

Best time to visit France

Depending on what you want to get out of your trip, there is always a good time to visit France. Winter is a great time to enjoy snow sports in the Alps and Pyrenees, while the summer is great for soaking up the sun on the beaches of the Cote d’Azur. Generally, France enjoys a temperate climate with cool winters and warm summers, except for the Mediterranean areas that bask in warm temperatures most of the year. Popular tourist spots can get crowded during the peak holiday periods of Christmas, Easter and the school holiday months of July and August; if travelling during these times, be prepared to share France with many other travellers and holidaying locals.

France weather chart

Culture and customs

French patisseries
Passionate about the arts, great food and even greater wine, French people are also fierce defenders of the 'French' way of life. The stereotype of the typical French person being a liberal, dog-loving, intellectual may not ring true but you will most likely see many dogs in cafes and an open attitude towards everything from sexuality to smoking.

France (Paris in particular) is a multicultural country with immigrants coming from Africa, the Middle East and other European countries. In fact, France has the largest Muslim and Jewish populations in Europe. In the recent past, this mix of cultures has created some tension among the population, with immigrant communities and students in particular protesting about employment rates and government restrictions.

With many different cultures co-existing in modern France, there are a wide variety of customs, cuisines and religions to be observed. Expect to see churches as well as mosques, Indian restaurants near French patisseries, and the sultry sounds of modern jazz right around the corner from a street beat-boxer.

Eating and drinking

Grapevine Fresh baguettes in France

Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savoring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.

The gastronomic pleasures of France are world-renowned, so travellers won’t be disappointed with the food of France. There’s something to suit all budgets here, from Michelin star restaurants to humble cafes and market stalls.

Things to try in France

1. Simple, fresh baguettes

One of the best cheap eats in France has to be a fresh, crusty baguette. Buy a freshly prepared roll from a cafe or buy the ingredients separately from shops and markets, prepare yourself and eat by the banks of the Seine or in a park. C’est Bon!

2. Pastries, cakes and tarts

Be overwhelmed by the array of cakes, flans, tarts, pastries, pies, biscuits and macaroons available in France. French pastry chefs set the benchmark for quality, so indulge away and work it off with a walk or cycle.

3. Champagne & wine

With famous wine regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire Valley, Alsace and Provence, France is the place to indulge in a tipple or two! Whether you’re sampling fine vintages straight from the cellar door or savoring a bottle in a Paris restaurant, don’t leave France without trying to the top quality wine and champagne.

4. Cheese

French people love their cheese, so when in France eat like the locals do! From soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert to strong, tangy Roquefort and hard, sharp Beaufort, try them all at the cheese shops and markets of France.

Geography and environment

Field of lavender
Bordered by Spain, Andorra, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Belgium, France has a variety of natural environments, from the rolling fields of Provence and the beaches of the Mediterranean to the urbanised cityscapes of Paris. Much of France is flat, except for the mountainous Pyrenees in the south and the Alps in the east, which are both popular places for outdoor sports like hiking, skiing, snowboarding and mountain biking.

The French capital is a fascinating mix of gritty charm and unusual beauty. Expect to see the full spectrum of life – from well-maintained boulevards lined with classy, up-market restaurants and boutiques, to neighbourhoods full of run-down housing and graffiti-clad industrial buildings. Paris is a city that has many different sides, where visitors can turn each corner and find something new.

History and government

Eiffel tower at night

Early History

France has a fascinating history marked by war, invasion, imperialistic expansion and revolution. Enduring the ravages of the Black Death, and the uncertainty of political upheaval and civil unrest, it's probably these events that give the modern French people their passionate, fighting spirit.

Recent History

France’s recent history is as interesting as its beginnings. Invaded by Germany during World War I and World War II, France suffered many losses during both of these wars. Civilian and military lives were lost, strict rationing created harsh living conditions, and regular airstrikes and shelling created a climate of fear. The French Resistance has been the subject of many books and movies, mainly because it’s such an interesting example of the French spirit. The French Resistance is the name given to pockets of men and women who rallied against the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. Using guerrilla tactics, as well as underground press and other means, these groups provided safe houses and escape networks for Allied soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. They also provided intelligence and other information to the Allies, as well as committed acts of sabotage against the German military. Visitors to France can choose to see many sites that reflect these times including the beaches of Normandy and the battlefields of Ypres and the Somme.

More recently, France has enjoyed the stability that comes with being a part of the European Union and NATO; even though unemployment remains high, France is currently enjoying more peaceful times than it has had in the past.

Top Picks

Moulin Rouge Arc De Triomphe in Paris, France

Top 10 Iconic Landmarks of France

1. Notre Dame

This iconic Gothic-style cathedral is a true Parisian great. If you think the outside is impressive, wait until you get inside to see the spectacular organ and stunning stained-glass windows.

2. The Louvre

Housing some of the world’s most famous and valuable art, the Louvre Museum is a Parisian icon in its own right. Apart from the artistic masterpieces held within, the unique blend of old and new architecture - capped off by the much-photographed glass pyramid - makes the Louvre a landmark not to be missed.

3. Palace of Versailles

Elaborate galleries, opulent furnishings, gold-framed paintings and manicured gardens, the Palace of Versailles is the ultimate in old-world luxury. See where Marie Antoinette resided in decadence before her execution and understand why she was reticent to leave.

4. Chateau de Chambord

Located in the Loire Valley, this chateau fit for a fairytale is a classic example of French Renaissance architecture at its finest. Not to be outshone, the surrounding gardens, lawns and water features complement this grand, national treasure.

5. Le Pantheon

This historic domed icon is located in Paris’ Latin Quarter and is the final resting place of many famous French historical figures including Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Louis Braille, Marie Curie and Alexandre Dumas. Head here to admire neoclassical architecture and catch up on some French history.

6. Centre Georges Pompidou

The revolutionary, post-modern design of this building put it on the world map back in the 1970s and today it’s still as relevant as when it was first built. Home to an art museum, library and research centre, this place has attracted millions of visitors over the years – drawn in by the peculiar architecture and innovative works housed inside.

7. Arc De Triomphe

Commissioned by pint-sized Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806, the grand Arc de Triomphe monument signifies triumph and victory. Best seen at night, the luminous golden hues provide atmospheric photographic opportunities

8. Moulin Rouge

There’s no mistaking the famous red windmill of the Moulin Rouge. Take a snapshot outside or head inside to catch a cheeky show full of bedazzled, feathered dancers.

9. The Beaches of Normandy

The historic ‘D-Day’ landings of Normandy were one of the most crucial military manoeuvres of World War II. Visiting the beaches where the largest amphibious invasion in world history took place is a must-do for history-buffs and novices alike.

10. Eiffel Tower

Over the years, Paris’ much-loved landmark has been the backdrop to many romantic proposals and magic movie moments. Choose to climb the stairs to the top to take in views of the Parisian skyline or simply bask in the romantic afterglow on the lawn underneath.

Shopping

Bookshop

Home to designer fashion houses, luxurious perfumeries, exclusive boutiques and antique merchants, France isn’t a great shopping destination for those on a budget. Regardless, there’s much fun to be had whether you’re window shopping or indulging in the real thing.

It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.

Things to buy in France

1. Perfumeries

Beautifully packaged scents are best bought in the chic perfumeries of Paris – known as the fragrance capital of the world. Some have been trading for more than a century, others are brand new – either way a bottle of perfume makes a lovely gift for a friend… or yourself.

2. Bookshops

Stocking everything from modern literature and high-end fashion magazines to hard-to-find classics, the bookshops of France are filled with mystery, romance and adventure – the perfect place to retreat on a rainy day. When the sun is shining, head to the Seine where booksellers line the banks selling comics, postcards and antique books.

3. Flea Markets

The flea markets of Paris are great places to pick up vintage pieces. From art deco brooches to pretty 1940’s purses, you’re guaranteed to find something unique on the cheap! Try Porte de Vanves and Porte de Saint-Ouen in Paris.

4. Village Markets

French provincial markets just ooze with charm. Peruse fresh produce, home-made jams, pickled vegetables, rich cheeses and summer flowers - and dream of living such an idyllic life.

Festivals and Events in France

Bastille Day

France lights up with balls, parades, fireworks and street parties in this iconic holiday dedicated to the Fall of Bastille. Although this holiday is celebrated all over France, it is the celebratory vibe and decadent flourishes of Paris that best capture the triumphant spirit of this oh-so French holiday.

Avignon Festival

Performers and art lovers from around the world descend on Avignon for this three-week celebration of performance art. Dance, theatre, comedy and musical performances feature on the bill, with everything from open-air classical concerts and sweeping operatic epics to spoken word poetry.

Mondial du Snowboard

The alpine town of Les Deux Alpes hosts thousands of snowboarders for three days of top-flight snowboarding competition. See the latest and greatest tricks and boards before the season starts and party it up at night at the heaving music and bar scene. Non-boarders will appreciate the bike riding and skateboarding side shows.

FAQs on France

FRANCE:
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Not required
UK: Not required
USA: Not required
Restaurants will include a service fee within the bill; however, tipping extra (while not absolutely necessary) is customary and will be appreciated by wait staff. Usually rounding up the bill or leaving spare change is sufficient. Feel free to tip more if the service has been exemplary or if you’re feeling generous.
Internet access is good in France - internet cafes and Wi-Fi hotspots are easily found in most cities and major towns.
Mobile phone coverage is generally very good in France. Ensure global roaming is activated before you arrive.
Flushable toilets are the standard in France. Don’t be surprised to see that many public toilets in France (and other European countries) are unisex.
Short metro ride = 1.50-2 Euro
Beer = 5 Euro
Baguette snack = 5 Euro
Budget meal in a café = 10 Euro
High-end restaurant meal = 30 Euro
Drinking water from taps is considered safe in France, unless otherwise marked. For environmental reasons, try to use a refillable water bottle rather than buying bottled water.
Major credit cards are widely accepted by stores and hotels in France. Smaller cafes and shops may not accept credit cards so ensure you carry enough cash to cover small purchases.
ATMs are very common in France, so finding one won't be a problem in most towns and cities.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: [site:intrepid_insurance_link]
Jan 1 New Year’s Day
Apr 1 Easter Monday
May 1 Labour Day
May 8 1945 Victory Day
May 9 Ascension Day
May 20 Whit Monday
Jul 14 Bastille Day
Aug 15 Assumption
Nov 1 All Saints’ Day
Nov 11 Armistice Remembrance Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/France/public-holidays

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

France Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for France

1. Be considerate of France’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.

3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

4. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

5. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

6. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
A Moveable FeastErnest Hemingway
ChocolatJoanne Harris
Dangerous LiaisonsPierre Choderlos De Laclos
I'll Never be French (no matter what I do)Mark Greenside
A Year in ProvencePeter Mayle
A Very Long EngagementSebastien Japrisot
Marie Antoinette: The JourneyAntonia Fraser