The Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. The Pyrenees and Chamonix. Escargot and ratatouille. Champagne and croissants and berets and baguettes. Napoleon and Simone de Beauvoir and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Jazz bars and vineyards and lavender fields as far as the eye can see. ‘Un petit peu’ of this, ‘un petit peu’ of that. A balmy evening on the French Riviera, a morning frost on the fields of the Somme. French flags flying after the FIFA World Cup. Guillotines falling after the French Revolution. Chanel and Chandon and Versailles and Vuitton. Forget the museums; this country is a work of art.
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:
France is one of the greatest places in the world to cycle. Whether you’re taking on a steep hill in the Pyrenees or gliding past the lavender fields of Provence, cycling in France is a true pleasure.
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:
Most hotels used on Intrepid tours through France are small, family-run guesthouses, so expect staircases instead of lifts and small rooms big on character.
The best time to visit France depends on where you are planning to travel to.
The best time to visit Paris, in terms of sunshine and weather, is early summer and early autumn as the late summer can get quite hot. That said, the winter months are a dark albeit beautiful time to visit, like many European cities. The same applies for most of inland France.
If you’re heading to the east coast and the Mediterranean Sea, the best months are July and August as the sea breeze tends to keep the coast a little cooler than inland. There will, however, be more tourists than in the early summer or spring and autumn.
The mountains are best for skiing in February and March as the days are longer than in December and January, while the late spring, summer and early autumn are perfect for hiking.
The Atlantic areas of Brittany and Normandy are best experienced from June through August as they can get quite wet and cold outside of summer.
Yes, it is still safe to visit France, though parts of the country have been affected by various issues of late.
Over the past 5–10 years France has been targeted by extremist groups. These attacks have received widespread global coverage and while they are shocking and saddening, they are also very infrequent. France is at no more risk of extremist violence than any other Western country, but travellers should exercise caution nevertheless and keep up-to-date with local news sources.
Much has also been made of the Yellow Vests Movement, which has spread around the country. These protests began in 2018 after an increase in fuel taxes and have morphed into a movement demanding economic reform and the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron. Though the protests have turned violent on several occasions, particularly in Paris, they are also easily avoided. The protests occur on Saturdays and the streets are shut down by police – travellers should check local news sources and avoid any trouble areas on Saturdays.
France is a member of the Schengen Convention, which means that if you travel to an EU member country or countries, like France, for a total of less than 90 days, a visa is not required. Citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US, the UK and other member countries of the EU and Schengen area are included under this arrangement.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your country of origin. Check the Essential Trip Information section of your tour itinerary for more information.
Most restaurants in France 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.
The internet access is great in France. All cities and major towns should have internet cafes and wi-fi hotspots, while most of the country aside from very remote areas will have phone reception should you wish to use your mobile/cell phone.
Travellers can use their phones throughout France, though remote and isolated areas in the Pyrenees or Alps may have limited service.
You’re able to purchase a local SIM on arriving in France, which will generally be cheaper than using international roaming. If you do wish to use international roaming, ensure it’s activated before leaving your home country and ask your provider what charges apply. Data use can be particularly expensive while overseas.
Flushable, Western-style toilets are the standard across France.
France’s unit of currency is the euro. Prices here are approximate and shown in US dollars for ease of comparison.
Drinking water from taps is considered safe in France unless otherwise marked. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottle water and fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
Major credit cards are widely accepted across France. Some smaller cafes and shops may not accept credit cards, especially in more rural areas, so be sure to carry enough cash to cover small purchases.
ATMs are common across France in both cities and towns so there shouldn't be a problem finding one.
France’s weather varies depending where you are.
Paris tends to be quite cool with temperatures averaging 15–25°C (59–77°F) even in the height of summer. The winter average is 2–7°C (36–45°F), though it’s worth keeping in mind that the city can experience more extreme heat in the summer or snow in the winter.
The French Riviera, including Nice, has a sunnier climate and averages 20–27°C (68–81°F) in the summer and 5–13°C (41–55°F) in winter. This area is quite sheltered compared to the rest of the south-east coast, which will much hotter and dryer in the summer.
The mountainous regions, like Chamonix in the Alps, will vary depending on altitude. Chamonix experiences an average temperature of 9–24°C (48–75°F) in the summertime and -7–3°C (19–37°F) in the winter. The summer also sees afternoon thunderstorms and more precipitation than other times of year.
The climate on the Atlantic coast tends to be quite cool and wet, with rain and wind all year round, particularly around the English Channel. Bordeaux, which is much further south, enjoys a warmer climate though it’s prone to both the cold Atlantic fronts as well as cold winds from the north-east. Its average temperature in summer is 16–27°C (61–81°F), while winter averages 3–10°C (37–50°F).
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. 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: Travel Insurance
1 January – New Year’s Day
March/April – Easter Monday
May – Labour Day
8 May – Victory Day 1945
May – Ascension Day
14 July – Bastille Day
August – Assumption of Mary
1 November – All Saints’ Day
11 November – Armistice Day
25 December – Christmas Day
For a current list of public holidays in France, including the movable dates noted above, go to:
France is a safe destination for LGBTQIA+ travellers and has always been celebrated for its liberal attitudes towards sexuality. Paris was the first European capital to vote in an openly gay mayor in 2001 and France was the first country in the world, back in 1791, to decriminalise same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2013 and attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ identifying people are generally positive across the country.
Paris has had a thriving queer scene for years which revolves around Le Marais, a district just north of Notre-Dame, though the city is so open that it can be difficult to pin down its epicentre. Active queer scenes can be found in most major cities across the country including Bordeaux and Lyon.
If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travellers who do not wish to share a room.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
France is a relatively accessible destination for travellers with disabilities, particularly for those visiting Paris. All buses and trams in the Paris metro area are equipped for wheelchairs and most, though not all, metro stations have been equipped to make travelling with a disability as hassle-free as possible. The city’s official visitor website has a section dedicated to visiting Paris with a disability in both French and English.
Elsewhere, as in much of Europe, travellers may find that the older city buildings and infrastructure in smaller towns may present them with some difficulty, depending on their disability. If you do live with a visual, hearing or other impairment, let your booking agent or group leader know early on so they’re aware and suitable arrangements can be made.
As a general rule, knowing some common words in the local language, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.
France is a very liberal country and travellers should not feel compelled to dress particularly conservatively unless visiting a religious site. After all, Paris is the fashion capital of the world – go hard or go home. That being said, Intrepid encourages all travellers to respect the locals in the places we visit. If they wouldn’t wear something, we don’t suggest that you do.
Remember that the weather in the mountains can change extremely quickly, even in summer, so your best bet is dress in layers. If you do plan on visiting the Alps or Pyrenees, be sure to take a raincoat, sturdy walking shoes and a wind breaker or warm jacket.
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.
In France, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support local businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans.