WHAT ARE THE FRENCH PUBLIC HOLIDAYS?

France is known for its numerous public holidays. The French enjoy indeed 11 national “jours feriés” (holidays) annually! A lot of stores, restaurants and museums are closed on those days. Don’t be surprised if you visit Paris on a public holiday !  Lots of Parisians use the occasion to « faire le pont » ( take a long weekend)  to leave the city. Paris is therefore usually quieter and particularly perfect for a walking tour!   You will find below the list of the public holidays:

  • January, 1st: New Year’s Day

  • East Monday : is in April, the day after Easter

  • May, 1st : Labor Day

  • May, 8th: Victory Day (Armistice 1945)

  • Whit Monday: in May

  • Ascension Day: in May

  • July, 14th the national holiday that commemorates the “fête de la Nation” celebrated a year after the storming of the Bastille

  • August, 15th: Asumption Day

  • November, 1st : All Saints’ Day

  • November, 11th: Armistice Day (WWI)

  • December, 25th: Christmas Day

 

SHOULD I LEAVE TIP WHEN IN PARIS?

French people have a reputation for not being generous when it comes to tipping. Things are changing however. 10% of the restaurant bill or of the cost of the taxi ride are usually customary. You are of course free not to leave any tip, especially if the waiter or the driver has not satisfied your expectations. It is customary to leave 1 or 2 Euros when they take you to your seat. Don’t be surprised if you are being asked to leave a tip in public restrooms and even in the restrooms of certain restaurants.

 

HOW MANY TOURISTS COME EVERY YEAR TO PARIS?

The agglomeration of Paris welcomes every year 42 million tourists, 28 millions of whom only visit Paris itself, making it the most visited city in the world.  Some tourists only visit Versailles or the EuroDisney amusement park without even going to Paris.

 

IS THE TAP WATER DRINKABLE?

The tap water is drinkable almost everywhere in France. You will find bottled waters (plain or sparkling water) in all supermarkets. In restaurants, you will have the choice between a « carafe d’eau » (tap water) which is free, or bottled-water (plain or sparkling).

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHOULD I BUY EUROS BEFORE GOING TO PARIS?

You will find cash dispensers almost everywhere in Paris. Commissions will vary from one bank to another. You will also find exchange bureaux in most tourist areas. These bureaux usually offer competitive rates and are usually opened at night. Therefore, it is not necessary to change money into Euros before you leave.

 

WHAT ARE THE MOST VISITED PLACE IN PARIS?

According to the Paris Tourism Office, the Top 10 most visited places in Paris are the following:

 

1. Notre-Dame de Paris: 13,7 millions visitors each year

2. Sacré-Cœur: 10,5 millions visitors each year

3. Louvre: 8,3 millions visitors each year

4. The Eiffel Tower: 6,7 millions visitors each year

5. Centre Georges Pompidou: 5,5 millions visitors each year

6. La Villette: 5 millions visitors each year

7. The Orsay Museum: 5 millions visitors each year

8. The Arc de Triomphe: 1,5 millions visitors each year

9. The Quai Branly Museum: 1,4 millions visitors each year

10.The Museum of Natural History: 1,4 millions visitors each year

 

ELECTRIC ADAPTERS AND PLUGS

In France the norm is 220 volts, 50 cycles, while in the United States or Canada, for example, it is 110 volts, 60 cycles. Voltage and sockets vary from country to country and so an adapter and also a transformer will be indispensable in order to keep your favourite electric razor or hairdryer in working order – not to mention to avoid blowing the electricity in the whole hotel!

If you’ve forgotten to bring these important accessories, you’ll be able to find them in electrical goods and DIY stores or hypermarkets. Most major hotels can also provide them. For information, French plugs are equipped with two round pins.

 

HIRING A VELIB BICYLE - The cheap way to get around Paris ….. if you take care

In all quarters of Paris, approximately every 300 yards in all directions, visitors to the city cannot help noticing bicycle racks, full of identical bicycles. This is Paris's successful "Velib" bike-hire scheme, which - if used correctly - can prove an excellent and cheap way to get around the capital.

You can hire a Velib bike for just 1,70 € a day, if you use the system properly: on the other hand, if you do not use the system as it is intended (for short hires only), it can work out very expensive.

To hire a Velib, you need a chip-and-pin credit card. On hire, you will be charged a 150 € deposit, which may well not be recredited to your card for another two weeks. A day's use of the system costs just 1 €, which includes as many half-hour hire periods as you want, during the day. These first half hour periods are always free, and you can have as many free "first" half hours as you want in a single day. After that, rates rise steeply to reach 4 € per extra half hour. So while you could use a Velib for all your needs for just a single Euro per day, you could find yourself billed over 80 €, which is far more than a hire car!

 

PRICES & TAX

As is the custom throughout Europe, prices displayed in shops in France always include sales tax ("la TVA" - value added tax).

 

The price you see on the label is the price you will be charged  - which can be a pleasant surprise for American or Canadian visitors.