Traveling Luck for France

France is located in Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and English Channel, between Belgium and Spain, southeast of the UK; bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Spain.

France has borders with Andorra for 56.600000000000001km, Belgium for 620km, Switzerland for 573km, Germany for 451km, Spain for 623km, Italy for 488km, Luxembourg for 73km and Monaco for 4.4000000000000004km.

Land in France is mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east.

French land covers an area of 547030 square kilometers which is slightly less than twice the size of Colorado

As for the French climate; generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral.

Frenchman(men), Frenchwoman(women) speak French 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish).

French National Map

French Map

Regions of France

Although ultimately a victor in World Wars I and II, France suffered extensive losses in its empire, wealth, manpower, and rank as a dominant nation-state. Nevertheless, France today is one of the most modern countries in the world and is a leader among European nations. Since 1958, it has constructed a presidential democracy resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier parliamentary democracies. In recent years, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of a common exchange currency, the euro, in January 1999. At present, France is at the forefront of efforts to develop the EU's military capabilities to supplement progress toward an EU foreign policy.


France Country Profile

France is in the midst of transition from a well-to-do modern economy that has featured extensive government ownership and intervention to one that relies more on market mechanisms. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers. It retains controlling stakes in several leading firms, including Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales, and is dominant in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries. The telecommunications sector is gradually being opened to competition. France's leaders remain committed to a capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that reduce income disparity and the impact of free markets on public health and welfare. The government has lowered income taxes and introduced measures to boost employment and reform the pension system. In addition, it is focusing on the problems of the high cost of labor and labor market inflexibility resulting from the 35-hour workweek and restrictions on lay-offs. The tax burden remains one of the highest in Europe (nearly 50% of GDP in 2005). The lingering economic slowdown and inflexible budget items have pushed the budget deficit above the eurozone's 3%-of-GDP limit; unemployment stands at 10%.

French natural resources include coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorospar, gypsum, timber, fish

largest West European nation

French religion is Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%.

Natural hazards in France include flooding; avalanches; midwinter windstorms; drought; forest fires in south near the Mediterranean.

Travel Advice on France

France

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Summary.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • France shares with the rest of Europe a threat from international terrorism.  Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets (see Safety and Security section).

  • There have been a number of explosions and failed explosions in Corsica during 2006.  You are advised to take care, particularly in town centres and near public buildings, and be wary of unattended packages.  Please also see the Terrorism section of this advice for more details.

  • There is, at present, an acute danger of avalanches in the French Alpine regions.  You are therefore advised to exercise due care and attention and observe all written notices and warning instructions and, where and when appropriate, consider carrying avalanche search equipment.

  • Police have issued warnings that counterfeit Euro notes are in circulation on the continent.  You should be aware and take all precautions to ensure that notes you receive, from sources other than banks and legitimate Bureaux de Change, are genuine.

  • More than 12 million British nationals visit mainland France every year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The main types of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in France are for petty crime and road traffic accidents.  You should be alert to the dangers of street and car crime.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
Sensible precautions should be taken to protect against street and car crime.  Try to avoid carrying passports, credit cards, travel documents and money together in handbags or pockets.  Valuables, including tobacco and alcohol, should not be left unattended in parked cars and they should be kept out of sight at all times. 
In Paris, at Charles de Gaulle airport or at the GareduNord railway station, you should protect your baggage against theft and beware of pickpockets.  Thieves and pickpockets also operate on the Paris Metro and RER (suburban) lines especially RER line B, which serves Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports and the GareduNord.  Thefts have also occurred at NiceAirport, particularly at the car rental car parks where bags have been snatched as drivers have been loading luggage into hire cars.  Pedestrians should beware of bag snatchers operating both on foot and from motorcycles. 
You should be particularly careful in and around shopping centres and car parks.  You are advised to be cautious of and, if possible, avoid, illegal street vendors, many of whom employ persistent and often intimidating techniques to sell their wares, and who are now to be found at many tourist sites and attractions in Paris.  At the Basilica duSacre Coeur, for example, vendors sometimes block the passage of visitors using the steps leading to the church in attempts to force them to buy the items they have for sale.  Similar methods are employed at sites elsewhere in the city.
Mugging incidents have occurred at isolated rest areas on some French motorways, usually those without petrol stations and cafeterias.  There is also a continuing problem of burglaries taking place during the night whilst travellers have been asleep in their caravans, mobile homes or other vehicles.  In a number of these cases victims had first been rendered unconscious by the thieves using gas.  Try to avoid parking in isolated or dark areas of camping grounds or car parks, and consider installing an alarm in your caravan or mobile home.
In and around Calais and Dunkirk British owned cars have been targeted by thieves, both while parked and on the move (eg by thieves flagging down drivers for a lift or indicating that the vehicle has a flat tyre).  In some cases, tyres have been punctured at service stations forcing drivers to stop soon afterwards on the road/motorway.  If you decide or need to stop in such circumstances, be extremely wary of anyone offering help, ensure that car keys are not left in the ignition and that the vehicle doors are locked while you investigate the alleged problem.
If you intend to visit the Commonwealth War Grave cemeteries in northern France, many of which are in isolated areas, you are advised not leave handbags or other valuables in parked cars as they can be the target for thieves.
In the South of France, particularly in the Marseille to Menton area, you are advised to keep car doors locked and windows closed when driving as it is common for bags to be snatched from the front passenger seat, often when the vehicle is stationary at traffic lights and usually by individuals on motorbikes.
In Corsica you are advised to avoid leaving your vehicles unattended by the roadside especially on coastal/beach roads, as thefts are frequent.  Armed robbery can occur but such incidents are rare.

Political Situation
France Country Profile
Road Safety
If you wish to drive in France you must have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents.  If you are driving a vehicle that does not belong to you then written permission from the registered owner may also be requested.
The minimum age for driving a car in France is 18 years old.  If you are 17 and hold a valid UKlicence you are not permitted to drive a car.  If you do you may be fined and your vehicle will be impounded.
You should take particular care when driving in France as driving regulations and customs are different from those in the UK.  Roads in France, particularly motorways, are of an excellent standard but speed limits are higher than in the UK and the accident rate is higher.  Many drivers undertake long journeys in, or through, France.  Care should be taken to plan journeys and take sufficient breaks; a minimum break of 15 minutes after every two hours of driving is recommended.
Further advice on driving outside the UK can be obtained from motoring organisations such as the AA and RAC.  You can also check the French Government-run Website:  http://www.bison-fute.equipement.gouv.fr.for further information on safety and on potential traffic black spots during the holiday seasons.  This website is only available in French.
Severe penalties exist for all road traffic infringements and they are enforced.  These include imprisonment and a heavy fine for causing death whilst driving over the alcohol limit or under the influence of drugs.  There are also similar penalties for causing death by dangerous or negligent driving.  The French police strictly apply speeding restrictions and if you exceed speed limits you will face heavy on-the-spot fines.  If you break French driving laws you can also have your UK driving licence confiscated by French Police.  This could lead to your vehicle being temporarily impounded if no alternative driver with a valid licence is available.
Radar detectors are illegal in France whether in use or not.  If you are caught with such equipment in your vehicle, you are liable to a fine, confiscation of the device and the vehicle.  You should therefore ensure radar detectors are removed from your vehicle before commencing any journey to France.
Almost all roads in Corsica are mountainous and narrow, with numerous bends.  You should be extra vigilant and beware of wandering animals.  The majority of road accidents occur during the tourist season.
Road Hauliers
British road hauliers should be aware that the French authorities are imposing fines on hauliers who have differing sets of documents aboard the vehicle.  Road hauliers should contact the Road Hauliers Association for further information (and see "Know Before You Go" "International Road Haulage on the FCO website).  It is now compulsory for drivers of vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes to fasten their seat belts when driving in France (except in vehicles which did not have seat belts fitted when they were manufactured).  Offenders face a fine of 135 Euros.
There are a number of periods during the year, including all Sundays and public holidays when heavy goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes are banned from driving on roads in France.  Road hauliers should contact the Road Hauliers Association, the Freight Transport Association or the Department of Transport for further information.
In two recent incidents at the IDS service station near the Dunes in Calais, two British lorry drivers were assaulted by a group of men who may have been illegal immigrants intent on either robbery or possibly using the lorry to illegally enter the UK. The Road Hauliers Association is aware of these incidents and can provide advice to drivers on matters of personal security.
Both the Mont Blanc and Frejus road tunnels, linking France and Italy, are open but the restrictions introduced following the fires in 1999 and 2005 continue to be applied to HGVs.  These can be summarised as follows:
Mont Blanc:  height restricted to 4.7m; minimum speed 50 km/h; maximum speed 70 km/h.  Consult:  www.tunnelmb.com or by telephone on number 00 33 (0)45 05 55 500.
Fréjus:  Vehicles of more than 3.5 tones are subject to 1-hour alternate traffic flows starting at 08:00 leaving France.  Special regulations apply to vehicles carrying dangerous loads.  Details can be obtained from:  http://www.tunneldufrejus.com.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Respect all French laws and customs.  Do not become involved with drugs of any kind.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

If you are a British Citizen or British Subject with Right of Abode in the United Kingdom, you will not need a visa to enter France.  Other British passport holders should confirm the current entry requirements with the nearest French Diplomatic mission.  All British passport holders require a valid passport.  There is no minimum passport validity requirement but you should ensure that your passport is valid for the proposed period of your stay.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the French Embassy in London.  (Website link to French Embassy:  http://www.ambafrance-uk.org).
Employment in France
In order to work legally in France as a self-employed artisan, you must obtain the necessary authorisations from the French authorities and register with the appropriate official organisation which represents the trade in question.  Comprehensive guidance on setting up a business is available on the Internet site:  www.apce.com/


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.
The Form E111 is no longer valid.  You should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK.  The EHIC is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as French nationals.  You will not be covered for medical repatriation, on-going medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature.  For more information about how to obtain the EHIC please see Europe and the EHIC.

Rabies cases occasionally occur in France, and you should therefore avoid contact with cats and dogs.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk
Avian Influenza (Bird flu)
On 18 February 2006, the French authorities confirmed its first case of Avian Influenza in a wild duck in the Ain department north of Lyon.  On 25 February 2006 the authorities confirmed an outbreak in a commercial turkey flock in the same area.  Further cases in the same area in several wild birds and swans were subsequently confirmed.  A swan found dead on 28 February 2006, in Saint Mitres-les-remparts in the départment of Bouches-de-Rhone has also tested positive with the virus.  All of the affected birds were culled and precautionary measures increased in the areas concerned.  No human infections or deaths have been reported.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low.  As a precaution you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
You should read this advice in conjunction with the Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet, which gives more detailed advice and information.

NATURAL DISASTERS

Forest Fires

Fires can be a regular occurrence in forested areas anywhere during the summer months but especially along the Mediterranean coast and on Corsica.  The fires are generally extinguished quickly and efficiently by experienced French authorities, though short-term evacuations are sometimes necessary.  Most visits to forested areas should remain trouble-free, but if you plan to stay in such an area you should familiarise yourself on arrival with local emergency procedures in the event of fire.

SPORTS ACTIVITIES AND WINTER SPORTS

Travellers to Andorra who transit France en route should be aware that conditions on the road from Toulouse to Andorra can quickly become difficult in severe winter weather and vehicles might be delayed.  Those making this journey should ensure their hand luggage inside the vehicle contains water, food, warm clothing and any medical requirements they may need.

Alpine travellers should take out comprehensive insurance to cover extra medical costs, repatriation or, in the départements of Savoie and Haute-Savoie, possible transfer to Switzerland for hospital treatment.  For sports activities such as skiing, potholing and mountaineering, travel insurance must include mountain rescue services and helicopter costs.  You should be aware of the risks involved in the more hazardous sports activities.  Be aware of weather forecasts and conditions, well equipped, not undertake the activity alone, study the itinerary and inform someone of your plans.

There is, at present, an acute danger of avalanches in the French Alpine regions.  You are therefore advised to exercise due care and attention and observe all written notices and warning instructions and, where and when appropriate, consider carrying avalanche search equipment.

Hill Walking

If you intend to go hill walking in any part of France including Corsica, you should ensure that you are well prepared and equipped to cope both with the terrain, high temperatures and a lack of shade in summer and low temperatures during the winter months.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help.
EU Aviation Regulations
The revised EU-wide security measures that came into effect for all passengers departing from UK airports in November 2006 are also being implemented in France.  For more details about this please see:  DfT - Airline Security Update.
Following the withdrawal of duty free facilities within the European Union, customs authorities in all member countries have introduced guidance levels for the import of tobacco, alcohol and other products bought by visitors for their own use.  The levels you can bring into the UK should be checked with Her Majesty's Customs.  French regulations currently allow a maximum of one thousand cigarettes or one kilogram of tobacco to be imported from another EU member country to France.  Heavy Goods Vehicle operators should be aware of the revised seizure policy being operated by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise against any vehicles detected with illicit alcohol or tobacco.
If you intend to carry or transport valuables (including works of art and antiques) or amounts of cash in excess of 7,600 Euros, you should consult French customs regulations beforehand.
Do not leave your luggage unattended at airports, railway stations and other public places as it may be removed and destroyed by security staff.   Notices to this effect are prominently displayed.  No compensation can be claimed for destroyed property.
Remember where you are staying.  Keep a note of your hotel address.  Enter next of kin details into the back of your passport.