Travelers checks in French currency are a widely accepted form
of payment, as are credit cards. Checks in foreign currency must
be exchanged at banks.(Australian currency travelers checks
are especially difficult to exchange). Shops and hotels are prohibited,
by law, from accepting foreign currency.
Frances basic monetary unit is the franc (F), which is divided
into 100 centimes. Notes are available in denominations of F10,
20, 50, 100, 200 and 500, coins in denominations of F1, 2, 5, and
10 and 5, 10, 20 and 50 centimes. Currency can be exchanged in many
places, but banks and bureaux de change generally offer better rates
than hotels and shops.
Service charges are added to the bills in hotels and restaurants,
but an additional tip is customary and varies according to the type
of establishment. In nice restaurants, for example, 10 % percent
of the bill is usual, whereas in a less expensive place the amount
should be 8 to 10 percent, and in cafιs, small change is sufficient.
Other service providers such as hotel porters (F10 per bag), hotel
housekeepers (F10 per day), washroom attendants (about F5) hairdressers
(about F10) and cinema ushers (about F5) expect tips. Taxi drivers
are generally tipped F2 or 3. Airport and railroad porters charge
a fixed fee, but an additional F5 is customary.
For goods purchased taxpaid in another EU country, the duty-free
limits are as follows: 300 cigarettes or 75 cigars or 400 grams
of tobacco; 5 liters of table wine; and 1.5 liters of alcohol over
44 proof ( most spirits or hard liquor) or 3 liters of alcohol
under 44 proof (sparkling or fortified wine) or an additional
3 liters of table wine; and 90 milliliters of perfume; and 375 milliliters
of toilet water; and additional goods up to a value of F2,400. For
goods purchased in a nonEU country or dutyfree in another
EU country, the limits are similar to those described above, but
a bit smaller.
If you are traveling with expensive photographic or computer equipment
or other goods, you must be able to prove that they are personal
belongings and that they will be reexported when you leave.
A receipt indicating the date of purchase is helpful in this regard.
The international telephone access code for France is 33. The city
code for Paris is 01. (Omit the 0 if calling from abroad).
To place an outgoing international call from France, dial 00 plus
the relevant country code and number. For directory assistance,
dial 12; to reach the international operator, dial 19.
France is one hour ahead of Greenwich mean time (GMT), or
one hour ahead of London, 6 hours ahead of New York and Montrιal,
4 hours ahead of Sγo Paulo, 2 hours behind Moscow, and 7 hours behind
Hong Kong. France observes daylight saving time from late March
to late September, during which time it is 2 hours ahead of GMT.
Banks are generally open 9 a.m to 4 p.m Monday to Friday. Some banks,
especially in smaller towns, close from noon to 2 p.m.
Department stores are generally open from 9:30 a.m to 6:30 p.m,
Monday to Saturday. Smaller shops may close at midday for lunch.
Many food stores are open on Sunday mornings only, and close for
all or part of the day on Monday. Supermarkets and hypermarkets
are open until 9 or 10 p.m , Monday through Saturday. With the exception
of some food shops, as noted above, most shops are closed on Sunday.
Passports and Visas
Countries requiring passports and visas are Australian and New Zealand,
Japanese, U.S, and Canadian citizens: A valid passport only is required
by New Zealand citizens for stays of up to three months; Australian
citizens require both a valid passport and visa for stays of up
to three months.
EU citizens: Either a valid national identity card or a is required
Others: No visa is required by citizens of Andorra, Liechtenstein,
Monaco and Switzerland, provided they have a passport valid for
at least 5 years or a valid national identity card. Nationals of
countries not listed in the categories above should check with the
nearest French embassy or consulate for specific passport and visa