So, you’ve decided to visit France. Good call! It’s a beautiful and varied country. Follow our essential tips for travelling to France and it will be a stress-free experience.
Our no. 1 tip, right here, is don’t rely on the sat nav!
Or at the very least, don’t use it in the traditional way of entering a postcode to get you to where you need to go.
Whilst this in car device comes into its own when driving on the autoroutes and in towns, don’t even think about using it for macro navigation in the French countryside.
French postcodes are 5 digits and can cover tens of kilometers.
Your holiday rental may be in an idyllic situation but if you rely on a sat nav to locate it using postcode information alone, you could have a very frustrating start to your holiday in France.
This is not good for family relations!
Many houses don’t have a house number or a name and even delivery drivers have problems locating specific addresses.
So, navigating by address is also a non starter!
The solution? Get the GPS coordinates for your destination.
Before you leave home, go to Google maps and put those coordinates into the Search box so you can see in advance where you need to be going.
For added peace of mind, go to Streetview for an on the ground picture.
Ready to hit the road? Make sure you know how to programme the coordinates into your sat nav device!
They may be in decimal format eg 4.2262626,3.738228 or in Lat/Long format and each device will be different.
If you’re picking up a rental car, ask at the rental desk for help using this important feature of the sat nav
As a backup, print off good old written directions and use in conjunction with the Google maps app on your smartphone.
Follow these steps and you’ll be starting your holiday in France off on the right foot.
It’s easy to be daunted by the idea of booking a holiday in a country where you don’t speak the language.
ut don’t worry, if you don’t know your fromage from your grenouille, there are some surprisingly easy ways to get around the language barrier.
The Google Translate app is free and is one of the most comprehensive language apps out there.
Simply download your target language (French of course) to your tablet or smartphone and make sure you have selected the offline version before you leave home.
This way you won’t have to rely on a good internet connection in order to use its functionality.
One of the most useful features of the app is its ability to translate words that it sees through the camera.
Just point it at that menu and voilà, you will at last be able to make a food selection with some authority!
At a more basic level, before you go, it’s vital to learn the basic vocabularly required to be polite in France. Politeness is at the heart of French society and I touched on this in a previous blog post.
Before you launch into a conversation or ask a question of any French person, be sure to say ‘Bonjour’ or, if it’s the evening, ‘Bonsoir’. Using ‘s’il vous plait’ and ‘merci’ go without saying and a breezy ‘Bonne journée’ or ‘Bonne Soirée’ always goes down well as you take your leave.
Naturally if you are travelling to France and you absolutely must be online while you are away, you will have checked before booking that WiFi is available at your accommodation.
But there’s WiFi and there’s WiFi. What if you arrive and the WiFi signal is too weak to pass through those thick old stone walls?
Stress and frustration ensues!
Depending on how critical internet access to you, it may be worth contacting your network provider to see if they have a data bolt-on you can use while overseas.
Some networks may even, for a daily fee, allow you to use your regular data allowance when travelling.
It is also possible to buy a data only European sim card such as this one from worldsim.com but for this to work you should ensure your handset is unlocked and ‘world compatible’.
If you’re using a laptop rather than a mobile device then a USB data stick may be the best solution. However, you’ll need to check that you have a good 3G network at your destination before this will work.
Lastly, have you heard of a Wibe? This is a Wireless Broadband Extender which boosts an existing WiFi signal. Mini WiFi extenders are available and well worth the investment if you are a frequent overseas traveller.
If you’re planning on travelling to France on holiday or for business it pays to do plenty of pre-trip research. That way you can enjoy a stress free trip and return home ready to plan your next visit. Happy travelling!