France

65 M
Population
Euro
Currency
When is the best time to visit France?
  • The very best time to go is from June to August (neither hot nor cold)
  • A good time to go is from April to November (if you pack the right clothes)
  • This is purely from a climate point of view of course.
Safety and security

Crime

For assistance in any emergency situation, dial 112.

Take sensible precautions against street and car crime. Don’t keep your passport, credit cards and other valuables in the same place; use the inside compartments in bags where possible. Carry your bag across your body rather than on your shoulder.

Pickpockets can work in gangs: one to distract you while the other one goes into your bag. Keep your belongings close to you in restaurants and bars. Don’t be distracted around tourist attractions and cash points.

Be aware of common scams used to obtain money from tourists, there are petition, 3 card trick and gold ring tricks which are all to be avoided, more information can be found here.

Thieves and pickpockets operate on the Paris underground, RER lines and at mainline stations, for example Gare du Nord.

There have been several victims of serious assault on the RER line B, which serves Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports and Paris Gare du Nord Eurostar terminus. There have also been serious assaults on RER line D, which serves the Stade de France.

Alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you’re going to drink, know your limit and take sensible precautions such as not becoming separated from friends.

Motorway journeys are usually trouble-free, but if you’re asked by another motorist to stop and you decide to do so, park your car in a public area with lights - like a service station. If you’re involved in a car accident or witness an accident on the motorway, use the orange emergency phones to ask for help.

Hiking, winter sports and outdoor activities

Check weather forecasts and conditions and make sure you’re properly equipped. Don’t undertake any activity alone, and consider hiring a guide for expert advice. Always leave copies of your itinerary with someone. For travel to mountainous areas, make sure your insurance covers you for extra medical costs, repatriation to your country of residence and in the départements of Savoie and Haute-Savoie possible transfer to Switzerland for treatment.

Observe all warnings regarding avalanches and where appropriate consider carrying avalanche search equipment. You can check the latest avalanche risk areas on the Meteo Alarm website. Conditions on roads in mountainous areas can quickly become difficult in winter. You should carry water, food, warm clothing and medicines in your vehicle.

For sports activities like skiing, potholing and mountaineering, and for sports classed as particularly dangerous (eg off-piste skiing, snow-boarding, mountain biking, climbing, ice-climbing, paragliding), make sure you’re covered by your insurance. This should include mountain rescue services and helicopter costs.

Read more about how to stay safe on the slopes.

Local sea conditions can endanger even strong swimmers on the Atlantic Coast. Many beaches provide lifeguards and warning systems (coloured flags) and you should always follow the advice closely. Get information on the specific Baïne danger on the coast of the Gironde and Landes departments from the Gironde Prefecture website.

Follow local advice if jellyfish are present in the sea.

Road Travel

Driving regulations in France are different from those in the UK. Always remember that the normal rule is to give way to the right each time you reach an intersection.

Using mobile phones with headsets or ear pieces when driving is forbidden.

Speeding can result in heavy, on the spot fines, and your vehicle and licence could be confiscated. The maximum speed on autoroutes is 130kph (80mph) in good weather and 110kph (68mph) in poor weather.

Many drivers undertake long journeys in France. Plan your journey carefully, taking into account unknown roads, weather conditions and fatigue. Make sure you take regular breaks.

Information on road safety and potential traffic black spots (in French only) is available on the Bison Futé website. Alternatively, real-time information on road traffic conditions is available on 107.7 FM in French and in English (Motorways radio – Autoroute Info).

To drive in France you must be 18 years old and have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. If you don’t own the vehicle you’re driving, you should get written permission from the registered owner.

It’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle and reflective jacket. The reflective jacket must be stored inside the vehicle itself and accessible without getting out of the car. It is illegal to cross, even partially, on to the hard shoulder of a motorway without good reason.

Keep vehicle doors locked in slow moving traffic and secure your vehicle when it is left unattended.

In-car radar detectors and satellite navigation systems warning of the presence of speed cameras or radars are illegal whether in use or not.

In 2015 there were 3,464 road deaths in France (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 5.2 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2015.

See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in France.

Road hauliers

There have been reports of burglaries taking place while lorry drivers have been asleep in their vehicles. Avoid parking in isolated or dark areas of unsupervised camping grounds or car parks. Consider installing an alarm in your vehicle.

There have been many attempts by illegal migrants to enter lorries while stationary or in slow moving traffic. Take sensible precautions against attempts to break in to your vehicle.

Heavy goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes are banned from driving on roads in France on certain days during the year, including all Sundays and public holidays. Dates are set by the French Ministry of Transport. Full details of restrictions can be found on the Bison Futé website.

British haulage companies and their employees should contact the Road Hauliers Association for further information about driving in France.

Camping Cars

There have been reports of burglaries taking place while travellers have been asleep in their caravans, mobile homes and other vehicles. Avoid parking in isolated or dark areas of unsupervised camping grounds or car parks and consider installing an alarm in your caravan or mobile home.

There have been many attempts by illegal migrants to enter vehicles while stationary or in slow moving traffic. Take sensible precautions against break in to your vehicle, particularly in Northern France.

Public transport

Travel to and within France can be disrupted by strike action. Check with your travel provider before you travel.

If you use an individual paper ticket on the bus or on trains, make sure you validate it in the machine on the bus or in the station. If you don’t validate your ticket, you may be fined.

First World War Centenary Commemorations

If you’re travelling to commemorate the First World War centenary, see this information and advice page to help plan your trip and make sure it’s safe and trouble free. Some sites will become extremely busy at certain times of the year, and some may have access restrictions.

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate. Due to ongoing threats to France by Islamist terrorist groups, and recent French military intervention against Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), the French government has warned the public to be extra vigilant and has reinforced its own domestic and overseas security measures. You should be vigilant in public places and follow the advice of local French authorities.

There have been a number of high profile terrorist attacks since 2015 across France. On 13 November 2015 terrorist attacks killed 130 and injured hundreds more at multiple sites across Paris. On 14 July 2016, 84 people were killed when a truck was driven through a crowd of people on the promenade in Nice. On 3 February 2017, a knife attack inside the Louvre museum complex in Paris injured a French soldier. The attacker was arrested.

There have been a number of explosions, failed explosions and other attacks in Corsica. Government buildings, restaurants, police vehicles, bars, a discotheque and holiday homes have been targeted. The authorities believe the Corsican nationalist group the FLNC are responsible.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Local laws and customs

You must be able to prove your identity either by providing documents when asked or within 4 hours at a police station. Identity documents can be a passport, a photo driving licence or other documentation provided by a government body.

Concealing the face in public places in France is illegal. This includes balaclavas, full veils or any other garment or mask that is used to conceal the face. Failure to comply with the ban is punishable by a maximum fine of €150. Under this law, forcing someone to hide their face is also a crime and is punishable by a year’s imprisonment and a fine of up to €30,000. If the person forced to hide their face is a minor, the sentence is doubled. The law does not provide any exemption for tourists.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.

Visas

If your passport describes you as a British Citizen you won’t need a visa to enter France. If you have another type of British nationality, you should check the current entry requirements on the website of the French Foreign Ministry and if necessary confirm with the French Embassy.

For stays of longer than 3 months, contact the French Embassy for information about entry requirements.

Travelling with children

From 15 January 2017, any child (under the age of 18) who is (a) living in France and (b) leaving France unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, must present the following documents on departure at the French border: (i) the child’s own ID card or passport, (ii) a completed AST authorisation form signed by a parent/guardian (Authorisation de Sortie du Territoire) and (iii) a copy of the ID card or passport of the parent or guardian who has signed the AST form. For more information visit the French Ministry of Interior website.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from France.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

If you’re travelling to the French overseas collectivity of Saint Martin or Saint Barthélemy, check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

If you’re visiting France you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC isn’t a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as French nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate. The EHIC won’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment, so you should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.

If you require medication while in France, remember to bring a prescription with you.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 for an English speaking emergency service and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

French overseas collectivities

UK health authorities have classified France as having a risk of Zika virus transmission in the French overseas collectivities of Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in the French overseas collectivities of Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy. Dengue fever is also present on these islands. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Natural disasters

Forest fires can occur anywhere in southern France during the summer months but especially along the Mediterranean coast and on Corsica. French Authorities may evacuate areas and close roads for safety reasons. Be vigilant, make sure you’re familiar with local emergency procedures and follow the advice of local authorities.

There can be risks of flooding in various areas of France, and avalanches in the mountainous areas. If your accommodation is near a river, check the vigicrues website to be kept informed of any potential flood risks. If you plan a skiing or hiking trip, check weather conditions and follow local advice before going.

Money

The currency of France is the Euro.

Take sensible precautions and remain alert when handling cash and credit cards in public areas and at cash machines.

Credit cards are widely accepted. You may be asked to provide ID if you can’t pay by chip and PIN.