Now, based on my title and you opening this article, you may have no idea of what France is like, or you may completely agree with the title.
I have a love/hate relationship with France. I miss it whenever I'm not there, but when I live there, I complain about it. Is that normal for every country you live in?
To understand France is difficult. It's complex. There are so many things that happen that all you can is, "Typical France". Honestly, I found myself saying that almost daily.
Now, what I will write about is based purely on my experience. Other people may have different experiences. I don't like to make generalizations when everyone notices behavior in a different way.
I lived in the south of France, Aix-en-Provence. I still call this town home. I first studied there for 4 months, then taught English for 8 months.
It's a town I will always go back to, longing to go back home. Being close to Marseille, where 1 out of every 4 is Muslim, I experienced things differently than someone living in Bretagne or Bordeaux. I love the amount of culture I saw- from French to North African.
Check out 10 tips you need to know before traveling to France
1. Know some French before you go
I can't stress this enough.
France has one of the lowest knowledge ratings of English in Europe. I don't know how I would have lived there if I didn't know French. The 1 school I taught in, not a single person could speak English.
They knew the basic words but that's it. But why should they know it? Their country speaks French. You are in their country so learn THEIR language. Don't expect people to know your language when it's not the common language.
It will make your experience better, being able to communicate with the locals.
2. French people are fashionable
Wearing your university's logo or sororities shirt will make you stick out like a sore thumb. People WILL stare. You will be targeted more with cat calls and harassments if you don't try to blend in.
I say try to blend in more to make it less stressful with avoiding all the unneeded comments.
3. Always carry cash
A lot of places either won't accept card or will have a minimum.
It's easier for you and the shop to handle cash. You could be stuck in a situation where you need something and can't get it because you don't have cash! To pay for a bus ticket on board, you need cash!
4. Don't split checks
Don't ask to split the check. No one does it or will do it. Just figure out how much people owe you afterward. Either put the bill on one credit card or refer to #3.
5. Know the type of people living in the town you are visiting or living in
Do some research on the types of people where you are going. Dijon is way different than Marseille. You'll experience different foods, different languages, different manners.
It's way better to read up on where you're going so you can enjoy all the city has to offer! Who would know that you can try local North African food in Marseille, if you didn't look up that in 2006 the largest nationality was residents of the Maghrebian origin from Algeria.
Places change all the time. Things happen in the world. Know what's happening!
6. Don't be over-loud
Nothing screams more of a tourist then being super loud. Now if you don't care about blending in, then go for it!
But to be more respectable and not looked down upon, try to keep a normal voice level. You'll get your rowdy teenagers here no doubt, but for the majority of the rest of people, it's a chill level.
7. It is more difficult to become friends with the French
I'm not saying I didn't make French friends because I did. But it is more difficult. The friends I made travelled a lot, were more open-minded. They wanted to meet internationals. Considering a lot of French don't speak English, it may be more difficult if you don't speak French.
8. Carry your student ID (if you have one) and forms of identification
You can get a lot of deals in some places if you're under 26 or a student, but you must show the correct forms of ID.
In the south, I could get way cheaper transportation since I'm under 26. I got a bus card but to do so I had to show my license and my passport. Or you could show your student ID and your passport. They just need a good photo of you from one of your ID's.
Definitely ask about deals when you visit places in France!
9. Don't bother renting a car
You can get almost everywhere with public transportation, which is why check out those deals!
You may have to take a couple of buses to get to Les Calanques, but it's worth the journey.
10. Eat all the crepes
Seriously, eat savory and sweet. Eat 2+ in a day. You'll miss them when you're gone...
If you have any other France travel tips, please share them in the comments below so we can help other fellow worldpackers on the road.
Remember that you can volunteer or do a work exchange in France by traveling with Worldpackers. It will allow you to have an even deeper experience with people from all over the world and help you evolve your French as you'll be constantly dealing with locals.