Best time to go: Spring (Apr-June) or Autumn (Sept-Nov). Summer is very busy.

Best for: Wine Route, Architecture through the ages, Skiing, Eiffel Tower, Disneyland

Capital: Paris (PAR)

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Language: French. Local dialects are also spoken. English is widely understood and spoken.

Dialling code from SA: +33

Time Zone: UTC / GMT +1 (1 hour behind South Africa)

Daylight Savings Time: From last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October: UTC / GMT +2 (same time as South Africa)

Side of the Road: Right

Plugs: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin plugs are widely used

Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink. Outside of the main towns, water may be contaminated. Bottled water is available.

Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended. Doctors will require cash payment regardless of whether you have health insurance. If you require any medication on your travels it is best to bring it with you, in the original packaging, with a signed and dated letter from your doctor detailing exactly what it is and why you need it. If you are bringing a prescription with you, ensure that your doctor uses generic names of medication.

Customs: French are very proud of their heritage, and appreciate attempts to speak a few words of their language. Foreigners often perceive the French as rude, but this is often just a lack of understanding of French culture. Meals are leisurely, so do not expect fast service at restaurants. Punctuality is not observed. People are generally addressed as Monsieur or Madame without a last name or first name. Topless sunbathing is allowed at most beaches, but nude sunbathing is restricted to a few beaches.

Local Offences / Laws: Unattended luggage will be removed and destroyed by security staff. Smoking in public places is banned and carries heavy fines.

Duty Free: France is within the European Union. If you are travelling from the UK, you are entitled to buy fragrance, skincare, cosmetics, Champagne, wine, selected spirits, fashion accessories, gifts and souvenirs – all at tax-free equivalent prices.

If you are travelling from within the EU, there is no limit on the amount or value of goods you may import, providing your goods are for personal consumption. Goods imported for commercial purposes are subject to duty and the following guideline amounts are in place to determine whether this is the case:
• 800 cigarettes or 400 cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg of tobacco.
• 10L of spirits over 22%, 20L of alcoholic beverages less than 22%, 90L of wine (no more than 60L of sparkling wine) and 110L of beer.
If you are arriving from a non-EU country, the following goods may be imported into France by persons over 17 years of age without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
• 4L of wine and 16L of beer and 1L of spirits over 22% or 2L of alcoholic beverages less than 22%.
• Other goods up to the value of €430 for air and sea travellers and €300 for other travellers (reduced to €150 for children under 15).

Prohibited Imports: Items which are either prohibited or require a licence include weapons and ammunition, drugs (other than those prescribed for personal use), live animals, plant products, cultural artefacts and endangered species.

For up to date Health & Visa information click here

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