France: La Vie en Rose Online
Whatever you deem necessary to an unforgettable French holiday, you can find on the Web. Book your flight and a place to stay, research a world-class restaurant or charming French city, and let the Web make your vacation dreams a reality. France has something to suit nearly any interest, so you can wine and dine, laze on a beach, hike and cycle across the quaint countryside, or shop your way through Paris. The choice is yours.
What they maintain is simple yet coveted: the French insist that life's finer things, whether stately Bordeaux or delicate soufflé, are woven into everyday life. Accordingly, the days feel a bit less like days here. From vibrant Paris to idyllic Provence, France seems to effortlessly waft through hours and seasons. Whether you cross Burgundy on a bicycle or indulge in culinary delicacies at a Loire Valley chateau, you will surely find France intoxicating.
- Though there are a plenty of options when traveling to France, the Web provides enough specific information to help you put together the perfect package to suit your interests and budget.
- France often conjures up images of chic cafés, haute couture, haughty wine sipping, and luxury yachts, but it also caters to adventurous souls and nature-lovers looking for an active getaway. You can experience France however you'd like to, and the Web makes it easy to plan an individualized getaway.
- For a collection of France travelogues that may provide inspiration when planning your trip, try Travelers Tales France, edited by James O'Reilly, Larry Habegger, and Sean O'Reilly.
For an overview of what to do in France ...
is perfect if you are looking for a specific genre of French travel. Among a list of "Holiday Options" at the top of the page are "Fishing" and the ever-popular "Foodie." Lively feature articles and reviews of vacation packages set FrenchEntrée apart, as do the knowledgeable editors, whose insider tips are present in several sections.
, the official Web site of the country's government tourist office, is a worthy starting point. The "Destinations" section features interactive maps of everything from cities and regions to spas and golf courses. Troll "Special Interests" for links to niche vacation packages. A thorough "Practical Info" section should quell any worries over currency and climate, and includes a list of French government agencies in the United States.
is a print magazine with an online version full of travel inspiration via insightful insider articles and gorgeous photography. The site is a celebration of French culture, presenting the country's best art, design, music, food and wine in an elegant, easy-to-browse format. Consult the event calendar and Editor's Picks for ideas, and peruse the Travel and Culture sections to whet your palette before you depart.
, a sister site of Condé Nast Traveler, adds eye candy to make articles even more enticing. Take a virtual video tour of Paris and watch photo slideshows of several cities to whet your appetite (though pop-up ads are a bit distracting). If you're new to France, consult the "Fact Sheet" and the succinct "Why Go?" boxes introducing each locale. The usual hotel/eatery/attraction recommendations are provided, with particular emphasis on cuisine. You'll even find a two-day Paris itinerary
given by world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse.
works for travelers who are low on planning time. Select a city, then book the flight and hotel (or villa) of your choosing. Peruse the Frommer's hotel reviews and, if you've got a moment to spare, explore feature articles (under "Trip Ideas" on the left navigation bar) courtesy of GORP and Outside Magazine for insider scoops, like skating in Paris at night.
For cities or attractions of interest ...
provides links to official Web sites of French cities, which often help vacation-goers plan their stay, and points out little-known festivals and reasons to visit. The individual city sites are often in French but have English-language options as well; many times a British or American flag will provide the English version.
provides links to French city destination guides touting quirky anecdotes such as "Hemingway's Paris" and "How to Eat Sea Urchin in Provence." Each destination guide offers "Smart Travel Tips" for suggestions on getting around in each location. Also link to reviews of museums, theme parks, restaurants, and more.
is a free online newsletter with a colorful, fun format; sign up to receive it via e-mail, or browse the archived articles to find topics of interest. Click on photo icons to link to cities and attractions, which are highlighted in articles with detailed historical background. The e-mail version of the newsletter includes a French recipe in each issue.
takes a luxurious look at France with destination guides to Paris, Lyon, Provence, and Cote d’Azur. Use the interactive map to select your desired location, then troll the overview portion of each guide for suggested attractions, and to learn what is "overrated" and "underrated" in each locale. Separate sections touting recommended hotels, restaurants, attractions, nightlife spots, and shopping areas are included, so you'll know which fragrant jardin to include in your itinerary. Each guide also links to SideStep
, where you can book flights and accommodation. Forbes also grants you first-class access to the world’s loveliest “Destination Wineries.”
This feature article and photo slide show spotlights 10 favorites, including five in France, suggested by top New York City sommeliers.
travel guides are typically thorough and straightforward, without extra flash. This clean style is helpful when sifting through the 200 annual festivals and attractions on this list. Get event summaries, locations, dates, and links to official festival Web sites.
is a Europe expert, and offers a selection of articles on travel in France. He provides practical information without sacrificing compelling narrative. Take advantage of Rick's audio walking tours of Paris, or choose from two itineraries: "France in 22 Days" or "Paris in 1 to 7 Days."
If you're going to Paris ...
writers have lived in Paris for years, and it shows. Up-to-the-moment, unique tidbits, such as where to find the best used books and vinyl, make a close reading worthwhile.
is a newsletter devoted to the city that offers free access to content on its site, including a thorough "Paris for Beginners" section (scroll down a bit). "Hidden Paris" reveals unusual sculptures and where to get the best ice cream and tarts in the city. A shopping guide, an historical timeline, and a guide to Parisian French round out the offerings.
pulls you in with its "See France" video gallery. The six-part "A Postcard from Paris" series offers a refreshing depiction of the City of Lights, sans sugar coating.
The Paris Traveler
is a blog devoted to Parisian culture. This entry shows you how to shop like a local at 10 Paris street markets. Listings include descriptions, photos, hours of operation, and locations.
France has implemented a homeland security system called "Vigipirate Renforce." Travelers needn't worry but should remain aware of heightened alerts, and take the proper pre-trip health and safety precautions. You can make things easier and more comfortable for yourself by learning a bit of French language, culture, and history before you arrive. Knowing the context behind what you see might be the difference between a memorable trip and an unfulfilling one.
- Don't be afraid to speak French when you arrive. Although many people in France (particularly in Paris) speak at least some English, it is best to approach with a "bonjour." You can learn basic French online, but there is no substitute for real-life practice.
- To prep for your trip, find out what's new in French cinema, art, and literature. You might feel compelled to check out an exhibit, purchase a book, or see a film which could lead to an unexpected vacation idea, and give you something to discuss with a Parisian over coffee.
- This blog entry reveals an interesting take on French vs. American culture, including a reference to Adam Gopnik's memoir, Paris to the Moon.
For information on French culture ...
The French Embassy
's cultural services section provides information about French art exhibit openings, reviews of new books and films, as well as listings of French radio stations and TV programs available online and in the United States.
is geared toward students, making it especially helpful for first-time visitors of any age. The Go Abroad France Travel Guide discusses a broad range of topics, like the "People and Culture" section with articles on French etiquette, tipping in France, and French culture shock.
magazine provides a cultural calendar of events, as well as features of new restaurants, galleries, and venues in France. The "Best Addresses" section touts favorite eateries and hotels of the moment, while "Features" provides insight into the subtleties of French culture.
gives an overview of musical history in France. Browse artists and listen to tunes to gain a better sense of France's musical tastes. Each artist has a bio with photo, play list, and link to albums.
To learn French ...
offers fun, free, and quick French language lessons led by a tutor, including video portions and a MP3 audio guide to slang. Gauge your level with an interactive quiz and then get started with the lessons recommended for you.
provides a list of language schools in France; learn the lingo and promptly use it in real-life situations.
is written by Phoenix native, mother of two, and author of Words in a French Life, Kristin Espinasse. After relocating to Provence with her French husband, she started this blog. Entries begin with a French word or phrase, followed by a short story demonstrating its usage.
For French government and history ...
The Embassy of France
n the United States presents a "France in Brief" section offering basic overviews of history, foreign policy, and local and national government, in addition to cultural statistics.
's helps if you are thirsting for in-depth historical knowledge. From Early Gaul through modern-day France, you'll find it here, with book recommendations.
For regulations, health advisories, and entry requirements ...
The U.S. Department of State
Web site helps you tie up the important loose ends regarding passports and visas (and what to do if you lose them). Travel tips and warnings, as well as embassy and consulate listings are provided here.
For students ...
The International Student Travel Confederation
brings you the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), the only internationally accepted student ID card. With it, you'll be eligible for discounts and benefits in 106 countries. On this site you can learn more about the card and find out how to get one.
France is the most visited country in the world, so the only thing that might stop you from getting in is the crowds of tourists. If you are traveling from the United States, you will most likely be going by plane. There are countless airlines offering service to France, and you can usually find the best deal and book your tickets easily online. And if you'll be taking a train to France from elsewhere in Europe, the Web can help you find maps, schedules, and tickets.
- For general tips and sites for booking airfare, see the findingDulcinea Travel Guide.
- From the United States, you can fly into a number of French cities. Don't assume that you have to fly into Paris, as it may be more economical not to. If you are already in Europe, consider a rail pass.
- Many airlines offer service to France, but most flights from North America arrive in Paris at either Charles de Gaulle or Orly airport. You can fly from Paris to most cities in France in about an hour.
- If you're not going to Paris, you might consider flying into France from another European location. It may be cheaper to catch a budget flight to a less popular French city from, say, London, Madrid, or Amsterdam.
- Taking a train into France from other countries in Europe often costs less than renting a car. Rail Europe, Eurostar, and most travel agencies sell rail passes and individual tickets. You can also get to France from London via the English Channel Tunnel, or Chunnel, which accommodates trains, cars, buses, taxis, and motorcycles. Rates are dependent upon several factors; see the Eurostar link below for more information.
For air travel ...
Kayak consolidates flight information and fares from hundreds of individual airlines and online travel agents (like CheapTickets and Orbitz). Enter your flight preferences to get a list of possibilities. To learn exactly which airlines and agents Kayak covers, visit the "Providers" page.
flies from various U.S. locations to many French cities, and has more connections into Paris from European cities than any other carrier. The well-organized site allows for quick and easy navigation.
offers daily flights to Paris from several major U.S. cities, and helps you book hotels, cars, and vacation packages. AA.com's Net SAAver feature sends special offer alerts directly to your inbox.
For train service ...
is the place to read about and purchase various types of rail passes for travel in France, and between France and other countries. "France Rail 'n Drive" is an appealing combination of two days unlimited train travel with two days unlimited mileage car rental.
offers direct rail service from the United Kingdom to Paris, Lille, Calais, Disneyland Resort Paris, and Avignon on ultra-fast trains with sleek interiors. Check-in is promised to be quick and painless.
As long as you have a good idea of where you'd like to go in France, finding accommodation should be a breeze. If you'll be near the water, try camping. Want wine? A chateau may be your best bet. If you're planning to hit a cluster of cities, consider hostels. Many Web sites offer traveler-written reviews, and visual features such as videos and photos to give you more confidence when you book your stay.
- The findingDulcinea Travel Guide offers plenty of general advice and helpful Web sites for booking your accommodations.
- You can take your pick of accommodation options in France: classic chateau, modern hotel, budget hostel ... the endless choices demand that you have a good idea of what you want (and what you want to spend) before you begin your search.
- French hotel rooms are typically much smaller than their American counterparts. Keep this in mind when you are booking-and packing!
- The French government ranks its hotels and campsites with a star system. Camping is very popular in France, and may be a good way to meet other European travelers. Some four-star campsites are quite luxurious, with pools and furnished tents.
- As you peruse the sites we've mentioned in other sections, be on the lookout for accommodation tips and deals. For example, Paris Notes maintains this list of one of the contributor's favorite Paris hotels.
For general accommodation information ...
BootsnAll Travel Network
provides extensive hotel listings for numerous French cities. You can view photos, read a description and list of facilities, check availability, and book online.
, the Accommodation Search Engine, is a quick way to find a place to stay. Enter a city or town and a list of varied accommodation options, from B&Bs to luxury hotels, pops up for your perusal.
De Particulier a Particulier
is a Paris-based agency that lets you browse listings of seasonal apartment and home rentals all over France. Prices and contact information are provided. The agency also distributes real estate magazines in Paris.
is led by former Expedia Europe executives, and takes you inside hotels in major European cities via professionally filmed videos. Paris is the only French city included on TVtrip, but there are several dozen Paris hotel videos from which to choose. With just a click, you can also check rates and availability for hotels featured on the site.
For budget-friendly options ...
lists 10,000 campsites along with accompanying Web sites when available. Campsites are organized by region, via interactive map, and by number of stars.
will make you grateful for its hostel reviews, and for the photos accompanying each hostel listing, as you sift through numerous options. Search by region or city to find a list of nearby hostels as well as comments and tips from other travelers.
stands for Backpackers' Ultimate Guide, and the site's France section offers tips and advice on how to see the country on the cheap. BUG staffers willingly share some under-the-radar attractions they've stumbled upon, and provide very up-to-date hostel reviews.
For luxury accommodation...
is the site of the West Indies Management Company, which has been helping travelers find and book private luxury villas and boutique hotels for 20 years. To find villas in France, use the search tool, located in the top left sidebar. Every villa on the site has been visited by an experienced Wimco staffer, and is described in detail. Create a vacation profile to keep track of your vacation dates and villas you are considering. You can also request the availability of any property, and a Wimco agent will contact you.
leans toward luxe, so it’s no surprise that the site has compiled a list of villa renting tips, along with a photo slide show of “Ten Amazing Villas” around the world. This feature includes essential considerations to make regarding villa location and seasonal travel, and details amenities you can expect to find at a typical villa. Forbes also helps travelers find luxury hotels in France
, providing listings with thorough reviews and property descriptions.
For reviews ...
has a collection of reviews written by travelers, accompanied by photos and booking information. Each review includes a narrative description and overall ratings.
If the thought of traveling in a foreign country seems daunting, settle your nerves by planning in advance. Trains, car rentals, buses, and car-pooling are all available in France, and you can book everything on the Web. Once you arrive, be open to suggestions from other travelers and residents. Keep an open mind, as getting lost might mean stumbling upon unexpected gems.
- France has an efficient rail system that can take you directly into city centers, thus avoiding the hassle of taxis and lines at the airport.
- Hitchhiking is more common and acceptable in France, and in Europe in general, than it is in the United States. If you'd prefer a bit more stability, try a ride-sharing agency such as Allo Stop (see the "Carpooling in Europe" link on the homepage).
- Renting a car and planning a road trip of your own is another possibility. If you want to be behind the wheel, you can rent a car from one of several agencies, or get a short-term lease for the duration of your trip.
For rail travel ...
French National Railroads
' official Web site provides timetables, fares, and booking information for train travel within France.
helps you purchase rail passes for travel in France, and between France and other countries. This is perhaps the most convenient, cost-efficient way to see France.
For driving around France ...
has a comforting page called "France by Car" that takes the mystery out of driving in France. Practical driving information about roads, road signs, traffic, parking, and mapping your trip is provided. Links to car rental agencies in France are also listed.
furnishes this list of Web sites for car rental options in France. Although we do not typically recommend About.com because of its poor design and tendency to intersperse ads and paid links with its content, this entry is uncharacteristically clear. You'll find summaries of what each company offers, including long-term rentals and insurance options.
provides long-term Europe car rentals, as well as tax-free, short-term car leases in a program operated by French carmaker Renault.
is an inexpensive option for solo travelers. This Canadian company sets up drivers and passengers for road trips around Europe-a bit like planned hitch-hiking-and makes sure there are at least two passengers riding with any given driver, so you don't have to worry about being alone with a stranger at the wheel. Allo Stop has offices in a dozen cities in France, with contact information provided.
has a Web-based ride-sharing agency. You may offer to drive or search for a driver. Often the price of gas is split between driver and passenger(s).
For maps ...
presents three different interactive maps of France, including a satellite version. Zoom in on the Hybrid map to view smaller cities, highways, and street names.
, the public transit authority for Paris, provides maps, timetables, and other information for the Paris Metro. You'll also find bus and tramway information.
You won't find the first-person sights, smells, sounds, and emotions of a place in most guidebooks. Whether they describe a vomit-inducing meal or tantalizing stretch of beach, other travelers' accounts are windows into destinations. Try reading a newspaper's travel section online (The New York Times, Washington Post, South Florida Sun Sentinel, and San Francisco Chronicle all have good ones) for archived destination pieces. Blogs and travel narratives delve even deeper.
- User experiences can be highly subjective, so be sure to consult a variety of sources and opinions and don't judge a place too quickly.
- Travel forums are helpful if you want direct feedback and personalized advice from other travelers. Use your discretion before you take someone's advice, however; read their previous posts and try to gain a better sense of their opinions and travel style.
- In the sidebars of most blogs you'll usually find blogrolls, which are lists of links to other blogs. If you like a blog, it might be worthwhile to check out its blogroll for other similarly veined sites.
- Another way to find useful travel blogs is to use a blog-specific search engine such as Technorati or BlogPulse.
- See our findingDulcinea Blog Guide for more advice and information about how to find and use blogs (and even write your own).
For general information about France ...
has a France travel forum where you can post questions and receive answers from France locals and other travelers. There are nearly 1 million members of VirtualTourist, so you can look forward to a diverse selection of replies.
has a forum for travel in France where you can ask questions and receive advice from other travelers. You can also post an online travel diary, with written entries and photos, to make it easier for your friends and family to keep up with your journeys.
brings together several writers to contribute to this France blog. A diverse mix of opinions and a broad spectrum of articles, photos, and France travel anecdotes are included.
For Paris ...
The Paris Blog
is a group effort by more than two dozen expatriates living in Paris. Entries are thoughtful and wide-ranging, and are separated into themes such as Family and Politics. Especially insightful are entries listed in "The French" section, which focuses on cultural differences between France and America. Photos, videos, and illustrations add flavor.
The Paris Traveler
is the voice of an American woman living in the City of Lights. She gives lively cultural commentary with helpful insider scoops, like how to park your car in Paris and where to take a cooking class. Scroll down and to the right for a long list of subtopics that will take you from "Interesting Locals" to "Performing Arts." The "Travel Tips" category is especially helpful.
is a BootsnAll Network blog written by travel and food writer Chris Card Fuller. Discussions of current events and life in Paris in a friendly, encouraging voice are supplemented by tips and advice.
For blogs about food and eating in France ...
Rick Steves' Web site
has a forum called "Food Lovers' France," where travelers can post comments related to food and restaurants in France. Read posts for names and addresses of eateries, as well as for unusual tips, including "Paris for picky eaters."
Chocolate and Zucchini
is a charming blog written by Clotilde Dusoulier, a Parisian with an insatiable love for food and cooking. She shares recipes, tips, and anecdotes about restaurants, chefs, and all things cuisine in Paris and beyond in a girl-next-door kind of way.
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