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France - Facts for Tourists
Currency: The Euro... 100 cents to the Euro. Bills are 5,10,20,50,100,200. Coins are 1,2,5,10,20,50 cents and 1, 2, Euro. The Euro was introduced in 2002.

Language: French. The French are very proud of their language. Do not expect everyone to speak English nor get angry with them if they do not. If you will just try a word or two of French, you'll generally get smiles and assistance.

Temperature: Average in summer... mid 70's °F... some rain. There can also be heat waves and many buildings or hotels are not air-conditioned.

Bank hours: 9-12, 2-4 Mon-Fri.

Shop hours: 9-7... some shops break for lunch.

Things to buy: Perfume, cosmetics, gloves, Limoge Porcelain. If you make large purchases, better shops will give you a discount or a form to fill out. This form entitles you to a refund of the Value Added Tax, which is quite high.

Food: Considered the best in the world. One should try different kinds of food here, but when in doubt, order an Omelet or Onion Soup... always great and inexpensive. Almost all restaurants have a menu with prices, posted outside, in several languages, including English.

Drink: Wine is the National Drink. The house wines are always excellent and inexpensive... "rouge ordinaire" or "blanc ordinaire".

Tipping: 15% is added to your bill in restaurants. You may leave a few euros (up to 10%) more for good service. Taxies expect 10% or more. Leave money for the maid in your hotel. A "service charge" is required in public toilets. The lady who cleans the toilets will have a dish at the entrance. There will be one coin on it, or a posted sign, to let you know how much is required.

Museums: Most museums in France are closed on Tuesdays and are free on Sundays. Paris has so many museums that many are beginning to alter their closing days between Monday and Tuesday. Senior citizens get a 40% discount. A Museum Pass is available.

The people of Paris: Living in Paris is an expensive, difficult struggle and this may show on the faces of the people. This is one reason many Americans sometimes think the French are arrogant. The Parisians are, however, fiercely proud and protective of their beautiful (although dirty) city. Show them by your attitude that you also feel something special about Paris and they'll respond accordingly. Keep in mind that the French dislike anyone who is loud and demanding. And never ask a Frenchman a question without first saying "Bon Jour".
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Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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