Area Codes -- The country code for France is 33 and the area code for Paris is 01. See “Telephones,” later in this section, for further information.
Business Hours -- Opening hours in Paris are erratic. Most museums close 1 day a week (usually Mon or Tues) and some national holidays. Museum hours tend to be from 9:30am to 6pm. Generally, offices are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm, but don’t count on it—always call first. Banks tend to be open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, but some branches are also open on Saturday. Large stores are open from around 10am to 6 or 7pm. Some small stores have a lunch break that can last for up to 2 hours, from noon onward, but this is becoming increasingly rare. Most shops, except those in the Marais or on the Champs-Élysées, are closed on Sunday. Restaurants are typically closed on Sundays and/or Mondays and many businesses across the city are closed in August.
Car Rental -- See “By Car” under “Getting There” and “By Car” under “Getting Around,” earlier in this chapter.
Cellphones -- See “Mobile Phones,” later in this section.
Crime -- See “Safety,” later in this section.
Customs -- What you can bring into France: Citizens of E.U. countries can bring in any amount of goods as long as the goods are intended for their personal use and not for resale. Non-E.U. citizens are entitled to 200 cigarettes, 100 small cigars, 50 cigars, or 250g of tobacco duty-free. You can also bring in 2 liters of alcoholic beverages less than 22 percent alcohol, and 1 liter of spirits (more than 22 percent alcohol). In addition, you can bring in 50g (1.76 oz.) of perfume.
What you can take out of France:
- Australian Citizens -- A helpful brochure is available from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service “Know Before You Go,” online under “Guide for Travelers.” For more information, call the Australian Customs Service ([tel] 1300/363-263 in Australia, or 612/9313-3010 if you’re abroad; www.customs.gov.au). The duty-free allowance in Australia is A$900 or, for those 17 or younger, A$450. Those over 18 can bring home up to 2 liters of alcoholic beverages.
- Canadian Citizens -- For a clear summary of Canadian rules, ask for the booklet “I Declare” issued by the Canada Border Services Agency ([tel] 800/461-9999 in Canada, or 204/983-3500 from abroad, under “Travel Tips”; www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca). Canada allows its citizens a C$800 exemption. You can also bring back either up to 1.5 liters of wine, 1.14 liters of other alcoholic beverage, or up to 8.5 liters of beer.
- New Zealand Citizens -- The answers to most questions regarding customs can be found on the website of the New Zealand Customs Service under “Customs charges, duties and allowances” ([tel] 0800/4-CUSTOMS, 0800/428-786, or 649/927-8036 from outside New Zealand; www.customs.govt.nz).The duty-free allowance for New Zealand is NZ$700. You are allowed to bring back 4.5 liters of wine or beer, and not more than 1.25 liters of spirits.
- U.K. Citizens -- When returning to the U.K. from an E.U. country such as France, you can bring in an unlimited amount of most goods. There is no limit on what you can bring back from an E.U. country, as long as the items are for personal use (this includes gifts) and you have already paid the duty and tax. However, you may be asked to prove that the goods are for your own use. For information, contact HM Revenue Customs ([tel] 44/0300-200-3700; www.hmrc.gov.uk).
- U.S. Citizens -- For specifics on what you can bring back and the corresponding fees, download the invaluable free pamphlet “Know Before You Go” online at www.cbp.gov. Or, contact the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP; [tel] 877/227-5511 in the U.S. or 202/325-8000 from outside the U.S). Returning U.S. citizens who have been away for 48 hours or more are allowed to bring back, once every 30 days, $800 worth of merchandise duty-free. Included in your allowance is 1 duty-free liter of alcoholic beverage, after that it depends what state you live in, so check with your state customs office for amounts.
Disabled Travelers -- I suppose you could blame it on its centuries-old streets, but Paris has only recently started making a concerted effort make itself accessible to disabled travelers (and citizens). While the city still won’t win any prizes for accessibility (tortuous sidewalks, few ramps at public facilities, endless stairways in Métro stations), there has been slow and steady progress in the right direction. There are now over 60 wheelchair accessible bus lines, several RER stations, and stations on the Métro line 14. To find the closest accessible stations, maps and more, visit www.infomobi.com (in English) or call [tel] 09-70-81-83-85. Many museums are now accessible; visit their websites for details. Several art museums offer tactile visits for the blind. Any hotel that has three or more stars (under the French national rating system, not ours) must have at least one handicap-accessible room. Hotels that are particularly sensitive to the subject may bear the “Tourisme & Handicaps” label. The Paris Tourist Office (www.parisinfo.com) has a good listing of accessible hotels on their site, as well as plenty of other info and links for disabled travelers. Click on “Practical Paris” and then “Leisure and Disability,” where you’ll find information on everything from cinemas and shopping to public pools.
Dentists & Doctors -- Doctors are listed in the Pages Jaunes (French equivalent of the Yellow Pages, www.pagesjaunes.fr) under “Médecins.” The standard fee for a consultation with a general practitioner (médecin generaliste) is about 23€. SOS Médecins ([tel] 36-24 or 01-47-07-77-77) makes house calls that cost around 50€–70€ (prices quoted are for people without French social security). To download a list of English-speaking dentists and doctors in Paris, visit the U.S. Citizens Services page on the US embassy website (http://france.usembassy.gov) and click on “Resources for US Citizens.” You can also reach U.S. Citizens Services by phone at [tel] 01-43-12-22-22. See also “Emergencies” and “Health,” below in this section.
Drinking Laws -- Supermarkets, grocery stores, and cafes sell alcoholic beverages. The legal drinking age is 18, but persons under that age can be served alcohol in a bar or restaurant if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Wine and liquor are sold every day of the week, year-round. Cafes generally open around 6am and serve until closing (midnight–2am). Bars and nightclubs usually stay open until 2am, but they must stop serving alcohol 1[bf]1/2 hours before closing.
The law regarding drunk driving is tough. A motorist is considered “legally intoxicated” if his or her blood-alcohol limit exceeds .05 percent. If it is under .08 percent the driver faces a fine of 135€. Over .08 percent and it could cost 4,500€ or up to 2 years in jail.
Driving Rules -- The French drive on the right side of the road. At junctions where there are no signposts indicating the right of way, cars coming from the right have priority. When entering a roundabout (rond point), you do not have priority; once you are on be sure to signal when you are about to turn off.
Electricity -- Electricity in France runs on 220 volts AC (60 cycles). Adapters or transformers are needed to fit sockets, which you can buy in branches of Darty, FNAC, or BHV. Make sure your appliance can handle 220 volts, otherwise you risk frying it. If it can’t, be sure to use a transformer.
Embassies & Consulates -- If you have a passport, immigration, legal, or other problem, contact your consulate. Call before you go—they often keep odd hours and observe both French and home-country holidays.
- The Embassy of Australia is at 4 rue Jean-Rey, 15e ([tel] 01-40-59-33-00; www.france.embassy.gov.au; Métro: Bir Hakeim), open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm except public holidays. The Consular section is open Monday to Friday from 9am to noon and 2 to 4pm.
- The Embassy of Canada is at 35 ave. Montaigne, 8e ([tel] 01-44-43-29-00; www.amb-canada.fr; Métro: Franklin-D-Roosevelt or Alma-Marceau), open Monday to Friday 9am to noon and 2–5pm.
- The Embassy of Ireland is at 4 rue Rude, 16e ([tel] 01-44-17-67-00; www.embassyofireland.fr; Métro: Argentine), open Monday to Friday 9:30am to noon.
- The Embassy of New Zealand is at 7ter rue Léonard-de-Vinci, 16e ([tel] 01-45-01-43-43; www.nzembassy.com/france; Métro: Victor Hugo), open Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm.
- The Embassy of the United Kingdom is at 35 rue du Faubourg St-Honoré, 8e ([tel] 01-44-51-31-00; http://ukinfrance.fco.gov.uk; Métro: Concorde or Madeleine), open Monday to Friday 9:30am to 1pm and 2:30 to 6pm.
- The Embassy of the United States, 2 ave. Gabriel, 8e ([tel] 01-43-12-22-22; http://france.usembassy.gov; Métro: Concorde), is open Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm.
Emergencies -- In an emergency, call [tel] 112, or the fire brigade (Sapeurs-Pompiers; [tel] 18), who are trained to deal with all kinds of medical emergencies, not just fires. For a medical emergency and/or ambulance, call [tel] 15. For the police, call [tel] 17.
Etiquette & Customs -- Parisians like pleasantries and take manners seriously: Say bonjour, madame/monsieur, when entering an establishment and au revoir when you depart. Always say pardon when you accidentally bump into someone. With strangers, people who are older than you, and professional contacts, use vous rather than tu (vous is the polite form of the pronoun you).
Health -- For travel abroad, non-E.U. nationals should consider buying medical travel insurance. For U.S. citizens, Medicare and Medicaid do not provide coverage for medical costs incurred abroad, so check what medical services your health insurance covers before leaving home. That said, medical costs are a fraction of what they cost in the U.S. (for example, a visit to a GP costs 23€), so you may even decide to do a little medical tourism (be sure to bring your prescriptions). U.K. nationals will need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to receive free or reduced-cost medical care during a visit to a European Union (E.U.) country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland (go to www.nhs.uk/ehic for further information).
If you suffer from a chronic illness, consult your doctor before your departure. Pack prescription medications in your carry-on luggage and carry them in their original containers, with pharmacy labels—otherwise they won’t make it through airport security. Carry the generic name of prescription medicines, in case a local pharmacist is unfamiliar with the brand name.
For further tips on travel and health concerns, and a list of local English-speaking doctors, contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT; [tel] 716/754-4883 in the U.S., or 416/652-0137 in Canada; www.iamat.org). You can also download a list of English-speaking dentists and doctors in Paris, at the U.S. Citizens Services page on the US embassy website (http://france.usembassy.gov) and click on “Resources for US Citizens.” See also “Doctors,” “Pharmacies,” “Emergencies,” and “Hospitals.”
Holidays -- Major holidays are New Year’s Day (Jan 1), Easter Sunday and Monday (late Mar/Apr), May Day (May 1), VE Day (May 8), Ascension Thursday (40 days after Easter), Pentecost/Whit Sunday and Whit Monday (7th Sun and Mon after Easter), Bastille Day (July 14), Assumption Day (Aug 15), All Saints Day (Nov 1), Armistice Day (Nov 11), and Christmas Day (Dec 25).
Hospitals -- In my experience, French public hospitals are very good. Most Parisian hospitals have 24-hour emergency rooms, some have a specialty (Hôpital Necker is the best children’s hospital, for example). For addresses and information on all Paris’ public hospitals, visit www.aphp.fr.
There are two private hospitals in nearby suburbs with English-speaking staff that operate 24 hours daily (and cost much more than the public ones): the American Hospital of Paris (63 bd. Victor Hugo, 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine; [tel] 01-46-41-25-25; www.american-hospital.org; Métro: Pont de Levallois (15 min. walk from station); bus: 43, 82, 93, 163, 164, and 174) and Hertford British Hospital, Hôpital Franco-Britannique (3 rue Barbès or 4 rue Kleber, Levallois; [tel] 01-47-59-59-59; www.ihfb.org/en; Métro: Anatole-France).
Hot Lines -- S.O.S. Help is a hot line for English-speaking callers in crisis at [tel] 01-46-21-46-46; www.soshelpline.org. Open daily 3 to 11pm.
Internet & Wi-Fi -- Many Parisian hotels and cafes have Internet access, and Wi-Fi (pronounced wee-fee) is becoming increasingly common in cafes and public spaces. Cybercafes open and close so quickly it is hard to list them, but the three huge Milk locations seem to be reliably open 24/7 (www.milklub.com).
Language -- English is increasingly common in Paris, particularly in tourist areas, but you’ll get much better service (or at least a shadow of a smile) if you at least attempt to use a few French words like “bonjour” and “merci.” For handy French words and phrases, as well as food and menu terms, refer to chapter 12, “Useful Terms & Phrases.”
Legal Aid -- In an emergency, especially if you get into trouble with the law, your country’s embassy or consulate will provide legal advice. See “Embassies & Consulates,” above.
LGBT Travelers -- France is known for being a particularly tolerant country when it comes to gays and lesbians, which made the acrimonious blather surrounding the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2013 all the more upsetting. “Gay Paree” boasts a large gay population, and for the last decade, an openly gay mayor, Bertrand Delanoë. The center of gay and lesbian life is in the Marais. The annual Gay Pride March takes place on the last Sunday in June. Information and resources can be found in Paris’s largest, best-stocked gay bookstore, Les Mots à la Bouche, 6 rue Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 4th arrond. ([tel] 01-42-78-88-30; www.motsbouche.com; Métro: Hôtel-de-Ville), which carries publications in both French and English. “Tétu” (www.tetu.com) is a national magazine dedicated to gay life; to find listings and events, try Qweek (www.qweek.fr), a website focused on Paris. The Paris Tourist Office website (www.paris-info.com) has an entire section devoted to Gay Paris (under “Practical Paris”) listing clubs, events, gay-friendly hotels and restaurants, associations, and more.
Lost & Found -- All lost objects—except those found in train stations or on trains—are taken to the Bureau des Objets Trouvés (36 rue des Morillons, 15e; [tel] 08-21-00-25-25). It’s better to visit in person than to call, but be warned that there are huge delays in processing claims. Objects lost on the Métro are held by the station agents before being sent onto the Bureau des Objets Trouvés.
Mail -- There are post offices (La Poste; ([tel] 36-31; www.laposte.fr) in every arrondissement. Most are open Mon–Fri 8:30am–8pm, Sat 8am–1pm; the main post office (52 rue du Louvre; Métro: Louvre-Rivoli) is open Mon–Sat 7:30am–6am and Sunday 10am–6am. Stamps are also sold in tabacs (tobacconists).
Medical Requirements -- Unless you are arriving from an area of the world known to be suffering from an epidemic, especially cholera or yellow fever, inoculations or vaccinations are not required for entry in France.
Mobile Phones -- The three letters that define much of the world’s wireless capabilities are GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), a big, seamless network that makes for easy cross-border mobile phone use throughout Europe and dozens of other countries worldwide. You can use your mobile phone in France provided it is GSM and tri-band or quad-band; just confirm this with your operator before you leave.
Using your phone abroad can be expensive, and you usually have to pay to receive calls, so it’s a good idea to get it “unlocked” before you leave. This means you can buy a SIM card from one of the three main French providers: Bouygues Télécom (www.bouyguestelecom.fr), Orange (www.orange.fr), or SFR (www.sfr.fr). A SIM card with a 5€ call credit costs about 10€. Alternatively, if your phone isn’t unlocked, you could buy a cheap mobile phone. To top-up your phone credit, buy a Mobicarte from tabacs, supermarkets, and mobile phone outlets. Prices range from 5€ to 100€.
Money & Costs -- Frommer’s lists exact prices in the local currency. The currency conversions quoted above were correct at press time. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com to check up-to-the-minute rates.
ATMs are widely available in Paris, but if you’re venturing into rural France, it’s always good to have cash in your pocket. Be sure you know your personal identification number (PIN) and daily withdrawal limit before you depart. Many banks impose a fee when you withdraw money abroad, and that fee can be higher for international transactions than for domestic ones. In addition, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. For currency exchange, look for Travelex (www.travelex.fr) counters at Paris airports and train stations, or try one of the few remaining private operations on the Champs-Élysées. They charge a small commission.
Visa is the most common credit card in France but international credit cards are widely accepted. Foreign credit cards, particularly those without an embedded chip, do not always work in machines. Check for hidden fees when using your card abroad—some bank charges can be up to 3 percent of the purchase price. The following number can be used to report any lost or stolen credit card: 08-92-70-57-05. American Express ([tel] 01-47-77-72-00; www.americanexpress.com) and MasterCard ([tel] 08-00-90-13-87; www.mastercard.com) have their own emergency numbers. Visa [tel] 08-00-90-11-79; www.visaeurope.com) lists the standard one for all cards. There are still shops, restaurants, and bars, often family run, that don’t accept credit or debit cards, so it’s always good to both check in advance and have cash on you.
Travelers’ checks are no longer accepted in many stores and restaurants, and not even American Express sells them anymore at their Paris office (though they do cash them at their Kanoo Change, 11 rue Scribe). If you are determined to use them, you can still buy them through American Express (in the U.S., www.americanexpress.com), but a better solution would be to buy a MasterCard Cash Passport (www.cashpassport.com), a pre-paid, reloadable currency card with a chip and a PIN number that works like a debit card.
For help with currency conversions, tip calculations, and more, download Frommer’s convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the “Travel Tools” icon.
Newspapers & Magazines -- The most serious and intellectual national daily is Le Monde (www.lemonde.fr), which is strong on both politics and economic issues. Le Figaro (www.lefigaro.fr) leans more to the right, Libération (www.liberation.fr), tilts to the left. For more local news, try Le Parisien (www.leparisien.fr).
English-language newspapers are available at kiosks across the city; the most widely available is the “International New York Times” (www.inyt.com), the former “International Herald-Tribune.” Nostalgics can still find the Herald-Tribune online at www.iht.com. WH Smith (248 rue de Rivoli; [tel] 01-44-77-88-99; www.whsmith.fr;) has a good selection of English-language press.
Passports -- Citizens of the U.K., New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States need a valid passport to enter France. The passport is valid for a stay of 90 days. All children must have their own passports.
Allow plenty of time before your trip to apply for a passport; processing normally takes 3 weeks but can take longer during busy periods (especially spring). Keep in mind that if you need a passport in a hurry, you’ll pay a higher processing fee.
Pharmacies -- You’ll spot French pharmacies by looking for the green neon cross above the door. If your local pharmacy is closed, there should be a sign on the door indicating the nearest one open. Pharmacists give basic medical advice and can take your blood pressure. Parapharmacies sell medical products and toiletries, but they don’t dispense prescriptions. Both the Pharmacie les Champs (84 ave. des Champs-Élysées; [tel] 01-45-62-02-41; Métro: George V) and the Pharmacie Européene (6 place de Clichy; [tel] 01-48-74-65-18; Métro: Place de Clichy) are open 24 hours daily. See also “Emergencies” and “Health.”
Police -- In an emergency, call [tel] 17 for the police, or 112, the European-Union wide toll-free emergency number. The Préfecture de Police has stations all over Paris. To find the nearest one, call [tel] 17 or go to www.prefecturedepolice.interieur.gouv.fr/English. See also “Emergencies,” earlier in this section.
Safety -- In general, Paris is a safe city and it is safe to use the Métro late at night. However, certain Métro stations (and the areas around them) are best avoided at night: Châtelet-Les Halles, Gare du Nord, Barbès Rochechouart, and Strasbourg St-Denis. The RER can get scary late at night; try to find alternative transport to and from the airport (such as buses or taxis) late at night or early in the morning.
The most common crime problem in Paris is pickpockets. They prey on tourists around popular attractions such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, St-Michel, Centre Pompidou, and Sacré-Coeur, in the major department stores, and on the Métro. Take precautions and be vigilant at all times: Don’t take more money with you than necessary, keep your passport in a concealed pouch or leave it at your hotel, and ensure that your bag is firmly closed at all times. Also, around the major sites it is quite common to be approached by a young Roma girl and asked if you speak English. It’s best to avoid these situations, and any incident that might occur, by shaking your head and walking away.
In cafes, bars, and restaurants, it’s best not to leave your bag under the table or on the back of your chair. Keep it between your legs or on your lap to avoid it being stolen. Never leave valuables in a car, and never travel with your car unlocked.
In times of heightened security concerns, the government mobilizes police and armed forces, so don’t be surprised to see soldiers strolling around transport hubs and carrying automatic weapons.
Paris is a cosmopolitan city and most nonwhite travelers won’t experience any problems, outside of some unpleasant stares. Although there is a significant level of discrimination against West and North African immigrants, harassment of African-American and Asian tourists is exceedingly rare. S.O.S. Racisme (51 ave. de Flandre, 19th; [tel] 01-40-35-36-55; www.sos-racisme.org) offers legal advice to victims of prejudice and will even intervene to help with the police.
Female travelers should not expect any more hassle than in other major cities and the same precautions apply. French men tend to stare a lot, but it’s generally harmless. Avoid walking around the less safe neighborhoods (Barbès Rochechouart, Strasbourg St-Denis, Châtelet-Les-Halles) alone at night and never get into an unmarked taxi. If you are approached in the street or on the Métro, it’s best to avoid entering into conversation and walk away.
Senior Travel -- Many discounts are available to seniors—men and women over 60. Although they often seem to apply to residents of E.U. countries, it pays to announce at the ticket window of a museum or monument that you are 60 years old or more. You may not receive a discount, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. “Senior,” incidentally, is pronounced seenyore in France. Senior citizens do not get a discount for traveling on public transport in Paris, but there are senior discounts on national trains. Check out www.voyages-sncf.com for further information. Frommers.com offers more information and resources on travel for seniors.
Smoking -- Smoking is now banned in all public places, including cafes, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
Student Travel -- Student discounts are less common in France than other countries, but simply because young people under 26 are usually offered reduced rates. Some discounts only apply to residents of E.U. countries, who will need to prove this with a passport or driver’s license, but if you’re not from the E.U. it’s worth carrying ID to prove your age and announcing it when buying tickets. Look out for the Ticket Jeunes when using the Métro. It can be used on a Saturday, Sunday, or bank holiday, and provides unlimited travel in zones 1 to 3 for 3.75€. SNCF also offer 25 percent off for under-26-year-olds traveling on national trains (www.voyages-sncf.com).
Taxes -- As a member of the European Union, France routinely imposes a value-added tax (VAT in English; TVA in French) on most goods. The standard VAT is 20 percent and it is already included in virtually all prices for consumer goods and services (you’ll know for sure when you see TTC, which means toutes taxes comprises, “all taxes included”). If you’re not an E.U. resident, you can get a VAT refund if you’re spending less than 6 months in France, you purchase goods worth at least 175€ at a single shop on the same day, the goods fit into your luggage, and the shop offers vente en détaxe (duty-free sales or tax-free shopping). Give them your passport and ask for a bordereau de vente à l’exportation (export sales invoice), which will have a bar code. Both you and the shopkeeper will sign the slip, and you will choose how you will be reimbursed (credit on card, bank transfer, or cash). Once you get to the airport, scan the code in one of the new “Pablo” terminals (if your airport doesn’t have one, just got to the “detaxe” counter). If your reimbursement is a credit to your bank account or credit card, it will be sent automatically once you scan the slip. If you chose cash, you’ll need to go to the “detaxe” counter.
Telephones -- Public phones are a dying breed in France, and may be obsolete by 2016. If you can find one, it will require a phone card (known as a télécarte), which at press time could still be purchased at post offices, tabacs, and supermarkets, or anywhere you see a blue sticker reading télécarte en vente ici (“phone card for sale here”). They cost 7.50€ for 50 calling units and 15€ for 120 units.
The country code for France is 33. To make a local or long distance call within France, dial the 10-digit number of the person or place you’re calling. Mobile numbers begin with 06. Numbers beginning with 0 800, 0 805, and 0 809 are free in France, other numbers beginning with 8 are not. Many public service numbers are now four digits, some are toll free.
To make international calls from Paris, first dial 00 and then the country code (U.S. and Canada 1, U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64). Next you dial the area code and number. For example, if you want to call the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., you would dial [tel] 001 202/588-7800.
Time -- France is on Central European Time, which is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. French daylight saving time lasts from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. France uses the 24-hour clock. So 13h is 1pm, 14h15 is 2:15pm, and such For help with time translations and more, download our convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the “Travel Tools” icon.
Tipping -- By law, all bills in cafes, bars, and restaurants say service compris, which means the service charge is included. Waiters are paid a living wage and do not expect tips. However, they certainly won’t mind if you leave one, and if you are planning on frequenting a certain cafe, it’s a good investment to leave a euro or two after a meal. Taxi drivers usually appreciate a 5 to 10 percent tip, or for the fare to be rounded up to the next euro. The French give their hairdressers a tip of about 15 percent, and if you go to the theater, you’re expected to tip the usher 2€ or 3€. For help with tip calculations, currency conversions, and more, download our convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the “Travel Tools” icon.
Toilets -- Paris is full of gray-colored, street toilet kiosks, which are a little daunting to the uninitiated, but free, and are automatically washed and disinfected after each use. If you’re in dire need, duck into a cafe or brasserie to use the toilet but expect to make a small purchase if you do so. In older establishments, you can still find Turkish toilets, otherwise known as squat toilets.
Visas -- E.U. nationals don’t need a visa to enter France. Nor do U.S., Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, or South African citizens for trips of up to 3 months. Nationals of other countries should make inquiries at the nearest French embassy or consulate before they travel to France. If non-E.U. citizens wish to stay for longer than 3 months, they must apply to a French embassy or consulate for a long-term visa.
Visitor Information -- The Office du Tourisme et des Congrès (25 rue des Pyramides, 1er; [tel] 01-49-52-42-63; www.parisinfo.com) has information on hotels, restaurants, monuments, shopping, excursions, events, and transport. From May to October it is open every day from 9am to 7pm (except May 1); from November to April it’s open from 10am to 7pm. There are several other offices around Paris: Anvers (72 bd. Rochechouart, 9e; daily 10am–6pm except major holidays); Gare du Nord (18 rue de Dunkerque, 10e; daily 8am–6pm except major holidays); Gare de l’Est (place du 11-novembre-1918, 10e; Mon–Sat 8am–7pm except major holidays); Gare de Lyon (20 bd. Diderot, 12e; Mon–Sat 8am–6pm except bank holidays); and Porte de Versailles (1 place de la Porte de Versailles, 15e; daily 11am–7pm during trade fairs).
Water -- Drinking water is safe, if not particularly tasty. To order tap water in a restaurant ask for une carafe d’eau.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.