ON THE GO
Traveling by plane
The national airline Air France (AF) (Internet: www.airfrance.de) offers connections to all parts of the country. Air France offers special fares for young people, couples and families on its domestic flights. In addition, there are regularly various special offers. More information from Air France and the French National Tourist Board (tourist offices, see addresses).
Note on air travel
In 1968 the French and Swiss governments exchanged small tracts of land at Geneva / Genève Airport (GVA) (see Switzerland, Travel – International) in order to create a French sector on what was originally Swiss soil. Flights between French airports and the French sector are considered domestic flights. From there, passengers can travel on to French destinations by car, bus or train without passport control.
On the way by car / bus
France’s road network covers around 1 million kilometers, of which almost 8,000 kilometers are motorways. There are more than 28,500 km of national roads (Routes nationales). Motorways are marked with an »A«, national roads with an »N« and country roads with a »D«. The main tourist traffic takes place in late July / early August and late August / early September. It is advisable to avoid these peak rush hours and thus avoid the kilometer-long traffic jams.
Many of the autoroutes are subject to tolls (Autoroutes à péage). The fees vary depending on the motorway. There is an extra charge for caravans. (A fee calculator can be found at www.autoroutes.fr). With a chip liber-t, foreign tourists can also pay the motorway toll cashless. Further information can be found at www.bipandgo.com/de.
At the petrol stations there is a wide range of services around the clock, many of which are free (toilets, baby changing tables, playgrounds, picnic areas, air for tire pressure, water for the windscreen wiper system). Unleaded petrol is indicated at the petrol stations by a sign that reads sans plomb. The Bison Futé card contains all kinds of practical information and is available from the Maisons de la France (see addresses).
AADAC foreign emergency call station is set up. It offers ADAC members and holders of ADAC foreign health and accident insurance assistance with hotels, rental cars, vehicle or patient repatriations. The emergency call station in France is manned around the clock (Tel: (04) 72 17 12 22. Internet: www.adac.de).
Environmental badge: The inter alia for Paris, Grenoble and Lyon necessary environmental badge can on foreign vehicles www.crit-air.fr be purchased.
Long-distance bus: There are only a few long-distance bus routes within France. The bus connections in local public transport outside the cities are relatively good. Information and timetables are only available on site.
Car rental: A list of rental companies is available from the local tourist office (Syndicat d’Initiative or Office de Tourisme). The larger airlines offer a Fly & Drive service. Rental cars can also be rented at major train stations and in cities.
The French Railways have a discounted rail / rental car service (Train et Auto) in their offer. Free rental cars are available for France Vacances Pass holders traveling 1st class. In addition, international car rental companies have reservation offices in all countries, where tourists can make reservations at special rates from their home country.
The minimum age to rent a car is 23 years for some vehicle groups. Some car rental companies charge a surcharge for those under 25. As a rule, the driver must have had a valid driver’s license for at least 1 year prior to the rental.
Caravan:These can be introduced for a stay of up to 6 months. Special rules apply to cars with caravan trailers, e.g. they are not allowed to drive on the Boulevard Périphérique (the major bypass around Paris). The parking of motorhomes during the night is regulated by law in some municipalities. In these cases, the municipalities provide the drivers with appropriate parking spaces. RVs are undesirable in the cities of Cannes and Menton. More information for motorhomes at http://www.eurocampingcar.com/ or http://www.camping-car.org/.
– Wear seat belts.
– Blood alcohol limit: 0.5 â?? °.
– Car drivers must wear fluorescent safety vests if they leave their vehicle outside of built-up areas and are on the road, e.g. in the event of a breakdown or accident. Wearing the fluorescent safety vest is also compulsory for cyclists outside of built-up areas.
– Children under 10 years of age are not allowed to sit in the front seat and must be transported in a suitable child seat.
– Red warning triangles must be carried for any breakdowns.
– Right of way: Generally right before left. This priority rule applies in the roundaboutNot often. The sign reading “Vous n’avez pas la priorité” signals to all drivers that the vehicles have right of way in the roundabout. The so-called Passage Protégé gives vehicles the right of way on all major roads outside of built-up areas. They are usually signposted with an »X« on a triangular background. Below it is passage protégé.
– During the day, you should also drive with dipped beam outside of town during the day. At the moment, dipped headlights must be switched on when it rains, snow and in tunnels.
– Parking and stopping are prohibited under bridges, in tunnels and underpasses as well as on yellow park edges.
Snow chains can be bought or rented anywhere. Speed offenses and other violations of the road traffic regulations are punished immediately with fines. Alcohol tests are common.
Everything you need to know about driving in France can be found in the brochure “Bienvenue en France par l’Autoroute” available from the Maison de la France.
in built-up areas: 50 km / h,
outside built-up areas: 90 km / h,
on roads with two lanes in each direction: 110 km / h,
on motorways: 130 km / h.
Anyone who has had their driver’s license for less than two years may not drive faster than 80 km / h outside of town and no more than 100 km / h on expressways.
Documentation: National driver’s license. For nationals of EU and EFTA countries, the car registration number is used as proof of insurance. Nevertheless, EU and EFTA citizens are advised to take the international green insurance card with them in order to benefit from full insurance cover in the event of damage. Otherwise, the statutory minimum liability insurance cover applies. The green card can also make it easier to record accidents.
Right-hand traffic / left-hand traffic r regulations
All motorists and drivers of two- and three-wheeled motorcycles are required to bring an unused rapid alcohol tester with them.
Traveling in the city
The urban transport system is excellent. The bus connections in all major cities are good. Buses generally run from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Trams, trolleybuses and underground trains like in Marseille and Paris complete the transport network. Lyon also has a rack railway. The world’s first driverless, automatic train runs in Lille, which also has tram lines. St. Etienne and Nantes have a tram network, and GrenobleTrolleybuses run to Limoges and Nancy. Single tickets, weekly and monthly tickets can be bought in advance. Good information material and maps of the respective route network are available. Parking is prohibited in many parts of the city center. Otherwise the parking time is limited (zone bleue) and generally chargeable (the parking spaces provided for this are marked on the floor (white-dashed lines). Chargeable parking garages (Internet: www.parkingsdeparis.com)) can be found all over Paris and on the outskirts. These have good connections to public transport. Traffic is often very heavy during rush hour (7.30am-9am and 5.30pm-7.30pm).
Paris has one of the best transport networks in the world. The Paris transport company, RATP, (Internet: www.ratp.fr) takes care of local public transport in the greater Paris area. You are responsible for the city’s entire bus, underground and suburban train network.
Métro: The dense network of 15 underground lines with 300 stations makes the Métro the ideal means of transport. When changing to the Correspondance signswatch out for the platforms. The names of the underground lines are based on that of the respective terminus. So you always have to know at which station the line you want to take ends at and then follow the corresponding signs. Do you want z. E.g. driving in a west-east direction between Balard and Créteil, you have to follow the sign Direction-Créteil. The individual subway lines are also numbered, but the numbers of the lines are seldom used to “identify” them. Overview maps of the route network can be found on the platforms and in the trains. It is worthwhile to use a so-called carnet instead of single ticketsto buy a booklet with 10 tickets. A uniform tariff applies. No matter how far you drive or how often you change, the fare always stays the same. Only a few suburbs are excluded. The metro runs daily between 5:20 a.m. and 1:20 a.m., an hour longer on Saturdays.
Tram: The T3 (Internet: http://www.tramway.paris.fr/) connects the Pont du Garigliano with the Porte d’Ivry.
Suburban trains: The RER’s fast suburban trains run on the following lines:
Line A: St. Germain-en-Laye to Boissy-St. Leger or Marne-la-Vallée;
Line B: Robinson and Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuses to Charles de Gaulle Airport or Mitry-Claye;
Line C: Pontoise, Versailles-Rive Gauche or Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines to Versailles or to Saint-Martin d’Étampes or to Dourdan-la-Forêt.
Line D: From Orry-la-Ville – Coye to Malesherbes or to Melun.
Line E: Haussmann St-Lazare to Tournan or Chelles Gournay.
A zone regulation applies to these lines. The fares are based on travel time or distance. An exception is the urban area, for which, as with the Métro, a uniform tariff applies. SNCF suburban trains complement the Paris local transport network.
Bus: The same tickets are valid as in the Métro. However, the bus routes are divided into charge zones (Sections). There are 8 zones in total. A 2-zone ticket is sufficient within the urban area of Paris. Two tickets are required for two, three or more zones. The first buses leave at 5.30 a.m., the last at 8.30 p.m. some lines run until 12:30 a.m. At night, the so-called Noctambus connect the center of Paris (especially Place du Châtelet) with the suburbs. Timetables are posted at the stops. The fares and tickets are coordinated with those of the private companies that operate bus routes in the suburbs. The tickets entitle you to travel in the entire metro, bus and RER network. The Paris visiting cardapplies not only to the Métro but also to all Paris bus routes and the entire RER / RATP network in first class. This does not apply to minibuses, special bus routes and the RER / SNCF suburban trains. The card is available for one, two, three or five consecutive days from the information centers of the Paris public transport company RATP, 54 Quai de la Rapée, Tel: 08 92 68 77 14 (0.34 c / min.) (Internet: http: / /www.ratp.fr/) available. They are also available in metro stations, the seven main train stations, airports, hotels and some banks. The Orange Carte,A weekly or monthly pass (for which you need a passport photo) allows unlimited travel within a week or within a calendar month in 2, 3, 4 or more zones by bus, metro and RER, SNCF suburban trains and some suburban buses ( RATP). Available in all suburban train stations, train stations and certain shops. Children under the age of 4 travel for free on the Paris metro and buses. Children aged 4-11 pay half the price.
Taxis:Passengers can get on at the taxi stands (marked with a square taxi sign in white on a blue background) or call a taxi on the street (if it is free. The taxi sign on the roof is then brightly lit and the little lights underneath are brightly lit) switched off). All taxis are equipped with a taximeter. Day and night tariffs are posted in every taxi. Extra fees are charged for trips to and from train stations and airports as well as for the transport of animals and luggage. Check cards are not accepted, checks are seldom accepted, and cash is essential. Information on taxi tariffs throughout France is available in the online tariffs section at http://www.artisan-taxi.com/.
On the go by train
The rail network of the French state railway SNCF (Internet: www.sncf.com) covers 34,200 km, of which 12,000 km are electrified.
The SNCF is divided into five local transport networks (east, north, west, south-east and south-west).
The TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) (Internet: www.tgv.com) runs at up to 300 km / h on the high-speed lines between Paris and Brittany or southern France and between Paris and Strasbourg. It reaches 270 km / h on the routes to Lyon and south-east France. For the Paris-Lille route, the TGV takes 1 hour, from Paris to Marseille 3 hours, from Paris to Bordeaux 2 hours and Paris to Toulouse 4 hours 8 minutes.
TGV Ouigo, a low-cost high-speed train, connects Paris with Bordeaux, Montpellier, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, Rennes and Strasbourg, among others.
TGV Atlantique, connects Paris with Rennes and Nantes in Brittany, with Bayonne and Toulouse in southwestern France and with Bordeaux and La Rochelle in the Bordeaux region.
Reservations are generally required, even if they are made shortly before departure. Tickets must always be validated at the orange machines at the beginning of the platform before starting the journey. If this has been forgotten, the traveler should turn to an inspector quickly in order to save himself a possible fine.
iDTGV trains (Internet: http://www.idtgv.com) are the low-cost version of the TGV trains. The network of iDTGV trains is constantly being expanded.
The iDnight (Internet: http://www.idtgv.com) is the night version of the iDTGV and is intended for travelers between 18 and 30 years of age. The iDnight has no berths, but has a drinks compartment and a disc jockey. The iDnight trains run daily between Paris and Hendaye and on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between Paris and Marseille / Nice and between Paris and Perpignan.
Buying tickets: Tickets bought in France must be validated at the orange validators at the entrance to the platform (composter) before the journey begins.
In France there are numerous special tickets for families, children and young people. In general, the fares are based on the day of travel and the time of day, depending on whether these are in rush hour or not. For more information, see the timetables available from the SNCF.
Fare system: The fares of the French state railways are broken down by color, the color of the travel start time generally determines the fare. The range of special tickets is large. For foreign travelers there is a wide variety of travel offers at affordable prices (Europass, Eurodomino, Interrailetc.), which you have to get in your home country before leaving. The SNCF information offices can provide more information. The following list is intended as a guide:
Blue (outside of peak hours): Usually Mon 10:00 a.m. – Fri 12:00 p.m. or Sat 12:00 p.m. – Sun 3:00 p.m.
White (standard): Usually Fri 12 noon – Sat midnight and Sun 3 p.m. – Mon 10 a.m. and on some public holidays.
Red (main travel times): Affects around 20 days a year on which all discounts are void.
Other offers: bus trips and excursions all over France, car and bike rental.
Ski holidays: The SNCF organizes in conjunction with theAFMASS (the French sporting goods retail association) package ski holidays. Booking is only possible in France.
Information: For more information on all the offers, please contact the SNCF. General information, information about fares and train connections as well as timetables are available from the DB, ÖBB and SBB agencies, who are also happy to accept reservations.
Picturesque train routes: between the cliffs of Vercors and Oisans, the train from La Mure meanders through the mountains to Saint Georges de Commiers. It is considered to be the most beautiful railway line in the Alps.
Reservation center: Tel: (+33) (0) 892 39 14 26 (charges apply). Internet: http://www.trainlamure.com/. Special prices for students and large families.
Tip for mountain bikers: there and back for cyclists. Travel times: Departures from April to October from Saint Georges de Commiers train station at 9.45am and 2.30pm, in July and August also at 12pm and 5pm, return trips from April to October at 5pm and in July and August also at 9.45am, 12pm and 2.30pm, the last trip just one way. Travel time: 1 hour 35 minutes.
On the way by ship
France’s navigable waterways cover 8,500 km (Internet: www.france-nautic.com or www.vnf.fr).
Excursion boats can be rented with or without a crew. The offer ranges from small motor boats to converted barges (Péniches) that can accommodate up to 24 people and require a crew of eight. In some areas you can rent “hotel boats,” which are large, converted barges with accommodation and restaurants. Price and comfort depending on your needs and budget.
House boatsare also an opportunity to discover and enjoy the beautiful river landscapes of France. With every lock you pass, you get to know the country better. A list of around 80 boat rental companies for river and sea navigation is available from their umbrella organization, Fédération des Industries Nautiques (Tel: (01) 44 37 04 00. Internet: www.fin.fr). Further information is available from the national and regional tourist offices (see addresses).
Boat trips are particularly popular in the north (northeast of Paris), where most of the navigable rivers are connected by canals.
The best routes are on
- the Seine from Auxerre to Le Havre (however, commercial shipping must be expected);
- on the Rhône (it is advisable to use a pilot downstream from Avignon. Viking river cruisessail on the Seine, Rhône and Saône, A-Rosa and Lüftner Cruises sail on the Rhône and Saône);
- in the regions of Brittany and Loire on the rivers Vilaine, Loire, Mayenne and Sarthe with their connecting canals.
Canals connect the Rhine, Moselle and their tributaries in the northeast;
in Burgundy, the Saône and many beautiful old canals flow through the country.
The Midi region (including the Canal du Midi, which connects the Atlantic with the Mediterranean and is a World Heritage Site) is also ideal for boat trips.
The website of the French Sailing Association (www.ffvoile.org) provides information port by port about the tidal coefficient.
State-operated car ferries, so-called BACs,connect the larger islands on the Atlantic coast with the mainland, they also regularly cross the Gironde Delta. A list of French ports is available online at www.mer.equipement.gouv.fr.
Passenger and car ferries operated by the Société Nationale Maritime Corse-Méditerranée (SNCM) (Internet: www.sncm.fr) operate between the island of Corsica and mainland France. The ships connect Marseille and Nice with Ajaccio, Propiano, Porto Vecchio, Bastia, Calvi and Ile Rousse.
Also in the Corsica Ferries program (Internet: www.corsicaferries.com): The Mega Expresswith reduced crossing times on the routes Toulon – Bastia, Toulon – Ajaccio, Nice – Ajaccio and Nice – Bastia.