France is one of the largest countries in Europe and the most popular tourist destination worldwide. This beautiful country was home to Napoleon Bonaparte, Marie Curie, Coco Chanel, and Voltaire to name only a fraction of the great inventors, scientists, engineers, politicians, emperors, artists, musicians, and world explorers this country counts. Thanks to French inventors, we have the hot air balloon, the hair dryer, photography, and motion pictures.
Today, France is a leading part of the European Union, has a stable and strong economy and its people are proud of their world heritage, French cuisine, culture, and especially their language. And believe it or not but French was once the official language of Great Britain, from 1066 to 1362, and the shortest reign of all time was by Louis XIX, for only 20 minutes.
I am not sure how much time you would need to just discover Paris to experience it in all that it has to offer, and whatever direction you travel on, the regions from the Britanny to the French Alps and all the way to the Mediterranean coast are full with historic sites, lush forests, quaint villages, and cultural uniqueness. It seems you would need a lifetime to get to know it all.
🇫🇷 Entry requirements for France
- Visa: Valid Schengen visa.
- Insurance: Travel health insurance that matches the Schengen requirements. Your insurance policy needs a minimum amount of 30,000 Euros of emergency cover.
- Additional documents: A return ticket or traveling onward ticket, hotel bookings for the entire stay, or funds.
🌱 Travel health insurance for France
🏡 How to find a place
- Airbnb: When searching on Airbnb for an apartment in Paris, you can find beautiful places on Airbnb but don't be surprised by the price tag. In the summer months, The average price on Airbnb for a private apartment is around 250 Euro per night for a short-term visit. When looking for an entire month, prices are around 1,200 to 2,000 Euro. Apartments are often tiny and more like 1-bedroom studios with separate (tiny) kitchens. In autumn, for example in October, prices drop down to 1,500 on average, and in winter, you can find tiny apartments for around 1,000 to 1,500 Euro.
- Facebook: Paris Apartments/Rooms/Houses for Rent with more than 11,000 members, if you are looking for mid-term or long-term rental, check out this group Apartments in Paris: Long term and Medium Term - RentalExpats.
- Coliving: If you are on a budget and still want to enjoy and work from Paris, check out the coliving options. The prices are similar to the rentals on Airbnb but you have a workspace and ideally a community included in the price. Check out Coco Coliving, or Wellow House, both offer accommodation and coworking access for less than 900 Euro per month.
✈️ How to get to France
- Paris: France is connected with the entire world, and the national carrier Air France operates on every continent. Paris is huge and offers 2 international airports, the main one is Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), and the second is Paris Orly Airport (ORY). When arriving in France with a major national carrier, for example, British Airways or Emirates, you will probably arrive in CDG, whereas low-cost carriers such as French Bee or Ryan Air will land in ORY. From CDG you can take the train for 12 Euro to the city, the bus which takes you to the Opera only, shuttles or taxis. A taxi into the city center costs between 50 and 60 Euro. Uber is available in Paris but it is not cheaper than a taxi.
- Train: France is part of Eurail, a train pass that connects many European countries via rail. When purchasing a Eurail pass, keep in mind that high-speed trains and overnight trains often need reservations in advance. Popular routes are, for example:
- Amsterdam - Paris: 3.5 hours
- Brussels - Paris: 1.5 hours
- London - Paris: 2.5 hours
If you are an EU citizen, you can purchase the Eurail global pass, if you are a non-Eu citizen, you can purchase the Interrail pass.
🚌 Public transport in Paris
- Metro: The cheapest and fastest way to get around in Paris is by taking the metro. There are 16 metro lines that stop at more than 300 stations. The frequency depends on the line and the time of the day but busy lines can run up to every 2 minutes. You can purchase tickets at kiosks, tobacco vendors, and self-service stations, as well as online. You can buy single tickets and tickets in bulk.
- Tram: There are 4 trams to choose from, and the tickets are the same for tram, metro, or RER.
- Bus: Paris counts more than 64 different bus lines, plus night busses.
- RER: Suburban Express Railway consists of 5 lines that link the Parisian city center with the suburbs.
🏘 Where to stay in Paris
Paris' city center is divided into 20 arrondissements, here are those worth checking out to stay.
- 18th arrondissement: Also known as Butte-Montmartre, this neighborhood is located on the right river bank of the Seine, and is famous for its Montmartre, a hill with historic heritage. Famous artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Amedeo Modigliani have lived there in the 20th century. Also, the Moulin Rouge and the majestic Sacre Cœur are located here.
- 19th arrondissement: Located next to the 18th arrondissement, you find the 19th, also known as Butte-Chaumont and Belleville, a green and calm district suitable for families and the elderly.
- 5th arrondissement: This district is located in central Paris, at the Rive Gauche of the southern banks of the Seine River. You find the Latin quarter here with its prestige high schools and colleges here, the University of Paris, the botanical garden, and the National Museum of Natural History. The 5th arrondissement is one of the oldest quarters in Paris with its Roman amphitheater, thermal baths, and Saint Michelle Bastille.
🧑🏻💻 Where to work from in Paris
- Hubsy Café & Coworking: This brand has 3 locations in Paris, located in arrondissements 2, 8, and 10. Hubsy looks like a café but you need to pay for the day, week, or month. A day at the space costs 25 Euro, a week is 105 Euro. You can reserve your spot online, too.
- WE ART from PARIS: Another space that combines coworking with creativity, We Art from Paris is your coworking space if you love to surround yourself with a concept store and artistic community. Month memberships are around 200 to 250 Euro.
- Greenspace Paris: Another cool coworking space is Greenspace, a modern community-focused space with different areas, flexible and fixed spots, a community kitchen, and events. The monthly membership starts at 320 Euro.
- Unicorners café coworking: A quiet café with lots of tables with sockets, and stable wifi, suitable for long work sessions.
- Nomade café: A cute little café in the 11th arrondissement with great coffee, croissants, and other pastries. You can work on tables, with stable wifi sitting on comfortable chairs.
- Columbus Café & Co: Maybe not the best coffee shop in the world but this place is calm, offers many outlets, has stable wifi and you can work without distractions. Located in the 11th arrondissement, Columbus Café & Co. would be a reliable neighborhood café.
🏘 Where to stay in Nice
- Vieux Nice: A very scenic and busy neighborhood, packed with restaurants, bars, cafés, and the go-to place for a fun night out.
- Libération: Just a stone-throw away from the shopping district of Avenue Jean-Médecin, you find Libération, a local upcoming neighborhood. You find the biggest fruit and vegetable market of Nice here, narrow streets and cute alleys with local restaurants, and chilled cafés.
🧑🏻💻 Where to work from in Nice
- Les Satellites: A local coworking space focusing on community and events, e.g. workshops, talks, and outdoor and after-work activities. The space hosts new members' lunches, introductions, and mentorship to make sure you feel at home and among friends as soon as you arrive. Prices are 100 Euro for 1 day per week, 230 Euro for 3 days per week, or 350 Euro for 30 consecutive days.
- Café de Max: Small local coffee shop in a quiet street with tables inside and outside that allow you to work from. However, it is small so space is not guaranteed.
- Caffé Vergnano 1882: Tasty coffee, friendly and quick service, small café as usual in France but if you find a spot, it is a great place for a work session.
🚊 How to travel around France
- Train: The long-distance high-speed trains are called TGV, and they cover many routes within France, connecting the major cities. TGV tickets come with compulsory seat reservations, lots of space, and wifi. A low-cost train is OUIGO, which covers the main cities, too but at a much smaller price.
- Bus: A good bus booking platform is Omio, where you can organize your trip, find tickets, compare prices, and see bus schedules. The major bus companies are Isilines, Eurolines, Flixbus, and Ouibus.
- Car: France has many beautiful road trips, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean road trip, the Loire Valley road trip, the Alpine road trip, or all the way to the Basque country, there are incredible nature spots, historic sites, and remote villages to discover. When renting a car in France, you will drive on the right side of the road, headphones are prohibited, some cities require a clean air sticker, and the speed limit on many roads is 80 km/h. You can find all major international car rental services in France.
🎖Must see in France
- Paris: It seems silly to have Paris on this list, of course, you must see all the things in Paris. Yes, besides the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral, stroll around Montmartre hill, sit on the stairs near Sacre Cœur and listen to the street musicians, have a glass of wine in one of the artsy bars, get tickets to one or two of the famous museums, visit Édith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and Frédéric Chopin at the peaceful Père Lachaise cemetery, and find unique pieces in on of the many vintage stores and thrift shops. There is so much to see, try, visit, smell, eat, drink, and experience in Paris that you will need to come back again. And again.
- Versaille: Around 20 km west of Paris you find Versaille, maybe the most iconic royal residence in Europe. Louis the Sun King, also known as Louis the Great or Louis XIV moved the government from Paris to Versailles which made the residence de facto the capital of France, for a short period of time. Every year, pre-covid, around 15 million people visit the palace each year. From Paris Gare Montparnasse you can take the train, it takes 12 minutes and tickets are around 5 to 15 Euro.
- Mont Saint Michel: The tidal islands in the Normandy is just a few hundred meters off the shore, accessible by land during low tide for former pilgrims to the abbey. Until the French Revolution in 1789, Mont Saint Michel was used as a prison, and since 1979 it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Until today, the abbey is a pilgrimage destination and you can find 10 hiking routes from different European countries leading to Mont Saint Michel.
- Normandy: The history-loaded region attracts thousands of tourists each year, visiting Rouen, the cliffs of the Alabaster Coast, or the abbey of Mont Saint Michel. The region is famous for its local cuisine, for example, Foie Gras, seafood, desserts, and cheese.
- Chamonix: Located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, you find a beautiful ski and hiking resort, called Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. You can use the cable car to the Aiguille du Midi which gives you stunning views over the area. Chamonix is the oldest ski resort in France located north of the Mont Blanc massif. You can combine Chamonix with the charming town of Grenoble, another chic place in the French Alps.
- Alsace & Strasbourg: The Alsace is a cultural region next to Switzerland and Germany, with the charming town of Strasbourg which is famous for its local cuisine which is somewhat based on German cuisine, for example, flammekueche, kugelhupf, and fleischnacka. The region is also famous for its wine, and beer. The stork is the main feature of the Alsace, and if you like the tradition of the Easter bunny, that tradition has its roots here too.
- Loire Valley: This 280 km long stretch in central France is a famous region for vineyards, artichoke farms, fruit orchards, and asparagus fields. You find many stunning palaces in the valley, for example, Château de Chambord and Château de Valençay, the Château de Montsoreau-Museum of Contemporary Art, Angers, and the historic town of Tours.
- Nice & Three Corniches: Located on the French Riviera, on the southern coast of France at the Mediterranean Sea, and at the foot of the French Alps, Nice is just an 8 km drive from Monaco and a 30 km drive from the French-Italian border. There are 3 cliff roads, Grande Corniche, the Moyenne Corniche, and the Corniche Inférieure, following the mountain stretch from Nice to Menton and offering dramatic views of the coastline and the villages. A must-visit when driving around Nice with a car.
💡Good to know
- Internet: The median internet speed for fixed broadband is about 113 Mbps download and 89 Mbps upload speed.
- Sim card: You can choose between Orange, SFR, Free Mobile, and Bouygues Telecom. A good choice is Orange, the former French Telecom, which has the biggest network and coverage. You can buy the sim card directly at the airport, at the train station, or in bookstores, tobacco shops, kiosks, and drug stores in town.
- Digital nomad community: France is one of the countries that might produce more digital nomads that leave the country than attract other nomads. Maybe because of the French people's interest in traveling, the size of France, and the many places you can go in France which makes it hard to have this one or two places in France you can call a digital nomad hotspot. You will always find digital nomads in Paris, and Toulouse, and there is a growing community in Lille and Lyon. The best is to check out the local coworking spaces, Facebook groups, meetup.com, and Eventbrite.
- Cost of living: Beauty has its costs, and France comes with a big price tag. Living costs in Paris will be a minimum of 3,500 to 4,500 Euro. The south of France can be even more expensive, also Biarritz and Chamonix. Toulouse and Nantes should be a bit more affordable, and for short-term or mid-term rentals, summer months are more expensive than winter months. On the other hand, France offers great internet throughout the country, an amazing food culture, history, art, and music scene. Quality of life is high and living for a few months in Paris is a wonderful European experience.
- Currency: The currency of France is the Euro.
- Climate: In general, France has cold winters and mild summers, except along the Mediterranean coast where you have mild winters and hot summers.
🚧 What to avoid
- Language barriers: Although French people often say they don't speak English, many, especially in Paris and other bigger cities, actually do. And it is much appreciated when you speak a tiny little bit of French, at least bonjour, au revoir, and merci.
- Impatience towards waiters: In France, there is a certain etiquette (thank you French people) in bars, cafés, and restaurants. Don't waive to your waiter to get his attention, he (or she) will probably come very soon. The French gastronomy staff go through many years of training and will probably serve professionally.
- Shouting: Another etiquette I really love about French people is that they speak fairly softly, compared to US-Americans, Australians, and other folks. It is actually nice to respect other people's space and be aware of one's own volume.
- Showing up empty-handed: This tradition is applicable to many countries, but especially to France. When you are invited to a party, either close friends or acquaintances, bring a bottle of wine or a bunch of flowers. When meeting up during the day, even for a coffee at their home, bring some cookies from a local boulangerie.
🚴🏻♀️ How to stay healthy
- Rollerblading in Paris: Since the 1990s, Parisians meet up at the Gare Montparnasse at 9:30 pm and cruise through the capital on rollerblades, skateboards, bicycles, or roller skates. The Pari Roller event is free, and a fun way to meet old friends, or new people, and get together with coworkers or family.
- Hiking around Paris: You find several hikes around Paris, many of which are accessible by train from the city's train stations. There is a hike from Perray-en-Yvelines to Gazeran, a 20 km trail that might take around 5 hours of hiking. You can access the trailhead from Gare Montparnasse in Paris by a 1-hour train ride to Perray. Another hike close to Paris is from Bois-Le-Roi to Fontainebleau via the forest, an 11 km hike which takes probably 4 hours. From Garde de Lyon station in Paris, take the train to Bois Le Roi (32 minutes).
- Cycling in Paris: Why not combine sightseeing with cycling? There are endless tours you can choose from, for example, the traditional cycling sightseeing tour along the Seine starting at Place de l’Alma which gives a great view of the Eiffel Tower. You find the itinerary and 3 other routes here.
- Hiking: French are die-hard hikers, according to the Lonely Planet, which comes thanks to the rich diversity in the landscape which makes hiking a fun activity. From the Normandy to French Alps, the wetlands, the forests, and the coastline, there are many hiking opportunities in every region. Check out these 10 hikes by Lonely Planet.
- Skiing: You can find everything from entry-level slopes to Olympic world-class pists in the French Alps. Reliable winter ski resorts can be found in Meribel, Courchevel, Val d'Isere, Chamonix, and the Portes du Soleil for cross-country skiing between France and Switzerland. Check out our article Snowsports & health.
- Surfing: From Biarritz in the Basque country to the Britanny, and all the way south between Nice and Perpignan, France offers surf spots on the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coast. The surfing hotspot is Hossegor, 20 km north of Biarritz in the Basque country. Check out our article Surfing & health.
⚓️ Long stay
There is no digital nomad visa in France at the moment.