Who doesn’t know France really! It is the country that lights up the romantic side in our brains with the French accent so soft and flowy it just makes your heart melt and every one dreams of visiting Paris with their loved ones to absorb the love in the air.
One of the biggest economies and a vast diverse country in the middle of Western Europe, France always has been an important country and offers so much to everyone, it is impossible to deny its charm.
My interaction with France has been confined to Paris which I visited 3 years ago and recently Toulouse which is in South and called ‘The Pink city’ owing to the colour of buildings which comes from the stone in the area with which construction of most of the buildings was done but the other interaction has been a bit more extensive because of my exes who happen to be French. Both of them tried to teach me French but unfortunately all I remember are the swear words.. 😉
France proudly boasts its contributions to sciences, literature, arts, film festivals, food, revolutions, wars and not to forget fashion and fragrances which we all love to no end. The country proudly boasts some amazing beaches while the north has the Alps. Basically whatever reason you travel for France can provide it and really well.
The Racism Factor
Everyone warned me of the snobbery of Parisians but my experience with the country has been very positive. I think greeting someone with Bonjour or Bonsoir softens the tone and most of the people were quite happy to help. With French the idea of nationalistic individuality is quite strong and they don’t like being herded into other categories, treat them that way and they won’t be harsh. The rest really depends on who you come across and how racist they are, caution is necessary.
In the south people are more chilled out and the vibe is much more friendly which I loved especially the people of Toulouse which seem closer to Spaniards than Parisians. I didn’t feel any discriminatory behaviour at all in fact people were really warm and sweet.
The Gay Factor
France is very proud of its liberal stance on homosexuality and equal rights and it is something very casual for people. I didn’t really feel like it was an issue in any sense. You will see plenty of gay couples or guy holding hands in Le Marais in Paris with tons of gay bars and clubs. France gets brownie points for being so nice to me in this respect..
Toulouse was equally supportive and nice with plenty of gay bars and gay guys. In fact I loved it more than Paris because the guys are somewhat between Spanish and French and while they have slightly darker hair the accent is that charming French that just make you feel snuggly and they are very sweet and friendly.
Value for Money
Depending on where you go the prices change quite a lot, Paris is quite expensive obviously especially Central Paris but the Toulouse was much cheaper in comparison. You need a big wallet to do everything in Paris that you wish but the same activities can be done quite cheaply in Toulouse so depending on where you go plan accordingly.
I visited Paris for 3 days which is definitely not enough and you need 4 to 5 days to see the very basic stuff especially if you want to see Louvre and other main stuff like Versais and Notre Damme.
Toulouse can be easily seen in 3 days unless you want to add Carcassonee or the surroundings. Since I visited in winter I decided to spend the time in the city and not go around t soak up more of the city.
In Paris, Le Marais is a nice area to stay with lots of hip bars , clubs and shopping and it is close to everything and with Airbnb it is possible to get a nice place and much cheaper than the hotels in the area.
For Toulouse, I stayed with a friend but I would recommend staying near Jean Jaures or Jeanne d’Arc stations because these will give you easy access to the city centre but to be honest it is quite a small city and you can easily go around without much time spent in the traffic or metro.
French food is sheer pleasure and the selection is mind boggling but beware you will put on weight because the original food is amazing but very heavy with loads of dairy and butter in everything or fats and of course the bread. But since you’re on holiday who cares!
I was introduced to snails by my ex and I am a huge fan and had it with every meal, mouth watering stuff! Paris has unlimited options for food from street food to fine dining and while you’ll love the restaurants with their amazing decor and food, the guys selling crepes outside stations are equally amazing.
Toulouse on the other hand is famous for duck and you can try it every which way here and absolutely delicious, you will fall in love! I’ve had duck and Fois Gras with pretty much every meal. My friends were very surprised that I hadn’t start quacking by the time I returned.
Another amazing love of my life is cheese and you can get every type here and I’ve had lots of Blue cheese which is my absolute favourite, drool drool!
Phone & Internet
Phone and internet coverage is quite amazing in France with perfect reception high up in the mountains and in cities. Free wifi is quite readily available and is generally quite fast. I used my roaming but if you want to buy sim cards, I would recommend SFR which has the best coverage, you can find more details here.
Cash & Cards
France uses Euro as currency and while the cities use card machines everywhere you will need to keep some cash as well. I’ve been stranded a couple of times where the card machines didn’t work and I had to go out and get cash so yes to cards but keep cash as back up. Contactless cards can be used here and there though it is becoming more popular now.
Cash machines and money exchange bureaus are also quite easily found and are easy to use.
- Learn some basic French and get used to the pronunciation of ‘r’ which is between ‘r’ and hard ‘gh’ and at times you will have to soften your r’s for the locals to understand you. Bonjour and Bonsoir are a great conversation starter and Merci really brings out a smile even though the conversation might be solely in English.
- The weather is as unpredictable in France as in UK if not more, prepare for rain and sun in the same day and dress accordingly.
- When it comes to food, don’t be afraid to ask the details of what’s in a dish because a pizza topped with frog legs is not everyone’s thing.