The world moves in mysterious ways sometimes. Recently I launched a podcast for my coaching practice titled Self.Styled.Life. The feedback on it has been fabulous. And interestingly, because I’ve been sharing how Distant Francophile has been such a part of my own self-styled life, I’ve been getting a stack of questions about my love of all things French.
Recently I was asked to share a piece on my top French travel tip. But of course I couldn’t limit myself to just one. And given how many of you seem to be getting ready to travel again, I thought I’d share my thoughts here too.
French Travel Tip 1
Go to Paris – but don’t spend all of your time there. Paris is awesome and beautiful and one of my favourite cities on the planet. There is so much to see and do and the opportunities to soak up French goodness are almost endless. But I always encourage travellers to head outside the capital for an even broader experience of French culture. Head north for history and Camembert. Or east for Champagne. Or south for chateaux or even further south for Provence and the beautiful coastline. France is a big country and it’s fabulous to explore.
French Travel Tip 2
Catch French trains. From the Paris metro to the TGV (the high speed rail network) trains are an excellent way to get around. You can pre-purchase tickets on-line before you leave for France in order to get cheaper pricing. Or you can buy tickets at the very convenient vending machines at the stations.
French Travel Tip 3
Learn some French language basics prior to landing on French soil. While English is widely spoken, even outside Paris, it is worth knowing a word or two in French. Apart from making you a more polite traveller, it simply makes life easier when you are faced with signs and menus and instructions all in French. But don’t feel like you have to overcook it. An audio program or an online language app can be enough to get you started.
French Travel Tip 4
Pack light. Pack even lighter than you think you need to. Especially if you’re taking my advice on tip number two – you’ll thank me when you are lugging a case or pack on and off the train network. And although France, and particularly Paris are known for being especially stylish, don’t be fooled into thinking you need to pack a designer outfit for every day of your trip. For a trip in 2019, I travelled for 9 weeks with carry-on luggage only. And I had enough outfits to take me from the French Riviera to rural France and all the way to Paris with ease and style.
French Travel Tip 5
Don’t overwhelm your trip. It can be tempting – particularly if you’re based in a country that’s a long way from anywhere like Australia or New Zealand – to try to cram in every travel experience possible. Make sure you leave time to experience the joie de vivre that the French people are known for. Wander the streets, sit in the cafés and watch the passing parade. France is the vacation destination where less is definitely more.
French Travel Tip 6
Make the most of lunch. If you want to eat out, definitely consider heading out for lunch. Restaurants all over France seem to offer deals at lunch time – far more so than any other country we’ve ever visited. Check out both the menu du jour and the plat du jour – both are often great value when compared to an à la carte choice and will give you a real French dining experience. This lunch special concept also extends to Michelin-starred dining, which while great fun, can sometimes stretch the budget. If you’re keen to check out French dining Michelin style, lunch is absolutely the less expensive option.
There you have it. Six of my best French travel tips. I’d love for you to share your favourite French travel tip in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir.
P.S. I’d love for you to join me over on my new podcast Self.Styled.Life. If you’re curious to see what I’ve been playing with simply click here.