Traveling by plane
According to top-medical-schools, the national airline Air France (AF) (www.airfrance.de) offers connections to all parts of the country. On domestic flights there are special fares for young people, couples and families as well as various special offers on a regular basis. Domestic flight connections that have a flight time of less than 2 1/2 hours and for which there is a direct train connection have been permanently canceled to protect the climate. These routes include Paris – Nantes, Paris – Bordeaux and Paris – Lyon. More information from Air France and from Explore France (Tourist Offices, see addresses).
Air Travel Note
Flights between French airports and the French sector of Geneva/Genève Airport (GVA) are considered domestic flights (see Switzerland, Travel – International)
Traveling by car/bus
France has a very well developed road network. Toll: The motorways are subject to tolls except for parts of the city motorways and around large cities. The French motorway companies ASFA provide detailed information. Tolls also have to be paid for various tunnels. Payment is usually made when leaving the motorway, in cash or by credit card. Some sections are paid upon entry, where you dump the displayed amount into a funnel. Electronic payment is possible via the so-called Liber-t-Box, which can be ordered online from Tolltickets. Petrol stations are available everywhere and are often open around the clock. Environmental badge: In France there are currently four environmental zones (ZCR, Zones à Circulation Restrainte) were set up: two permanent ones in Paris and Strasbourg and two only valid in the event of an air pollution alert in the greater Grenoble area and in Lyon. Crit’Air environmental badges (certificat qualité de l’air) are required to enter the environmental zones. In Paris, cars registered before January 1, 1997 and motorcycles registered before June 1, 1999 have access to the low-emission zone set up within the ring road around the city (Boulevard périphérique) on working days from Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 08:00 8:00 p.m. driving ban. The introduction of an environmental zone in Lille is in preparation. Environmental zones are also planned in Bordeaux and other French cities.
Right-hand traffic/left-hand traffic
Condition of the roads
France’s roads are generally well constructed and maintained.
France’s road network consists of motorways, national roads and country roads. Motorways (A) are signposted in blue and mostly chargeable (Autoroutes à pèage). National roads (N) are signposted in green and country roads (D) in white; both are free of charge.
There are numerous rental car companies in cities and at airports. Drivers must be at least 21 years old (may vary by vehicle category) and have held a driver’s license for at least one year. Drivers under the age of 25 often pay a young driver fee. The French railways SNCF offer a discounted train/car hire service (Train et Auto). Free car hire is available for France Vacances pass holders traveling 1st class.
Taxis are available everywhere in France.
Local bus connections outside of the cities are relatively good. Information and timetables are only available on site. Long-distance coaches that travel within France include Flixbus, Blablabus and Eurolines.
Traffic regulations: – Seat belts are compulsory. – Alcohol limit: 0.5 ‰. – It is compulsory for drivers to wear fluorescent warning vests when leaving their vehicles outside built-up areas and staying on the road. – Children under the age of 10 must be carried in the rear seat in an appropriate child seat. – Right of way regulations: Generally right before left. In roundabouts, this priority rule often does not apply. The sign with the inscription “Vous n’avez pas la priorité” signals to all drivers that vehicles in the roundabout have the right of way. The so-called passage protégé gives priority to vehicles on all major roads outside built-up areas. They are usually signposted with an “X” on a triangular background reading Passage protégé. – Parking and stopping is prohibited under bridges, in tunnels and underpasses as well as on yellow parking edges. – General obligation to have winter tires for cars, motorhomes and vans from November 1st to March 31st 47 departments in mountain regions: Vosges, Pyrenees, Alps, Jura, Massif Central, Corsican mountains. – Drivers and motorcyclists are required to carry an unused rapid alcohol tester with them. Speeding offenses and other violations of the road traffic regulations are immediately punished 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. Speed limits: – in built-up areas: 50 km/h; – on rural roads: 80 km/h; – on expressways: 110 km/h; – on motorways: 130 km/h.
The ADAC foreign emergency call offers ADAC members and holders of ADAC foreign health and accident insurance comprehensive assistance in the event of vehicle breakdowns, traffic accidents, loss of documents and money, and medical emergencies. The emergency number is available around the clock; In the event of vehicle damage: Tel. +49 (89) 22 22 22, in the event of illness: +49 (89) 76 76 76. The ADAC partner club in France is the Automobile Club Association (ACA) in Strasbourg, Tel. +33 (3) 88 36 62 62.
National driver’s license. For citizens of EU and EFTA countries, the license plate number is valid as proof of insurance. Nevertheless, EU and EFTA citizens are recommended to take their international motor insurance card with them in order to be able to enjoy full insurance cover in the event of damage. Otherwise, the statutory minimum liability insurance coverage applies. In addition, the international motor insurance card can make it easier to record accidents.
Traveling in the city
The urban transport systems are excellent. The bus connections in all major cities are good. Buses generally run from 5.30am-8.30pm. Trams, trolleybuses and subways such as 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 trolleybuses operate in Grenoble, Limoges and Nancy. There are single tickets, weekly and monthly tickets. Paris has one of the best transport networks in the world. The Paris Transport Authority, RATP, operates local public transport (buses, underground and suburban trains) in the greater Paris area. In many parts of the city center parking is prohibited or has limited parking (zone bleue) and is generally subject to a fee. However, there are paid parking garages throughout Paris and on the outskirts where parking spaces can be reserved online.
Locally on the way by train
The French state railway SNCF is divided into five local transport associations. Its rail network covers 34,200 km. The TGV INOUI (Train à Grande Vitesse) runs at up to 300 km/h between Paris and Brittany, Strasbourg and southern France. For Paris-Lille it takes 1 hour by TGV, from Paris to Marseille 3 hours, to Bordeaux 2 hours (InOui) and to Toulouse 4 hours 8 minutes. LGV Atlantique, connects Paris with Rennes and Nantes in Brittany, with Bayonne and Toulouse in south-west France and with Bordeaux and La Rochelle in the Bordeaux region. TGV L’Océane (InOui) connects Paris to Bordeaux in 2h4m. TGV Bretagne-Pays-de-la-Loire connects Paris to Rennes in 1h25. OUIGO trains are the low-cost version of the TGV trains. You travel between Paris and Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Avignon, Nantes and Lyon, among others. Your network is constantly expanding. SNCF Intercités night trains run on the routes Paris – Nice (journey time: approx. 12 hours), Paris – Rodez / Latour-de-Carol / Cerbère and Paris – Briançon. Reservations are always required. Tickets must always be validated at the orange machines at the beginning of the platform before boarding the train. If this is forgotten, the traveler should contact an inspector to avoid a possible fine. Buying tickets: There are numerous special tickets for families, children and young people. In general, the fares depend on the day of travel and the time of day, depending on whether they are in the rush hour or not. More information can be found in the timetables, available from the SNCF. Fare system: The fares of the French state railways are broken down by color: Blue (off peak times): Usually Mon 10am – Fri 12pm or Sat 12am – Sun 3pm. White (default): Usually Fri 12pm – Sat 12am and Sun 3pm – Mon 10am and some public holidays. Red (peak travel times): Affects around 20 days a year, when all discounts do not apply. For foreign travelers there are a wide variety of travel offers at reasonable prices (Europasss, Eurodomino, Interrail, etc.), which you have to get in your home country before you leave. Other offers: bus trips and excursions throughout France, car and bicycle rental. Information: For more information on all offers, contact the SNCF. General information,
The Interrail One Country Pass and the Interrail Global Pass are also valid in France.
Traveling by ship
France’s navigable waterways cover 8500 km. Excursion boats can be rented with or without a crew. They range from small motorboats 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”; large converted barges with accommodation and dining options. Price and comfort according to your wishes and budget. Houseboats are 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. For more information, please contact the national and regional tourist offices (see addresses). Boat trips are particularly popular north-east of Paris. Here most of the navigable rivers are connected by canals. The best routes are on – the Seine from Auxerre to Le Havre (although commercial shipping traffic is to be expected); – on the Rhône (it is advisable to use the services of a pilot downstream from Avignon. Viking river cruises sail on the Seine, Rhône and Saône, A-Rosa and Lüftner Cruises sail on the Rhône and Saône); – in the Brittany and Loire regions on the Vilaine, Loire, Mayenne and Sarthe rivers 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 Federation (www.ffvoile.org) provides port-by-port information on the tidal coefficient. Government-operated car ferries, known as BACs, connect the larger islands on the Atlantic coast with the mainland, and they also regularly cross the Gironde Delta. Corsica Linea (www.corsicalinea.com) passenger and car ferries operate between the island of Corsica and mainland France. The ships connect Marseille with Ajaccio, Porto Torres, Porto Vecchio, Bastia and Ile Rousse. The Corsica Ferries program (www.corsica-ferries.de) includes up to 30 ferry crossings per day between Corsica and Nice, Toulon, Savona, Piombino and Livorno to Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi.