Helpful tips and cultural things!
Just a few helpful tips and cultural things to be aware of before arriving in France. The pace of life can sometimes be completely different to that which we are used to. Shop opening times, restaurant habits or even ringing home...being prepared means no surprises!
Since the 1st January 2021 Brexit marks the end of free roaming phone options. You should contact your operator to find out the roaming charges that will be applied in EU countries.
To call abroad from a French landline
When visiting France please be aware that if you wish to call another country you will need to add these countries specific dialling code. We have listed the main codes below. Dial with the appropriate prefix, dropping the first zero of the phone number.
- United Kingdom : dial 00 33 (0) 1
- Germany : dial 00 49
- Ireland : dial 00 353
- Belgium : dial 00 32
- Netherlands : dial 00 31
- Switzerland : dial 00 41
- Spain : dial 00 34
Eating out or having a drink in France – it is a cultural thing
Lunch remains the most important meal in France. Lunchtime service begins at midday and most restaurants will not serve you after 2pm.
In the evening, service will begin around 7pm. In most restaurants, service will stop at around 9pm.
Cafés are usually open from early in the morning until late at night. The age limit for drinking alcohol is 18.
Opening times in France - a few little tips
Traditional French shops are usually open six days a week from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to Midday, and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. In smaller towns and villages, the rule remains, and shops close at lunchtime. However, in larger towns or urban areas, shops may open on a non-stop basis or "en continue" in French. Many regions have out of town "centre commercial" which do not close for lunch. During the summer period (July and August) supermarkets in coastal resorts may stay open to 8pm (this can vary from region to region).
Sunday opening, however, can be a different matter as not all shops will be available out of season. Once again during the summer, coastal supermarkets can open on Sunday mornings from 9am-12.30am. However, do not expect to find shops with "24-hour opening".
How to pay for things while on holiday - card or cash!
Virtually all shops accept credit and debit cards such as Visa and Mastercard. Contactless cards are widely used for small purchases up to 50€.
You can also pay by cash in all shops. ATM machines are easy to find either in commercial centres or directly from individual banks. Obviously exchange rates will be charged and may vary so it is wise to check with your bank before leaving home. It pays to have some cash with you for small purchases.
Money transfers are also possible if you have your IBAN bank code available. This refers to the international banking number of your account and could simplify payments for large bills.
Internet and wi-fi access – for keeping in touch
Nowadays, the majority of people access their emails, social media or internet via their telephones. This could be costly if you are travelling so it is wise to see where the local Wi-Fi hotspots (free) are available. In the Vendée, most Tourist offices have free Wi-fi access or can provide a list of nearby Wi-fi areas and how to use them. Wi-Fi signs are usually green with white lettering. Hotels, campsites, and other types of accommodation provide this service, there can be a small charge for this service.