Practical Information

Accessibility

People of all ages with visual, hearing or mobility impairments can fully enjoy business and leisure time in Paris. More information on accessibility in the city can be found here: http://en.parisinfo.com/what-to-do-in-paris/info/guides/leisure-and-disability

Banking

There are a multitude of banks in Paris, both French and foreign. They are generally open from 9:00 to 17:00 or 18:00, from Monday to Friday, sometimes from Tuesday to Saturday. Certain branches may close at lunchtime, between 12.30 and 14:00. Even though you may find some banks who will accept your currency in exchange for euros, you are more likely to come across exchange bureau, which specialize in this type of transaction. Make sure you have your ID with you.

Your credit card will enable you to withdraw cash in euros 24 hours a day at the hundreds of automatic cashpoints in the city. They often give you the choice of instructions in French, English or other languages. Make sure you check beforehand with your own bank however, because you may be charged for this service. The majority of international cards are accepted by cash dispensers at the principal French and foreign banks. However, not all banks provide a currency exchange service. In Paris, you will find numerous exchange bureau in busy tourist areas and they are usually open on Sundays too.

Banks and exchange bureau, such as the CCF, fix their rates according to the market which fluctuates from day to day. All rates should be displayed outside the agency. The exchange rate is correct if the difference between buying and selling rates is approximately 5%.

Business Hours

The majority of shops are open all day from 9:00 to 19:00, Monday to Saturday. Some smaller shops may close over lunchtime between 12:00 and 14:00, or all day on Monday. Sunday and public holidays arethe usual closing days, although there are some exceptions. During the week, department stores all have one late-night opening day, known as a 'nocturne', until 21:00. Supermarkets are open at different times depending on the neighborhood, every day except Sunday, until between 20:00 - 22:00. It’s worth noting that many smaller shops close for their annual holidays from mid-July to end of August.

Museums open at 9:00 or 10:00 and close between 17:00 and 18:00. Usual closing days are Monday or Tuesday, with a few exceptions. Some are even open 7 days a week, such as some of the major monuments which can even be visited as late as 23:00 or midnight. Many museums have a late-night opening once a week until 21:00 or 22:00.

Climate and clothing

Summers are usually warm and comfortable, averaging 25°C during the day in July and August. Evenings can be cool in summer, so it’s best to pack a light jacket or sweater.

For more information, visit: http://en.parisinfo.com/practical-paris/useful-info/climate

Currency

On 1 January 2002, along with 11 other Member States of the European Union, France adopted the euro currency. These notes and coins can therefore be used in any country belonging to the euro zone: France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece.

  • EUR 1 is divided into 100 centimes or cents.
  • Notes: EUR 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500.
  • Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents; EUR 1 and 2.

Customs Information

Please go to http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/your-stay-in-france-practical/article/customs-information for more information on the below items:

Electricity

In France the norm is 220 volts, with a frequency of 50 Hz (while in the United States or Canada, for example, it is 110 volts for 60 Hz). Voltage and sockets vary from country to country and so an adapter may be necessary. For more information: http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plug-voltage-by-country/

Emergency numbers

The pan-European emergency number 112 can be called for any type of emergency and an operator will direct you to the appropriate French department. Alternatively, specific services can be reached as follows:

  • Fire brigade: 18
  • Police: 17
  • Accident and Emergency: 15
  • AIDS/HIV info service: 0800 840 800

More information can be found here: http://www.expatica.com/fr/about/Emergency-numbers-in-France_101100.html

Health Services

Chemists (called pharmacie in France) are usually open straight through from 8am to 8pm. They take it in turns to close on Sundays and also sometimes on Mondays. When a chemist is closed, the addresses of the nearest duty chemists are displayed on the door. A few chemists remain open late and even all night.

In the French yellow pages (PagesJaunes), you will find a more comprehensive listing of doctors under "Medecins generalistes" and "Medecins specialistes" under their speciality, e.g: dermatology, cardiology.... Alternatively, ask at your place of accommodation for the closest doctors. You may wish to ask the consultation fees in advance, prior to making an appointment, in order to avoid issues concerning payment for services provided.

In case of emergency, the pan-European emergency number 112 can be called for any type of emergency. Or alternatively dial `15` for Accident and Emergency.
For further information on the French Medical system you can visit the "assurance maladie"website http://www.ameli.fr (website in French).

Language

The official language in Paris is French and English is not widely spoken. A French phrasebook could come in handy.

National and International calls

The France country code 33 will allow you to call France from another country (use the international access code 00 prior to dialing 33), followed by an area code.

All French numbers have 10 digits and begin with 0. The prefix for Paris and Ile-de-France numbers is 01 and mobile numbers start with 06.

0 800 and 0 804, 0 805, 30 00, 31 44, 36 55 all denote a free service. Other special telephone numbers have specific tariffs from land lines.

Contact your mobile phone operator who will confirm whether or not your mobile is compatible with the French network and also explain how you will be charged for calls received from your own country or that you make while abroad (local and international calls).

Metric measures

The system of measurement used in France is the metric system, and temperatures are expressed in degrees Centigrade.

It’s worth noting too, that in France decimals are indicated by a comma and not a point, as in English-speaking countries.

Security and safety

Paris is generally a safe place to visit, but keeping a smart lookout while venturing around the city is still key. Personal safety is high, but if you leave any items unattended, you risk it being stolen. It is recommended that you travel with another person, and, whether alone or accompanied, do not walk in deserted areas, especially after dark. Ask locals or the reception at your hotel to advise you on areas that should be avoided.

Emergency telephone number: 112 (for any type of emergency)

Smoking laws

Initially smoking was banned in all enclosed and covered public places, workplaces, health centers, schools and/or institutions designed to receive, educate or host the underage, as well as in all public transport.

Since 1 January 2008, this ban has been extended to so-called “gathering venues”: hotels, restaurants, bars, tobacco shops, casinos and nightclubs. However, smoking is allowed on café, restaurant and pub terraces, as long as they are not covered, or enclosed.

Time zone

Paris is in the Central European Time Zone. You can see Paris’ time in relation to most cities on the globe by visiting http://www.TimeAndDate.com.

Taxes

The tourist tax is intended to contribute to the development and promotion of tourism by enabling French municipalities, including Paris, to finance expenses linked to tourist arrivals or to the protection of their natural areas.

All travelers staying in one of the following types of accommodationhave a legal obligation to pay the tourist tax: tourist hotels, aparthotels, furnished rentals, Bed & Breakfasts, holiday villages, accommodation outdoors and youth hostels. The amount of the tourist tax varies from EUR 0.20 (for 1- and 2-star campsites) to EUR 4 per person and per night.

This amount is not always included in the price of the accommodation, it may be that the hotelier, proprietor or owner asks the traveler to pay it separately.

Tipping

In France, prices shown include tax and service. However, if the service has been particularly good, you may wish to leave a tip in order to show your appreciation. As a general rule, the amount is 5 to 10% of the total bill.