Back from 1st France Trip

Jun 27th, 2003, 08:04 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23
Back from 1st France Trip

I just got back from my first trip to France (and Europe) and I thought I would share some things I learned being a first timer.

1. Search Fodor's travel talk and learn as much as you can about your destination. I did and it helped me learn the tricks to traveling in France.

2. Don't expect French classes in high school and college 15 years ago to help you speak to the natives. I could read everything in French but had a hard time understanding what people were asking/telling me.

3. Take the advice everyone gives about dressing neutral. I wore khaki and black pants with neutral tops in Paris, Loire Valley, Brittany, and Normandy. People were very hospitable even though I couldn't speak much French. In Nice, it was hot, so I wore the orange t-shirt I had, shorts, and tennis shoes. I had several store clerks ignore me and I am sure it had a lot to do with my wardrobe that day.

4. Buy a pouch to wear under your clothes. I kept my passport, credit cards, and a bulk of my Euros in a neck pouch I bought at Target. It wasn't uncomfortable to wear and I never had to worry about my money.

5. My credit cards (Visa and MC) and debit card (MC) worked everywhere I went. Just in case, I got PIN #s for my credit cards and I called all the companies the week before telling them my travel plans.

6. Watch out for strikes. I was traveling with a group and the day we were supposed to take the TGV to Nice, the trains weren't running. The 17 hour bus ride from Paris wasn't fun.

7. Bring your own washclothes. Only one of our 6 hotels had them. Also, I never got used to the hand-held shower sprays and half-doors for showers. I got the entire bathroom wet every time.

8. Don't plan too much your first day. I don't sleep on airplanes. The two hour nap followed by a brisk walk around Paris worked pretty good to keep the jet lag to a minimum.

9. Bring one outfit that you only wear on the trip home. I was tired of rotating my 4 shirts and pants on our 12 day trip and was excited when my aunt offered me an outfit she hadn't worn yet for me to wear home.

10. Don't let anyone else's fear keep you from going on your trip. I had several people tell me I was crazy for going to France with the riff going on between the US and French government. I just relied on Fodorites that had just returned and talked about how wonderful their trips were to keep my nerves calm.

Hope these comments help. I look forward to planning my next trip and will use Travel Talk to learn as much as I can.
Ready4AVoyage is offline  
Jun 27th, 2003, 08:24 PM
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Now THIS is what this travel forum is all about. Helping and learning.
We all win.
JandaO is offline  
Jun 27th, 2003, 09:59 PM
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Great post!

2) It's good to be able to say please, thank you, hello, goodbye, excuse me, "sorry, i don't speak French" ... but if you really can't speak the language realize you probably won't understand the answer to any more elaborate questions you manage to ask.

8) i give in to jet lag and rest. i know this goes against common travel advice, but i cannot sleep on a plane and suffer bad for days after arrival, so this squares me up for the next couple weeks, if I take it easy the first few days.

9) I pack extremely light and fully realize i may want to burn the clothing that's gotten me successfully thru 2-3 weeks abroad.

For what it's worth...
suze is offline  
Jun 28th, 2003, 05:01 AM
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Good of you to share your suggestions.

How about a fuller report of where you stayed, ate, what you saw?
ira is offline  
Jun 28th, 2003, 05:33 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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Thank you for your post. My husband and I are going to England and France in September (both of us for the first time) and we have also been enjoying and learning a lot from reading the threads in this forum. (Another first for me - actually participating in a forum.) In fact, this will be our first really big trip together (we've gone to Mexico together twice, and each of us went to Hawaii before we met). So we are beginners compared to the posters in this forum. We haven't gone on our trip yet and I feel like I've been bitten by the travel bug.
Breeze is offline  
Jun 28th, 2003, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 76
OP wrote: I never got used to the hand-held shower sprays and half-doors for showers. I got the entire bathroom wet every time.

Solution: travel with duct tape so you can affix the nozzle to the wall in a fixed position. When a roll of duct tape is down to halfway gone, we put it into a suitcase so it is ready to go. The full rolls are too heavy.
InvisibleTraveler is offline  
Jun 28th, 2003, 07:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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invisible traveller, thank you, that is the BEST tip, I have read in a long time.
From another floor flooder!
cigalechanta is offline  
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