FRANCE SOLO TRAVEL GUIDE
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO! FRANCE TRAVEL GUIDE 2023
PLAN AND BOOK YOUR FRANCE SOLO TRAVEL
- FRANCE: DID YOU KNOW?
- FRANCE TRAVEL PLANNING
- FRANCE TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS
- FRANCE TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
- CITY GUIDES & ITINERARIES
- HOW TO BOOK FRANCE TRAVEL
- FRANCE ECO-TRAVEL IDEAS
- FRANCE TRAVEL SAFETY
- FRANCE BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
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BIENVENUE EN FRANCE!
Hi! I’m Gwen, and my passion is using my 28 years of solo global travel and sustainability knowledge and experience to help the solo over 50’s be and stay adventurous through solo travel with their eco-friendly, responsible travel foot forward. Here is my guide to France solo travel, all from my solo travel in France, so you can book and realize your solo trip to France. What are you waiting for?
FRANCE: DID YOU KNOW?
France – home to 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Strasbourg, the historic centers of Lyon and Avignon, the Palace and Park of Versailles, and the Fortified City of Carcassonne – France is also home to the national motto, “liberty, equality and fraternity”, the Tour de France, the Cannes Film Festival, champagne, the French Alps, the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, over 1000 types of cheeses, the metric system, the inventors of braille and the stethoscope, and the Etch-a-Sketch, and, of course, the world-class “City of Lights”, Paris, known for being the center of fashion, food, art and architecture.
Formerly named République Française (French Republic), France ended its monarchy rule with the French Revolution in the 18th century and is now the largest country in the European Union (EU). France’s wine making history dates from the Roman times and today the country produces 7 to 8 billion bottles of wine per year. It’s no wonder France is considered the world’s most popular destination in the world.
Languages in France
The official language is French; however, regional languages include Corsican, Breton, Gallo, Basque, Franco-Provencal, Occitan and Catalan also exist and may have official language status in their respective regions of France. Those citizens bordering Italy will speak Italian, and those near the Spanish border will speak Basque, as a second language.
Originally considered Western Germany, France’s culture derives from the Franks, a Germanic tribe, as well as from the Celtic and Gallo-Roman cultures. Three percent of the country speaks a German dialect.
The majority of French people practice Catholicism and the country recognizes traditional Christian holidays, but other religions practiced include Islam, Buddhism and Judaism.
From their national motto, the French place great importance on equality (égalité) and take great pride in their country and government.
Food and wine are central in the French culture across all socioeconomic classes and it is not uncommon to have lengthy dinners. Eating quickly may be frowned upon. With centuries of history, the French also take well-deserved pride in its architecture and art.
Popular Activities in France
With a diversity of landscapes, the French enjoy skiing, going to the beach, shopping and flea markets, dining out, or just walking through their beautiful, historic cities and villages. The French enjoy socializing over coffee and pastries in cafés or enjoying local wines named after their famous regions, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Côtes du Rhone, and Champagne regions, just to name a few.
Best Wine Tasting Tours in France
FRANCE TRAVEL PLANNING
France uses the Euro (€). Exchange rates are usually favorable for Europeans but could fluctuate in the other direction.
Tipping in France
Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules. That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated.
What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc. For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.
Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.
It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money on the holiday of a lifetime only to show up at a key attraction, or try to access travel or banking resources, only to find them closed due to a national or local holiday.
Therefore, a key activity to do in your early France vacation planning stage is to know the local and national holidays in France.
FRANCE TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS
Travel Documents for France
From the U.S., you will need a valid passport with an expiration date greater than 6 months from your return date to the U.S. It is advised to always check the U.S. State Department in advance of traveling to France for pertinent, up-to-date France travel advisories and information. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
At this time (October 2023), a travel visa is not required for U.S. citizens who travel in France 90 days or less and within a 180-day period. However, in mid-2025 it is expected that the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETAIS) will go into effect that is designed to strengthen European borders and streamline entry. At that time, a printed ETAIS visa waiver (the “ETAIS”) will be required to enter the Schengen Area for tourist, business or transit purposes of 90 days or less. You will be able to apply online for the ETAIS visa waiver, which will also require a fee (7 EUR). Requirements for an ETAIS are available now. Watch for ETAIS updates if you are planning to solo travel to France in 2025.
Choose from Top Travel Document Holders
Vaccinations for France
There are normally no vaccinations required for France. The U.S. State Department provides up-to-date required vaccination information for traveling to France. It is advised to always check for any France travel restrictions and required vaccinations during your planning stage and again before you leave.
If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
FRANCE TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
Electronics for France
Want to use your 110V electronics while traveling around France? France’s voltage is 230V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. If you do not already have electronics (hair dryer, clippers, curling iron, etc.) made for France’s voltage, you will need to bring a voltage converter to use your electronics. Below are top-rated power converters for you to compare and buy.
Choose the Converter That’s Right For You
Most smartphones, tablets, laptops, cameras and similar electronics don’t require a converter (double-check your device(s) before you leave home), but you will still need a plug adapter.
Traveling to France, Type C and E adapters will fit France’s electronic outlets. I recommend bringing at least one of each adapter type accepted. I do not recommend using those single adapters for 100+ countries. They have been known to break and/or cause a power short.
Be prepared before you visit France. Bring a solid, reliable, and grounded power adapter to safely charge your electronics in France. Below are top-rated U.S. (Type A and B) to France power adapter options, from the only brand I travel with, for you to compare and buy.
Choose the France Adapter That’s Right for You
Type C Adapters
Type E/F Adapters
If you are going to another country in addition to your trip to France, check this international travel adapter guide to make sure you’re prepared.
Cyber Security While Traveling
Having a virtual private network (VPN) service and portable WiFi is always a good idea to not just stay connected, but stay connected securely in your hotel and all public spaces, like airports, train stations, and restaurants.
CITY GUIDES & ITINERARIES
Use my solo travel guides, itineraries, travel tips, day trip ideas, and recommended things to do in these top French destinations, all from my travel in France, to plan your best France solo travel.
The more I travel in France, the more that gets added to this France Travel Guide. Keep checking back.
FREE Paris Itinerary Download
Download the 4 Day Paris Itinerary PDF WITH clickable links for your travel devices.
Best First Time in Paris Things to Do
Best Paris Food Tours & Activities
Best Ways of Visiting the Eiffel Tower – Guided or Not
Best Things to Do in Versailles
Best Reims Day Trip Things to Do
Nice / South of France
FREE France Itinerary Download
Download the South of France Itinerary PDF WITH clickable links for your travel devices.
Best Things to Do in Nice France
Best South of France Day Trips from Nice
HOW TO BOOK FRANCE TRAVEL
It’s important to book the top three travel necessities early: flights, accommodations and ground transportation.
Cheap Flights to France
With the ever-growing demand for airline tickets to France, flights book quicker these days. Find cheap flights to France now.
Don’t Wait to Book Your Flight to France
Places to Stay in France
Second in importance to buying airline tickets to France is finding the best place to stay in France for your solo travel to France. Develop your France travel itinerary now and find the best accommodations in France to knock one more item off your France travel planning list.
Find the Best Solo Travel Accommodations in France
Getting Around France
There are also taxis, of course, and you can easily find a rental car if that better suits your France solo travel itinerary.
Find the Best Deals on France Rental Cars
Things to Do in France
Here are some more of the top things to do in France to book for your solo France trip.
More of the Best France Food Tours & Activities
FRANCE ECO-TRAVEL IDEAS
There are ways to reduce your eco and carbon footprint through air travel, accommodations, tours, and activities in France. To help avoid greenwashing businesses, here are some eco-friendly or sustainable travel (also called responsible travel) tips and resources, you can use to book your travel.
Air Travel Tips
Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2.
Purchase carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The best eco-friendly forms of ground transportation in France are public transportation, walking, or renting a bicycle or electric scooter. They are also apt to cost less than other ground transportation.
Explore France Bike and Electric Scooter Rentals
When booking a rideshare in France, select the Bolt Green or Uber Green options instead of a traditional rideshare, or use Carpoolworld, to support the use of electric cars and carpooling for cleaner transportation in France.
Look for accommodations with the following self and third-party assessed certifications when you book:
Green Globe – Green Globe certifies hotels, resorts, conference centers, transportation, attractions, tour operators, and other tourism businesses globally on sustainable operations and management. Look for France and other European Green Global members.
Green Key Global is an internationally recognized environmental certification for the lodging and meetings industries, including hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, restaurants and attractions in 65 countries. Search for Green Key awarded sites.
Living Building Challenge – if you want to stay in a true, sustainable building, find one certified by the Living Building Challenge. LBC’s certification directory shows all project types globally. Hopefully they will put in a filter soon to allow searching by hotels or hospitality type.
LEED Certified – the USGBC’s LEED Certified label on buildings, like many of the Marriott’s hotels, are those that have verifiably employed multiple and varying green building strategies to improve human and environmental health. Search the LEED directory for France certifications.
GSTC Certified – the Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, as well as international accreditation for sustainable tourism Certification Bodies. Booking sites that offer GSTC certified sustainable are bookdifferent, EcoHotels, and Transat.
Another way to find an establishments implementing eco-friendly or sustainable practices, certified or not, is through Booking.com in which you’ll need to find and review each establishment’s ‘Sustainable Initiatives’ within the booking process. Starting 2022, however, you’ll be able to filter searches for accommodations with the Travel Sustainable badge.
Find Your Travel Sustainable Stay in France
Eco-Friendly Things To Do
France has ecotourism ideas available to explore for your next vacation.
Top France Ecotourism
There are more ways to do your part for the planet in your responsible travel, like bringing sustainable and eco-friendly products to protect France’s environment.
FRANCE TRAVEL SAFETY
Before You Go
Always consult your government’s France travel advisory for your France travel destination in the beginning travel planning phase and up to your departure date.
Buy France travel insurance and international medical insurance for your France solo trip to protect yourself and cover for emergencies.
Safety in France
France, mostly Paris, has been known to have acts of terrorism and civil unrest. Please consult your government’s travel advisory site in your planning phase.
If there is no advisory, there is nothing I can recall from France making it more of a “safety concern” than traveling in my own home country, so my standard tips for solo and female solo travelers are:
- always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
- always be “street wise”.
- always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
- never leave your food or drink unattended.
- keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
- be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
- research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
- if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.
Fire Season Travel Tips
FRANCE BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
Best Time to Visit France
France can be pricey, especially Paris, and especially if you want to do it right. However, that’s not to say you can’t find budget accommodations, try local foods, or hit some great site seeing and entertainment on a budget. This is a country I would a little planning on if you are on a budget.
Like other countries in Europe, France’s high, tourist season, and most expensive time, is the summer (June to August) – expect crowds to be heavy and prices to go up!
Crowds are not as heavy in the spring (April and May) and Fall (September to October), where prices are better than the summer season.
The least expensive time to go to France would be November to March. Keep in mind, however, if you are going to a ski or winter sport area – prices could be high and you may want to book in advance.
Staying in hostels could save you a lot of money on accommodations in France, especially if you stay in a dorm-style room. Save more money by booking well in advance.
Many France hostels also offer private rooms, which I choose from time to time. Private rooms in hostels could possibly be cheaper than hotels in France – it depends on where you stay and how far in advance you reserve.
Don’t overlook exploring hostels in France if you’re on a budget.
Reserve Your France Hostel
Best Time to Book Travel
Ready to book your France solo travel? The sooner you book your reservations, the more you’re likely to save money and get the best flight, accommodation, and rental car choices and deals.
Don’t miss out and find the best France flight deals. The best time to book travel is now. Bundling flight, hotel and/or transportation reservations may even save you more money on your trip to France.
Book France Travel Early to Save Money
Since I speak practically no French, and having heard the French can be, well, a bit snobbish to those who don’t, I used to be intimated to travel in France. I didn’t want to offend them with butchering their language. Thankfully since my first visit to France, English has gained more ground, making me feel a little more comfortable. However, that does not let me off the hook on giving them the courtesy to first extend my (awful) French.
I was fortunate to see more of the country during my last visit in 2017. I must say, I just want to keep going back. I am big into art and wine, and genuinely love the social atmosphere of outdoor cafes. I can’t help but feel France is a country I could fall in love with, even if they don’t love my French.