Needless to say, it’s going to be a pretty amazing few weeks for anyone heading to France this summer! Whether you are arriving from one of the European countries playing in the tournament or from further afield, here are some basic tips and advice so your summer 2016 in France is one to remember!
Getting to France should be pretty easy for most people. There are so many options: plane, ferry, train and bus services are available for visitors. France is going to be hectic this summer so it’s best to plan and book whatever transport you can well in advance of any journeys you are taking within France.
Public transport options and costs may vary from city to city so make sure to research local public transport for each city you visit. If you plan on renting a car, make sure to read up on the rules of the road as they may differ from the rules you are used to at home.
Visas and Passports
If you are travelling on a passport from an EU country or from Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland you do not need a visa to travel to France. Visa requirements vary for holders of passports from other countries so check with Visa First to see if you need to arrange a visa before you travel to France. All travellers should ensure that their passport is valid and in date and kept secure while in France.
The Euro is the currency in France so you are sorted if you are travelling from another Euro-zone country. However, credit cards are widely accepted so if you don’t fancy getting cash converted or having a wallet full of notes and coins, bring your cards with you.
Parlez-vous français? Even if the answer is a resounding “non”, try to fit in a few French words here and there. A “merci” and “s’il vous plait” will go a long way. There are also many language apps and online resources so asking for directions, ordering food and other holiday essentials should be easy enough in French.
It’s one thing to arrive in France without tickets for a game but you definitely should not arrive without knowing where you will be staying! If you are struggling to find rooms in hotels, hostels or BnBs, check out Airbnb and, if you are feeling outdoorsy, campsites in the towns and cities you are visiting.
Food and Drink
Part of the reason France is such a popular tourist destination is French food and drink. Make sure to try the local cuisine and not just eat French fries! Tap water in France is generally safe to drink though the water may not taste great. It’s not unusual for locals to only drink bought bottled water.
When testing out French wines and beers, drink in moderation and follow the usual safe drinking rules. Football fans across Europe are known for enjoying their booze and getting a bit rowdy but public drunkenness is frowned upon in France. If you are too drunk, you may be denied entry or removed from a football stadium so be careful!
Going to the Euros
A lot of football fans will be travelling without tickets for any of the games, which is fine. The atmosphere will be amazing and fans will be able to watch their team play on big screens and still be in the heart of everything. It is advisable to be very, very cautious when buying tickets from touts or strangers. Unlike many other countries, it is illegal to re-sell tickets outside stadiums so if in doubt, err on the side of caution and don’t hand over any cash. Check the UEFA website for links to credible ticket outlets.
France is a pretty big country and weather varies between regions so people at a game in Paris may have much different weather than people at a game in Nice. In Paris, you can expect temperatures in the mid-twenties (Celsius). Temperatures are generally slightly cooler up north and warmer down south. Rainfall occurs all year round, even during the summer months so you will likely experience a shower or two while in France.
Consular Services & Advice
Before going to any foreign country, it’s advisable to check your embassy’s website to see if there are any travel alerts or notices. France is a relatively safe country to travel in though it should be noted that Europe has been on high alert for terrorist attacks in recent months and security is at an all-time high across the country. This shouldn’t deter anyone from travelling but it is a reminder to make sure you regularly check for information and let people know when and where you are travelling.
If you are travelling by rented car, stock up on petrol before any long journeys as there is a petrol shortage in France. Many regions have already enforced petrol rationing and many French people are crossing into bordering countries just to buy petrol. Workers at fuel depots and refineries are striking which is contributing to the shortage. Train drivers are also carrying out strike action with air traffic controllers, pilots and port and dock workers due to go on strike throughout June too.
Whatever you do, if you are one of the 2.5 million football fans expected in stadiums across France this summer, cheer loud and have a great time, win, lose or draw!