There is a lot of countries to choose from in Europe, but none are much better than France. The country has everything from sun and sand, to romance and food. And if that’s not enough it has Paris! Spending a year there is a no-brainer, but what isn’t a no-brainer is how to get the most out of the experience. The last thing you want to do is look back and think you wasted your opportunity, which is why it’s important to think about beforehand. Any seasoned travellers reading this post will love the idea of turning up unannounced and figuring out the lay of the land. In France, though, it is always a good idea to have a backup plan just in case plan A doesn’t work. Below are a few tips that will help you make the most of your trip. Bon-voyage and good luck!
Take French Lessons
The French are a proud people, and they don’t like it when a foreigner turns up who can’t speak the language. They don’t like it that much that you won’t get much help, especially if you speak the language. They firmly believe you should speak the language or at least try, so it is a good idea to pick up the basics beforehand. Seriously, you will get more out of people if you limited French which is why this is an important piece of advice. The only thing you have to figure out is what the best way to learn French is before your trip. Once you figure out what works best for you, it is a lot easier to pick up the language. A note for anyone that speaks Italian – the languages are very similar so you should pick it up in no time.
Don’t Stop Speaking French
It is easy to think that you suck at French when you land. Although French people prefer you try, they are also pretty snobbish when it comes to their language. If you don’t pronounce it correctly they won’t give you any help or try to read between the lines. The result is more than likely a plethora of awkward conversations that make you want to revert to English. Don’t! The only way you will feel comfortable speaking French is by speaking it in its mother country. After a while, you will start to get used to the accent and understand more words and the sentence structure. Within a few months, you won’t be able to remember why you hated speaking the language in the first place.
Remember They Aren’t Rude
There is a perception that French people are rude, which isn’t true. What is true is that they have a different culture to the rest of the world. They don’t see the need to be constantly polite all of the time, not like the British. So, to a British person, their behaviour might not seem polite. However, it is important to remember that this is a part of their culture and how they act. The quicker you get over it, the less you will worry about it and the more you can enjoy your time. You will find that the French are a very amiable people who are polite and generous, it just takes some time.
France Is More Than Paris
Paris is the jewel in the crown, a lot like London is in England or New York in the states. It’s important to spend plenty of time in Paris because there is so much to see and do, and you can’t do it anywhere else. The Louvre, the Arc, and the Eiffel Tower – they are all examples of French culture that are unmissable. The problem is they suck you in and don’t let you go. Before you know it, you are still in Paris and you only have six months left. The trick is to spread your time out evenly among all of France for the best adventure. Paris is awesome, but there is nothing like taking in the history in Normandy or visiting the vineyards in the South. France has a lot to offer and you want to see it all before you leave.
Get Used To The Greetings
It is a cliché, but you kiss people when you meet them in France. You kiss them on the cheek and not on the lips, but that doesn’t make it any less awkward! And you will feel awkward the first couple of times because it isn’t your tradition. After a while, though, you get used to it and it is important you do. Shunning the traditions is not only rude; it is also a bad way to experience life in France. It might only be a small gesture, but a small gesture goes a long way and gives you an insight into real life. The conventional French greeting is the perfect example of this and something you should embrace.
A Tip: Tip
Tipping is not a common practice around the world. It is a common practice in France and one you need to adhere to at all times. In fact, you don’t agree with tipping it is important to tip people for their service. For starters, you won’t be able to have a drink or enjoy a meal because everywhere expects a tip. Plus, there are stories of people being thrown out of restaurants for not putting their hand in their pocket. Although it isn’t your custom it is one of their customs and you should try to stick to it as much as possible. Isn’t that what travelling is all about, trying new things?
Budget More Money
As a rule, Europe is one of the most expensive places on the planet. From London to Paris to Geneva, you will spend a lot of money wherever you go. In fact, you’ll spend more than you can imagine so take as much as possible. France is no different, and it can seem like your money has grown legs and ran away. It hasn’t; you just don’t have enough cash. Try and budget as best as possible and don’t splash out where it isn’t necessary.
The last thing you want is to come home before the year ends due to a lack of funds.