Usually one doesn’t think about this but you always should know the etiquette of your destination country (also for example like what not to say or how to greet someone) and if it is good manners there before you arrive. The same applies to France where people are very polite and friendly; they expect you to be too. If you don’t want to miss the best tours in France that will make your stay even more spectacular then read on!
The first thing that people ask me whenever I travel abroad is ‘how do I get money out/make calls/use WiFi etc.’ So here are some tips:
ATMs – An ATM can be found everywhere in France; you will find them all over the country. They are easy to use and of course free, but beware that you might be charged for withdrawing cash from an ATM not belonging to your bank (in some cases you can get away with this two or 3 times before they stop it). Some banks charge customers for using another bank’s ATM too; check yours before leaving home. Also bear in mind that some card companies won’t work outside their country, so if you’re staying abroad make sure to take a different credit card than the one that has your main account on it i.e. don’t take your RBS Visa with you on holiday in Spain because it won’t work there even though a Mastercard would!
Although most countries have a chip and pin system, you can still go abroad with a magnetic stripe card. Some shops do not take these so if you see an “S” on the machine to draw money out anywhere then that means that one pays by invoice – ask the cashier what the bill should read as before going into your PIN!
If a shop says ‘credit cards accepted’ please bear in mind that many smaller shops only accept credit cards for major transactions e.g. over 50€ (if they even have a terminal for this at all). This is probably because they cannot afford the commission of getting 0.7% charged on every transaction; bigger companies usually pass this cost onto their customers but don’t expect that from individual/smaller businesses!! Most shops say ‘cash only’ but if you have a bigger purchase e.g. over 200€ then they might accept your card for that too.
The French use chip and pin machines rather than signatures to pay for goods, so always remember your pin.
My bank: NatWest doesn’t charge me extra fees using their ATM’s and I can withdraw as much cash as I need at any time of the day or night! Sometimes you meet friends after work and want to go out but don’t have enough cash on you- well, just remember to take an ATM with you wherever you go!
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You should never give your PIN code to anyone else because it is yours alone and if you do then it’s like giving someone access to your bank account so be careful!
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Wifi places – the wifi points are open for everyone and they allow you to connect to Wi-Fi. You can find them easily on the internet or on any map where there is ‘free wifi’. Usually, these places are public areas/parks, libraries, etc. If you want more privacy don’t forget that you also have the option of buying a portable wifi dongle if yours hasn’t got data left on it (;`) which works out much cheaper than using up all your calls and data roaming. This has limited use though because unlike in other countries, Wifi isn’t free in France so expect to pay for that.
Mobile phones – if you are using an EU phone then you can use it in France but beware that you need to pay for the roaming charges, so just remember to set your phone up to receive calls and messages beforehand because if not then it might cost you, even more, to turn on data/texts, etc. France uses GSM 900MHz for its towers which means that their 3G service is good all over the country so don’t forget to take your charger too because there probably isn’t one at whatever hotel or hostel you’re staying at. There are also free WiFi spots around France; see the previous section.