May 28, 2024

BONJOURNO, FRANCE!

A Delightful & Insightful Guide to Your French Adventure 

By Lexi Witwer

Ah, France, the land of love, baguettes, and breathtaking sights! If you’ve ever dreamed of strolling along the Seine, savoring a buttery croissant, or gazing in wonder at the Eiffel Tower, your French adventure awaits.  

Bonjourno (a phonetic translation actually spelled Buongiorno in Italian)…. 

I had the opportunity to venture to this exquisite, aesthetic and luxurious land of love, and I have the insider’s intel! So, grab your beret and let’s embark on a journey together; I am thrilled to share the endless tips and tricks I’ve learned and applied to make your visit to this beautiful country unforgettable. 

Parlez-vous français? 

First things first, let’s talk about the language. While many French folks do speak English, making an effort to speak a bit of French can go a long way. Learning basic phrases like “Bonjour” (hello), “Merci” (thank you), and “S’il vous plaît” (please) not only shows respect for the local culture but can also lead to some heartwarming interactions with friendly locals.

And if all else fails, “Je ne parle pas français” (I don’t speak French) will come in handy. I had the best luck starting off by apologizing for my bad French (in French), followed by a concerted, mindful and likely somewhat obvious effort to continue to try my best. People were happy that I had made the effort to learn their language, and many of them were happy to help.  

Foil the Filous (Pickpockets) 

Paris is a city of love, lights, and… pickpockets. Keep your belongings close and secure, and consider investing in a money belt or a crossbody bag. I saw both men and women rocking the cross-body bags and fanny packs! They are currently in fashion, so there are so many options available for all styles. Remember, flashy jewelry and expensive gadgets can attract unwanted attention, so leave the bling at home and opt for a more discreet look. 

Navigating the Hexagon 

France’s public transportation system is a traveler’s dream. Whether you’re zipping around the Paris Metro, catching a scenic train ride through the countryside, or hopping on a charming village bus, you’ll find it easy to explore this diverse country. It’s cost-effective, efficient, and a fantastic way to get to know the locals.

Scooters are also a fun way to efficiently and effectivley get around the major cities. Paris has scooter rentals on the side of the road that you can easily get by using the Lime app!  

Rural Escapes 

While the big cities are undeniably alluring, don’t forget to venture into the French countryside. Picture-perfect villages, rolling vineyards, and historic châteaux await you. Take a day trip to the Loire Valley, where fairytale castles dot the landscape, or bask in the sun along the azure shores of the French Riviera.

This is where the heart of France truly beats. We enjoyed a breathtaking drive from Lyon, through the French Alps to the French Riviera. A truly beautiful way to see the countryside and all of the biomes the country has to offer.  

Savor the Flavors 

French cuisine is legendary, and you’re in for a treat. Start your day with a warm croissant and café au lait, savor a baguette sandwich at lunch, and indulge in a sumptuous dinner of escargot or coq au vin. And don’t forget the wine! France is a vinophile’s paradise; Be sure to sample some of the finest vintages from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne. 

Don’t Hesitate to Ask 

Need directions to that charming patisserie or recommendations for the best crêperie in town? The French are more than happy to help. Approach locals with a friendly “Excusez-moi” add your specific request, and you’re sure to receive a warm response. Who knows, you might stumble upon hidden gems known only to the locals. 

Time is Relative 

In France, time moves at its own pace. Expect leisurely dining experiences, and don’t be surprised if your meal takes a while to arrive. It’s all part of the charm. So, do yourself a favor and sit back, relax, and enjoy the moment. After all, you’re in the country that practically invented the art of savoring life. Restaurants do not focus on turning their tables, so meals can last as long as you are enjoying yourself!  

Dress the Part 

And I’m not implying that you need to rock the Chanel, Dior or Lauboutin 24/7, but while there’s no strict dress code in France, it’s wise to be mindful, respectful and appropriate, and plan to dress modestly when visiting religious sites like cathedrals and monasteries. Avoid shorts and tank tops in some restaurants and cafes, where a more refined dress code might be in place.

On that note, consider packing layers to prepare for the ever-changing weather, as France can surprise you with sun and rain in the same day. As an American abroad, it was funny to notice that Yankees hats were a huge hit in this lavish land overseas. In just about every major city, I saw more than a handful of locals wearing them as a fashion statement!  

Prepare for the Elements 

Speaking of weather, be ready for anything. France’s climate can be as diverse as its landscapes. I spent time in Paris, the Alps, and the French Riviera and I encountered multiple types of weather and terrain. An umbrella, sunscreen, and a light jacket can be your best friends on this adventure. Dressing in layers is a must, as the weather in France tends to change on a whim.  

C’est La Vie! 

Last but not least, remember to have fun! France is a treasure trove of culture, history, and beauty. Relish every moment, from sipping café crème in the quaintest of cafés to marveling at the artistry of the Louvre. Your French adventure is bound to leave you with a heart full of memories and a longing to return. 

Go forth and explore, dear traveler. France is waiting for you with open arms and a boulangerie on every corner. Au revoir, and may your journey be filled with happiness, wonder and memories to savor for a lifetime!