France!   This is a land of contrasts.   There are alpine mountains shared with Switzerland.   There are miles and miles of warm sandy beaches.  Beautiful valleys where the grapes grow perfectly for world famous wines. The food is amazing.   The rivers cut through the countryside with tour boats and commerce alike.   The limestone cliffs of Normandy are a big draw for American tourists visiting WWII battlefields.   There are villages, towns, cities – and then there is Paris.  Beautiful Paris.   An estimated 83 million tourists come to see Paris and the rest of France every year – and for many it is an annual mecca.    So much to see and so little time, you might want to retire in France – if only for a summer. 

The French population numbers 67 million and they enjoy a high standard of living.   France is consistently listed high in education, healthcare, life expectancy and civil liberties.   We could write volumes about French history but you should know that there are traces of human occupation as early as 1.8 million years ago.   (Think about it – American is only 200+ years old!) You will find today’s France a modern, cosmopolitan, well educated country with deep appreciation for history and tradition. 

The “Official Website of France” states the following:

In order to enter France, all foreign citizens must be able to present:

  • A travel document (passport) recognised by France, which must be valid for more than 3 months (the expiry date of the Visa de Court Séjour);
  • Unless they are exempt, a valid visa indicating the reason for and duration of the intended stay;
  • Documents regarding means of support during the stay and repatriation guarantees;
  • Documents depending on the purpose of the stay, i.e. whether it is a tourist trip (conditions of the stay), a business trip (details on the establishments the traveller will be visiting), a family or private visit (proof of accommodation or exemptions when the stay is a humanitarian trip or part of a cultural exchange, or regards an urgent medical issue or the funeral of a loved one), or the traveller is in transit (details of the stay and accommodation during transit, ticket and visa for the country of destination).

A passport and “Schengen”visa (acquired in the US)  alone are good for a 3 month stay and allows you to travel in the EU.  If you wish to stay longer, you need to apply for a “Visa de Long Sejor” or a longer stay visa.   Be sure to check on line before you pack your bags. 

Here are some of our favorite places in France.   We’d love to have you share your experiences in France too!   Tell us about your favorite spot or a “must return” destination.   What did you learn?   What surprised you about France?   What advice would you give someone who is planning a trip to France? 

Photo By Pankaj Kaushal via

Living in France

Pros: Historical places, amazing food, the countryside
Cons: Language.  See “Getting Along in France”
Favorite Inexpensive Events:  Village Markets, cafes on major streets, cathedrals.
Did You Know: French women have the highest life expectancy in Europe!   

Do the French Really Dislike Americans?

This little video explains a lot about the French and how they interact.  


The Paris Neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Pres

This is a favorite neighborhood for both Parisians and visitors.


A Rick Steves Video about French Travel Skills.

Ricks friend Steve Smith shares all kinds of insight about France.  



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