If you're planning to travel to France, Switzerland, Tahiti or New Caledonia, here are a few useful tips.
Some say the best way to travel in France/Europe is on the trains! Rail Europe 4A is a joint venture of the French National Railways (SNCF) and the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), is the leader in European Rail distribution worldwide. Rail Europe offers Eurail passes, point to point tickets and high speed trains like the TGV and Eurostar (the channel tunnel train).
Take in Paris’ inside-out Pompidou Centre and skyscraping Eiffel Tower before heading the South to Renaissance Lyon and Spanish-influenced Toulouse. France’s SNCF train network takes you the West to neo-classical Bordeaux, East to canal-crossed Strasbourg and North to Rouen’s inspiring Gothic cathedral.
Travel by train through France’s lush Provence region, chateau-hop in the Loire Valley or touch prehistoric stones in wind-swept Brittany. Run with wild horses on the Camargue plateau or go blueberry-picking in the Alps. Paraglide in the Pyrenees, canoe along Ardèche’s river or swim in Corsica’s clear waters.
Buy olive oil in Provence, foie gras in Dordogne and blue-veined Roquefort cheese. Bag designer labels in Paris, Saint-Tropez and Cannes, bargains at Lille’s outlets, handmade gloves in Millau or Limoges porcelain. Stock up on Loire, Burgundy and Bordeaux wines, and pear cider from Normandy.
Eat & Drink
Take the train around France to sample cassoulet (pork and bean stew) in the southwest, Normandy’s galettes (savoury pancakes), and Marseille’s bouillabaisse (fish soup), washed down with anise-flavoured Pastis or good-value Languedoc vintages.
Hang out at contemporary art venues like Abattoires in Toulouse or Paris’ Palais de Tokyo, or swoop along the Millau viaduct, Norman Foster’s breathtaking bridge.
Exchange homes and save on accommodation costs
HomeForExchange.com is a marketplace for non-commercial exchanging of houses, campers, rv's or even yachts. Offer your home for exchange and save on accommodation costs. Home exchange is an alternative for renting a holiday property and is gaining popularity rapidly.
Most tourists stop by in London on the way around France/Europe. The London Pass is a sightseeing card which gives holders free entry to over 55 sights and tourist attractions in London. Customers simply pay the one off price for The London Pass of their choice (there are 4 durations to choose from) and can then enter as many of the tourist attractions included on the pass that they wish to, without paying. Some of the most popular attractions which can be visited free with the London Pass are the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, St Paul's Cathedral, Windsor Castle, London Zoo, the London Aquarium and Shakespeare's Globe.
Paris Sightseeing Pass
If you're spending time in Paris, the equivalent is Paris Sightseeing Pass, a sightseeing card which gives holders free entry to over 60 sights and tourist attractions in Paris. Customers can enter as many of the tourist attractions included on the pass that they wish to, without paying, plus travel for free on the Paris Metro system. Attractions which can be visited free with the Paris Sightseeing Pass are the Louvre Museum, the Arc de Triomphe, a Seine river cruise, an open top bus sightseeing tour, the Grevin Wax Museum and the Palace of Versailles.
If you prefer to cruise around Europe or the Pacific Islands, check out Cruise Direct for online deals.
Of course, while you're in France, you may also wish to spend some time to learn French in France.
Course timetables and enrolment
- Young Kiwis can go and work in France, Belgium or Canada for one year under a working holiday scheme. A knowledge of French would obviously make a huge difference to anyone’s job prospects.
- France itself has an incredible variety of scenery, from the rugged Atlantic coast, to the beautiful central valleys, to the Alps, to the Mediterranean landscapes of the south. It offers great opportunities for outdoor activities.
- French cities are active, busy places, where there is always a lot going on. They have a unique café culture, and there are great opportunities for cinema, theatre, eating out and clubbing.
- French cuisine is world-renowned, and French is still the international language of cooking, so at least a smattering of the French language is useful for chefs and food enthusiasts.
- If France seems a long way off, New Caledonia and French Polynesia are more accessible holiday destinations. And they are very French! Even a limited knowledge of the French language can enrich and enliven your tropical holiday.
- French was for centuries the international language of diplomacy and culture; it’s still important in those fields.
- France has a large economy with a huge international presence. A lot of French companies have branches in New Zealand.
- Much like speakers of English, French speakers tend not to be very enthusiastic about speaking other languages, so in France, for example, there is no guarantee you will find someone prepared to speak to you in English!.