The One Thing ... France 

By ben Groundwater


By Ben Groundwater

The One Thing You Should Do
In France Is ...

Speak French.

This is the thing: you don’t have to actually be able to speak French. But you do need to be able to speak some French. Just a few words. Just a few greetings. And you’re on your way.

The good people of France are not rude, despite what you may have been led to believe. The only travellers who find them rude, in fact, are usually the ones who barge around the country with no thought for where they are, with no respect for the local culture. There are many ways to demonstrate that respect, and one of the easiest is learning to speak a few words of French.

Learn to greet people, to say hello and goodbye. Learn to ask, “Do you speak English?” in the local language. Learn a little phrase such as, “I’m sorry I don’t speak French, I’m from Australia.” Learn to order food, to ask for the bill, to excuse yourself when you run into someone, to ask for a wine list or to enquire as to how much something costs.

Do that, and you’ll find the French a charming and affable people. You’ll find that plenty of the locals speak a bit of English, and will happily switch to that once they’ve heard your terrible attempt at French. You’ll find that all of a sudden, you like France a whole lot more – and that France likes you as well. 


Keep an Eye on the Time in France

The One Thing You Should Not Do
In France Is ...

Forget About The Time.

Time is very important in France. It’s a fairly laidback country, so this may come as a surprise, but trust me, time is important.

Everything has a set time. Lunch, for example, is eaten between the hours of midday and about 2.30pm. If you try to get into a restaurant before midday, you’ll be turned away. Similarly, if you roll up after 2pm hoping to be fed, you’ll be disappointed. And in many parts of the country, particularly the south, the hours after 2pm are used as a siesta break for many shops, making it pretty much impossible to get anything done.

Dinner is a little more flexible – most restaurants will open around 7pm for the first sitting (which is typically popular with tourists), and continue welcoming new diners until 9 or 10pm. 

It pays to remember about other regular closures, too. Most supermarkets outside the very touristy areas are closed all day on a Sunday. Many museums and other attractions take a little holiday every Tuesday, and close every day for lunch too. Make sure you keep an eye on your watch.


Find out more insider tips about other destinations: read all the articles in Ben's "One Thing" series here


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The One Thing Series From Ben Groundwater


From Spain to Singapore, you can find all of Ben's One Thing Articles right here.

Singapore - The One Thing

Ben Groundwater shares his expert advice about holidaying in amazing Singapore.

USA - The One Thing

Ben Groundwater shares his expert advice for those visiting the big and bold US of A.

China - The One Thing

Ben Groundwater shares his tips on what to do and not do when you next visit China.

NZ - The One Thing

Off to the land of the Kiwis. Check out travel writer Ben Groundwater's helpful hints.

Sri Lanka - The One Thing

Make the most out of your trip to Sri Lanka with Ben Groundwater's helpful tips.

Canada - The One Thing

Check out these great tips from Ben Groundwater before you plan your next trip to Canada.

China - The One Thing

Read up on Ben Groundwater's insider tips before you plan your next trip to Cambodia.

China - The One Thing

Make sure you read Ben Groundwater's tip on how not to shake up your trip to Chile

Spain - The One Thing

Heading to Spain? Be sure to pack these words of wisdom with you when heading off.