WHEN TO GO
In July, Paris starts to shrink; by August it is devoid of Parisians, animated only by tourists and the pickpockets who prey on them. The French Riviera fills with Anglophones from June to September. On the other hand, the rest of France teems with Frenchmen during these months, especially along the Atlantic coast. Early summer and autumn are the best times to visit Paris the city has warmed up but not completely emptied out. The north and west have cool winters and mild summers, while the less-crowded center and east have a more continental climate. From December to February, the Alps provide some of the best skiing in the world, while the Pyrenees offer a calmer, if less climatically dependable, alternative.
DOCUMENTS AND FORMALITIES
VISAS. For stays shorter than 90 days, only citizens of South Africa need a short-stay visa (30-day visa costs ZAR217; 90-day ZAR260). For stays longer than 90 days, all non-EU citizens need long-stay visas (‚95).
EMBASSIES. Foreign embassies in France are in Paris (296). For French embassies at home, contact: Australia, Consulate General, Level 26, St. Martins Tower, 31 Market St. Sydney NSW 2000 ( 02 92 61 57 79; www.consulfrance-sydney.org.); Canada, Consulate General, 1 pi. Ville Marie, 26th fl. Montreal, QC H3B 4SE ( 514-878-4385; www.consulfrance-montreal.org); Ireland, Consulate Section, 36 Ailes-bury Rd. Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 (01 260 16 66; www.ambafrance.ie); New Zealand, 34-42 Manners St. P.O. Box 11-343, Wellington (04 384 25 55; www.ambafrance.net.nz); South Africa, Consulate General at Johannesburg, 191 Jan Smuts Ave. Rosebank; mailing address P.O. Box 1027, Parklands 2121 (011 778 5600, visas 778 5605; www.consulfrance-jhb.org.); UK, Consulate General, 21 Cromwell Rd. London SW7 2EN (s’ 020 7838 2000; www.ambafrance-uk.org.); US, Consulate General, 4101 Reservoir Rd. NW, Washington, D.C. 20007 (202-944-6195; www.consulfrance-Washington.org).
MONEY. On January 1, 2002, the euro (‚) replaced the franc as the unit of currency in France. For more information, see 14. Tips are always included in meal prices in restaurants and cafes, and in drink prices at bars and clubs; look for the phrase service compris on the menu or just ask. If service is not included, tip 15-20%. Even when service is included, it is polite to leave a pourboire of up to 5% at a cafe, bistro, restaurant, or bar.