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Alsace • Aquitaine • Auvergne • Lower Normandy • Bourgogne • Brittany • Centre • Champagne-Ardenne • Corsica • Franche-Comté • Upper Normandy • Ile-de-France • Languedoc-Roussillon • Limousin • Lorraine • Midi-Pyrénées • Nord-Pas-de-Calais • Pays-de-la-Loire • Picardie • Poitou-Charentes • Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur • Rhone-Alpes
As of March 2011, France is the 3rd biggest CS country, with 223 000 French CouchSurfers. French is also the 2nd most spoken language on CS, though far less spoken than English.
The France CouchSurfing group offers links to sub-groups about several French regions plus to its capital - Paris the so-called "City of Lights." Paris has the most CouchSurfers, which shouldn't be surprising if you consider that out of 65 millions French inhabitants, 11 millions live in Paris and its suburbs. That's more than 1 French person out of 6!
Check also Angers, Besançon, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Metz, Annecy, Cannes, Chambery, Beauvais, Rouen, Rennes, Le Mans, Orléans, Nice, Montpellier, Limoges, Caen, Reims, Mulhouse, Nancy, aix-en-provence, Avignon, Carcassonne..
MAP OF FRANCE
France is constituted of 22 different regions. Each region has its own culture, history and tradition. Here are below the followings french regions as shown on the map (from north to south), click on each region or city to show its CS local activity:
|Haute Normandie (Upper Normandy)|
|Basse Normandie (Lower Normandy)|
|The Region Centre|
French Departments and Territories overseas
Islands of the West Indies
Territory in South America
Territory in North America
Islands of the Indian Ocean
Islands of the Pacific Ocean
INSIDE OF FRANCE
Before you go to a country it's good to know what its people are like. The purpose of this section is not to make generalizations or "cliches" about the people, but simply give a few general ideas which the traveler might find useful. If as a foreign person you'd like to add your views, they'll be more than welcome.
As a French person, when you've been living abroad for several years, you meet lots of people from different countries who have been visiting France. The first questions you ask them are: how they felt in France and if they have been warmly welcomed. Most of the time they liked the country very much, but some of them complain about some French people being rude to them because those foreigners didn't speak French! Also, they make these complaints when they have been to Paris. This kind of behavior might happen in some touristy places (restaurants/shops/cafes, etc.) like any other country in the world. If that's the case, just leave and find somewhere else to go. Just because you are a tourist who doesn't speak French doesn't give the right to a French person to treat you badly! In Paris or other French cities, you have many restaurants/bars/cafes and shops, so you won't have any problems finding a place where people respect you. Note that not all French people behave that way and lots of them are very nice to you! It is true as well that if you try to speak some French words, French people will appreciate and be very grateful to you. Indeed, not so many people can speak this language when they visit France. And not so many French people can speak English as well! ;-). If you can learn some simple words & phrases before you go to France it will be very helpful to you.
Depending on the part of France you'll go, French people's behavior will be different. In general, in the south, the French are more communicative so you'll have less problems going to people, but relationships are more superficial. In the north, they are more reserved, but it doesn't mean they are less welcoming, in contrary, the people of the north of France "have in the heart the sun they don't have in the sky". What about the middle part?! Well again, this is a kind of generalization! People are different in each region you go! And somebody from the north can live in the south and vice versa... (hope you didn't get confused there...). Enjoy your trip in France that's all!
Oh and also: in France you don't have only Paris! All the other cities are nice and interesting as well... Be curious, travel around France! Just for information, the limit between North and South of France is the river "Loire". In the north of this limit, the regional culturs are more germanic and in the south, the culturs are more latin.
In France the service is ALWAYS included in the price of drinks/meals, etc. Which is why the French may forget to tip when traveling abroad. Unless the server is especially nice and helpful or fun, there is no reason why you would leave a tip if all you've had is an espresso. If you want to leave a little something, you are more than welcome to do so! For more expensive items/meals, the most common is to leave a few Euros, e.g. up to 10% of the price as a maximum. Now, if you go to a restaurant where you'll have "grande cuisine", it is part of the habit to leave minimum 10% from the bill.
The French way to greet people is usually to shake hands between guys; but when a guy and a girl or two girls meet, they usually kiss on the cheeks. The number of kisses varies from one region of France to another: from one on the Belgian border as an example, to two in Paris and in most places... and even three in Southern France or four in some cities of Northern and West France. (some of you guys might think it's too much, but that's the way to say hello to people in France. You'll get used to it and love it!) Ask people and they will tell you which is appropriate... and never be afraid to tell if this makes you uneasy, people will probably simply go back to shaking hands with you then! - One last thing: in the South, guys often kiss as well when they know each other well. It is spreading in the whole country, and you can see more and more guys doing it in Paris or any region as well. It probably started amongst artists but it is spreading fast amongst trendy people. So if you are a guy and another guy greats you with a kiss, don't recoil in horror... ;-) ( it is a good idea not to initiate it yourself, though).
In France, you'll pay with "euros", the european money (not accepted in all of Europe be careful!). Then, it's difficult to find some exchange office now. So I think it's easier to go to a bank and ask them for change. In France, I advise you not to have "big" bank-notes up to 100 euros because it's not really used. Creditcards as Mastercard, Visa or American Express are accepted (and ATMs are everywhere), but sometimes you can't pay with it when your bill is under 15 euros, so when you change money you should ask for smaller bills. Payment by check is possible maybe with your passport to verify your identity, no minimum demanding.
COUCHSURFING IN FRANCE
CS Meetings and Groups
In France you have the chance to have the possibility to couchsurf everywhere, even in the countryside ! The Rural CS concept in France is the first one in the world. Check the map of the Rural CSers in France, you can find them easilier on this way ! There is also a CS group called "Rural CS France" where you can talk with all Rural CSers in France.
But not all Rural CSers appears on the map or are members of the group "Rural CS France". To find the others, join the Regional CS group where you are travelling through.
In France, there is a very nice, active and developped CS Families network. If you travel with your children, if you would like to be hosted by a family, if you are searching for a host who accept a family, meeting other families making to your children more different cultural friendship, you are welcome to join the French Family's group !
A tool exists to localise easily where you can find the CS families in France, please check the Family Welcome Map for France.
CS Volunteering in France
We have in France one of the strongest CS volunteers team in the world, called simply the "France CS Organisation". If you want to have a complete introduction to this France CS Organisation, click here. It's compose of about 80 CS Ambassadors, 60 greeters, plenty of active group moderators, location fixers, meeting organisers and CS Wiki contributors. If you are ready to help us to our mission to contribute to a better world and build this wonderful CS website, you have all the details here (in french).
Twice a year, the France CS Organisation organise its own collective somewhere in France. Check here the resume of the last France CS Organisation Collectives.
The Motorways and roads
Taking the train
Usually in France you are expected to always buy your tickets before you get on board - even on smaller or suburban trains. If you forget and you tell the controller as soon as you see him he would usually sell you the tickets on board but he will charge some extra 10 to 20% of the price - if he is in bad mood you might as well get fined! You MUST not forget either to make sure you punch your tickets before getting on board - there are dedicated machines (orange colored for the elder ones otherwise bright yellow) that are usually located at the beginning of every platform - otherwise you might once again get fined.
If you are planning to take the TGV (French bullet-train) you will probably have to buy your ticket several days / weeks before departure and the sooner, the cheaper. However for smaller distances like regional trains (TER) you can buy your ticket directly at the train station just before leaving.
Hitchhiking in France
Every first Sunday of the month, the entrance to public sector owned museums is for free everywhere in France. The Louvre museum entrance is for free for people under 26 (ID required as a proof) every Friday evening between 6.30 and 9.30pm. The Louvre can always be free.. all you need is to ask ticket to the visitors leaving and get back in !! seriously it works out fine... cheap access to culture !
The French government has agreed in the 80s that every year on the 21st of June - maybe so as to celebrate summer and the shortest night of the year? - EVERYONE has a right to freely come and play music in the streets all throughout the night. The event is called Fête de la Musique. So bands, chores, etc. usually blossom everywhere around cities, from unexperienced to sometimes pretty famous ones and you can just hang out, walk along the streets and pick up any music you want to listen to - all for free. Since nobody can't properly sleep in city centres, whole families and kids, the younger and the elder mix and celebrate altogether. The atmosphere on that day is pretty unique especially in bigger cities or those concentrating a lot of students and young people - a 'must-see'!