France is the ultimate destination for wine lovers to travel to and we have prepared some practical information for your orientation. You will find the airports closest to the French wine regions; information on money, credit cards, insurance, phones, voltage, opening hours for restaurants and shops; tips on buying wine in France; and general facts and figures.
There are 51 airports in France, the largest being Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly, followed by Nice airport. Here are the closest airports to the wine country:
Alsace has two major international airports: Basel-Mulhouse airport in the Upper-Alsace and Strasbourg airport in the Lower-Alsace. Numerous national and international airlines offer daily services to and from both.
Lyon airport is a 45 minute drive to Beaujolais and the closest international airport.
Bordeaux–Mérignac Airport is the international airport of Bordeaux and is situated just 10 miles out of the City.
Lyon airport is a 2 hour drive to Burgundy and the closest international airport. Alternatively Paris airports are just over a 3 hour drive away and have many more flight options.
Paris Charles de Gaulle airport or Paris Orly will offer the best international flight options and are only a 1 hour 30 minute drive from Reims. There is also a small airport at Reims.
Montpellier–Méditerranée Airport or Perpignan–Rivesaltes Airport are the nearest airport options for this region. However, depending where you are coming from Lyon, might have better connections.
Paris Charles de Gaulle airport or Paris Orly will offer the best international flight options and are only a 2 hour drive away. There is also a small international airport at Tours, Tours Val de Loire.
Lyon airport is a 40 minute drive to the Northern Rhône and the closest international airport.
The currency in France is the Euro. Check with your bank for up to date exchange info. Banks are generally open Monday to Friday from 9AM-5PM and closed all day Saturday, Sunday, and national holidays.
Make sure your passports are up to date and in good condition. Bring other photo ID besides your passport. Photocopy/scan your passports, tickets, etc and bring with you, keeping them in a separate location from the originals. Also leave a copy with someone at home and/or email them to yourself to have an electronic copy.
Lifestyle in France
Opening times for shops – The classic French shopping week comprises six days, Monday to Saturday, with shops generally open from 9 a.m. to Midday, and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. In towns and villages, it is still the rule that shops close at lunchtime.. In tourist areas, shops have longer hours.
Sundays and Mondays – are the days that many museums, shops and restaurants close
Smoking– is prohibited in French hotel rooms, restaurants and bars, although there are smoking sections on some outside terraces
French squares are the center of city and neighborhood life and you will always find people congregating in the “place”, where you can usually get a coffee, ice cream or glass of wine.
Breakfast in France (Petit Déjeuner) consists of coffee, tea or chocolate with croissants and bread with butter or jam.
Lunch (Déjeuner) is served from noon until 2 pm. Don’t wait any longer or the restaurant kitchens close up after that time until dinnertime. Traditionally the French ate their main meal of the day at lunchtime; however, this has changed with modern times. Lunch can consist of a five course meal or a simple salad or sandwich. Other options include the “plat du jour” (dish of the day) in a tavern, or a croques-monsieur, a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. Street stalls sell crêpes, gauffres and all type of sandwiches in baguette bread.
Dinner (Diner) is served from 7:30 pm onwards. It could be a little earlier in smaller towns. The French themselves usually eat at around 8 pm and this meal is usually a leisurely event, time to spend with the family or with friends. At some restaurants, you can expect full 5 or even 7 course meals.
Bring a copy of all your credit card (Visa, Amex, etc) contact details (Tel/ Fax/ Email) in case of credit card theft, blockage, etc. Notify your credit card companies that you will be travelling to France, so they do not block your card once you start making charges.
The voltage and plugs are different in France (electric current in France is 220 volts and the plug is two circular pins), so if you want to bring electronic equipment you will need to bring both a plug adaptor and a voltage adaptor.
Facts and figures
- Official name République Française
- Population 64,750,000 in metropolitan France (2016)
- Area Slightly less than the size of Texas; France is the largest West European nation
- Regions 22 regions (régions, singular - région); Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy), Bourgogne (Burgundy), Bretagne (Brittany), Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse (Corsica), Franche-Comté, Haute-Normandie (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, Rhône-Alpes. The 22 regions (including the "territorial collectivity" of Corse or Corsica) are then subdivided into 96 “departments”.
- Capital City Paris
- Major Cities Paris (11,769,433), Lyon (1,748,271), Marseille (1,605,000), Lille (1,164,716), Nice (1,197,751), Toulouse (1,102,882), Bordeaux (999,149) and Nantes (804,000)
- Ports and terminals Bordeaux, Calais, Dunkerque, Le Havre, Marseille, Nantes, Paris, Rouen, Strasbourg
- Ethnic composition Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities; overseas departments: black, white, mulatto, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian
- Official language French
- Other languages spoken (Provençal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish); overseas departments: French, Creole patois
- Literacy 99% literacy, education is generally 16 years
- Climate Metropolitan France: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral
- Coastline Metropolitan France: 3,427 km [2,129 mi]
- Government Republic
- National holiday Fête de la Fédération, 14 July (1790). Although often incorrectly referred to as Bastille Day, the celebration actually commemorates the holiday held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille (on 14 July 1789) and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy; other names for the holiday are Fête Nationale (National Holiday) and quatorze juillet (14th of July)
- Agriculture Wheat, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes; beef, dairy products; fish
- Industries Machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics; textiles, food processing; tourism
- Time France is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time