France is served by numerous services from England to France:
P&O Ferries - operate freight and passenger services from Dover to Calais.
My Ferry Link - operate freight and passenger services from Dover to Calais.
DFDS Seaways - operate freight and passenger services from Dover to Dunkerque.
LD Lines (http://www.ldlines.co.uk/) - operate freight and passenger services from Portsmouth to Le Havre.
Brittany Ferries (http://www.brittanyferrie...) - operate freight and passenger services from Portsmouth to Caen, Portsmouth to Cherbourg, Portsmouth to St Malo, Poole to Cherbourg and Plymouth to Roscoff.
Condor Ferries (http://www.condorferries....) - operate freight and passenger services from Portsmouth to Cherbourg, Poole to St Malo and Weymouth to St Malo.
Prices vary considerably depending on which route you choose. Generally the cheapest route is the short sea route across the English Channel which is Dover to Calais, so it is worth comparing prices before you decide which is the most suitable route to France.
Passengers travelling from Dover by ferry to France go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before boarding, rather than on arrival in France. Passengers travelling from all other UK ports to France go through French passport/identity card checks on arrival in France.
There are also connections from Ireland to France:
Brittany Ferries (http://www.brittanyferries.ie/) - operate ferry services from Cork to Roscoff
Celtic Link Ferries (http://www.celticlinkferr...) - operate ferry services from Rosslare to Cherbourg
Irish Ferries (http://www.irishferries.c...) - operate ferry services from Rosslare to Cherbourg and from Rosslare to Roscoff
Numerous companies now act as agents for the various ferry companies much like Expedia and Travelocity act as agents for airlines allowing the comparison of various companies and routes. Two well known brands are Ferryonline (http://www.ferryonline.co.uk) and AFerry.co.uk (http://www.aferry.co.uk/f...).
Minimum validity of travel documents
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens need only have a national identity card or passport which is valid for the entirety of their stay in France.
Other nationals regardless of whether they are visa-exempt (e.g. New Zealanders or are required to have a visa e.g. South Africans) must have a passport which has at least 3 months' validity beyond their period of stay in France. In addition, the passport must have been issued in the previous 10 years.
France is a member of the Schengen Agreement.
There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented this treaty - the European Union except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs checks but no immigration checks travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country or you may have to clear immigration but not customs travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country.
Please see the article Travel in the Schengen Zone for more information about how the scheme works and what entry requirements are.Citizens of Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Israel, Macedonia, Mauritius, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Taiwan and Uruguay, as well as British Nationals Overseas, are permitted to work in France without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay. All other visa-exempt nationals are exempt from holding a visa for short-term employment if they possess a valid work permit and can present this work permit at the port of entry, with limited exceptions. However, this ability to work visa-free does not necessarily extend to other Schengen countries. For more information, visit this webpage of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Foreign nationals who are not visa-exempt e.g. South Africans must make a 'declaration of entry' déclaration d'entrée at a police station or to border inspection personnel if they arrive in France directly from another country of Schengen Area e.g. Italy, unless they hold a long-term visa or residence permit issued by a Schengen member state. Their passports will be endorsed by the authorities to prove that such a declaration has been made.
Reading upBefore you leave you may want to read a book like French or Foe by Polly Platt or Almost French by Sarah Turnbull — interesting, well written records from English speaking persons who live in France. For the adult reader interested in the famous reputation enjoyed by Paris for romance and sensuality, try "SENSUAL PARIS: Sex, Seduction and Romance in the Sublime City of Light" by Jonathan LeBlanc Roberts
If you intend to stay in France for longer than 90 days, regardless of purpose, an advance long-stay visa is always required of non-EEA or non-Swiss citizens. It is almost impossible to switch from a "C" visitor entry status to a "D" long-stay status from inside France, and you must apply for a long-stay visa in-person at the consulate responsible for your place of residence.
As of 2009, certain categories of long-stay visa, such as "visitor" visiteur, family vie privée et familiale, "student" étudiant, "intern" stagiaire "scientist-researcher" scientifique-chercheur, "salaried worker" salarié, and "short-term worker" travailleur temporaire, do not require holders to obtain a separate residence permit carte de séjour for the first year of stay in France. However, the long-stay visa must be validated by the Office Française de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration OFII within the first three months of entering France to be valid for longer than those three months. This is done by sending in a form to the OFII received along with the visa with the address of residence in France, completing a medical examination, and attending an introductory meeting to validate the visa. The tax required for validation €58 for students and interns; €241 for workers except those under the short-term worker category, scientists, visitors, and family is, as of February 2013, collected at the end of the validation process inside France. This validated visa will serve as a residence permit and, likewise, allow travel throughout the other Schengen countries for up to 90 days in a 6-month period. To stay in France after a validated visa expires, however, and/or if you hold a visa which states carte de séjour à solliciter dès l'arrivée, a carte de séjour residence permit card must be obtained at the préfecture responsible for your place of residence within two months of entry into France or two months before the visa expires. Please consult the OFII website for more information.
French overseas departments and territories DOM-TOM are not part of the Schengen Area and operate a separate immigration regime from mainland France. As such, if you intend to visit them, you will need a separate visa if required for your nationality.
As according to an agreement with the CFL, the Belgian railways are directing all passenger trains to France through Luxembourg thus causing an extra unnecessary border crossing, it may be useful to cross the border directly, on foot. The terminus of the French railways in Longwy can be reached from the Belgian train station of Halanzy the line operates only on work days, however, or from the bigger Belgian stations of Arlon or Virton. Between these two stations there's a bus operated by the TEC company which stops at Aubange Place, a good point of departure/arrival for the walking tour. The path leads almost exclusively through inhabited areas in the community of Mont-Saint-Martin yet partially in a forest if you go to/from Halanzy and takes some 7 km. The city of Longwy itself is quite steep in some of its parts, so pay attention to this when planning your route.
There are domestic Belgian trains that terminate in Lille station Lille-Flanders.
Between the De Panne terminus of the Belgian railways and the Coast tram – Kusttram and the French coastal city of Dunkerque, there is a bus line run by DK'BUS Marine: (http://www.dkbus.com/). It may, however, be operating only in certain time of the year. It is also possible to take a DK'BUS bus which goes to the closest possible distance of the border and then cross it on foot by walking on the beach and arriving at a convenient station of the Coast tram, such as Esplanade.
France has several Eurolines-hubs, (http://www.eurolines.fr).
The main international airport, Roissy - Charles de Gaulle IATA: CDG is likely to be your port of entry if you fly into France from outside Europe. CDG is the home of Air France AF, the national company, for most intercontinental flights. AF and the companies forming the SkyTeam Alliance Dutch KLM, Aeromexico, Alitalia, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air, use Terminal 2 while most other foreign airlines use Terminal 1. A third terminal is used for charter flights. If transferring through CDG especially between the various terminals it is important to leave substantial time between flights. Ensure you have no less than one hour between transfers. Add more if you have to change terminals as you will need to clear through security.
Transfers to another flight in France: AF operates domestic flights from CDG too, but a lot of domestic flights, and also some internal European flights, use Orly, the second Paris airport. For transfers within CDG you can use the free bus shuttle linking all terminals, train station, parking lots and hotels on the platform. For transfers to Orly there is a bus link operated by AF free for AF passengers. The two airports are also linked by a local train RER which is slightly less expensive, runs faster but is much more cumbersome to use with heavy luggage. AF has agreements with the SNCF, the national rail company, which operates TGVs see below out of CDG airports some trains carry flight numbers. The TGV station is in Terminal 2 and is on the route of the free shuttle. For transfers to the city centre of Paris, see Paris. Paris Star Shuttle offers transfers from CDG into Paris.
Some low-cost airlines, including Ryanair and Volare, fly to Beauvais airport situated about 80km northwest of Paris. Buses to Paris are provided by the airlines. Check schedules and fares on their websites.
Other airports outside Paris have flights to/from international destinations: Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Toulouse have flights to cities in western Europe and North Africa; these airports are hubs to smaller airports in France and may be useful to avoid the transfer between the two Paris airports. Two airports, Bâle-Mulhouse and Geneva, are shared by France and Switzerland and can allow entry into either country.
Many airlines operate flights between regional airports in the UK and France and between Ireland and France:
British Airways flies direct from the UK to Angers, Basel Mulhouse, Bordeaux, Chambéry, Geneva, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Quimper and Toulouse.
Cityjet flies direct from the UK to Avignon Provence, Brest Brittany, Brive Dordogne, Deauville Normandy, Nantes, Paris Orly, Pau Pyrénées and Toulon Côte d'Azur and from Dublin to Paris CDG.
Eastern Airways flies between Southampton and Lorient.
easyJet flies direct from the UK to Basel Mulhouse, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Geneva, Grenoble, La Rochelle, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Nice, Paris CDG, Paris Orly, and Toulouse.
Flybe flies direct from the UK to Avignon Provence, Bergerac, Béziers, Bordeaux, Brest Brittany, Caen, Chambéry, Clermont-Ferrand, Geneva, La Rochelle, Limoges, Nantes, Nice, Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Pau Pyrénées, Perpignan, Rennes, Toulouse and Tours.
Jet2.com flies direct from the UK to Bergerac, Chambéry, Geneva, La Rochelle, Nice, Paris CDG and Toulouse.
Lydd Air (http://www.lyddair.com/) operates a short shuttle flight across the Channel between Lydd in Kent and Le Touquet.
Ryanair (http://www.ryanair.com) flies direct from the UK to Bergerac, Béziers, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Brive Dordogne, Carcassonne, Deauville Normandy, Dinard Saint-Malo, Grenoble, La Rochelle, Limoges, Lourdes, Marseille, Montpellier, Nîmes, Perpignan, Poitiers, Rodez, Toulon Côte d'Azur and Tours.
Aer Lingus flies direct from Ireland to Bordeaux, Geneva, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Paris CDG, Perpignan, Rennes and Toulouse.
The French rail company, SNCF, provides direct service from most European countries using regular trains. French train tickets can be purchased directly in the US from RailEurope a subsidiary of the SNCF.
Eurostar(http://www.eurostar.com) runs high-speed trains to France from the United Kingdom and Belgium. Passengers travelling from the UK to France go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before boarding, rather than on arrival in France. Passengers travelling from Brussels to Lille/Calais/Paris are within the Schengen Area. Eurostar operates the following routes from France:
Paris Gare du Nord direct to London St Pancras International 2h 15min, Ebbsfleet and Ashford and via Lille to Brussels Zuid-Midi.Lille Europe direct to London St Pancras International 1h 20min, Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Brussels Zuid-MidiCalais Fréthun direct to London St Pancras International 1h 2min; 2-3 daily, Ebbsfleet 44min; 3-4 daily, Ashford 35min; 1 daily and Brussels Zuid-Midi 1h 9min; 2-3 daily Note: Although Brussels Midi-Calais Fréthun can't be purchased on the Eurostar website, it is available on the Belgian Railways website
Thalys uses high-speed TGV trains to connect Paris to Brussels and onward to cities in the Netherlands and Germany. It can be a bit expensive compared to normal trains.
Intercitytrains leave for all parts of Europe, including overnight trains to San Sebastian in Spain, Porto and Lisbon in Portugal.
Several weekends each year in France its Black Saturday Samedi noir because of the start or end of school holidays and the coinciding traffic jams on the French roads. When possible it is wise to avoid these black days. See for the actual forecast the website of the French traffic service (http://www.bison-fute.equ...).
See Driving in France.
See the 'By boat' section above for information on car ferries to France from the United Kingdom and Ireland.