I recently came across a Dutch gentleman on a pilgrimage of Buddhist temples in the LOIRE valley of all places. (Yes, temples-NOT cathedrals).
He was walking ~40kms per day from temple to temple -- presumably on the Chemins de Grande Randonnée. I thought I traveled light, but he said I was carrying too much weight.... So my tip of the day is ultralight rain gear:
Many people bring waterproof, breathable rain gear. To shed weight, others have resorted to using disposable plastic emergency rain ponchos... but these don't breathe and are easily torn.
Now, I've discovered TYVEK -- a breathable fabric made of polyethylene fibers. It is extremely waterproof, compact, lightweight and durable. Best of all, you can easily find Tyvek clothing in the form of protective garments used by painters, lab technicians & hazardous-materials workers. Your local paint store will carry overalls for less than $10! Separate Jackets and Pants are also available if you look. Perfect for a sudden Tour de France rain storm! :)
I just bought LeFrenchMobile, they are all in english and you can call Europe at the national rate. I never saw them in shops thus.
The good thing with them is the credit that never expires! I love it as i'm always going back and forth to UK.
Luggage and bags:
While the U.S. allows a 50 lb. weight limit on luggage, it is a bit lower in Europe, and other Eastern hemisphere countries, so it pays to remember this in packing so that you are not unpacking at the counter, and trying to decide what clothing to throw away to avoid the steep overweight penalty.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: If you have clothing and shoes that are beginning to show wear & tear that you are going to dump soon, pack them with the understanding they will be disposed of abroad, allowing space and weight for souviners to bring home.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Travel sizes allow you complete the product during travel, fit them within the plastic bag required by TSP, dump the weight of the containers before your return travel.
Photo Equipment: Camera bags weig a good 3 or more lbs. and add to your bag weight. Take your camera out of the camera bag and pack into a large carry on with other emergency items that you can't do without in lost luggage scenarios.
Miscellaneous: Always pack must haves in your carry ons because it may take some running around locally to find what you need, e.g. makeup, special sizes when your luggage does not arrive with you.
Luggage and bags:
The "luggage area" of trains and taxis in Europe are teeny. A great trip can be quickly ruined by having to lug, shove, hurl and otherwise drag a huge suitcase around. Fortunately for the traveler - the apartments in Paris are small too. What does that have to do with anything you ask? It means that the apartments aren't big enough for clothes washers, and therefore there are laundromats literally every few streets. Pack LIGHT, and just take an hour out of one evening around the middle of the trip to do laundry.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Clothing depends on what you intend to do, and whether or not you want to scream "American Tourist". Typical daily Parisian dress is what Americans would consider metro, or modern business casual. Parisians don't run around in cargo shorts, product(red) t-shirts and crocs. That said, contrary to popular belief, Parisians are not offended if YOU wear that. Take what you will be comfortable in. Comfortable shoes, comfortable shoes, comfortable shoes. You will walk. A lot.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: There are drug stores every few blocks, and any supplies you can think of can be had there for what you would consider as "the going rate". I take very little with me in the way of toiletries. (1) The airline rules du' jour tend to be too much trouble. (2) Just about anything I'd need is already provided by the hotel. (3) Anything else can be purchased there in a small travel size when I get there, and then I toss it when I leave.
Photo Equipment: When I travel to Europe, it is specifically to take pictures - that's the whole reason I go. My photography backpack is slightly larger than the bag I take everything else in. Your mileage may vary. At a MINIMUM, take a good digital camera, several extra batteries, and if you're not taking a laptop to save the pictures to while you're there, take several memory cards.
Miscellaneous: Paris is a large city - one of the largest in Europe! Purchase one city map before you travel to the city of Paris or you can purchase a map from any souvenir shops and/or bookstores in the city. Most city maps cost less than 10.00 euros each. The map as depicted in our image on the right is an excellent city map by Blay Foldex which costs only 3.60 euros each. It contains map with monuments and main thoroughfares. Make it a point to get a copy if you do not have any!
Miscellaneous: You may purchase some lovely artworks painted by some famous French artists from the streets of the city of Paris even though they are just reproductions. The artworks can be purchased for just several euros per piece. The artwork of the famous Moulin Rouge as depicted on our photograph above measures approximately 35cm X 26cm and costs just two euros each. It can also be regarded as an excellent decorating souvenir from Paris. Make sure you get several copies when you visit Paris on your vacation! They are also ideal as gifts to friends and relatives back home!
Like Hats to keep the sun off during a warm spell. Like Beanies to keep your head warm in a cold snap. Take 'em from home! My Scottish ancestry makes me unable to forgive myself for leaving the woolie beanie at home one May. Paid an outrageous 32 bucks for a crappy modern non-fluffy thing which in Australia would sell for 6 dollars.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: I have found that the pollen count in rural France during Spring /early Summer more than my nasal passages can handle so I always pack Rhinocort nasal spray & little pink tablets to dry up the nose if it gets too bad.
Another source of hay fever you may encounter is cheap red wine. Could it be the added preservatives different from the ones in Australia??
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Not on every travellers list of needs but have you ever tried to buy a cheap plastic bucket in France? Highway robbery compared to the one buck specials available in Australia. Yep a plastic bucket with handle for less than a dollar back home: costs 15 euro in France.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Bringing good walking shoes is important! You don't want to be walking all over Paris in high heels, especially if you're sight-seeing. Even if you use the subway, there's still a lot of walking involved in France. And using a taxi too often will get expensive. Comfortable shoes, a bit of French, and you're good to go!!
yes = oui
no = non
Good day = Bonjour
Good evening = Bon soir
Good bye = au revoir
Watch out! = Attention!
please = s'il vous plaît
thank you = merci or merci bien (thank you very much)
sorry/excuse me = excusez-moi
how much = Combien?
the bill please = L'addition, s'il vous plaît
where is = où est...
toilet = toilettes
can I have/I want: je voudrais ... (not: je veux!)
parlez vous Anglais = do you speak English?
Je ne parle pas Francais = I do not speak French
Un petit peu = a little
In case any of you tourists from England need any help before your travels to France, or for anyone French needing help from your own country, here is the French Embassy and the French Consulate in England, which also counts counts for Wales.
London. SW7 2EN.
London. SW7 2EN.
Luggage and bags:
A decent handbag that is not easily gotten into, don't leave the zip open if you don't want pickockets to filch your purse etc. Suitable locks on suitcases for exactly the same reason too. A bumbag for just general sightseeing would be much safer for you and your belongings.
Good walking shoes, how can you expect to walk around and seeing the sights if you are wearing uncomfortable shoes? High heels for evening wear only. Casual wear that is smart and tidy for day wear, no one wants to view slobs on holiday. Evening wear is what you feel most comfortable and glamourous in.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies:
Any medicines that you have to take, remember to get a Medical passport for such things as Insulin and needles etc., otherwise they may think you're a drug addict at Customs. A small first aid kit would also be handy. Remember to always carry a first aid kit in your car if you are travelling this way to or around France.
A camera, plenty of film if it's a film camera, and also plenty of batteries for digital or the film type camera.
A phrase book if you haven't bothered to learn any French before you go.
For information about this, either contact the French embassy in your country, or for some initial information, see this link of the French Foreign Affairs Department (you can't get more official!):
or click here
For US citizens, click here
Remember to carry a two pin adaptor for your Mobile Phone Charger. Many newer Cell Phone adaptors have three pins. These will not go into the two holed sockets that the French use. So do carry a converter in case your cell phone has a 3 Pinned adaptor plug.
Miscellaneous: In Marseille I met a guy from San Diego. Steve, that is his name, travels with a special guitar for backpackers. It is a lot lighter and smaller than a normal guitar, so it saves space and it's easy to carry. The price is around 200$US
You don't need to go to a post office (La Poste) if you simply need stamps for your postcards. Any 'Tabac' sells them. A 'Tabac' is a bar (light snacks, drinks, coffee) that sells tobacco and stamps.
As of 2006:
The tariff for post cards or letters up to 20 gram: outside Europe is €0,85. Inside Europe it's € 0,60.
For a destination in France, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyane, Réunion: € 0,54 (express) and € 0,49 (economy).
You can recognise the 'Tabac' sign by its red, longish diamond shape. Guyon says it is supposed to look like a carrot that was used to keep tobacco moist.
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