Basic Tourist Information


France has the benefit of a temperate, delightful climate.

Continental France is divided into four climatic zones:

Oceanic and humid climate with often cool summers to the west of a line from Bayonne to Lille.

Semi-continental climate with harsh winters and hot summers in Alsace, Lorraine, along the Rhône corridor and in the mountainous massifs (Alps, Pyrenees and Massif Central);

Intermediate climate with cold winters and hot summers in the north, and in the Paris and central regions.

Mediterranean climate with mild winters and very hot summers in the south of France.


France is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The French use the 24-hour clock, so 6:00pm = 18:00, for example.

Electrical adaptors

The voltage in France is 220 volts. If you prefer to bring any items with you that require electricity, we suggest you purchase an adapter for your personal use.

Medical treatment

All European Union nationals are entitled to French social security coverage. However, treatment must be paid for and hospital rates vary widely. Reimbursements may be obtained if you have acquired your E111 form (European form) before you travel. All travellers should consider purchasing travel insurance.

Non-EU nationals are encouraged to carry medical insurance.


Banking and Currency

Although we will be providing your transportation from and to Toulouse, accommodations, some meals and transportation on excursions, you will need to bring with you your own currency for the purchase of meals, souvenirs, personal items and in the event of an emergency.


The national currency in France (and all countries in the European Union) is the Euro. U.S. dollars are not accepted in most establishments; however, some shops and restaurants may accept your U.S. dollars at an agreed upon exchange rate.

As of April 2002, the exchange rate is 1 EUR = 1.22350 USD. Euros are both paper and coin.

Bill denominations are as follows:
500€ / 200€ / 100€ / 50€ / 20€/ 10€/ 5€
Coin denominations are as follows:
2€ / 1€ / 50 cents / 20c / 10c / 5c / 2c / 1c

Using banks

Most French banks have a bureau de change. French banking hours (outside of Paris) are 10:00am to 1:00pm and 3:00pm to 5:00pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Many banks now have ATMs (automatic teller machines) outside, which you can normally use with cards in the Visa or MasterCard groups. Instructions are often given in French, English and German.

Currency exchange can be made in most banks (look for a sign indicating Change) and post offices as well as in some large stores, train stations, airports and exchange offices near major tourist sites. Remember that even though exchange rates are fixed, agent commissions vary; they must be clearly displayed. Exchange rates vary from bank to bank in the U.S. and France.

Large cities in the U.S. generally have banks specialized in foreign exchange with lower exchange rates. The same applies in France. In general, it is best to find a larger bank or exchange office.

Traveler's checks in U.S. dollars should be exchanged in banks or exchange offices because very few businesses will accept them. Traveler's checks in Euros can be purchased in the U.S. from specialized banks or in any major banks in France. They offer a safe means of traveling with ready cash.





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