Some Practical Facts
All French numbers begin with a 0 and have ten digits. The first two digits are equivalent to the U.S. area code, as follows:
- 01 Paris and nearby areas
- 02 Northwest France
- 03 North and Northwest France
- 04 Southeast France
- 05 Southwest France
- 06 All French cell phone numbers
- 08 Toll-free numbers (called Numéro Verts). Free phone calls from a landline are 0800 and 0805.
- 0801 and 0810 cost the same as a local call and are called Numéros Azurs.
- 0802 and 0820 are billed at 15 cents (Euro) per minute and are called Numéros Indigos
The number for Directory Inquiries is 118. Yellow Pages for the whole country can be found at www.pagesjaunes.fr/trouverlesprofessionnels/index.do.
Calling home from France is not cheap, but you can save some money by calling with a pre-paid international phone card, which can be used from any landline. Pre-paid international phone cards can be bought at small shops around most main line train stations. Be careful to buy the one that suits you depending on the phone you will be using: a landline, a phone booth, or your mobile. Also be sure to check the expiration date.
When calling from France to the U.S. you must dial 00-1 + area code + the local number. Remember the time difference: France is six hours ahead of the U.S.!
The electric current is 220 volts AC at 50 cycles. You’ll have no problem if you are taking a laptop (advisable for interns at the American Library and at Bonjour Paris, for example), since the charger is also a converter, but don’t take any appliances (hair dryer, etc.) unless they are dual voltage.
Public Holidays (Jours Fériés)
Knowing the dates for the public holidays in France is an essential piece of information. Banks and many shops will be closed, and, as in any country, holidays determine people’s habits. If a public holiday happens to be on a Thursday, French tend to take off Friday. This is known as faire le pont. Here is a list of holidays to keep in mind (only some of which are relevant to a summer stay):
- Easter Monday
- May 1: Labor Day
- Ascension Thursday: the 40th day after Easter. It’s a four-day weekend.
- May 8: celebrates the victory of the European Allied Forces in 1945
- Pentecost Monday: the seventh Sunday after Easter
- July 14: Bastille Day
- August 15: Assumption Day
- November 1: All Saints Day (la Toussaint)
- November 11: Armistice Day (celebrates the end of World War I)
Weights and Measurements
France and many of the European countries use metric weights and measurements. For example:
- 1 kilometer = 0.62 miles
- 1 meter = 3.28 ft
- 1 inch = 2.54 centimeters
- 1 kilogram = 2.20 pounds
- 1 ounce = 30 grams
Clothing and Shoe Sizes
|Clothing Sizes for Women:
|Clothing Sizes for Men:
Additional Small But Useful Facts
- Telling time is done using the 24-hour clock, so there is no a.m./p.m. but 11h00 (11 a.m.) and 23h00 (11 p.m.).
- Dates in France are written in a different order from the U.S.: Day/Month/Year (e.g. June 2, 2007 is written 2/6/07)
- Floor numbers begin at zero or Rez-de-Chaussé, which is the equivalent to the first floor in the U.S. The first floor in France would be the second floor in the U.S.
- Standard paper size in France is A4, which is slightly longer than the standard U.S. size of 8.5 in. x 11 in.
- Water at restaurants is not free unless you specify that you’d like tap water. If you just order water, the waiter will bring you a bottle and charge you for it.
- Tipping: Most of the time, a 15% gratuity is included in restaurant bills, but you must make sure this is the case. If the menu says “service compris,” you only need to leave a few coins on the table. If service is not included, the bill will say “service non compris” at the bottom.
- Post offices are open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Some offices are open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Hours outside Paris vary according to the locality and most post offices close for lunch. All offices are closed on public holidays.