Sundays and public holidays
- New Year's Day: January 1
- Easter Monday: March or April
- Labour Day: May 1
- Victory Day: May 8
- Ascension Thursday: May
- National holiday: July 14
- Assumption Day: August 15
- All Saints Day: November 1
- 1918 Armistice: November 11
- Christmas Day: December 25
Additionally, under local law, Good Friday (i.e. the Friday before Easter Sunday) and December 26 (the feast of St Stephen) are also official holidays.
France is divided into three administrative zones, each having slightly different school holidays in order to avoid tourism congestion. Alsace is part of zone B (Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Besançon, Dijon, Lille, Limoges, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Poitiers, Reims, Rouen, Strasbourg).
Further information: Ministry of education
The electrical standards in force in France stipulate an electrical current of 220 V.
There are many French and foreign banks in Alsace's towns. These are generally open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., from Monday to Friday. Most closed for lunch between half past noon and 2 p.m.
If you need to change currency, you can either go to a bank or a bureau de change. These establishments are free to set their own exchange rates, which fluctuate on a daily basis. In addition to the exchange rate, you also need to pay a commission which varies according to the establishment concerned.
The many ATMs (cashpoint machines) enable you to withdraw euros 24 hours a day using your international bankcard. The machines provide a choice of languages, including French, English, German and sometimes other languages. Please check with your bank to find out how much commission they will charge and details of any withdrawal limits which may apply.
Service is already included in the restaurant and hotel bills. However, if the service has been satisfactory then a tip equal to around 5 to 10 % of the value of the bill will certainly be appreciated.
To rent a car in France, you will need to bring along your national and international driving licence. Additionally, you must also be over 21 years of age and have held your driving licence for more than one year.
Drink-driving is severely punished in France. The maximum tolerated blood alcohol concentration is 0.5 g of alcohol per litre of blood, which is equal to approximately 3 glasses of beer or two glasses of wine.
If you live outside the EU and you have purchased items for a value exceeding €175, you can take advantage of duty-free shopping to obtain a refund of the VAT you have paid. When purchasing your items, the sales assistant will give you an export sales slip. You should then have this approved by the customs office.
In order to benefit from the possibility of duty-free shopping you must…
- Live outside the EU and simply be visiting or passing through France for a stay of less than six months.
- Have purchased more than €175 worth of goods (VAT-inclusive prices) in the same store and on the same day.
- Have purchased the items during the last three months.
For further information: Please visit the French customs department's website
- Member states of the European Union:
As a citizen of the European Union, you do not require a visa to enter France. You can enter the country with only your national identity card (this must be valid), or your national passport (which must be valid, or expired no more than five years ago).
You do not require a visa to enter France. You can enter the country with only your national identity card (this must be valid), or your national passport (which must be valid, or expired no more than five years ago).
- United States:
If you are staying for less than three months, you do not require a visa to enter France. You only need to be in possession of a passport valid for at least six months.
An application must be submitted. Chinese nationals need to show a visa to enter France, regardless of the length of their stay and whatever their travel document unless they are the holders of a valid residence card allowing them to live in France or in another state of the Schengen area.
If you are staying for less than three months, you do not require a visa to enter France.
- Other countries:
No vaccinations are required in order to enter France. However, pets must be vaccinated against rabies and you must be able to produce their health record booklet.
Smoking is forbidden in public places (public transport and hospitals, etc.). From 2008 onwards, this ban will also apply to bars, restaurants and discotheques.
Like 12 other states of the European Union, since January 1, 2002, France has been using the euro.
The most popular credit cards, (including VISA, MasterCard or American Express), are accepted in virtually all shops.
You can use the following tool to convert your country's currency to and from the euro: