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Whilst traveling in France it is always helpful to understand the local ways. Greetings are quite formal in France. Offer to shake hands when you are introduced to someone, and use vous rather than tu. It is polite to use Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle when speaking to people you don't know. For very young women and teenage girls use Mademoiselle, otherwise always use Madame. The continental kiss is a common form of greeting between friends, and the number of times friends kiss each other on the cheek varies from region to region. Communicating in French is always the best option, even if you can manage only bonjour (Hello), s'il vous plait (please) and merci (thankyou). The French are protective of their language and your efforts to speak it will be appreciated. Remember that in France it is tradition to say hello as you enter a shop, bar or café, particularly in small towns and villages, and that you are greeting your fellow customers as well as the proprietor.
Read more on this destination in The AA Essential Guide to Lille.
Passports and Visas: Entry requirements differ depending on your nationality and also may be subject to change without notice. Prior to your visit, check with the French tourist office or the French Embassy. UK, US and Canadian visitors are required to have a valid passport, but not a visa, for stays of up to three months. You should have at least six months' validity remaining on your passport. Before your travel, check visa and passport regulations since these are subject to change.
Customs: When travelling from another EU country, the following guidelines for your personal use allowance are: 800 cigarettes or 200 cigars or 1 Kilogram of tabacco, 10 litres of spirits (over 22%), 20 litres of aperitifs, 90 litres of wine, of which 60 litres can be sparkling wine and 110 litres of beer. When travelling from a non-EU country your personal use allowances are: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco, 1 litre of spirits (over 22%), 2 litres of intermediary products (eg sherry) and sparkling wine, 2 litres of still wine, 50 millilitres of perfume, 250 millilitres of eau de toilette. The value limit for goods is €175. Please note travellers under 17 years of age are not entitled to the tabacco and alcohol allowances. The following items are NOT allowed: drugs, firearms, ammunition, offensive weapons, obscene material, unlicensed animals.
Embassies and Consulates: The UK Consulate addressin Lille is 11 Square Dutilleul.
Car Rental: If you are interested in renting a car, all major car rental firms have offices at the airport and by main stations, however it is best to reserve a car in advance. Do make sure that full insurance is included in the package.
Money Matters: France is one of 15 European countries that has adopted the euro as the official currency. Euro notes and coins were introduced in January 2002, replacing the former currency, the French Franc. Euro travellers cheques are widely accepted and a safer way than bringing cash, as you can claim a refund if they are stolen - but commission can be high when you cash them, particularly in hotels and shops.
Medical: You can find a doctor (médecin) by asking at the local pharmacy or at your hotel. Appointments are usually made in advance, but few doctors will refuse an emergency case. In the case of an emergency you can call 15 for an Ambulance. Hospitals are listed in the phone books under Hôpitaux and round the clock emergency services are called urgences. Pharmacies (pharmacie) will have an illuminated green cross outside. Most are open Mon-Sat 9-7 or 8, but they usually post details on the door of a pharmacy that is open later (called the Pharmacie de garde).
Visitors with Disabilities: France has made great headway in recent years in providing access and facilities for visitors with disabilities. All new buildings must take the needs of people with special requirements into account, and where possible, existing buildings such as town halls, airports and train stations must be adapted with ramps and automatic doors. However, some visitor offices, museums and restaurants that are in historic, protected buildings are still not fully accessible. A telephone call before going to a restaurant is a good idea to organise a more easily accesible table.
Lost Passport: If you do lose your passport or it is stolen, report it to the police and then contact your nearest embassy or consulate. It is a good idea to take a note of your passport number and a photocopy of the page that carries your details in case it is lost or stolen. If you are a victim of theft, you must report it at the local police staion (gendarmerie) if you want to claim on your insurance. Keep hold of the statement the police give you.
- 112 - General emergencies
- 15 - Ambulance
- 17 - Police
- 18 - Fire services