France: Castles, Coasts & Croissants
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
For the most up to date entry requirements for this tour, please visit this page.
Travel Documents & Tour Preparation
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 617-619-1411. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date.
- Visa: U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a tourist stay of 90 days or less.
- Travel Insurance: While travel insurance is not required, we strongly encourage all travelers to obtain coverage before departure. Check out cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers, here.
- Talk with your doctor: It is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
- Traveling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
- Request a roommate: Double-check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan for your mobile device so you can stay connected while on the road. Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
- Wi-Fi will be in most hotels, restaurants, and bars, though it may be slower than in the U.S.
- Wi-Fi is not available on the bus.
- Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.
Arrival Information & Transportation
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. Using your 6-digit reservation code, you can reserve your seat (this is typically available 30 days to 24 hours before departure) and check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, that’s okay, too. Regardless, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
All flight information is online (e-ticket) via your account and the airline’s website. You will not receive a physical paper ticket from us.
- If your flight is canceled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancelations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time.
- If you sleep in and miss your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
Arriving in Paris
Once you land in Paris, you will be met by your chauffer driver (fancy, right?) who will take you to your first accommodation. Here are steps on how to find your driver depending on the terminal you arrive in.
Your Tour Director will communicate through the EF Ultimate Break app, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is an important reason to make sure you have the EF Ultimate Break app!
If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel. Accommodation details will be available in your online account 30 days prior to departure.
Getting from A to B
You’re traveling through Europe, and since teleportation hasn’t been invented yet, it takes time to get to each destination. All transfers between cities are via private motor coach and can take 2 to 6 hours. When sightseeing, be prepared to walk between 4-8 miles per day!
It’s a good idea to download a few movies or shows to watch sans wifi/cellular data, bring a great book with you to read, or listen to music to pass the time.
Health & Safety
Staying Healthy While Traveling
Fact: Travel is exhilarating. And FOMO is real. So, we understand why you don’t want to miss a second of the action. But there’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:
- Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon siesta, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Stay hydrated: It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially after spending all day in the sun!
- Be Prepared: The most prepared travelers will bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
- Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
- Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
- What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
- Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.
Safety While Abroad
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi and always have cash on hand.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411.
Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (typically 27" x 21" x 14") but note that years of customer feedback tells us that the lighter you pack, the better. Double check the luggage size requirements on your airline’s website, but we recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag; You may need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot. See more packing tips below that will help you become an international, carry-on-suitcase, jetsetter.
Electronics: We recommend a universal adapter; the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com) for this trip.
- 1 light jacket or rain jacket (layers are key!)
- Comfortable walking shoes
- 4-5 pairs jeans / shorts (one longer pair of pants, dress, or skirt for cathedral entrances)
- 6-7 shirts / t-shirts
- Shawl or sweater to cover your shoulders for entrance to cathedrals
- 1-2 nicer outfits for the Welcome Dinner & Farewell Dinner, or a night out
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine – motion-sickness medicine if you’re prone to getting seasick
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera
- Passport. We also recommend that you make two color photocopies of your passport. Leave one copy at home with a friend or relative, and bring one copy with you, keeping it separate from the original documents.
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
Also Note: June through August are peak temperatures in Europe ranging from 70-90 degrees during the day and dropping at night. Layers and staying hydrated are key!
Money & Tipping
We at EF will help facilitate any testing requirements while on tour, however it is the travelers responsibility to pay for these tests and it is our recommendation that you budget roughly 150 USD total. Please note that non-boosted travelers may be required to do additional testing to enter places such as restaurants, and/or major attractions.
We recommend budgeting $80-$100 per day for meals, gratuities, shopping, and free time activities. Remember that you know your spending habits best and not everyone’s spending habits are the same. These recommendations are based on a traveler who says yes to any and all activities while on tour.
Currency used: Euro (€)
The rates at ATMs are usually the best, and you can find machines everywhere - especially with the help of your Tour Director. Please make sure to talk with your bank and credit card companies to let them know where and when you are traveling, and to go over any international transaction fees. It’s always smart to bring more than one form of payment while traveling, and credit cards are widely accepted throughout the country.
If you have a credit card that offers zero international transaction fees, bring that to save some money for purchases abroad.
When it comes to tipping, there is no tip required for taxis and nearly all restaurant bills that you receive already include gratuity, so additional tipping is not necessary. As it is customary to tip for services provided, we recommend the following for this tour:
- Local Guides: $1-$2 at the end of each experience
- Tour Director: $44-$66 given at the end of the trip
You’ve selected an Ultimate Plus departure. Nice choice! You’ll be staying at upgraded hotels throughout your trip. Each property is located in a safe and convenient area to ensure a comfortable stay, in rooms that are only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Actual accommodations will be made available to you 30 days before your trip.
- 1 fellow EF Ultimate Break roommate of the same gender
- 3-4-star hotels (Hotels in Europe may be much smaller than standard American hotels)
- One private bathroom per room that you’ll share with your roommate
- Limited air conditioning – AC is popular in the U.S., but not in Europe!
If you have any questions about your rooming status or want to request a specific roommate, call us at 617-619-1411, or connect with your Tour Director.
It’s fun and helpful to try your hand at the local language, French! Try out some of these popular words and phrases:
- Hello: Bonjour
- Goodbye: Au revoir
- Thank you: Merci
- Yes: Oui
- No: Non
- Where is...?: Ou est..?
- Cheers!: Santé
Download Duolingo or some language-learning podcasts to practice your skills, and use Google Translate to help you while on the road!
As you prepare to spend time in new cities, countries, and cultures, here are some expert tips to help you live like a true European.
- Public transportation is very popular in Europe. In Paris you’ll take the Metro! Taking public transportation is a great way to get to know a city
- Public restrooms in Europe sometimes require a small fee – hold on to your coins!
- Unlike the U.S., everything (hotels, meals, appliances) is smaller. After all, less is more!
- Practice the local language when greeting people or ordering food - It goes a long way with the locals
- Water is an added cost at restaurants, and you have to choose between still or sparkling
- Avoid making special requests at restaurants, it’s not as common in Europe
- Feel free to seat yourself in restaurants instead of waiting to be seated, and don’t be afraid to flag your waiter or waitress over for help
- French people are often more reserved, so don’t be offended if someone doesn’t strike up conversation right away. Though, you might find more friendly faces in the pubs!
- Paris is known for its fashion. Now is the time to break out your new duds!
- Smoking is still quite popular in Europe Don’t be surprised to see large amounts of locals with lit cigarettes!
Food & Drink
You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips when dining out in France, and delicacies you must try:
- Baguettes: Now is your chance to walk around the streets of Paris with a baguette in hand. YOLO.
- Fromageries and boulangeries: Specialized cheese stores, and bakeries! The combination of delicacies from these two types of stores can only be improved with French wine.
- Chocolate for breakfast: Pain au chocolat, or chocolate croissant, is the perfect breakfast treat.
- Steak frites: Grilled steak with various sauces and fries will hit the spot. Guaranteed!
- Crepes, macarons, chocolat, oh my!: Try a street stand crepe as an afternoon snack, a fun-flavored macaron, or any form of chocolate you can find. It’s all delicious!
- Champagne: It’s originated in France, after all…
- Croque-monsieur: Kind of like an extreme grilled cheese, this is a crisp grilled ham and cheese sandwich usually with bechamel sauce.
- Escargot: A.k.a., snails doused in butter and garlic. When in Paris, right?
- The 4 C's of Normandy: Cider, calvados, cream, and camembert are all staples of this region's cuisine.
- Moules frites: With an abundance of coastline at their disposal, Normandy and Brittany sure know how to cook up some mussels.
- Chambord and Cointreau: These famous fruity liquors both originated in the Loire Valley.
- Beurre blanc: Maybe you've heard of this luscious made of butter, vinegar, white wine, and shallots. Having hailed from the Loire Valley, you'll find it accompanying all types of seafood here.
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time.
Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add-ons.
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.