While traveling through France, we found out some things that you don’t see in travel guides.  For example:

  •  Hours are expressed in military time:  0:01 to 24:00.
  •  Outside of Paris be prepared to see businesses and stores close between 12:00 and 14:00.   Restaurants will remain open, but most other businesses will close.  Restaurants and small stores will open Sunday morning, but close in the afternoon and on Monday.
  • Meal times for the French are 12:30 and 7:30, more or less, not like in Spain and Italy where people go out after work and eat late.
  • As good as French food and cooking is, if you want a good sandwich you must have it made to order.  You can go to the boulangerie (bakery) and buy your bread (croissant, baguette, etc), then go to the charcuterie (sausage and deli meats) and ask them to stuff your bread with your choice of meats, paté or terrine.
  • The very best way to ride the public transport in Paris is buying the tickets in groups of 10.  The price is discounted to 1.35€ each (in 2013).  Tickets can be used in surface transport or the underground.
  • Definitely buy a Museé Pass (museum pass) in Paris.  Not only will you save some money but you will be able to skip the long lines at the door of any museum.  There is no limit to the number of monuments or museums you can visit, the pass is designed to be used on consecutive days and come in 2, 4 or 6 days pass.
  • If you rent a car be aware that the French have been voted the worst drivers in Europe in the last couple of years.  Having said that, driving through the countryside is a wonderful experience and very easy.