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Paris is the capital of France and the country’s largest city.  An important settlement for more than two millennia, Paris is today one of the world’s leading business and cultural centers, and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world’s major global cities. Take advantage of being able to decorate in the French lifestyle. Just try resisting those seductive window displays that stimulate your senses and invite you to discover again and again a quality of life that is so typically French. Decoration, tableware, fabrics, objects, rugs… Experience the refinement of an infinite choice of products and styles, and pick up some scintillating “made in Paris” ideas for your new home. And once you’ve finished decorating, remember, cooking is viewed as a major art form in Paris.  As your time and interest allow As time allows, take time to explore nearby food shops – a bakery in the elite guild of compagnons, a prize-winning boudin blanc producer, a premier fromager, a vegetable market, a purveyor of Auvergnat specialties, a boutique wine shop; and a leading sweets producer – to discuss the quality ingredients, which provide the foundation for classic French cuisine. Bon Appétit!

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    About Paris

    The capital of the nation and of the historic Île de France region, Paris is located in northern central France, across the English channel from Britain; 165mi southwest of Brussels; and 315mi west of Stuttgart. The city center, known as Intra-Muros, (within the walls), is bisected by the River Seine. Paris is divided into twenty zones or arrondissements that fan out in a circular pattern with the Louvre as the center point. The last two digits of the postal zip code of each zone indicate its location.

    You may have heard of the ‘Left Bank’ and the ‘Right Bank’ when describing Paris.  The origin of these references is straight forward.  When the early Francs floated down the River Seine (headed north toward the sea), the land to their left was referred to as the ‘Left Bank’; that to the right as the ‘Right Bank’.

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    The earliest signs of permanent habitation in the Paris area date from around 4200 BC. Celtic migrants began to settle the area from 250 BC, and the Parisii tribe of these, known as boatmen and traders, established a settlement near the river Seine from around then.  Westward Roman conquest and the ensuing Gallic War overtook the Paris basin from 52 BC, and by the end of the century Paris’ Île de la Cité island and Left Bank Sainte Geneviève Hill had become the Roman town of Lutetia. Gallo-Roman Lutèce would expand over the following centuries, becoming a prosperous city with palaces, a forum, baths, temples, theatres and an amphitheatre.

    Around AD 500, Paris was the capital of the Frankish king Clovis I, who commissioned the first cathedral and abbey.

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    The Paris Region is an engine of the global economy. If it were a country, it would rank as the sixteenth largest economy in the world.  Activity in the Paris metropolitan area is diverse, unlike cities such as Los Angeles with entertainment industries or London and New York with financial industries. In recent decades, however, the Paris economy has been shifting towards high value-added service industries (finance, IT services, etc.) and high-tech manufacturing (electronics, optics, aerospace, etc.).

    Although the Paris economy is largely dominated by services, it remains an important manufacturing powerhouse of Europe, especially in industrial sectors such as automobiles, aeronautics and high-technologies. Over recent decades, the local economy has moved towards high value-added activities, in particular business services.

    Fast Facts

    City Proper 2.15 million
    Suburban area 10.5 million

    Area 41 sq mi (105 sq km)
    Elevation 90ft  (27m)

    220 volt A/C
    Most hotels have 110V shaver outlets. Plugs have 2 round pins or sometimes 3 pins in a vertical row. American appliances will need a plug adapter and will require a transformer if they do not have a dual voltage capability.

    Time Zone
    Time zone abbreviation: CET – Central European Time

    The definition for time zones can be written in short form as UTC±n (or GMT±n), where n is the offset in hours. Here is an example given the local time in Paris and New York City.

    Paris Standard Time Zone: UTC/GMT +1 hour = 1:00 pm
    NYC Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC – 04:00 hour = 7:00 am


    Month Avg. Avg.
    High Low
    Jan 43°F 34°F
    Feb 45°F 34°F
    Mar 51°F 38°F
    Apr 57°F 42°F
    May 64°F 49°F
    Jun 70°F 54°F
    Jul 75°F 58°F
    Aug 75°F 57°F
    Sep 69°F 52°F
    Oct 59°F 46°F
    Nov 49°F 39°F
    Dec 45°F 36°F

    By Car

    If you are planning on driving while you’re in France, get ready for your first ‘Grand Prix’ experience, because that’s what it will feel like on the roads.  The French drivers are pretty wild, and you’ll need to be prepared. More importantly, you need to know the basic driving rule for France…the driver to the right has the right-of-way.  Traffic is frequently congested here.  Remember, that in turning circles, traffic entering the circle has the right of way in Paris.

    If you are a resident of France (holder of a carte de séjour or carte de residence,) you may drive in France with a valid U.S. driver’s license for a one-year recognition period, beginning on the date of validity of the first carte de séjour (exception for students who are allowed to use their driver’s license for the duration of their studies.) In addition to having your U.S. driver’s license, residents are also required to attach a French translation done by a sworn translator (traducteur expert-juré) or an International Driver’s license. Students are allowed to use their drivers’ licenses for the duration of their studies.

    NOTE: Persons with valid driver’s licenses, issued prior to their first entry into France as a resident, from the states of Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia may directly ‘exchange’ their state driver’s licenses for French permits. This is because these 14 states offer a reciprocal privilege of exchange for French citizens holding French permits in the U.S.

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    Public Transportation

    For information in English: 08 36 68 41 14

    Paris is well equipped in the area of public transport, which is administered by the state owned company RATP. The easiest way to get around Paris is by the metro (subway) which runs daily from 5:30am-12:30am. Transportation maps are available at subway stations. Tickets can be purchased singly or in books of 10. They are available at the stations and from tobacconists and must be validated before boarding. It is also necessary to have the ticket available at the end of the journey. The best buy is a Paris Viste ticket which is valid for 1-5 days and can be used interchangeably on the subway, bus and rail service to some destinations.

    Métro de Paris
    (official French site)
    (unofficial English site)

    The Paris Métro is the underground rapid transit system in Paris. It has been expanded with the  addition of an express network known as the RER to reach further suburbs.  Trains run from approximately 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day of the year on every station of the network.

    The standard pass is the single trip ticket “t” which is valid for 2 hours in the whole metro network and in zone 1 of the RER network. It can be bought either as a single unit at a cost of €1.40, or as a pack of ten, a carnet, costing €10.90.  Other passes are also available that allow unlimited use of the public transit system within a given period of time.

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    Air Transportation

    Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
    (+33) 1 48 62 22 80

    Charles de Gaulle, the larger of Paris’s two airports, handles the majority of the capital’s international traffic and in common with other major contemporaries is enjoying significant growth.  With excellent road and rail links it is well placed to serve one of the world’s most popular cities and plans for additional runway capacity should enable it to cope with projected expansion.

    CDG is a place of contrasts, almost three airports in one. Paris CDG has three terminals. Terminal 2 is split into five separate halls. The newer terminal facilities – Terminals 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D and 2F are functional and user friendly. Terminal 1 is neither and if logic prevails may one day be replaced. The romance of flying lives on at Terminal 3 which handles charter flights.

    Paris Orly Airport
    (+33) 1 49 75 15 15

    Paris – Orly Airport (French: Aéroport de Paris – Orly) is located in Orly and partially in Villeneuve-le-Roi, south of Paris. It has flights to cities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean. Prior to the construction of Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Orly was the main airport of Paris.

    Limousine Services
    International Limousines
    33 1 53 81 14 14

    Prestige Limousines
    33 1 42 50 81 81

    Executive Car Carey Limousine
    33 1 42 65 54 20

    Local Phone Numbers

    Operator 13
    Directory Assistance 12
    Police 17
    Fire 18
    Ambulance 15
    Emergency calls are free from phone booths
    U.S. Embassy 01 43 12 22 22
    Customs Regulations 01 43 12 22 22
    Lost credit cards 24/7 892 705 705
    France-Télécom 1014
    American Hospital of Paris 01 46 41 25 25
    63, blvd. Victor Hugo
    92202 Neuilly
    Anti-Poison Center 01 40 05 48 48
    Burn Center at l‘Hôpital Cochin (emergency services for burns) 01 46 60 00 00
    27, rue du Fbg. St. Jacques
    75014 Paris
    Hôpital Cochin 01 58 41 27 21
    27, rue du Fbg. St.Jacques
    75014 Paris
    Hôpital Armand Trousseau (Children) 01 44 73 74 75
    26, av. Dr. Arnold Netter
    75012 Paris
    Hôpital Necker (Children) 01 44 49 40 00
    146-151, rue de Sevres 75015 Paris
    Pharmacies open 24 hours 01 45 62 02 41
    784, av. des Champs Elysées
    Paris 75008
    6, place Félix Eboué 01 43 43 19 03
    Paris 75012
    SOS Dentists: (private company for emergencies)
    weekdays 7:00 am-6:00 pm 01 42 46 11 20
    weekdays 6:00 pm-midnight 01 43 37 51 00
    SOS Drugs 01 45 74 00 04
    Hospital Marmottan (private company for emergencies)
    SOS Drogue International 01 55 87 55 55
    (emergencies) 01 42 09 07 07
    61 rue Pajol, 75018 Paris
    SOS Help 01 46 21 46 46
     (English-speaking hotline open daily from 3:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m)
    SOS Médecins 01 47 07 77 77
    (private company for emergency doctors)


    FM Radio
    87.8 France Inter
    88.2 Générations Paris jazz
    88.6 Radio Méditerranée / Radio soleil
    89 Radio France Internationale
    89.4 Radio libertaire
    89.9 TSF radio du jazz
    90.4 Nostalgie
    90.9 Chante France
    91.3 Chérie FM
    91.7 France Musique
    92.1 Le Mouv’
    92.6 Média tropical
    93.1 Radio pays / Aligre FM
    93.5 France Culture
    93.9 Radio Campus Paris / Vivre FM
    94.3 Radio Orient
    94.8 Radio J / Judaïques FM / RCJ / Radio shalom
    95.2 Ici et Maintenant / Radio Néo
    95.6 Radio courtoisie
    96 Skyrock
    96.4 BFM
    96.9 Voltage
    97.4 Rire et Chansons
    97.8 Ado FM
    98.2 Radio FG
    98.6 Radio Alfa
    99 Radio Latina
    99.5 France Maghreb / AYP FM
    99.9 Sport FM
    100.3 NRJ
    100.7 Radio Notre Dame / Fréquence protestante
    101.1 Radio Classique
    101.5 Radio Nova
    101.9 Fun Radio
    102.3 Oüi FM
    102.7 MFM
    103.1 RMC Info
    103.5 Europe 2
    103.9 RFM
    104.3 RTL
    104.7 Europe 1
    105.1 FIP
    105.5 France Info
    105.9 RTL 2
    106.3 Fréquence Paris plurielle
    106.7 Beur FM
    107.1 France Bleu Ile de France
    107.5 Africa n°1
    107.7 Autoroute FM


    International Herald Tribune
    6 bis rue des Graviers
    92521 Neuilly Sur Seine Cedex
    01 41 43 93 00

    Le Figaro
    66 avenue Marceau
    75016 Paris
    01 56 52 20 00

    45 avenue Victor Hugo
    93530 Aubervillers
    01 53 56 87 00


    Paris is called ‘magnifique’ in so many ways, one cannot count them all:  Paris the ‘City of Love’.  Paris the ‘City of Lights’.  Paris is the city with some of the most extraordinary and diverse architecture in the world: it includes castles (Versailles which was built by Louis XIV, and one of the three most visited sites in France and Fontainebleau, another royal palace).  The Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) is the most visited monument in France, and too the cathedrals and churches (Notre Dame a fine example of Gothic architecture and most visited Cathedral in Paris); also the St. Chapelle (for the stained glass windows) and the Conciergerie are favorite stops. The Latin Quarter is a favorite place to visit, and of course the Sorbonne.

    Arc de Triomphe
    Place Charles de Gaulle
    01 43 80 31 31

    The largest triumphal arch ever built in the tradition of Roman architecture was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 as a tribute to his Grand Army. Construction stopped abruptly with the fall of Napoleon, but resumed eventually. The Arc was completed in 1836. In 1920 the unknown soldier was buried under it, and every evening at 6:30pm the flame is rekindled in memory of the war dead. A special service of remembrance is held each year on November 11.

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    Paris’s main sport clubs are the soccer club Paris Saint-Germain, the basketball team Paris Basket Racing and the rugby union club Stade Français Paris. The 80,000-seat Stade de France was built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and is used for football and rugby union, and is used annually for French rugby team’s home matches of the Six Nations Championship and sometimes for big matches for the Stade Français rugby team. Paris hosted the 2007 Rugby World Cup final at Stade de France on 20 October 2007.

    Although the starting point and the route of the famous Tour de France varies each year, the final stage always finishes in Paris and since 1975, the race has finished on the Champs-Elysées. Tennis is another popular sport in Paris and throughout France. The French Open, held every year on the red clay of the Roland Garros National Tennis Center near the Bois de Boulogne, is one of the four Grand Slam events of the world professional tennis tour.

    Paris Saint-Germain

    Stade Français Paris

    Tour de France

    Business Hours

    Banking hours
    9:00am – 12:00 p.m., then 2:00 – 4:00 pm.

    Business hours
    9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday

    Post offices     
    9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Friday
    9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Saturday

    9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday

    Currency & Banking

    Currency is the Euro (EUR). The notes are in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5 euro. The denominations of coins are 2 euro, 1 euro, 50 euro cent, 20 euro cent, 10 euro cent, 5 euro cent, 2 euro cent, and 1 euro cent. The easiest method of securing cash at the best exchange rate is to make withdrawals using a US credit card from the ATM machines found at the major banks and stores.

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    French cuisine is characterized by its extreme diversity. French cuisine is considered to be one of the world’s most refined and elegant styles of cooking, and is renowned for both its classical (“haute cuisine”) and provincial styles.  Additionally, French cooking techniques have been a major influence on virtually all Western cuisines, and almost all culinary schools use French cuisine as the basis for all other forms of Western cooking.

    Fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as fish and meat, are purchased either from supermarkets and grocery stores or smaller markets Street markets are held on certain days in most localities; towns of a certain importance generally have a more permanent covered market in which food shops, especially meat and fish retailers, have better shelter than the periodic street markets. Generally, a street market for vegetables takes places on certain days outside such covered markets.

    A French dinner might begin with a hot hors d’oeuvre (or for luncheon, a cold hors d’oeuvre) followed by soup, main course, salad, cheese, and finally dessert. The French operate with a strong sense that there is an appropriate beverage for every food and occasion. Wine is drunk with the meal, but rarely without food. An aperitif (a light alcoholic beverage such as Lillet) precedes the meal and a digestif (something more spirited — say, cognac) may follow.

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    Embassy & Visa

    US Embassy in France
    2 avenue Gabriel
    75382 Paris Cedex 08
    01 43 12 22 22

    United States Embassy
    Office of American Services
    2, rue Saint-Florentin
    75382 Paris Cedex 08
    01 43 12 22 22

    American Chamber of Commerce in France
    156 Boulevard Haussmann
    75008 Paris
    01 56 43 45 67

    French General Consulate
    4101 Reservoir Road, N.W.
    Washington D.C. 20007
    (202) 944 6195

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    It is customary in France when you receive a gift to open it, on the spot, in front of the person who gave it to you. Flowers should immediately be put in a vase and prominently displayed.

    Never be on time for dinner parties, arrive ten to twenty minutes late, but always on time for luncheon parties.

    Never ask a French person’s age or income, you can ask what kind of job he has and what region his family comes from.

    French businessmen do not loosen their ties or take off their jackets in the office.

    The French are careful about their personal habits, being discreet when sneezing, blowing the nose, etc. They avoid using personal items, such as combs and toothpicks, in public.

    Shaking hands upon greeting and parting is customary in France. An aggressive handshake is considered impolite. The French handshake is a light grip and a single, quick shake.

    Greetings are expressive in France. Kisses are frequent but only between men and women and between women and women. Men never kiss other men (as a form of greeting that is!). How many kisses are exchanged vary between regions. In Paris, two is the norm, three or four is usual pretty much everywhere else.

    Restrooms are not difficult to find in most places. There is a small fee to use the facilities in train stations.


    According to a World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent study, France provides the best overall health-care system in the world.  Private medical insurance is mandatory for non-E.U. citizens wishing to take up residence in France. If you’re planning to be in France only for a vacation or on a fact-finding mission, you may be covered for foreign holiday travel by your insurance company back in the States. Check with them.

    Once you move to France, you may be able to transfer your health-care plan to a French provider, or even to one of the many British companies that specialize in providing cover for expatriates. The cost depends on your age and medical history, but if you’re in good health, monthly premiums average $110.  Private medical insurance covers hospital treatment, but you’ll probably have to cover the cost of doctor’s visits yourself.

    The cost of a doctor’s care in France depends on whether you elect to see a médecin non conventionné—that is, a private doctor—or a médecin conventionné, a doctor who works within the French Social Security system. In France, doctors do make house calls. The cost is a little more than for an office visit and more still for a house-call at night, on the weekends, or on a public holiday. Also expect to pay the doctor in his office as soon as your visit is finished, rather than when he sends you a bill.

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    French Taxes
    Income Tax: Tax is calculated on the total income of the fiscal household (including income from a spouse, children under 18, and in some cases adult children, too).  Tax is calculated at progressive rates to a top rate of 53.25% (on incomes in excess of $49,365).

    Sales Tax: Standard VAT is 19.6%, but lower rates apply in a number of cases, e.g. 5.5% VAT is levied on some foods, farm products, books, hotels, public transportation, and certain leisure activities.

    Rental Income Tax: Whether you reside in France or not, you will be liable for tax on any rental income earned from your French property.  This is levied at regular income tax rates.

    Property Tax: The amount of property tax depends on the type of residence and location.  For example, a village house in rural Provence is currently being levied $412 per annum for taxes, water, and waste disposal.  A large house in Toulouse is being taxed at $825.

    U.S. Tax Information
    Internal Revenue Service
    P.O. Box 920
    Bensalem, PA 19020
    (215) 516-2000 (not toll-free)

    Phone service available from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm (EST) M-F

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    USDA Area Offices of Veterinary Services

    French people love their cats and dogs, therefore most lodging facilities, restaurants and stores will allow your pets on their premises.  The European Union adopted new measures for the importation of pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) into the EU member states.

    In order to bring their dogs, cats and ferrets from the United States into France, you must abide by the following conditions:
    -each family is limited to 5 animals. Every animal must be at least 3 months old (or otherwise travel with the mother).

    -every animal must be identified by a microchip (standard ISO 11784/11785) or a tattoo. If the microchip’s standard is different, you must bring your own scanner in order to read the microchip.

    -every animal must have a valid rabies vaccination (if it is the first rabies vaccination for the pet, you must wait 30 days before departure)

    -the health certificate will be valid for 4 months after signature by an official veterinarian (certified by the USDA) or endorsement by the competent authority (USDA).

    Lost pets
    SPA (Société Protectrice des Animaux) 01 43 80 40 66
    Société Centrale Canine 01 49 37 54 54
    Fichier National Félin    01 55 01 08 08

    Compulsory Education

    The large, long-established American community in France makes possible a wide range of educational opportunities for Americans. Essentially three types of schools are available: private American schools, bilingual schools where both French and English are used, and the French school system, taught in French, which is designed to lead to the Baccalaureate examination. American children have been accepted in French schools and, when necessary, tutored in the French language. The following schools are grades K-12.

    American School of Paris
    41 rue Pasteur
    92210 St Cloud
    01 41 12 82 82

    The American School of Paris, or ASP as the school is more familiarly called, is an independent, non-profit accredited co-educational school, pre-kindergarten through grade 12 that offers an American educational program to students of all nationalities.

    British School
    38 quai de l’Ecluse
    78290 Croissy sur Seine
    01 34 80 45 85

    This is a small co-educational school. Instruction is conducted in English, Kindergarten through high school. Emphasis is placed on preparation for students’ entry into all preparatory schools and colleges in Great Britain and the United States.

    International School of Paris
    6 rue Beethoven
    75016 Paris
    01 42 24 09 54

    Founded in 1964, the International School of Paris is a private, co-educational school, accredited by the European Council on International Schools (ECIS,) the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC,) and the French Ministry of the Interior. I.S.P. is a truly international school, with students and staff from 38 countries.

    Higher Education

    American Business School
    12 rue Alexandre Parodi
    75010 Paris
    01 40 03 15 04

    American University
    6, rue du Colonel Combes
    75007 Paris
    01 40 62 07 20

    American Graduate School of International Relations and Diplomacy
    101, boulevard Raspail
    75006 Paris
    01 47 20 00 94

    Boston UniversityParis internship program
    3 bis rue Jean Pierre-Bloch
    75015 Paris
    01 45 66 59 49

    Conservatoire National Superieur de Misique
    Parc de la Villette
    209 avenue Jean-Jaures
    75019 Paris
    01 40 40 45 45

    L’ecole du Louvre
    Palais du Louvre
    Porte Jaujard
    Place du Carrousel
    75001 Paris
    01 55 35 18 00

    New York University
    56, rue de Passy
    75016 Paris
    01 53 92 50 80

    Schiller International University
    32, Boulevard de Vaugirard
    75015 Paris
    01 45 38 56 01


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