Location: Provence is located in the south of France near the Mediterranean coastline. Paris is 3 hours by train. Marseille Provence Airport is a 1 hour drive to the heart of Provence.
Longitude: 43 51'25 8" N Longitude: 5 15'11 7" E
Capital City: Paris
Regional Population: 106,100 people
Area: 600 km2
Time Zone: GMT =1 Hour
Currency: Euros: Coins are available in 1 cent, 2 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50 cent, € 1 and € 2 banknotes and are available in € 5, € 10, € 20, € 50, € 100, € 200, € 500.
Electrical Current: 220 volts. Converters needed for US appliances.
Telephone code: 33 (If dialing from USA then 011 33 plus nine digit number)
Banks are open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 1pm and from 3:00 pm to 5pm. Note that banks tend to be closed on Mondays. Use this as a general guide as there maybe some variation from bank to bank.
Visa and MasterCard are readily accepted in most shops, restaurants and hotels. A minimum spend amount may be required. In France, they tend to call credit cards ‘carte blue’ (blue card). American Express is generally not accepted other than in major hotels and international rental car agencies. If you lose your credit card when traveling, you should immediately contact your credit card company’s emergency hotline to cancel the card. These numbers may be helpful :
Visa: Toll free 1-800-VISA-911
MasterCard: Toll free : 0 800 90 1387
Diner's Club: Toll free : 0810 314 159
American Express: Toll free : 1 877 FTC HELP (1 877 382 4357)
Most shops in France open from 10am to 12.30pm and from 2.00pm to 7.00pm. Shops in the large town centers such as Aix-en-Provence or Avignon may be open during lunch hours.
Supermarkets and shopping malls stay open all day from 9am to 8pm six days a week. Some are now starting to open on Sunday mornings as well. There are often special Sunday openings for all shops in the run up to Christmas or on special occasions.
Post office hours vary but in general they are open Monday to Saturday.
A pharmacy can be found by searching for the highly noticeable green cross sign that every pharmacy / drug store employ. There will also be a sign close to the entrance indicating which pharmacy is open after hours and which doctor is available for emergencies. The after hour service is set up on a rotational basis and so in Provence, a village pharmacy may be on duty once every 2 months.
Please make sure you have arranged foreign travel coverage with your health insurance provider. These forms are the required documents for medical assistance and are issued by the official body for healthcare in your country. Patients are free to choose between public hospitals and private hospitals. Public hospitals normally provide both emergency and non-emergency services. At public hospitals, patients may receive emergency services at no cost or upon payment of a limited contribution, depending on the public hospital’s policy. Non-emergency services provided by public hospitals are subject to a fee. To be admitted to a private hospital, it is usually necessary to make arrangements with the hospital’s administration or directly with a doctor affiliated with the private hospital prior to being admitted. Private hospitals normally have higher fees than public hospitals. If in danger, pain or in a medical condition, please seek medical assistance without delay. Citizens from the European Union are entitled to most other kinds of treatment free or at a reduced cost.
In an emergency, please call your local contact/concierge. Should symptoms become life threatening, you will need to call 118 for an ambulance.
Any treatment, in private hospitals, dental work and secondary examinations, is not covered and therefore it is very important for all non-French citizens to be covered by a private or public health insurance before arriving in France.
Restaurants usually present their menus and prices in two different formats. The ‘prix fixe’ menu (also called a ‘menu’) will include 2 or 3 courses and sometimes a half-bottle of wine and will have a stated price. This menu may change daily and reflects what is in season or what was readily available at the market. The ‘a la carte’ menu offers a selection of dishes that are priced individually.
Tipping is not mandatory and should be done only if the service warrants compensation. Some restaurants will add a 10% > 15% service charge and this will show as a separate entry in the bill and should also be noted on the menu (usually at the foot of the menu page). In this case, it is customary to leave the wait staff some small change as well. If the service is not included (‘service non-compris’), which is not common, a 10% tip is appropriate, left in cash. If a tip is paid by credit card, it is unlikely that the wait staff will receive anything.
Tipping cab drivers is unusual, but appreciated - especially if they help with luggage and provide you useful info about getting around in that particular place. We suggest 10% of the metered fare.
Villa staff tips are very much appreciated. For assistance with luggage, the tip should be based on a guide rate of 1,50 Euros / bag. Anything between 50 euro and 100 euro for the cleaning staff at the villa is a great tip - again, it is not expected. Anything between 100 euro and 500 euro for the cooking, hosting and concierge staff at the villa is a great tip - again, it is not expected.
Tipping persons who have provided a service of some sort (hairdresser, massage therapist etc) is again appreciated but not mandatory. We suggest 10% as a guide. Tour or museum guides should be tipped 2 > 4 Euros depending on the level of satisfaction.