Breathtaking scenery, irresistible cuisine and an ultra-stylish capital... France is one of Europe's most liveable countries. Paris is a stunning centerpiece, but France is full of beauty elsewhere, too. The country's natural gifts are striking: white sands, huge mountains, and an abundance of rolling countryside. Read on for our guide on what you need to know before you settle there.
BEFORE YOU GO
Your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay.
If you're relocating to France from the U.S., ensure that you have adequate health care insurance before you leave home. You won't usually be refused treatment in the case of an emergency but without cover, you won't be eligible for evacuation or even routine medical appointments.
You can spot a French pharmacy by its distinctive signage (a flashing green cross). You'll find both advice and over-the-counter medications here.
If you require a repeat prescription while you're residing in the country, bring a letter from your doctor, detailing your condition and treatment, along with a copy of your prescription with the medicine's generic name.
Visit your health professional at least 6 weeks before you travel to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures, including the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella), and the combined diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine. Speak with your doctor to confirm if you have received the combination vaccine covering tetanus in particular; a booster dose is recommended1 if the standard course was completed over ten years ago.
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a viral infection transmitted through ticks, which are often found in long grass, meadows, and forested areas. TBE cases are rare but it's wise to take precautions if you're in this kind of environment: wear long-sleeve tops and pants instead of shorts, regularly check your skin for ticks and make yourself aware of the symptoms.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 for an English speaking emergency service and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment, contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
If requested by the police, you must be able to prove your identity by providing documents when asked or within four hours at a police station.
Concealing your face in public places in France is illegal, and the law does not provide any exemption for tourists.
Using mobile phones with headsets or ear pieces when driving is forbidden, and speeding can result in heavy, on-the-spot fines and the confiscation of your vehicle and license.
In-car radar detectors and satellite navigation systems warning of the presence of speed cameras or radars are also illegal (even when they're not in use)2.
Travel to and within France can often be disrupted by strike action. It's best to check with your travel provider before you set off.
If you're moving to France on global assignment, your job will doubtless dictate your choice of location. But wherever you settle, you'll have the choice to live in a bustling city center or to commute from a suburb or smaller town - just consider the kind of lifestyle you'd like to adopt and whether the transport links will suit your needs.
Education and schools
The school system in France is of a high standard throughout the country, with a choice between the public school system, private education, and the international schools that you'll find in larger cities. Public and private schools both follow the national curriculum; the former is free if you can prove residency in France. It's worth noting that private schools often shape their curriculum around a Catholic framework.
Business culture in France is based on a defined system of hierarchy and complex relationships and alliances, though you can earn your stripes by demonstrating your competence and experience. Keep up-to-date with current affairs as communication and reasoning skills will reflect your status within the business hierarchy. In other words, the ability to articulate your opinions confidently will help you earn the respect of your colleagues.
Meetings or appointments should be arranged at least two weeks in advance - a good time is directly before or after lunch. In larger cities, Paris in particular, business lunches and breakfast meetings are common.
Formalities such as punctuality are important and a matter of courtesy - it will reflect poorly on you professionally if you are late to meetings.
Speaking French is vital in the business world, as English is rarely spoken in a working environment. Plenty of language courses will support your learning, such as those offered by the Académie Française. Or consider a private language tutor for effective, one-to-one coaching.
This information is for educational purposes only. Cigna does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information. This information is not medical, legal or financial advice. Your use of this information is at your sole risk.
 How often should you have a tetanus jab? http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/ask-the-expert/allergy-and-asthma/a5977/how-often-should-you-have-a-tetanus-jab/, accesses February 2018
 Foreign Travel Advice, France, https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france/local-laws-and-customs, accessed February 2018