Step 7

Settling in

Welcome to France !

Here is some practical information that will prepare you for your first days in France. 

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France , the Practical

In Short : The French Republic is one of the founding members of the European Union. It is also one of the world’s top six economies. The French head of state is the President, currently Emmanuel MACRON, elected by universal suffrage. Metropolitan France (France in Europe) has a population of slightly over 64 million.


The Euro (€ or EUR) is the official currency of France and 19 other member states of the European Union since 2002. 1 Euro is equivalent to 100 cents.

Cost of living

The cost of living in France is fairly similar to neighbouring countries, though some things (like supermarket food) may be more expensive. Staying in Paris can be expensive – as can staying on the Riviera, particularly during the peak tourist periods. On the other hand, fruit, wine, travel, hotels and restaurants tend to be cheaper particularly in rural areas, and there are plenty of ways of avoiding tourist traps.

Exchanging Money 

To exchange money we recommend you to do so in the national banks or to withdraw money with your credit card to have the best rates.


Good news ! No obligation to tip at restaurants or bars in France. Nothing prevents you from tipping if you think that the service was exceptional, or if you simply want to get rid of some change. It may be a real cultural shock for you, but don’t feel too bad. It is really OK not to tip !

Means of payment

We recommend you to always have a little bit of cash with you in case credit cards are not accepted (for example to pay a taxi, buy public transport tickets, buy a “baguette”, etc.). The Euro currency is represented by coins (0.01, 0.02, 0.05, 0.10, 0.20, 0.50, 1 and 2 Euros) and bank notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Euros). Credit cards (Visa, American Express, Mastercard and Eurocard) are accepted almost everywhere in France.

You can withdraw money with your debit card from ATMs or pay with credit cards in most shops.

You will have to key in your 4-digit pin code when paying with a French card. It is very common in France to use a chequebook rather than credit cards and cash, but they are not accepted everywhere. Western Union can be used to receive or send cash in every bank or post office. Students can bring travelers’ cheques in Euros or in other currencies such as US Dollars, UK pounds, etc. However, note that you cannot pay with them in France.

You will have to change your travelers’ cheques into Euros in a French bank (with bank charges). Remember to have enough money (cash and/ or the possibility to withdraw money with your credit card) available for your arrival in France to deal with your first expenses (ex: the public transport fare, food, the housing deposit and insurance, the healthcare insurance…) as it can take up to three weeks to obtain a French debit card when you open a bank account in France.

Welcome to France !! 


French standard time is +2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Don’t be confused as France has Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time starts on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October. It’s wise to keep this in mind if you have classes on those days. 


Foreign visitors in France are sometimes surprised to find themselves faced with closed doors, on reaching a museum or a famous monument. So it is not a bad idea, before visiting France, to learn what is closed in France, and when? On Sundays, public holidays and holiday periods in general, shops, museums, businesses and public services may be closed. Museums are often closed on Tuesdays. 


  • To call a French number from an International phone: 

Dial: 0033 (or + 33 from a mobile phone) + the number after removing the first zero 

For example, to call the Reims Campus: 03 26 77 47 47 becomes 0033 3 26 77 47 47 or +33 3 26 77 47 47 

  • To call a French number from a French phone: 

Dial the 10-digit numbers, including the first zero. 

  • To call an international number from France: 

Dial: 00 + Country Calling Code + number 


The voltage in France is 220 Volts and the plugs are identified by two round pins spaced 19mm apart, with a hole for the socket’s male grounding pin.

If the electricity system is different from what you have in your country, we recommend you to bring plug adapters and/or voltage converters with you or buying them once in France.

Cost of living 

Compare prices in France and your country (EUR) 

1 French bread = une baguette 0.90 € 

1 L of milk = 1 L de lait 0.80 € 

A pack of 6 eggs = une boîte d’oeufs 1.20 € 

1 kg of pasta = des pâtes 1.50 € 

1 kg of rice = du riz 1.50 € 

250 g of butter = du beurre 1.50 € 

A pack of 4 yogurts = des yaourts 1.30 € 

250 g of coffee = du café 2.50 € 

1 chocolate bar = une barre chocolatée 1.20 € 

3 kg of oranges = des oranges 2.80 € 

1 kg of apples = des pommes 2.20 € 

A pack of cereal = un paquet de céréales 2.30 € 

A pack of 6 beers = des bières 3.00 € 

A bottle of Champagne = du Champagne 18.00 € 

300 g of ham = du jambon 2.30 € 

100 g of minced beef = de la viande hachée 2.70 € 

Canned tuna fish = une boîte de thon 1.30 € 

1 Big Mac = un Big Mac 3.00 € 

Food prices are subject to change! 


Living Expenses 

Be realistic while planning your expenses for your stay . It is essential that you have 

enough money for the whole duration of your study period. It is quite complicated to find a part-time job in France. 

Estimated average living expenses for a single person for one month in on-campus halls of residences. 

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