Tips on Local Area, Culture and Hotels for France
This is a post by author Sandrine Jackson. Sandrine is managing director for Universal Aviation France – Paris. Sandrine is an expert on business aircraft operations in France and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in France and continues from our last article: "Flight Planning, Weather & NOTAMS for France."
For business aircraft operators, a destination stop in France is usually an enjoyable and trouble-free experience, and security is generally adequate both on- and off-airport. It’s best to consider advance planning for your trip, as services may be limited during busy seasons and periods of major events. Work with your ground handler, well in advance, to accommodate any special, or last-minute, requirements.
Here is an overview of what you should know about local area, culture and hotels in France before your next mission:
1. Rental cars may or may not be a good option
Rental cars are available at most airports in France with a valid driver’s license and credit card. At some locations, it’s possible to have rental cars delivered to your Fixed-Based Operator (FBO) or ground handler, but you’ll usually have to go to the rental company. Keep in mind that rental vehicles are often quite small and have manual transmissions. Large metropolitan areas – such as Paris or Nice – are often very congested, and parking is expensive. Not all drivers are comfortable with driving a vehicle in France. You may find other options – such as taxis or prepaid transportation with driver – more convenient than rental vehicles.
2. Know personal documentation and vaccination requirements
A valid passport is required for all crew members and passengers and is acceptable until date of expiration (i.e., you don’t need six months’ remaining validity). Some visitors may need a Schengen visa. If a visa is required, it must be obtained prior to arrival, as visas are not issued on arrival in France. Visas are not required for tech stops when no one disembarks aircraft, and France has no mandatory vaccination requirements.
When arriving from certain counties such as Saudi Arabia, you’ll need to disinfect the cabin on descent with a "Permathrin" insecticide spray, available in France and other countries. The sticker from the spray canister should be placed on your general declaration. While local authorities do not typically enforce this regulation, you may be asked for evidence of cabin disinfection at any time.
3. France is a relatively safe country off-airport
Some large metropolitan areas in France have high crime rates, but no more so than in other large metro areas worldwide. Best practice is to remain in safer neighborhoods, to be careful when walking at night and always to be aware of your surroundings.
4. Large local events, strikes and celebrations may impact local business
France, like many European countries, has a large number of bank and other holidays to consider. There are about 25 public holidays annually. During holiday periods, and over the month of August when the French traditionally go on vacation, many services shut down or offer limited availability.
5. Cultural considerations are always important
Food is an important part of the French culture. Coffee is usually served prior to business meetings. A business lunch in France can involve several hours, so don’t schedule your next meeting too soon after a business lunch in France.
6. Hotel availability is generally good in France
Major international hotel chains exist in larger cities, and you’ll find good hotels close to most major airports. At smaller regional airports, options may include only "local" hotels. On the island of Corsica, for example, hotel options are limited, and no international hotel chains exist.
7. Choose 4- or 5-star hotels for crew accommodation
It’s recommended that crew stay in 4- or 5-star hotels in France. However, company expense caps may limit options here, particularly in expensive areas, such as Paris and Nice. Some flight departments book crew into 3-star hotels, but many of these hotels have not been updated. Ground handlers often have negotiated rates with local hotels, which can give crew members additional options. Negotiated rates may include Internet, breakfast and improved possibility of early arrival and late departure. Standard check-in time is 3 p.m., with check-out between 11 a.m. and noon. If you arrive early, especially for arrivals prior to 9 a.m., it’s always best to book rooms from the night before.
You may also want to check with your 3rd-party provider, as many have special contracts in place with the major chains that can offer you discounts and complementary amenities such as Internet, breakfast, early check-in/late check-out, room upgrades and bonus rewards through the various rewards programs of the major international hotel chains.
8. Hotels may be difficult to obtain during special events
During busy conferences such as trade fairs or event periods, hotels sell out, and you may be faced with non-refundable deposits and enhanced cancellation policies. Larger events in Paris usually take place between May and September. In Nice and Cannes, area hotels typically sell out during the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix in May of each year. In sold-out situations, you may have to travel over an hour to a somewhat remote hotel location. For more information on large annual events in France see:
- www.viparis.com (for information on Paris events)
9. Consider options and limitations on short-notice crew room requests
For short-notice situations or quick overnight stops, hotel options may be limited. Best practice is to work with your ground handler to research and confirm acceptable accommodations as early as possible. During the high season in Paris, crew rooms may cost between $350 and $400 USD per night.
Pay particular attention to pre-trip organization when planning a flight to France during the high season and large events. Your ground handler will make all attempts to find a way to accommodate any last-minute needs, but additional lead time is suggested during busier seasons.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at email@example.com.