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  • Voyage

    An insider’s guide to travelling like the jet set

    16 December 2019

    From booking the best accommodation to how to skip the queues, we asked the man behind our famous Road Trip to France and New Caledonia competitions, the So Frenchy So Chic travel agent, Jean-Pierre Boutefeu, to share his tips for traveling France and the world – and he did not disappoint!

    Read on to learn how to plan your next adventure and make sure you’ve entered our MASSIVE Roadtrip to France competition (ends 27.01.20).

     Want to know more about our Roadtrip to France? Enter here.  And read all about the ultimate adventure here!

     

    On getting around:

    Public transport is definitely the way to go in big cities. They also often offer transport cards that you can purchase before you leave and simply use like any local without the need to queue and try to explain what you need in French! Take time to download and print a card of the network to familiarize yourself with the city and Bob is your uncle.

     

    In smaller towns, taxis can be quite reasonable and some nice drivers can offer some good tips. If you get lost wondering the streets, Uber will generally always find you and bring you back safe to your hotel.

     

    Beat the tourist queues:

    You will encounter long queues in all major touristic attractions and even more in high season. A travel agent can organise passes when available, such as as the Museum Pass in Paris that will allow you to skip the queues.

    Do spoil yourself with a private tour with a  guide when in some attractions like the Vatican. Not only will you jump the queues, but you might also get access to some rooms prohibited to the general public, plus a lot of information in an easy way without reading the whole guide.

     

    Best packing tips:

    We all shop while travelling and you will find unusual styles and designs while browsing the markets and shopping centres, so leave some room in your suitcase. If you intend to travel by trains, you must avoid large suitcases. Instead, try to carry 2 smaller bags rather than a large one.

     

    Don’t forget to pack something semi-formal:

    In Europe, never be scared to dress up, take heels and a glamorous dress for the ladies, shirt and jacket for the gentlemen, you never know whom you could meet and invite you for cocktails on their yacht or at their garden party. Many of my younger customers thank me profusely for that tip when trying to enter a groovy bar or nightclub where things and singlets will stay on the pavement!

     

    Why use a travel agent?

    Travel agents are paid by the airlines and hotels, not by the customers. We offer our experience and service for free, plus we will help you in case you need to change your plans at the last minute. Most websites are only slightly cheaper nowadays but remember, “without a travel agent, you are on your own.“

    We also care about you and advise on visas, travel insurance and sort you out the best we can in case of strike or any other unforeseen event

     

    What do you need to tell your agent?

    Always give us the full picture of your trip. For example, I know people who will book a bargain fare to London, then end up paying hundreds of dollars for a side trip in Europe. This is something  that could have been included free in the international ticket! Also, why fly back to London at the end of your trip if you are ending in Mykonos? We will recommend the best fare that will also make your life easy.

     

    How to find and book the best and cheapest accommodation:

    Regardless of your budget, try to balance it in different standards of hotels to better enjoy your experience, always spoil yourself for 1 or 2 nights!

     

    Hotels are less important in major cities as you will spend most of your time exploring. Big chains are generally affordable there, boring but clean and well-located.

     

    In summer, many Universities have rooms for rent while the students are away, basic but safe and cheap. Don’t bother looking for apartments unless you will stay at least a week in the same spot, they cost more.

     

    Don’t worry about breakfast, unless you stay in the best hotels! You will generally pay for an average experience. Even if included in the price, you are actually paying for it, free lunches are thing of the past, so in cheap hotels, prefer the rate without it and go enjoy your meal on a terrace people-watching.

     

    How do you find the best places to eat? Should you trust tourist reviews or ask locals?

    You should Google the top restaurants before you go and check the reviews. But also, concierges in decent hotels are a mine of information, use them for restaurants, transports and ideas, they don’t want you coming back angry at them!

     

    Always avoid dining on the famous streets and touristic sites, the gems are always in the side streets and the prices will be much cheaper.

     

    A coffee in France will be much cheaper standing at the bar than sitting at a terrace, think of this if you are not going to stay long. You might also find that local wines are also cheaper than a coke… mmm tough choice

     

    What are your France must-dos?
    Visit the local markets that are not generally permanent in France. For example, many towns will have a weekly market on a specific day. If you visit a market, shop for your meal and go on a picnic, you will find the best products at the best price. You will see easily what is abundant and in season and cn stuff yourself silly on those gems.

     

    Fromages and Charcuteries ( cured meats) are an always favourite in France specially if serve with a REAL baguette that is still to be found in Australia! Sourdough baguettes are NOT real!

     

    What is the one French philosophy people should adopt when visiting France?

    Carpe Diem or Seize the Day! Discover and enjoy a true local experience and this little ray of sunshine, you might miss on this museum or monument but hey, c’est la vie!

     

    Want to know more about our Roadtrip to France? Enter here.  And read all about the ultimate adventure here!