You need to prepare some things before you arrive in France. Here you will find some useful information.
Rhythm of life
French people do most of their shopping in supermarkets, usually open from 9.00 am to 8.00 pm, from Monday to Saturday.
Specialty shops are open from 9.00 am (even 7.00 am for the bakeries) to 7.00 pm every day except on Sundays (often closed a part of the afternoon).
Many shops and historical monuments are closed on Mondays.
The museums are generally closed on Mondays or Tuesdays.
Banks are open from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, from Monday to Friday. A few of them are open on Saturday, generally in the morning.
Meal times: breakfast (7.00 to 9.00 am), lunch (12.00 to 2.00 pm), dinner (7.00 to 10.00 pm).
Before leaving your home country check whether your bank has a partnership with a French network, it could make things easier. Otherwise, ask around the different banks close to your place of residence or to the School.
To open a bank account as non-resident, you should bring: your passport, residence permit (if applicable), proof of accommodation and proof of student status (student card or admission letter).
Ask for a cheque book ("chéquier" - most often free of charge) and a debit card ("carte bleue" - cost: from ~€30 onwards, depending on the bank).
Cheques are much in use to deal with administrative formalities in France.
For these formalities, you will also need "Relevé d’Identité Bancaire = RIB" (this is a paper slip bearing the bank logo that gives your account details, name, and the address of the bank). Ask for several "RIB".
You can have access to student restaurants operated by the CROUS (called “RU”="Restaurant Universitaire").
A meal will cost ~ €3.25 (upon presentation of your student card).
It is advisable:
- To keep your passport (and visa/residence permit) in a safe place and keep photocopies separately.
- Not to carry around large amounts of cash. Rather use your bank card.
For all emergencies, dial: 112, it is free from any phone
An operator will redirect your call to the appropriate service (ambulance, police or fire service)
Telephone - Internet
4 major networks are operating in France: Orange, SFR, Free and Bouygues, offering a wide range of prices and services, with subscription ("avec abonnement") or without subscription ("sans engagement").
There are many other providers for mobile phones (to compare options).
Pay-as-you-go ("prépayé") mobile phones can be bought in newsstands, post offices and supermarkets.