Next term’s French courses for beginners and those seeking to brush-up their French will be starting soon in Sydney (Epping) and the Central Coast. Please contact us as soon as possible to ensure your place. Other classes for HSC students and other levels of French, including advanced lessons, are also re-commencing.
The first weekend of August is often referred to as Black Saturday in France due to the extensive road traffic congestion that arises from the annual exodus of Parisian and other urban holiday makers. We even heard a BBC news report that suggested drivers were not allowed to use autoroutes if they were carrying a large number of young children due to the impact that lengthy delays might have on hydration. Other weekends, especially the last of July and August, are also notorious.
While we’re in France, we’ve being using a smart phone app called MapsWithMe. There’s a free version and one that costs around $5 which we use. It’s really good: first, you download the maps of your required countries or regions before you depart. Then, you can access them WITHOUT having global roaming on – ie no access costs. It’s great to use when wandering around cities, and we’ve found it useful sometimes when our Sat Nav isn’t giving us the information we need.
We purchased the TravelSIM card to save on mobile calls and texts while travelling in Europe. Todate our experience has been variable. Issues we’ve encountered have been poor service quality and very delayed (sometimes by 12 hours) text messages. As a further update to this, we found that we could not receive calls in France if we were connected via the Orange network – so we had to manually manage our carrier selection to avoid Orange. Given we were having a rental car crisis at the time, this was most inconvenient.
We’ve been using a free app on our smartphone, called Viber, to call and text for free from overseas. While the quality can be variable, we’ve been able to communicate successfully. The only catch is you need to have WiFi access for it to work – but these days hotels, cafes, etc often have free WiFi. For more tips and tricks into making the most of your French trip – click here at our Insights page.
Some credit cards automatically provide travel insurance as part of their annual fee: my Amex Platinum Reserve and Visa Platinum both do. If you meet the conditions, these cards may provide all the coverage you need: they do for us. From my research and experience, it is much easier to satisfy the Visa conditions than Amex. Check it out – it could save you quite a lot.
If you have private health fund insurance, you may be able to suspend it whilst overseas provided you meet the rules. For our fund, the essential rule is that you’re away for 2 months or more. But if taking this step, you obviously need to take out travel insurance to cover any possible medical expenses. We’ve saved about a $1000 doing this.
We’re about to head off to Europe very soon with a focus on France. Along the way we’ll be adding some new and exciting new accommodation options, plus developing plans for our first tour in September 2014. Chris