Senior’s Travel Guide in France
There’s no doubt that France is one of the world’s most alluring travel destinations. It’s got everything from the beautiful streets of Paris to lush, green wine country to glamorous beaches to the snow-capped Alps to Disneyland and much, much more. France is also a great destination for seniors to travel in particular, with all kinds of great discounts and cost-saving opportunities across the country. Here are our top tips for Seniors Travel in France.
Save on train travel. France has one of Europe’s most extensive rail networks – you can get from just about anywhere in the country to just about anywhere else. The SNCF (French State railway company)’s Carte Senior entitles those over 60 to discounts of 25-50% on all train journeys, even if you don’t book in advance, for AUS$88 for an entire year. The card also gets you a 30% discount on rail journeys in 22 other European countries.
Better still, save more if you book and pay for your rail pass here in Australia. You can choose only France or combine your rail travel with other countries. Rail Europe has special discounted passes available to seniors for travel on nearly all of the European rail network.
See all the great museums. A lot of France’s many museums and monuments will offer a discount for senior travellers, in some cases of up to 40%. Some sites begin the discount at age 65, but if you’re over 60 always remember to ask just in case, and do bring your passport or other ID in case they ask you to prove your age! The Louvre has a great €6 entry special on Wednesdays and Fridays from 6 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Paris Pass is a great way to enjoy the city economically giving entry to over 60 Museums, Art Galleries, Monuments and Attractions. For one low price, you also enjoy the benefits like:
• Free metro Travelcard*
• Skip the queues and save time – trust me this is well worth it!
• Loads of special offers and extra discounts
• You can save over €150
Bring a phrasebook. While most tourist sites, restaurants and hotels around Paris will have English-speaking staff, if you venture further afield in France you may run into some difficulty. But between a few basic phrases in French from you and at least some English language skills on the part of the local person, you should be able to muddle through. I lived in regional France for a period and they love Australians. Before I would say anything, I would speak in French “I’m sorry, I am from Australia, I don’t speak French”. Learn to say this in French – they will love you for it.
Swap houses. It may not get much press, but savvy travellers have been saving tons of money by exchanging their house for one at their destination for decades. HomeExchange.com. has 29,000 homes worldwide, including France. You never know, you could end up with a chateau in Bordeaux for a song!
Watch the world go by. One of the French people’s favourite activities is to sit outside a cafe and discuss the affairs of the day over coffee. Try this yourself, and you’re sure to get a great flavour of the local atmosphere no matter where you visit in France. This is one of my favourite activities. Choose a spot frequented by the locals and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Fly around France on the cheap. Air France offers seniors a 10% discount on internal flights around the country. The airline also gives a 10% discount to those over 62 on select international flights – be sure to ask when you book.
Stay safe. Users of the popular Tripadvisor website recently voted Paris as the fifth most common pickpocket city in the world, so watch your valuables in the City of Lights – unfortunately, I can vouch for this first hand.
Bronwyn White is a travel and tourism industry professional with more than 30 years of experience. Her special interest is helping retirees, semi-retired baby boomers enjoy the dream of travel. She loves to help them plan and get the most out of this time.