One can spend hours and hours hunting for information and now that I am retired and LOVE researching, I have some very helpful websites and apps for travelling in France that can make your travels not only easier and more comfortable but also cheaper. These sites and apps are not limited to France. In fact, most of them are useful for travelling anywhere in the world.
1. Michelin Route Planner
Yes, the Michelin Route Planner is by the tire people. Sure, Google Maps is good, but the Michelin Route Planner not only tells you the route to take and the distance you will travel, but it will also estimate the COST of the travel—-tolls and gas! I found this to be invaluable when trying to determine if I should drive from France to Italy, or take the train. As an example: travelling from Avignon, France to Nice, France.
- by car: 249 km, 3 hours– cost about $75 in gas and tolls
- by train: 3.5 hours–cost about $34
The Skytrax website is great for determining what airlines to use and avoid. When planning a previous trip, I learned from this website that Turkish Airlines was a very good airline, so I was more open to stopping over in Istanbul. Actually, the lounge in the Turkish airport was rated one of the BEST in the world. It has a pool table and other unique amenities in the lounge. Flyer’s reviews are chock full of information about each airline’s lounges and seats and service in economy and business.
3. Google Flights
I like the Google Flights app because it will tell you how much you will save if you go on alternative days.
1. Skype (Free)
Most people know about Skype and how you can have free video calls; however, I have also used it as my “phone”, especially when my smartphone could not call 1-800 numbers due to the French Sim card’s restrictions. I used it many times when I had to change my flights during Coronavirus. The cost for many minutes, long distance, was only cents! not even dollars! Much cheaper than using my cellphone plan as well.
I just load up my Skype account with $5.00 in credit and as long as I have data, I can make a phone call as if I had cellular service. It is a great backup in case your smartphone doesn’t work.
2. Duolingo (Free)
I really love this app for helping me improve my French. It’s interactive where you earn points for correct answers and involves reading, writing, listening and, to my surprise, speaking (although at times it’s wonky. Sometimes I am positive I’m saying something right but Duolingo doesn’t agree). I am very impressed with this app and use it often for just 10-15 minutes per day. Be sure to check out Duolingo French Podcast as well. Really interesting stories and a great way to improve your French comprehension.
3. Metro Paris (Free)
[Note: there are many apps that help you use the Paris Metro. This one is called “Metro Paris” and is developed by Presselite.] This app lists all the stations and lines as well as an easy-to read map of the Metro. The best part is that it will determine the route you should take to get from place A to place B in Paris: what line (colour coded), the estimated duration, and the stops along the way.
I also like this app because you can use it without internet AND you can get really time Paris Metro updates, especially handy if stations are closed or there are significant delays.
4. TripIt (Free)
Great app to organize all your trip details (flight, hotel, car rentals, etc). When you email your trip confirmations to a personalized email address (after registering), Tripit creates daily itineraries. You can also access your itinerary through your laptop and tablet and can email your itinerary to family/friends.
5. Pocket (Free)
One of my favourite apps! No internet connection needed to read articles, see webpages or watch videos on your iPhone or iPad once you have saved them. Great for when you are on a plane with no Wifi.
6. Flipboard (Free)
Your personal magazine that compiles articles and news based on your interests and preferences.
7. Around Me (Free)
LOVE this app because it can find restaurants, banks, coffee shops, hospitals, hotels, parking, movie theatres, etc near where you are.
8. Google Translate (Free)
While not perfect, Google Translate is pretty good and you can quickly switch back and forth between English and French (or any language that you choose).
9. Larousse English/French Dictionary ($4.99 US)
While there are free English/French dictionaries and many are good, I like this one because it not only makes looking up a word very easy, but it also provides the pronunciation and the conjugations for all tenses. I use this as much as Google Translate.
10. Evernote (Free)
I love using Evernote to hold all of my recipes, so that when I travel, I can just look up a recipe. Evernote is a cloud storage and you can save notes, photos, PDFs in the cloud. It’s a simple as emailing the note to a special email address that is assigned to you.
Then, that note appears in your Evernote app and website. It syncs to all of your devices. You can tag your notes too. I have organized my recipes by type (appetizers, main courses, etc). The best part? It’s free and every month you get another 60MB of storage. The premium package allows you to access your notes offline.