So this is not an interesting post really just some notes I want to put down for if I ever actually write something of importance on all the stuff i’m figuring out for myself here.
a every traveling student needs to know:
American credit cards in Europe. In Europe they use a pulse credit card system. In places this system is much more lignent than in France. What this means is that all the credit cards here have a chip on the surface of the card that acts as a quick reading program for the credit card machines. This system is not that popular in the US. SO basically your credit cards and debit accounts are rendered almost completely useless in this city. Now there are a lot of stores and services that do a have a scanner on their pulse machines but this is not the case for any sort of automated system such as the Metro,
ATMs and other robots that are used to sell tickets to events, sites and museums. However you can use you scancards at most restos, in the major grocery chains and at an sort of ticket counter with a sales person (though be prepared to wait in line). this really limits your ability to see a lot of slows down your visit of Paris and enjoy a lot of things so be sure you CARRY CASH (or fric as the French call it). You CAN use French ATMs with a limited withdrawl of 200 euros at a time depending on your bank’s policy this can be MUCH less expensive than exchanging money at a counter where there are always hidden fees and taxes.
Getting a bank account is also a solution to this matter. Getting a bank acount in France is CRUCIAL if you are going to live here. You need a bank account to buy things in the Metro, you need a pulse card for the everyday and you need an account if you plan to get a French phone contract. The process is very hard and requires a lot of work and patience. If you are going to attend school while in Paris the easiest way to get an account is to ask your school for help. Your school knows the banks that work with their students and many times their are services that are offered special to you just because you are a student of a particular school (exsample free money ect). If you are not a student it may be harder to find a bank that will give you more than just a place to put your money. La Poste will grant a bank account to any foreigner with proof of residence. BNP is also a lot nicer to people from outside of France.
Let’s talk a little bit about the metro tickets. Do your research before you get into the metro. There are a lot of different kinds of Metro tickets. There is even a special all day pass offered only to students that will allow you to get on and off the Metro with in the first zone of Paris for the entire day. Now what defines a student? In France a student is anyone between the ages of 18 and 20. This one day pass costs about 3,20 or the cost of two one way metro passes. Now If you are going to be in Paris for more than 6 days I would suggest buying a Navigo pass. A Navigo pass is a magnetized card that you keep with you at all times. It allows you to scan your card as many times as you want on the busses and the Metros of Paris within the span of time that you have put on the card. You recharge the card every week or every month depending on when you purchase the card or how ever long your stay is. 5/7/2012 There also exsist special plans for students that are studying more than a year. these plans give you your navigo pass for the entier year at a discounted price (something like 2 months free) but do require you to pay the entire year in a lump sum. There are MANY benifits of this system certainly one being that you never have to worry about your pass or deal with the lines at the recharge stations at the start of each month but also in the middle of each year the ticket prices go up so you end up saving a good hunk of money by paying a year in advance.
What I would suggest to anyone who will be staying with friends, family, or a host family is that you should go to www. navigo.fr and preorder your navigo pass. You will need a scanned copy of an id photo. These id photos can be taken almost anywhere in Paris in booths that are scattered around the city. (in the states you can just get them taken at walgreens. 5/7/2012 the current laws in France for ID photos are as follows: no glasses, no hair on the face, no hats or anything on your head, no smiling, photos must be on a very light blue background or a grey one NOT WHITE. You should always keep an extra ID photo on you at all times because you will need it for all sorts of things during your stay. When you apply for your passport you should get two copies of your photos scan it and then keep it in your wallet. For your Navigo pass you will need this scanned photo or you can easily recreate it with your webcam and whitening out the background with Photoshop or paint. Once you’ve filled out this application (put an address in France) your card will get mailed to you and will be waiting for you when you get here and you’ll simply go down to the Metro and charge it up. Again you Credit card is no good in these machines so be sure to either find a merchant that can recharge it with a swipe card or be ready to put some euros into the robots (usually coins only).