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Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Never Underestimate How Far a Few French Words Can Go
The French always say they are pretty bad at languages but a lot of people do speak English and will try to practice when they also know that you do. That said, you’ll always get better service and a ton of respect by opening with as much French as you know. Even if it’s just a few words. Remember, “Bonjour” (“Hello”), “Au Revoir” (“Goodbye”) and “Merci” (“Thank You”) can go a long way.
Never Wave Wildly at a Waiter to Get Their Attention
There’s an etiquette to ordering things in bars and brasseries. In restaurants you’ll usually be seated but otherwise you normally sit down at a table of your choice and wait for the waiter to come to you. This is true even on the terraces. If they don’t come soon, but are nearby, then make eye contact or raise a slight hand. To do more, would be incredibly rude and wouldn’t lead to the best exchange. Remember, that waiting staff in France go through lots of training about food and wine and normally are running around doing 30 things at once. They will get to you. They don’t expect big tips; most people usually round the bill up to the nearest euro – or few euros – depending on the level of service and food.
Try Not to Speak Louder Than Everyone Else, Particularly at Night
The French are pretty respectful of other people when it comes to noise levels. In most cases, the people you’ll hear at night or in cafés, speaking the loudest, will be anglophone tourists. Try to watch your levels of noise, particularly in quiet villages and towns at night, where you’ll want to avoid angry French people telling you to be quiet.
Never Leave Your Cell Phone Out When Having a Coffee/Meal With Friends
There are times when you have to check your phone and that’s okay. But it’s socially unacceptable to have your phone on the table as if you’re waiting for a call. And certainly don’t use it during the meal or drinks. It’s the height of rudeness, as if you don’t want to be there. Wait until you’re on your own.
Don’t Expect a Big Savoury Breakfast
The French don’t really do breakfast in a big way. And it’s very sweet in taste. Maybe croissants, pastries and brioche with coffee or hot chocolate. It’s rare to find lots of places, even in larger cities, that offer more. And when they do, it’s not usually more than an egg and a piece of bacon for tourists. Go French, and eat big at lunch and even bigger at dinner.
Never Think That You Can Eat at Any Time
While there are increasingly fast food options across France and service “non-stop” throughout the day, traditionally these might not be the best food options. And they might not even exist in smaller towns and villages. If you want to eat in a restaurant, plan your day accordingly. Lunch traditionally starts at midday or just after and will run until 2pm or half past, if you’re lucky. Dinner starts at 7pm (although you might be the only people in there at that time). French people normally eat around 7.30pm at the earliest. You can normally expect to be able to order until 10pm in smaller places.
Never Assume Cars Will Stop at Pedestrian Crossings
There are pedestrian crossings in France, but cars will not automatically stop at them to let pedestrians cross. It’s seen more as a place where people might be crossing, so they should slow down. If you want to cross and no one stops, you have to signal your intent, start moving but ensure they’ve seen you and are slowing down before you step out.
Never Wait Until a Space on the Beach “Comes Free”
On the other hand, French people are not backward in moving in on any available space on beaches, in the parks, on buses. So do the same. They think that everyone is equally entitled to the best spots and that there’s nothing wrong with sharing available public space. You’ll have better conversations, strike up friendships and enjoy the atmosphere much more if you join in!
Never Go Straight Into Asking For What You Want Without Exchanging Pleasantries
There is a social etiquette in shops or bars about how to ask for things. In other countries, it’s common to say hello and launch straight into your question or order. In France, everyone will love you more if you take your time. Say hello or ideally, “bonjour“. Wait for the reply and for them to ask a question about how they can help, etc. Then make your request. You’ll get better service and they’ll think you’re the height of sophistication. What’s not to love?
Never Assume Your Food Order Can be Separated Into Component Parts
It’s pretty common in Anglophone countries to be able to ask for your meal without certain ingredients or to have the sauce or dressing on the side. It’s much more uncommon in France and you might be met with some resistance. Remember, they aren’t being rude. To them, they’ve worked very hard to create a perfect blend of ingredients for each dish that they think is wonderful. They might think you aren’t getting the best experience that you could have and that’s what they want.
Never Expect Businesses to be Online
To get something done, it’s better to use the telephone. Whilst businesses might be online, most arrangements are still done over the phone and they may take longer to get back to you if you try to communicate electronically. This goes for everything – reservations, meetings, and finding out information. Try out a few words of French and then see if they speak English.
Don’t Get Wildly Drunk
The French love their alcohol but mostly in moderation. It’s common to “prendre un verre” (have a drink) and the French love their “apéro” (pre-dinner drink), but you rarely find them drinking so much that they can’t stand. They rarely have pints of beer and will often be found with halves instead.
Never Expect Things to be Open on Sundays
The French are well known for keeping “family time” intact and Sundays is often the day when people see family. What’s more, the Government hasn’t allowed all shops in all places to be open on Sundays (although that is slowly changing). For that reason, you probably won’t find so many things open on Sundays. Plan ahead.
Never Show up to Someone’s House or Party Empty-Handed
It’s normally the case that you take something to someone’s house if you’re invited to dinner or a party, wherever you are in the world. But in France, this also includes coffee at someone’s home or a play date with the kids. Take some biscuits for coffee, some cake from the local “boulangerie” (bakery) and you’ll definitely be remembered well and invited back.
Never Expect a Party to Start at the Allotted Time
In the business world and when meeting friends for coffee, people will be on time. Parties are a little different, particularly in the south. If someone says a party starts at 8pm, it’s likely that you might be the only one there at that time. It’ll be great if you know your hosts well, but otherwise it might be awkward. Get there a little afterwards just to be on the safe side.
For more travel inspiration for your next getaway, browse our collections of Epic Trips, Mini Trips and Sailing Trips to explore the world with the help of our Local Insiders.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.