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Holidays in French Guiana

Understanding French Guiana

First settled by the French in 1604, French Guiana was the site of notorious penal settlements collectively known as Devil's Island until 1951 The European Space Agency launches its communication satellites from Kourou It is the only portion of mainland South America still governed by an overseas nation


Tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation


Low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains, mostly an unsettled wildernessIt also consists of hill plateaus and teh tumuc-humac mountains

Talking in French Guiana

French is the official language of France, although Creole is widely spoken The majority of the population speaks French while few understand English However, some officials, police, and gendarmes may speak English Because of the presence of many Brazilians and Dominicans, lots of people understand basic Portuguese and basic Spanish On the Maroni river, Taki-taki is often used

Buying stuff in French Guiana

The official currency is the euro just like in mainland France

Food and eating in French Guiana

  • Bar des Palmistes is a nice relaxing restaurant bar, where one can enjoy a cool drink and enjoy the view of the "Place des Palmistes" park

Drinking in French Guiana

Tafia is a local hard liquor that is widely drunk and used as medical purpose One can drink it with lime juice or with salt and it's used in a drink called Planter, excellent

Accommodation in French Guiana

Short term rentals

Travelers should definitely consider short term villa/apartment/studio rentals as an alternative to other accommodations options Short term can be as few as several days up to months at a stretch Summer rentals are usually from Saturday to Saturday only July & August This type accommodation belongs to a private party, and can range from basic to luxurious A particular advantage, aside from competitive prices, is that the accommodations come with fully fitted kitchens

Hundreds of agencies offer accommodation for short term rentals on behalf of the owner, and can guide you into finding the best property, at the best price in the most suitable location for you An internet search for the location and type of property you're looking for will usually return the names of several listing sites, each of which may have hundreds or thousands of properties for you to choose from There are plenty of sites in both English and French, and the rental properties may be owned by people of any nationality

France is a diverse and colourful country, and you'll find everything from stunning log chalets in the Alps, Chateaux in the countryside and beach front villas on the Rivieraplus everything in between!


Hotels come in 4 categories from 1 to 4 stars This is the official rating given by the Ministry of Tourism, and it is posted at the entrance on a blue shield Stars are awarded according to objective yet somewhat outdated administrative criteria area of the reception hall, percentage of rooms with ensuite bathroom

Rates vary according to accommodation, location and sometimes high or low season or special events

As of 2004, the rate for a *** hotel listed in a reliable guidebook falls between €70 cheap and €110 expensive for a double without breakfast

All hotels, by law, must have their rates posted outside or visible from outside Note that these are maximal rates: a hotel can always propose a lower rate in order to fill up its rooms Bargaining is not the norm but you can always ask for a discount

Hotels located in city centers or near train stations are often very small 15 to 30 rooms which means that you should book ahead Many newer hotels, business oriented, are found in the outskirts of cities and are sometimes larger structures 100 rooms or more; they may not be easy to reach with public transportation The newer hotels are often part of national or international chains and have high standards Many older hotels are now part of chains and provide standardized service but they retain their own atmosphere

When visiting Paris, it is essential to stay in the city; there are cheaper tourism hotels in the suburbs, but these cater to groups in motor coaches; they will be hard to reach by public transportation

Along the highways, at the entrance of cities, you find US-like motels ; they are very often reachable only by car Some motels eg Formule 1 have minimal service, if you come in late you find an ATM-like machine, using credit cards, which will deliver a code in order to reach your assigned room

B & B's and Gîtes

Throughout France, mainly in rural areas but also in towns and cities, you can find B&Bs and gîtes

B&B's are known in French as "Chambres d'hôtes" and are generally available on a nightly basis By law, breakfast MUST be included in the advertised price for a "chambre d'hôte" Bear this in mind when comparing prices with hotels, where breakfast is NOT included in the room price

Gites or gites ruraux are holiday cottages, and generally rented out as a complete accommodation unit including a kitchen, mostly on a weekly basis There are very few near or in the cities Finding them requires buying a guide or, for greater choice, using the internet, as you will not find a lot of signposts on the road

Traditionally, gites provided basic good value accommodation, typically adjacent to the owners household or in a nearby outbuilding More recently the term has been extended, and can now be used to describe most country-based self-catering accommodation in France Hence it includes accommodation as varied as small cottages villas with private swimming pools

During peak summer months the best self-catering gites require booking several months in advance

There are thousands of B&Bs and gites in France rented out by foreign owners, particularly British and Dutch, and these tend to be listed, sometimes exclusively, with English-language or international organisations and websites that can be found by keying the words "chambres d'hotes", "gites" or "gites de france" into any of the major search engines

There is a large number of organisations and websites offering "gites" Literally the French word gite just means a place to spend the night; however it now largely used to describe rental cottages or self-catering holiday homes, usually in rural parts of France

Gîtes de France

A France-wide cooperative organisation, Gites de France regroups on a voluntary basis more than 50,000 rural accommodations and was the first in France to offer a consistent rating system with comprehensive descriptions

Despite the name, Gites de France offers B&B as well as holiday rental gite accommodation

Its website in English is 28 for B&B and 29 for gîtes

The "Gites de France" rating system uses wheat stalks called Epis equivalent to stars, based on amenities rather than quality - though generally the two go together

Through its website, bookings can be done directly with owners or through the local Gîtes de France booking agency no extra fee for the traveler Although an English language version is available for many of the website pages, for some departments the pages giving details of an individual gite are only in French

The advantages of booking through this agency are that it is often possible to book on-line, payments can by made by credit/debit card and there will be someone who can be contacted by phone or e-mail who speaks English Some French language skills might be necessary if you are dealing directly with the owner Prices are usually competitive since they are initially geared to the local market A 25% non refundable payment is standard policy at the time of booking

After making a gite booking you will receive, by post, a contract to sign gites only Sign and return one copy When signing write the words "Read and approved", and the name of your home town, before signing and dating the contract The remaining 75% of the hire charge will be required one month before the start of your holiday When you arrive at the gite a security deposit, specified in the contact, should be given to the owner in cash This will be returned at the end of your stay, less any fuel charges and breakages In case of dispute with the owner the organisation will mediate since its rating system is at stake

Gîtes d'étape

Another possibility is gîtes d'étape These are more like overnight stays for hikers, like a mountain hut They are mostly cheaper than the Gîtes de France but also much more basic


Camping is very common in France Most campsite are a little way out of the city centre and virtually all cater not just for tents but for Camper Vans/Caravans also While all campsites have the basic facilities of Shower/toilet blocks, larger sites tend to offer a range of additional facilities such as bars and restaurants, self-service laundries, swimming pools or bicycle hire All campsites except for very small "farm camping" establishments must be registered with the authorities, and are officially graded using a system of stars

In coastal areas, three-star and four-star campgrounds must generally be booked in advance during the months of July and August, and many people book from one year to the next In rural areas, outside of popular tourist spots, it is usually possible to show up unannounced, and find a place; this is particularly true with the municipal campsites that can be found in most small towns; though even then it may be advisable to ring up or email in advance to make sure There are always exceptions

In France it's forbidden to camp:

  • in woods, natural, regional and national parks
  • on public roads and streets
  • on the seaside
  • less than 200 meters from watering place used for human consumption
  • on natural protected sites
  • less than 500 meters from a protected monument
  • everywhere where it's forbidden by local laws
  • on private properties without the owner's consent


Working in French Guiana

For European people coming from an EU country, working in French Guiana is allowed without problem If you're from outside the EU, you will probably need a work permit - check with the French Embassy in your country Do not forget though that the unemployment rate is high But if you work in the health sector doctor, nurse, it will be much easier

Voluntary service: Volontariat Civil à l'Aide Technique VCAT, 8 Conditions: you must be French or from another EU-member state or a country belonging to the European Economic Area You must be over 18 and under 28 years old inclusive You must not have had your civic rights revoked by a court or have been convicted of certain offences

Cities in French Guiana

apatou  camopi  cayenne  grand-santi  iracoubo  kourou  macouria  mana  matoury  roura  saint-georges  sinnamary  

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