Store hours and holidays
Throughout the Alps, most stores will close at 12:30 PM or 1:00
PM and reopen in the middle of the afternoon. The afternoon opening
may take place as early as 2:30 PM in the northern Alps, and as
late as 4:00 in some parts of the southern Alps. The stores close
again at 6:30 to 7:30 PM. Banks however, close much earlier. Due
to the required short work week, banks may be closed on Saturday
morning (and always Saturday afternoon), or on Monday. Inquire in
Most food stores are open on Sunday mornings, and are closed all
day Monday. Supermarkets in large towns typically are closed on
Sundays, and open on Mondays. They may or may not close for lunch.
In tourist towns such as Chamonix, many stores of all types may
remain open on Sunday morning.
Several French holidays fall in late May, on shifting dates. In
July, Bastille day falls on the 14th, and in August, Assumption
falls on the 15th.
Credit cards are fine for most hotels and supermarkets, but not
for most gîtes, refuges, and food shops. Euros or Euro travelers
checks or Euro bank checks (if you have a Euro account) should be used.
In this day of e-mail, letters are practically obsolete, but you
can have mail forwarded to you at hotels or even at a "poste
restante", (will call at the post office). Along the route
there are Internet cafés in the following towns (as of 2004),
and perhaps in others:
Chamonix See list:
Near Tignes Powder Café
Val d'Isère Le Petit Danois Bar-Restaurant 9am - 10pm
Briançon Cyber Café at 2 rue Pasteur, near
Rond Point de Queras in the lower city.
Ceillac, Snack Bar Le Pourquoi
Isola 2000 (on author's route) Cyber Café Le Vieux
Nice or Menton
You will find public phones here and there in towns and villages
along the route: Some at post offices, some in outdoor enclosures,
some in bars or restaurants. The vast majority use a prepaid plastic
calling card issued by France Télécom that you can
buy in tabacs or at newsstands. The phones usually have a
display that gives instructions and tells you how many unités
you have left. "Decrocher" means to lift the receiver;
"accrocher" means to hang up. "Composer" means
to dial. Lift the receiver, insert your card, and dial your number.
You can also buy an inexpensive European telephone with a prepaid SIM card in innumerable stores in the larger towns or in cities. You can typically recharge this card using your credit card by telephone. As "portables" (cell phones) are becoming ubiquitous and pay phones rare, this option is strongly worth considering if you think you may need to telephone. If callling abroad, it would be best to have your party call you right back. Unlike the United States, French cell calls are charged completely to the calling party, and not to the receiving party.
French phone numbers start by 0, and in the Alps region all start
with 04. You must dial 10 digits for all French calls. International
calls start by 00. The national code for the US is 1, hence dial
00 1 + area code + number. For Britain dial 00 44 + area code +
number. From abroad, callers to French phones must drop the first 0.