- Outside of Verdun it will be quite difficult to find a hotel owner who can/will speak English. The expectation is that visitors speak at least a few words of French.
- Many of the small, rural hotels are quite old. It is not uncommon to find that many of the rooms have been retrofitted with bathrooms and showers that travelers now demand. It wasn’t that many years ago that the webmaster stayed in one hotel and used the shared services down the hall.
- When leaving the hotel, leave the key at the front desk or with the owners. European travelers DO NOT take their keys with them. (Yes, they still use good old-fashioned keys on heavy key chains. They do not use electronic cards.)
- Guests who will be returning to the hotel late (after 2230 hours) should ask the owners for a key for the outside door. In many small hotels, the proprietors lock the outside door at some point.
- Travelers should pack their own washcloths. Europeans travel with their own cloths, so hotels do not generally provide them.
- If one is planning to stay for more than a week, hotel owners are often willing to do some laundry for their guests for a service fee.
Bed & Breakfasts (Chambres d’hôtes)
- Vacationers will find numerous B&Bs in this region of France. Historically, these stem from a law giving farmers the right to generate extra money by renting out up to five rooms in their house with very little regulatory oversight. Nowadays, most of these are owned by individuals trying to make a business in tourism.
- Many of the B&Bs in the region happen to be owned by Dutch or Belgians, and they are tend to be a little more open to communicating in English. For tourists who speak little French, this could be a more comfortable alternative.
Gîtes Ruraux (Rural Guest Houses)
- Visitors traveling in a group and staying in the region for a few days might want to explore the rural gîte: an independent house or lodging situated near a farm or in a village. It is generally designed and equipped to accommodate 6-10 people, and it is generally booked for a week-end or full week.
- It can also offer cheaper overall accommodations, because travelers can prepare their own meals in lieu of eating out every night.
- Most hotels and B&Bs offer continental breakfast (petit dejeuner) as part of the nightly rate, or for an additional fee.
- The petit dejeuner typically consists of croissants or sliced baguettes, with various toppings, and juice and coffee/tea/hot chocolate.
- Most serious battlefield visitors stop at the local store, butcher and bakery in the morning and get enough supplies for lunch in the field. This reduces needless drive time and restaurant time during the day, when visiting sites.
- As a general rule, dinners start later than in the U.S. Most locals do not go out to dinner until 8:00pm.
- Also, the French enjoy their food and their dining experience. Dinner generally lasts two hours or more, and a 3-5 course meal, with intervals, is typical.
- Travelers who plan to eat at a small restaurant in the country and travelers who plan to eat at the (rural) hotel restaurant are advised to make reservations early in the day. The reason: Many of these small restaurant owners do not keep large amounts of food in the freezer or refrigerator. They shop daily for the fresh supplies they need
- This is not necessary in larger towns like Verdun. However, in the winter months the tourist will find that not all restaurants stay open daily.
- Certain cultural norms about customer service have been described in the cultural topics section.
- Below is a list of useful shops for the battlefield visitor:
Boulangerie/Boulanger: Baker, Breadmaker
Maison de la Presse: Newsstand. Will have local IGN maps, books, postcards, etc.
Pâtisserie/Pâtissier: Pastry Shop
Pharmacie: Drug Store—as in for prescriptions.
Salon de Thé: Tea Shop, typically part of a patisserie
Supermarché/Hypermarché: Supermarket, Hypermarket. There are several around Verdun.
TABAC, Papèterie: Tobacco store, stationary store, newsstand.