I've curated a list of resource, services and websites I strongly recommend. Click on the links below to be taken to that section or simply scroll down to see them all. This list is a work in progress.
Frantastique is an e-mail prompted course. Everyday you receive a lesson in your e-mail in box- audio, video & text exercises that take about 15 to 30 minutes to complete. It adapts itself to your French speaking. If you do well on tests and questions, it knows to send you more advanced lessons next time or to send you review material to help you get stronger in those areas where you need help. There is a course for adults and children plus a mobile app.
(Different membership plans $21-$81 / Month)
French Pod 101- is an online learning system and community geared slightly more for beginners. However, it has enough intermediate and advanced content to keep you busy as you progress from beginner to advanced. There are over 800 video lessons, an online forum - community, vocabulary learning tools and an awesome mobile app. 3 Monthly Membership Levels exist- ($4-$10-$23 / Month)
Rocket French is probably one of the most well thought out, comprehensive products I have seen. There are interactive audio lessons, tests for writing skills, voice pronunciation recording, flash cards and progress tracking. Plus it also has a mobile app. You can try a fully functioning version for 6 days for FREE.
($99 for beginner level and Lifetime Access)
Short term housing
One stop shop for worldwide accommodations
Booking.com is my go-to site for researching the best deals on any kind of short stay accommodations worldwide. I usually use this in conjunction with AirBnB. What I love about Booking.com is you can find any, and I mean any type of accommodation on the site from hostels, home-stays and apartments to hotels, boats and campgrounds. You can also reserve the majority of listing on their site WITHOUT A CREDIT CARD and cancel within a specific amount of time for free which is great because you can lock into a deal but if you find a better hotel or deal elsewhere there are no penalties for cancelling. I also use their site and app to stitch together multiple accommodations, so you can have all your booking information in one spot in chronological order. Really convenient!
Stay with a local
Homestay.com is an international platform created in 2013 for travellers who want a more cultural, educational travel experience by staying with local hosts who rent out part of their home or room. (Hosts are present at the home for the entirety of the guest's stay.) The site works by allowing you to contact hosts to request to stay with them. The host can accept or deny your request. There are user reviews, photographs and a mobile app. If you are interested in becoming a host you can sign up as one here.
Search worldwide to find the best priced hostels in one place
Hostelz.com is a HUGE time saver if you want to find hostels around the world because It's one of the few website that let's you do price comparison shopping on hostels worldwide. It pulls in inventory from other sites (including Hostelworld.com, Booking.com and a few others) so you can see where to get the lowest prices all in one place. Search by price or search by country. The site also lists hotel contact info, has photographs and user reviews of the good, bad and the ugly right on the site which I find extremely useful.
Rent a house, room, chalet, boat, tree-house, yurt...
AirBnb is the site search first for finding accommodations around the world. It allows hosts to rent out their entire house, apartment or just a room to would-be travellers like you. It's a win win situation. Locals make a little money renting their home out and you save a ton of money. I usually rent a whole house rather than just a room because I usually travel as a family with my kids. This allows more space to spread out and use the kitchen when we don't want to eat out.
Rent a house or just a room
Homeaway works pretty much the same way as AirBnb. Simply enter your travel dates and desired location. After you’ve found the perfect property, contact the listing owner. If they accept your dates, you can pay securely online. The majority of the accommodations on the site are permanent rentals( meaning they are full time rentals, not someone who wants to rent their house while they are away on vacation).
House sit or pet sit in exchange for housing
Anywhere in the world
House sitting is a service where you watch someones house, maybe water some plants or feed the owners pets in exchange for free accommodations. Find sitting opportunities that last just a week to several months. It's a WIN WIN situation for you and the home owner! House sitters typically join several services to increase the number of opportunities available to them. Here are the more popular ones you can join.
HouseCarers.com has been around since 2000 and is one of the longer running house sitting sites. Simply sign up and start searching for house sitting opportunities world wide. There are a ton of opportunities to choose from. The trick is to find one in an area where you want to go, during the date which you can go. The site tends to have house sits mainly in Australia, USA and Canada but the site is growing rapidly. (About $ 50 USD per year.)
Nomador started in 2014 and is relatively new compared to the other more established sites and has the mos house sits available in France. The site is growing fast especially and is starting to get more opportunities for house sits in other parts of the world especially Australia. You can try out the site by applying for up to 3 house sits for free, after which time it costs 65 Euros per year or about $75 USD depending on the exchange rate.
Read English books while abroad
When you live in another country where English is not the primary language, it can be challenging to find English books to read. I turn to audible books and eBooks which you kind buy online which has the added benefit of not having to carry physical books. I can carry my entire book library on my phone or tablet. Here are a few I recommend and have used.
I love audio-books from Audible because I can listen to any book I want while doing other things like, while driving in the car during a road trip, while cooking, relaxing in bed, during a workout. Audible via Amazon has an extensive collection of books to choose from. I have yet to find a book I can't find. Sign up for free and get two free Audio books to start. After 30 days, get 1 book each month for $14.95/month. Cancel anytime and keep your books forever.
Kindle Unlimited is great if you don't mind reading books on your phone, tablet or dedicated kindle ebook reader. The only catch is you don't actually own the books but you can download or borrow as many books (unlimited) as you want every month but are limited to borrowing 10 at a time. There over 1 million titles to choose from. Sometimes the books have an audible narration which you listen to for free. You can try it for free for 30 days, after that you pay only $9.99 a month and read as many books as you want.
World Travel Insurance
There are several companies that offer travel insurance. I recommend WORLD NOMADS. It's available to people from over 140 countries, and it's easy to use. You can buy your insurance online, make claims online and extend your insurance ALL online, 24/7! Surprisingly affordable too with coverage for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of activities.
An Ultimate Guide to Travel Insurance- article coming soon
VPN to Watch blocked sites and videos abroad
Certain streaming video sites like Hulu are blocked abroad. Others like Netflix offer much less content abroad. By using a VPN, you can legally trick sites into thinking your computers IP address is in the US, giving you full access to otherwise geo locked websites. VPN's also protect your data. If you use public internet while travelling (hotels, internet cafés, airports etc) than you may be putting your personal information at risk because anyone on that same network as you could potentially grab your un-encrypted data as it soars through the air. Credit card info, internet cookies and other identifying information are just waiting to be snatched up. A VPN protects you from these security issues.
buy from US Retailers who don't ship internationally
Sometimes the items you want to buy either don't exist in France or they are much more expensive than they are in your home country so you turn to US retailers. But what if those US retailers only ship to US address -not to France. Enter MyUS.com. When you sign up, you use their address, they then turn around and ship the item to you. Bonus, you don't pay any sales tax.
Get your passport in 24 hours
Rush my passport is a service for all you folks who found out at the last minute that your passport expired.
Transfer money internationally for free
Send and Receive faxes online
I use Hello Fax to send my fax online. It's rare but it does happen once in a while. No fax machine necessary. Just scan your doc and upload it to their site and push send or send it to a special email address to fax your doc.
Utilities in France
EDF Electricité de France, is the company to contact about setting up your gas and electric in your home in France. You'll need to have a French bank account setup to do this so make sure get one as soon as you land in France.
Need help in English? EDF also has a helpful English speaking service should you have questions about your electricity bill, service, problems or to simply change your service. Be prepared, they get pretty busy and you could get a recorded message stating “lines are busy call back”
Outside France phone: +33 5 62 16 49 08, In France phone: 05 62 16 49 08