To tell you honestly, we didn’t have enough time to properly prepare for our Europe trip because of the holiday rush, finals for me, deadlines to meet and all our trips prior to it. Even travelling to Paris was by chance as we needed to pick another entry point for our Schengen visa because Iceland as one would make it impossible for us to get ours on time. So for those of you who are in the same situation as ours or even have ample time yet in dire need of some times, here’s a complete guide!
On Applying For A TOURIST Schengen Visa: The EU made our lives easier because we only need ONE visa to enter 26 countries. You can find the complete list here. Again, because our passport’s weak, Every Filipino citizen with a Philippine passport needs to apply for one.
Where To Apply: http://www.vfsglobal.com/france/philippines
– All the directions are in the website but here’s a simple step by step:
1. You have to create an account if you haven’t made a VFS one before.
2. Fill up the application form truthfully.
3. Schedule your Visa Application submission date. You can do this as soon as possible but the embassy only allows you up to 3 months before your trip. The processing time varies but it’s usually from 3-15 business days. But ofcourse, you need alot of time to prepare the documents you need.
4. Prepare the supporting documents.
Here’s what you need:
– My valid and current passport (original and photocopy)
– My old and expired passports (original and photocopy)
– All my current and valid visas (photocopy)
– All my old and expired visas (photocopy)
– A France passport sized picture. You can get this at any ID photo stalls! I got mine for 199 pesos at Kodak in Glorietta. Make sure it’s FRANCE SIZED!
– My current bank account statements. You will need to go to your branch for this and I paid 100 pesos for a copy. I don’t think it matters how much you have. Its just proof that you have enough money to support yourself in the Philippines and your trip to the Schengen area and that you won’t be an illegal immigrant because you’re broke AF. (photocopy and original. They returned my original copy though!)
– BIR Registration as a self employed citizen of the Philippines. (photocopy)
– Income Tax Return (photocopy)
– A printed copy of your application form.
– Hotel reservation
– Travel insurance. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! You can ask the help of your travel agency for this.
PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU MAY NEED MORE DOCUMENTS THAN I DID.
– Cover letter addressed to the French Embassy explaining your intention of applying for a visa, details of your trip and what documents you have submitted.
5. Go to the VFS centre to submit your application.
– Have a travel agency help you. We always use DESTINATION GETAWAYS to help us with our visas. However, if you want the number of the person who helped us get it in 2 days, please email me! :)
– If you have the extra money, choose the VIP option for your visa application. You add almost 2,500 pesos on top of your fee but you can get your picture taken for free, personalized service, a person who will personally check your documents, photocopy services, courier service and SMS service as well.
How much is needed to apply for a Schengen Visa through France:
– 60 Euros for 12 years old and above for regular service.
Hotel we stayed in: ASTOTEL PARIS.
Verniece and I like being comfortable when travelling especially because we mostly spend our days with a full itinerary of going from one place to the other. We like big chained and trusted brands like Marriot, Hyatt Shangri-la and Sofitel but when we’re pressed for budget, we opt for boutique hotels. Lucky that Franco’s friend suggested a very good one for us :) We were actually surprised that with the price we paid, the service was amazing – they have two awesome Filipinos who work at the pantry/kitchen. If you choose to stay here as well, Boy and Ted are their names and tell them we suggested this please! lol They gave us free water (water is very expensive in France.), snacks and opened the kitchen for us when we were very jetlagged and up at 6 am. There’s free coffee, water, juice and snacks for free the whole day, big rooms that are very rare in big cities, elevator (big thing if you dont pack light like us!) and helpful concierge.
We only had two and a half days to spend in Paris and trust me, that’s not enough time to really go to every single place to see! It was our first time so of course, we wanted to go to all the clichés :) Here’s a checklist for you:
– Eiffel Tower
– Arc De Triumph
– Notre Dame de Paris
– The Louvre. Don’t expect to have time to go in as it will take you hours to go inside plus the museum is huge!
– Sacre Le Coeur
– Jardin du Luxembourg
– Pont Alexandre III
– Seine River
– Saint Germaine
Playlist to listen to while touring Paris. It may sound silly why we’re putting a playlist for a guide here but we swear this will help you appreciate the place more! We really felt like Parisian girls with these songs :P
1. J’ai Deux Amours – Zaz
2. Paris Tu N’as Pas Change – Jean Sablon
3. Depuis Que Je Suis A Paris – Jean Sablon
4. La Romance de Paris – Charles Trenet
5. Le Foret – Lescop
6. Blouson Noir – AaRON
7. A Paris – Zaz
8. La Parisienne – Zaz
9. Carla Bruni’s songs
10. 27 Rue Des Acacias – Pills Et Tablet
Tips on How To Dress For Paris During Winter
1. Invest on heat tech from Uniqulo or Marks and Spencer. It can be really cold! Layer your normal clothes with it, that’s how we still look dressed in photos and survived the cold at the same time! :)
2. Layer as much as you can. We had 4 layers on top, pants, socks and even 2 layers on our hands in total!
3. Buy comfortable boots made for the cold.
4. Buy a beret! What could be more Parissine than that? :P You can buy it there already but buy it in the streets as it’s only 300 pesos when converted :)
5. Gloves and head gear are very important!
1. Water is very expensive in Paris. Its actually the same price as a glass of wine! So if your hotel gives free water, take advantage of it and bring a water bottle with you.
2. Its true what they say, there’s a very high risk of your money getting snatched in Paris! It didn’t happen to us but we just felt like so much people look so hostile and will rob you anytime. I swear, we we’re just being paranoid! Our tip is to buy that wallet you can hook on to your bra and put your money there. We bought ours in Flight 001!
3. Connected to number 3, bring a bag that you can close and have inside pockets to put your valuables in. Avoid the gypsies too.
4. French waiters especially in non touristy places can be very snooty. We even had bad experiences where they didn’t help us with the menus written in French :( Our tip? Download google translate and don’t bother asking for help!
5. Walk to appreciate Paris. Our choice of renting a car was half good and half bad. Yes, it made our lives easier but we didn’t get to see the little details of Paris because we were inside the car :(
6. Try the food the French are really known for! They’re clichè for a reason :) Go for the escargot, froie gras, steak et frittes, crepes, the French pastries, their local butter, and the bread. The wine too!!!!
7. Book your Versailles ticket in advance online so you won’t need to line up for it when you get there.
8. Listen to the playlist we gave above while going around!
9. If you will shop, ask for the tax refund form before leaving the store. Some department stores and shops will allow you to get the refund there but most of the time, you have to get it in the airport.
10. Have fun and dress up!! :)
On Vern: Coat from Zara, Pants from TAI TAI GIRL, Shoes from H&M, Top from Forever 21, Beret from Korea, Bag from Chanel
On Verniece: Coat from LIGHT IN THE BOX, #VVSkirt, Boots from H&M, Top from GUESS
Can’t wait for your Parisian adventure!