When we think of Tunisia, we remember the long, blond, overcrowded beaches, and perhaps the huge clubs that line them… A way of approaching the country without seeing its real identity and its riches. Some regions have escaped mass tourism, notably the North, so we’re rushing to show it off to the kids. Our trips take you through verdant regions such as the town of El Alia, overlooking Lake Bizerte, and the Ichkeul National Park. You then continue on to Cap Bon, a little-visited area. This promontory pointing towards Sicily is a vast garden where orange and lemon trees cover the plains. Its beaches are among the most beautiful in Tunisia – Port Prince and Oued el Abid are particularly noteworthy – while charming fishing villages welcome curious travellers. In every town, the markets are mouth-watering with their stalls of spices, fruit, vegetables and fish. Here, the whole family encounters a secret and precious Tunisia.
Time difference: Tunisia is GMT+1. There is therefore an hour’s difference with France when the latter is on summer time (when it’s midday in Paris, it’s 11:00 a.m. in Tunis).
Money : The Tunisian Dinar is divided into 1000 millimes. There are banknotes of 5, 10, 20 and 30 dinars, coins of 5 (a kind of very light white token), 10, 20, 50, 100 (yellow coins), 500 millimes, 1 dinar (white coin) and 5 dinars (yellow and white coin resembling the €2 coin). It’s impossible to change dinars outside Tunisia, so you’ll have to change your currency in Tunisian banks where cash is not commissioned, which is not the case for traveler’s cheques. Currency exchange is also available in most hotels and a few large post offices. Don’t forget to ask for small denominations to facilitate your day-to-day expenses on the spot, and don’t forget to get rid of the last few dinars before reaching the international zone on your return. Payment by credit card is widely accepted, especially in large cities where ATMs are readily available. Few merchants charge a commission on this payment method. All banks in the country have aligned themselves with the new opening hours. From 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Friday, and during Ramadan, they close between 12:00 and 1:00 pm. From July 1 to August 31, they are open Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 12:00 pm.
Electricity: Sockets are identical to French plugs.
Opening hours: All museums close on Mondays and Fridays. As for the souks, bazaars and tourist stores set up near the hotels, they are open from dawn until late (depending on the number of visitors and the season). Some shops close after lunch for siesta and on Fridays for religious reasons, as this is the day of prayer. Sunday is a day off, but many shops open in tourist areas. As far as the opening hours of large food stores are concerned, they are generally identical to those in France. Administrations and sites change their opening hours according to the time of year: during July and August, they open from 7.30am to 1.30pm. From September 1 to June 30, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. During Ramadan, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Telephone: To call from Tunisia to France, dial 00 + 33 followed by your correspondent’s 9-digit number (i.e. the 10-digit number without the “0”). To call from France to Tunisia, dial 00 + 216 followed by your correspondent’s number. Everywhere in the country you’ll find telephone centers called “Taxiphones”, which operate solely on coins. Indeed, phone booths are quite rare in Tunisia. In summer, it will be quite difficult to make calls to foreign countries due to network overload.
Internet : Publinet” signs in major cities indicate cyber centers, which are widespread and easy to find. The connection may not be very fast, but the prices are very affordable: around 1.50DT/h.
GSM coverage: Good network coverage in Tunisia. However, we recommend that you contact your operator directly (reception depends on your operator) to find out how much they charge for opening an international line.
Compulsory vaccinations: No vaccinations are required, except for yellow fever for travelers coming from countries where it is rife.
Recommended vaccinations: As always, it’s important to be immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, hepatitis A and B, and measles for children.
By following the hygiene rules we’ve recommended, you’ll be more likely to avoid them. Food risks, generally benign but annoying, are often due to overly appetizing hotel buffets. Keep in mind the universal rules for avoiding them: frequent hand washing, cooked food eaten hot, peeled or washed fruit, capped drinks. At sea, the problems are the same as everywhere else. The risks of diving have been outlined in our general recommendations; diving centers are usually run by good professionals and have reliable equipment.
As for viper bites and scorpion stings, they can be a risk, albeit a rare one, in desert regions.
Practical info: The medical infrastructure in Tunis is quite satisfactory. In the event of hospitalization, it is best to contact the assistance company and, if necessary, the French embassy.
Valid passport for French nationals. We therefore recommend that you travel with a passport. For other nationalities, we’ll be happy to help you with all the formalities.
To cover all eventualities, make sure your passport has the required or sufficient number of blank pages (usually 3, with 2 facing each other).
Emergency passport. As this document is not accepted everywhere, you’ll need to check that it’s recognized by the country you’re planning to visit before applying for it. You should also check whether it requires a visa (which may be the case even for countries where you don’t need one with an ordinary passport).
If you’re traveling with your children, you should be aware that minors of all ages are now also required to have an individual passport. French law stipulates that minors traveling with one or both parents do not need to be in possession of an authorization to leave the country. On the other hand, this document is mandatory (since January 15, 2017) if this accompanying condition is not met. In the latter case, the child must present: a passport (or identity card, depending on the requirements of the destination country); an authorization to leave the country form, signed by one of the parents holding parental authority (the authorization to leave the country form is available at www.service-public.fr); a photocopy of the signing parent’s identity document.
When a minor travels with a parent whose name he or she does not bear, it is strongly recommended either to be able to prove parentage (https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F15392), or to present an authorization to leave the country (Cerfa form no. 15646*01) duly completed and signed by the other parent, together with a copy of his or her identity card. This authorization does not exempt minors from any other formalities specific to their destination.
New security measures have come into force at airports: electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) must be charged and in working order on all flights to and from the USA and London. Control officers must be able to switch them on. As a precaution, keep your charger handy. If your device is unloaded or faulty, it will be confiscated. As this measure is likely to be extended to other airports, we advise you to charge your electronic devices before your flight, whatever your destination.
Driver’s license: to avoid any inconvenience, even for non-European countries that officially recognize the validity of the French driver’s license on their territory, it may be useful to obtain an international driver’s license or, failing that, a sworn translation of the French license.
No visa required for French nationals.