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I'm going to Chambery which is located in the Rhone Alpes region of France. I know that in the US and Canada you have to carry exact change to board public buses.

  1. Is that the case in France too?
  2. Where can I buy buss passes in France? Are there any special shops, stores where I can purchase them?

I would appreciate anyone's reply. I'm a little bit nervous regarding navigating around France during my stay there since I've been told that only a very few people speak English.

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    In a recent trip that included rural Brittany and Normandy, shopkeepers spoke enough English to do business with tourists. I would not worry about language. However, it's good manners to learn enough French for please, thank you, excuse me, numbers, etc. – Andrew Lazarus Sep 22 '16 at 2:06
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    How well English is understood by the people you meet depends on your location. I found the general level of English less in the east of France, where there are fewer English tourists, and the level of German being unexpectedly high. But wherever I traveled I could get by while I do not speak French, a few French words, a bit of basic English and a friendly face. Where needed people are asked to help out with the language, as long as you clearly make an effort to try. – Willeke Sep 22 '16 at 9:11
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You will find three types of buses in France:

  • City buses. Exact rules and fares depend on the city but for a single ticket, you can typically pay cash to the driver and don't need exact change. Everywhere I have been so far, exact change is appreciated but not required and you can pay with a small bill (5/10, perhaps 20, most drivers would not have enough change on board to break a 50). Alternatively you can buy tickets in advance, typically there is a “bus shop” somewhere in the center and numerous resellers (often tobacconists/press shop); here is a list for Chambéry.

    As a student, you probably qualify for a cheap monthly or yearly bus card, you should probably look into that if you use the bus regularly. Also, for completeness's sake, note that a few (typically smaller) towns also have city buses that are completely free for users.

  • TER/regional intercity buses. Those are operated under the aegis of the regional authorities and are typically integrated with the regional train network (TER), serving smaller towns where there is no train lines at all or train service has been deemed to be uneconomical. You can typically buy tickets at train stations, with the driver or online. Bus cards for repeated travel are also available but should be bought in advance.

  • Long-distance private buses, marketed as a cheaper alternative to the train. As far as I know, buying a ticket from the driver is always possible but the best fares are obtained by booking online, as early as possible.

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    Funny that downvote, you thought the question was too broad and now faced with an answer that actually covers everything neatly, cognitive dissonance forces you to reject it? – Relaxed Sep 21 '16 at 21:06
  • I was the first to cast a close vote as unclear, which I will now retract given a good answer, +1. The downvote is from someone else. However I think you could also briefly mentioned accepted payment methods on the different buses as that is what OP is concerned about. – mts Sep 21 '16 at 21:08
  • @Relaxed Never underestimate the power of cognitive dissonance. – Revetahw Sep 21 '16 at 22:11
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    @Raj He wasn't talking about you. It's actually impossible for you to have been the downvoter, as a minimum of 125 reputation is required to downvote. There were some people who voted to close your question. Relaxed was suggesting that perhaps one of those people downvoted his answer because they felt the question should have been closed rather than answered. By the way, your question will most likely remain open now, as I edited it from the review queue. – Revetahw Sep 21 '16 at 23:24
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    @Fiksdal I see. Sorry for the confusion! – Raj Sep 22 '16 at 10:58

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