Sample Cover Letter for Schengen Visa Application at the French Embassy

A cover letter is one of the requirements when applying for a Schengen visa at the French embassy. In the letter, you’re supposed to explain the purpose of your trip and your proposed day-to-day itinerary. If you’re applying for a visa and you need some ideas for what to say in the letter, how long the letter should be, et cetera, here’s what my 2011 cover letter looked like:

Slight cheesiness alert

Slight cheesiness alert 😀

The itinerary in this letter is only an overview; I submitted a more detailed one as an attachment.

A sample cover letter is included in our Schengen Visa Pack. Other incredibly helpful contents include:

  • A sample Affidavit of Support, which you can use if someone else, like your parents or your boyfriend, is paying for your trip
  • A detailed itinerary template, which includes a budget column to help you prove financial capability for your trip
  • Tips and things you need to know about “show money” requirements for visas

You can learn more about how to get the Schengen Visa Pack HERE. (We accept payments through Cebuana Lhuiller, PayPal, and BPI deposit/transfer, so it’s very easy and convenient.)

The checklists inside the Schengen Visa Pack are based on the official checklist of the Italian embassy but most Schengen countries have similar requirements anyway so I’m sure you will find them helpful, even if you’re applying at the French or another embassy. (Do make sure that you check with the official embassy/VFS/VIA websites for any new/special requirements they might have.) The sample cover letter, the itinerary template, and the sample Affidavit of Support can definitely be used for any Schengen country.

Also available:


Good luck and happy travels!



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© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. Thanks to Jasmin of Artistitch for the post inspiration!


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The Paris river bus

Paris Batobus sights 000

Paris is beautiful from a boat.

Well, it would be beautiful from anywhere, I suppose, but a boat is a good way to see the sights along the Seine river in relative comfort.

Paris Batobus sights 02

There are various boat companies running sightseeing tours. A 1-hour cruise on Vedettes de Paris — the boat pictured passing under the gorgeous Pont Alexandre III bridge above — costs 14 €. Vedettes du Pont Neuf is currently running a spring promo, with erstwhile 14 € cruises now only 9-10 €. Cruise tours by Bateaux Parisiens also cost 14 €.

But for just a couple more euros, a one-day Batobus pass (16 €) will allow you to get on and off as often as you like, or stay on the boat the whole day if you should feel like it. The two-day pass is an even better value at 19 €. Batobus has 8 stops along the river — including ones near the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame, the Hotel de Ville, and the Louvre — so it’s a great way not only to see the sights along the river but also to get from one Paris attraction to another.

Paris Batobus stop

The hop-on hop-off Batobus in Paris

Paris Batobus sights 01

In our case, we were staying at the Grand Hotel du Loiret, only a stone’s throw away from the Hotel de Ville and a short walk from the Batobus stop of the same name, so we found being able to hop-on and hop-off very convenient.

The Batobus is especially invaluable during inclement weather. It rained constantly the last time we were in Paris, so sometimes we would just stay inside the boat and sightsee from its dry, warm seats.

Paris Batobus sights 04

Paris Batobus sights 05

Paris Batobus sights 06

Pretty good deal, right?

The Paris river bus” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 


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The Road to Chateau d’If

View from the grounds of the Chateau d'If

View from the grounds of the Chateau d’If

While waiting for a boat to take us from the Chateau d’If to the rest of the Frioul islands, my sister and I fell into conversation with a Taiwanese lady named Sophie, who was in the south of France to select wines for her F&B company. When she learned we were from the Philippines, she proudly told us she had two Filipina friends who were working as domestic helpers back in Taipei.

Sophie expressed a deep respect for her friends: whereas most people would whine about how tired they were from work, her friends slaved without complaint and even prayed for side jobs so that they could send more money back home. From their example, Sophie said, she learned to appreciate what she had. Her job might sound heavenly, but in exchange for getting to visit chateaus and vineyards, taste delicious food and sip the world’s best wines, she has to live out of a suitcase and never stay in one place for long. Because of her Filipina friends, though, Sophie has learned not to complain; as it is, there were so many people in the world who did not have enough to eat. And my sister and I were very lucky, she pointed out: her two Filipina friends had to work hard to support their families, while there we were in the south of France, basking in the Mediterranean sun.

Sophie and Lei, waiting for the ferry

Sophie and Lei, waiting for the ferry

To a great extent, we really are very lucky. I won’t apologize for it: our parents came from poor families, but they have worked very hard to give us a good start, and we ourselves have studied hard and worked hard to get to where we are now. At the same time, no matter how hard we work, we will never be on the same level of comfort as the Zobels or the Henry Sys of this world, not even if we win the lottery ten times. And there are people who work harder than we do and still will only have enough to get by, one day at a time. So to a certain extent, there is indeed some luck involved. In the great lottery of life, we relatively lucked out; we worked with what we had, and life took us somehow, through twisted paths, to Chateau d’If on a warm October afternoon.

Entering one of the cells in Chateau d'If

Flowers in memory of Edmond

Funny to be contemplating about life and fortune in this rocky island off Marseille, where the fictional Edmond Dantes had his life and fortune unjustly taken away from him for countless years. The world isn’t fair, we know that now. Many of us have troubles of our own: challenges, hurts, many of them richly undeserved. But if The Count of Monte Cristo tells us anything, it’s that we won’t always be down and out; the wheel of life will turn. Maybe all we need to do is hang in there for a bit; count our blessings. (Also, it probably won’t hurt to start chipping away at the rocks.)

The Road to Chateau d’If” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. Parts of this post were previously published in the post “The Lottery of Life.”


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7 days in Paris for PHP 50,000


Over a year ago, I wrote How Much Does A European Trip Cost, where I advised people to budget PHP 10,000/day of their trip. That estimate was largely based on a 10-day trip my sister and I took a few years ago and included everything from:

  • Airfare (Cebu-Manila-KL-Paris-KL-Manila-Cebu)
  • Hotels (all double/twin en suites in central locations)
  • Sleeper trains: Paris-Venice, Rome-Paris, and Paris-Nice
  • Daytime trains: Venice-Rome, Nice-Marseille, and Marseille-Paris
  • Ferry trip to Chateau d’If and the Frioul Islands
  • Batobus (Paris) and vaporetto (Venice) passes
  • Admission fees (Louvre, Orsay, the Colosseum, etc.)
  • Food and local transport

…and other miscellaneous stuff. (See: 10 days in Europe: A sample itinerary for France and Italy)

People who actually lived in Europe — ie, people who knew better — told me PHP 10,000/day was too much, but I figured it was a quick, memorable, reasonable rule-of-thumb, and explained:

If I had to describe my travel style, I’d say it’s frugal but comfortable. There are travelers who like to compare trip costs — the cheaper, the better — but I don’t. My personal goal is not to have the cheapest vacation, but to have the best vacation within a reasonable budget, and I tend to be willing to pay a bit more for something if it means I would be happier during my trip.

(Like, you know, centrally located twin en suites.)

But then, this month, I had to write this Rappler article, and I challenged myself to come up with a budget that wouldn’t take an extremely long time or an extremely frugal pre-trip lifestyle to achieve.

So — apologies for the needlessly long intro! — here it is:

7 days in Paris for php 50000

As you can see, the airfare gobbles up half the budget and is a lucky, low-season rate at that — you’ll have to keep an eye out for seat sales or periodic low rates to get that price. But it’s entirely possible: I’ve posted about a P23,700 fare and even a P21,500 fare that I found through Skyscanner/Expedia (and which is why I would encourage you to subscribe to this blog HERE to get the latest news and updates). Plus, there are 30-euro centrally located hostels (thank you for the tip Jasmin!) with free WiFi and breakfast, tricks to save on food and still have your fill, and other ways to not spend so much, even in an expensive city like Paris.

Of course, there’s the valid line of thought that says: you don’t get to be in Paris often, might as well spend more. PHP 50,000 is really just the baseline (and not even the basest of baselines) and you’re absolutely free to spend more if you have more to spend. What this frugal budget tries to prove is that if Paris is really a dream of yours, there’s no reason you can’t make that dream come true. I’ve done it, and you can too.


7 days in Paris for PHP 50,000” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

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The Notre Dame

Notre Dame Door

The Notre Dame is beautiful, from its iconic towers and buttresses to its intricate carvings and stained glass.

It’s not going to be a completely spiritual experience, seeing the church. For one, there are just too many people. And, of course, someone has to pay for the church’s upkeep — that someone being, mostly, you and me, the tourists. Signs of the inevitable commercialization — at least when I was there — include a shop selling religious items and vending machines spitting out Notre Dame medallions for 2 euros.

But the experience is what you make of it. When I went back last year, I made it a point to catch a service. I didn’t get to hear a Mass, but I was lucky enough to attend vespers. (Side note: it was my first vespers, and although I’ve been a Catholic since forever, I’m still not actually sure what vespers is and what, if any, is the Filipino counterpart.) During the service, there was an elderly man, a local, who took it upon himself to reprimand — in hushed tones — any tourist silly enough to make too much noise or sit in the benches designated for actual churchgoers. I actually thought it was nice, that someone still cared.

Another good thing about the Notre Dame: it’s free.

  • Location: Île de la Cité (one of the islands in the middle of the River Seine)
  • Opening hours: 8:00 am to 6:45 pm (7:15 pm on Saturdays and Sundays)
  • Admission: Free entrance to the church | 8,50 € to go up the towers
  • For more information: Official Website (English) | Service Times

Notre Dame Side

The Notre Dame” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

The Moment


There is that moment while traveling when you look upon a scene and suddenly comprehend why it’s been described as breathtaking, because literally you’ve sucked in a sharp breath and forgotten to exhale, transfixed by what you see.

One of those moments for me occurred in Nice. My sister and I had planned to spend at least half a day in the city, coming as we did from Paris via the Lunea night train and booked to spend the night at a hotel in Marseille. However, the queue to buy our Nice-Marseille train tickets took us longer than expected; after having breakfast, my sister opted to just stay in the cafe and get some work done.


I decided to take a stroll down the Avenue Jean Medecin, not expecting much, figuring I will just have a look around and go back to my sister when it was nearly time for our onward journey. I dropped by the Cours Saleya and browsed through the shops and stalls of flowers, spices, and dried fruits. It was clearly a bit touristy, but I was a tourist, a first-timer in the South of France, and I was charmed by all the colors, scents, and tastes — the latter presumed, as I bought nothing.

Finally, I emerged through a few buildings into the Promenade des Anglais…and experienced that Moment.

Nice_Promenade des Anglais_01

My first glimpse of the Côte d’Azur. I’ve seen the sea countless times before, been to better beaches, but this was just different. Surreal. The impossibly blue sea, the light-colored buildings that lined the coast, the blue-and-white umbrellas dotting the beach, even the pensioners taking a hearty walk in the sun — it all made me feel like I’d been dropped quite suddenly into the middle of a postcard.

I’ve been to Nice one more time since then, and I’ve been to many other beautiful places as well, but that one fleeting moment always stands out in my mind as the moment that literally took my breath away.

The Moment” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 




Nice_Promenade des AnglaisNice

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