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There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Chicago each year.
The main ones are listed below.

January 1 : New Year's Day (national holiday)

Third Monday in January : Martin Luther King Day (national holiday)

A federal holiday in the United States, celebrating the life and achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr. In recent years, it has increasingly been seen as a day of service, when Americans are encouraged to volunteer to help others less fortunate than themselves. Many events inspired by Dr. King's legacy are held each year in Chicago: musical concerts, other performances, exhibitions, debates.

January/February : Chinese New Year (celebrated nationwide in major cities)

Festivities are held each year to ring in the Chinese New Year in Chicago's Chinatown, one of the largest such neighbourhoods in the world, including a big parade along Wentworth Ave., from Cermak Rd. to 24th St.), and includes marching bands, floats, dragon and lion dance performers, and a 100-foot paper dragon. There are also martial arts demonstrations.

June–September: Ravinia Festival (local event)

The oldest outdoor music festival in the United States and a premier cultural destination for Chicagoans, Ravinia welcomes world-class musicians each summer to several venues in the northern Chicago suburb of Highland Park. Enjoying often elaborate picnic dinners under the stars, concertgoers can choose from a vast array of classical, pop, folk, jazz, dance and family-oriented programmes.

July 4 : Independence Day (national holiday)

A federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by which the 13 American colonies officially severed their political ties with Great Britain. Celebrated with parades, barbecues, picnics and fireworks.

Labour Day weekend : Chicago Jazz Festival (local event)

Without a doubt, one of the world's leading jazz festivals. Over this three-day period, more than fifty concerts are presented in Grant Park. Admission is free!

First Monday in September : Labour Day (national holiday)

Second Monday in October : Columbus Day (national holiday)

Commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World (October 12, 1492). Many cultural events are organized to mark this anniversary each year, including performances, exhibitions and parades.

October 31 : Halloween (celebrated nationwide)

Halloween is celebrated each year by Americans of all ages. In the late afternoon and early evening hours, children don costumes and go door-to-door in their neighbourhoods to ask for treats, typically candy. Adults often attend costume parties in the evening.

Fourth Thursday in November : Thanksgiving (national holiday)

Originally a Christian religious observance, for many years Thanksgiving has been a secular holiday in the United States, celebrated by Americans of all faiths. Families come together to prepare and enjoy a large feast at home. The meal typically includes roast turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce as well as various side dishes and ends with an assortment of pies (pumpkin, pecan, apple).

December 25 : Christmas (national holiday)

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Chicago has a humid continental climate. Winters are severe and temperatures often stay well below freezing for long periods between November and March. Blizzards are frequent and snowstorms can occasionally shut down public transport. Summers are hot, with the city regularly experiencing heat waves, sometimes followed by a further period of very warm weather, known as Indian summer, in the early autumn.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January -9/16 -1/30 52/2.0 Not the best period to go
February -7/19 2/36 49/1.9 Not the best period to go
March -2/28 8/46 69/2.7 Not the best period to go
April 5/41 16/61 92/3.6 Not the best period to go
May 11/52 22/72 104/4.1 Good period to go Good period to go
June 16/61 27/81 103/4.1 Good period to go Good period to go
July 19/66 29/84 101/4.0 Good period to go Good period to go
August 19/66 28/82 101/4.0 Good period to go Good period to go
September 14/57 24/75 84/3.3 Good period to go Good period to go
October 7/45 17/63 82/3.2 Not the best period to go
November 1/34 9/48 87/3.4 Not the best period to go
December -5/23 2/36 65/2.6 Not the best period to go
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Chicago O'Hare International Airport

O'Hare International Airport is located about 29 kilometres (18 miles) north-west of Chicago's central business district, known as the Loop.

  • Four terminals:
    • Terminal 1
    • Terminal 2
    • Terminal 3
    • Terminal 5 (Air France)

Getting from the airport to Chicago and back
  • By car
    • Accessible via I-90 and I-190.
    • There are short-term parking facilities at Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 5 (USD 2 for 1 hour or less, USD 60 for 24 hours) and long-term parking lots with a free shuttle service to the terminals (between USD 10 and USD 17 per day).
    • Several car rental companies have counters at the service centre on the airport property and all of them operate free, 24-hour shuttle buses picking up customers outside the baggage claim areas at each terminal.
  • By shuttle bus
    Go Airport Express buses connect the airport to various city and suburban locations. Fares start at USD 16 each way (50 minutes to the Loop, with departures every 10 to 15 minutes).
  • By rail
    The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates the city's famous “L” trains, with the Blue Line running directly from the airport to the Loop. The O'Hare station is located on the lower level of Terminal 2 and trains run 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The fare is USD 5 each way.
  • By Taxi
    There are taxi stands outside baggage claim at each terminal. The trip to the Loop will take about 40 minutes and the average fare is about USD 30 to USD 40.
  • Services: shops, bars and restaurants, Internet access (Wi-Fi) available in the airport
  • Telephone: +1 312 773 686 3700
  • Website: http://www.flychicago.com/

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For years, Chicago has shown that the dark periods having tarnished its international reputation are truly a thing of the past! Today, Chicago is a very enjoyable place to visit and one that is particularly well served by its public transport system. Known as a city of distinctive neighbourhoods, Chicago is perhaps best seen on foot or by bicycle.


With 59 kilometres (37 miles) of its network above ground and just 19 kilometres (12 miles) running through tunnels, the “L” system of (mostly) elevated trains operated by the CTA is without question one of the most practical and pleasant ways to discover the city. The system has eight rapid transit routes, serving 146 stations throughout the city.

Fare options:

  • CTA 1-Day Pass (USD 10)
  • CTA 3-Day Pass (USD 20)
  • CTA 7-Day Pass (USD 28)

By bus

The CTA also operates more than 200 bus lines, with many of them running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The fare for a single ride is USD 2.25.

By taxi

Taxis are plentiful in Chicago. The base fare is USD 3.25. It is customary to tip cab drivers about 15 to 20 percent of the total fare. Credit cards are accepted.

By car

Driving a car yourself in Chicago is not a simple matter. Traffic can be quite congested at times throughout the day.

By bicycle

Bicycles are an ideal solution for exploring Chicago. The city has many bike paths as well as Divvy, a bicycle-sharing network with over 4,000 bikes made available at nearly 500 stations around the city. A 24-hour pass costs USD 9.95.

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Visitor information

Upon your arrival in Chicago, you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.

Chicago Visitor Information Centers

These two centres, operated by Choose Chicago, the city's official destination marketing organization, offer practical information and many useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).

Chicago Cultural Center

Macy's on State Street

The website maintained by Choose Chicago (http://www.choosechicago.com), also provides a wealth of information for visitors to Chicago.

Further information available online for visitors to the United States

Discover America, a public-private marketing entity, works closely with the travel industry to promote tourism in communities around the country. Its website offers excellent information on all US travel destinations, including Chicago.

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Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency used in the United States of America is the dollar ($).

1 € = 1,13 $

1 $ = 0,88 €

The above exchange rate is given for information because is variable.

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Medical information

See your doctor before you travel.
Excellent medical care is available in Chicago, but costs are high. As the United States has not entered into reciprocal health agreements with other countries, you should take out appropriate insurance before you leave home, covering both medical expenses and medical evacuation or repatriation.


There are no vaccination requirements for visitors to the United States.

For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:


Tap water is safe to drink in Chicago.

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Administrative formalities

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows French citizens to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, whether for tourism or business. Two requirements must be met:

  • Your passport must meet the criteria for VWP travel (it must be machine-readable, with an integrated chip containing information from the passport data page). For further information, visit the Visa Waiver Program page on the Website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html
  • You must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to travel. For further information, visit the ESTA page on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Website: http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/esta

Travellers not eligible for the VWP, or who have not been able to obtain an ESTA, must apply for a visa.

To enjoy peace of mind during your stay in Chicago and the United States, be sure to check with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your home country for the latest travel information and recommendations.

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Useful Addresses

U.S. Embassy in France (consular services provided by the Embassy)

French Embassy in the United States

French Consulate General in Chicago

Consulat de France à Chicago

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Good to know

00 1
+ phone number (calls to Chicago)
-7 : 00
of time difference with
Start of daylight saving time: second Sunday in March
End of daylight saving time: first Sunday in November


Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon
Government offices

Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
110 V / 60 Hz

And what about tipping?
In Chicago as in the rest of the United States, a service charge is not included in the bill and tips form a major portion of income for waiting staff. Prices on restaurant menus are indicated before taxes and tips. You are therefore expected to leave a tip (generally between 15 and 20 percent of the bill). Tipping less than 15 percent (or leaving no tip at all) means that you are very dissatisfied with the service.

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