Border crossings

France is a member state of the Schengen area (see here) and operates a common border and immigration policy with 24 other nations in the EU, the wider European Economic Area and Switzerland.

Land border checks exist, but are usually targeted rather than general. The vast majority of land crossings from other Schengen  countries will encounter no checks whatsoever.

Border control is maintained with Andorra, owing to the tax haven status and low duty and VAT on purchases. The UK also maintains border control with France, at train and ferry terminals, as the UK opted out of the common border control part of the Schengen Agreement.

Do I need a visa?

For citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia and certain other countries, a valid passport is all you need, if you intend to stay as a tourist in the Schengen travel zone for less than 90 days within a 180 day period. The 90 days are cumulative across the whole Schengen area and the 180 day period starts from the first entry into the Schengen area. Fines and travel bans can result, should you overstay. The website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a full list of all nationalities that are exempt from visas for France, as well as listing which nationalities are allowed to work in France during the visa exemption period. If you are a national of a country that needs visas for France and the Schengen area, and wish to visit as a tourist, you will need to apply for a Schengen visa from the embassy/consulate of the Schengen country where you will spend the most time.

Citizens of New Zealand are allowed to stay and work in France without a visa for up to 90 days regardless of time already spent in other Schengen countries. The website of the French Embassy in New Zealand provides more detailed information about this special visa exemption for New Zealanders entering France and the Schengen area; see the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs link above for information on work permission during the 90 days.

If you want to stay in France for longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for a long stay visa from the French embassy or consulate in the country where you reside. On arrival in France, you may be required to apply for a residence permit (carte de séjour).  

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens (and their family members) have the right of abode, travel and work across all other EU member states (some exceptions & limitations apply for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals). A passport or national identity card (or the appropriate family permit for family members) is usually all that is needed to establish these rights.