Ahh, Paris. The City of Lights. The City of Love. Whatever you call it, the city is wonderful. People tend to either hate it or love it, and I personally fell in the middle. I think I would feel a little different had I been traveling with somebody else, or had more time, but it is still a place that I am happy to have explored. I will also give it another try one day. However you may feel about the city, these 10 tips are things every traveler should know when visiting Paris.
1. Don’t be afraid to take the metro.
A lot of people think the metro is scary, or that a taxi is better; Trust me, the metro is the way to go! Of course walk when you can so you don’t miss out on the cute streets of Paris, but the metro is safe and can get you anywhere you need to go.
2. Don’t go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
I know, I know… you are thinking “I am already here, so why not?” Well, you can save money by not going to the top, and there are so many other spots around Paris where you can get a great shot of the city from above. It honestly seemed like a huge waste of time when I went and I was bummed I had waited so long in line. It is also so crowded! Save time, save money, and skip going to the top.
3. Do not buy from street vendors or play games with them.
You will see so many scammers and street vendors around Paris. They are in high concentration around the tourist attractions. I couldn’t believe how many times people tried to stop me when I was trying to get to the Eiffel Tower to sell me something. You will also get stopped to play games that seem fun and harmless; however, the people running them are normally scammers who are just trying to steal your money or other valuables.
4. If you’re a B of A member, use Banque Nationale de Paris for no fee cash!
I learned this fun fact when I called my bank to put a travel notice on my account. I have Bank of America, and they made sure to tell me that I could withdraw cash at BNP with no transaction fees! How awesome is that? It was so nice to not have to take a lot of cash with me and be able to pull money out when needed.
5. Buy your goods at local Patisseries and Boulangeries.
When in Paris, you MUST eat some amazing pastries and load up on carbs that are freshly made. Do like the locals and buy from bakeries and shops that make the goods on the premises. To make sure it is authentic, look for a sign on the door that says “Artisan Boulanger”, which means the bread was made in the store and not frozen.
6. Pickpockets seem to be everywhere
When I told people I would be heading to Paris, I was first greeted with excitement, but also warned of how bad the pickpockets are throughout the city. I thought people were just being dramatic, but everywhere I went there were warnings. The first time I bought metro tickets, the guy who sold them to me was nice enough to warn me. The main places for this to happen are obviously the tourist attractions and the metro. Just be aware and you should be fine.
7. Don’t plan too much in one day.
Paris isn’t a huge city, but there is so much to do that you can end up trying to cram everything in one day. You don’t want to do this. I had only 3 days, and I tried to get as much in as I could (and I did), but it was a little bit of a mistake. After day 3 I was dragging. My feet were killing me, I was tired, but had to venture on to my next destination. When planning try to have at least 5 days, and if you have less, then see what’s really important to you, and save the rest for the next time.
8. Everybody smokes.
Literally everybody smokes, no matter where they are. I couldn’t even get clean fresh air when visiting Disneyland. The restaurants, the streets, tourist attractions, you name it, there are people smoking. Just be aware that when you visit the city of lights, you will be dealing with a constant cloud of smoke around you.
9. There is Wi-Fi throughout the city
Don’t worry about getting an expensive international phone plan, Paris has free Wi-Fi you can use throughout the city. I know it isn’t available in every single area, but you really don’t need a phone plan. Sometimes it is nice to get lost in the city anyway.
10. Always say Hello and Goodbye
You may have heard that the French are rude, but that really isn’t the case. You should always say hello and goodbye when walking into shops, and it is also very common to say this really to any worker that interacts with you. A simple “Bonjour/Bonsoir Madame/Monsieur” when you first enter, and a “Merci” as you leave is all you need to do. They will really appreciate that you are trying, and this is something that all of the locals do.
Visiting Paris is a dream come true for some but make sure when visiting you are aware and polite. It is an easy city to fall in love with and to fall in love in, but there are still some precautions you should take. Just follow these tips, and it will be the trip of a lifetime. Please let me know below if you have visited or are planning to visit soon!