Paris is a beautiful city – it is after all, the city of love… and is bustling with amazing food, historical sites and rich culture. It can also be quite an intimidating city for many first time visitors, but really, it’s not so scary once you know some of the ins and outs of the city.
Have a go at the language
This doesn’t mean teach yourself to speak fluent French before you leave or spend money on French classes, just knowing some simple phrases to get by such hello, goodbye, thankyou’s and pleases and ‘do you speak English’ will get you by. The French will appreciate your efforts to speak their language, even if you don’t quite get it right, they will be happy you at least gave it a go.
Taxis are expensive
Taxis are not cheap in Paris, especially at night time the fares escalate even more, which makes the metro the cheaper and quicker option. The metro shuts down about 1am though, so if you are still out and about at that hour, expect to fork out some cash for the ride home.
When you are travelling there’s no doubt it is definitely more comfortable to wear walking shoes and clothes that will be comfortable for all day walking and exploring cities in, but just remember that Paris is, after all, a fashion capital and they are known to dress fashionably well. A little thought to what you might wear might not be a bad idea before arriving.
Master the metro
Go underground and get familiar with it! The metro is a great way to get around the city as there seems to be very few places that aren’t close to a metro stop. All the colour line systems can initially seem confusing and intimidating, but you will become quickly accustomed to the way the trains run and just how quickly you can get around the city. And they are cheaper than taxis!
Not all Parisian’s are rude
Yes, contrary to popular belief, not all Parisian are rude or arrogant. Of course you may come across some not so polite or cheery Parisians, however you will also come by some lovely ones. Just don’t base the assumption on one bad experience.
public toilets aren’t always free – or easy to find!
Yes, a very common scenario in Europe is the bathroom situation.. It is almost inevitable that you will need to use a bathroom at some stage during the day if you have been out exploring the city. Just don’t expect to be able to walk straight into a restaurant and ask to use there restroom if you’re not a paying customer! A great place to look though, is in the local parks scattered throughout the city, but just expect a small fee to be paid each time you enter.
Don’t rush your meals
Unlike at home, where as soon as you have finished the last mouthful of your meal, the waiters are right there to collect your plates and place the bill on your table, Paris is quite the opposite. When your plates are cleared and you have finished your meal, you will find yourself sitting there with no bill or no waiter rushing you out the door, and this isn’t because they are ignoring or avoiding you, it is simply because Parisians don’t rush there meals; eating out is seen as social event that should in no way be rushed but instead to sit back, enjoy the food and company without being rushed out the door.
If you just happen to find yourself in Paris during the first Sunday of the Month then you are in luck! All the main museums such as Musee d’Orsasy, the Museum of Modern Art and most popular and well known, The Louvre, are free to visit but only on the first Sunday of every month.
Beware of your belongings and careful of scammers
This isn’t just in Paris, but a lot of European countries too. Keep an eye on your bag and make sure zips are done up properly and you haven’t got any expensive or personal belonging that you don’t really need out i.e. passport, laptop etc. Pickpockets are everywhere in Paris, especially in popular touristy spots and riding the metro, so be extra cautious of this and keep your bag in front of you or right by your side whenever possible. Furthermore, ignore any groups of people asking you to sign petitions or show you magic tricks etc…. just keep walking, or you risk getting something stolen while you are distracted.
Unsurprisingly the most visited attraction in Paris is the Eiffel tower! If you think it looks beautiful during the day, it looks even more stunning at night time with its bright lights. In the summer months once it gets dark, it sparkles for 5 minutes every hour on the hour!
There are lots of parks in Paris to just chill out in and great for packing a little picnic with cheese and wine. See my Paris Picnic Guide here.