10 Must-know Paris travel tips you need to know about
Paris is a beautiful city to visit, but the Parisians do have a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to their treatment of tourists. Bartenders that will refuse to speak English, even when then can, and an older generation of Parisians that sometimes appear to be looking down their noses at visitors are all part of the myth that would suggest that Paris is not a very welcoming city. The reality is though, if you make an effort to blend in and try not to offend the locals, you will get along fine and here are ten tips to help make your stay in Paris a wonderful experience.
Travel tip 1: Make an effort to speak French
It does rub some French people up the wrong way when tourists just assume that the whole world speaks English. You don’t need to become a fluent French speaker before you visit Paris but a few phrases will endear you more to the locals, even if it’s only “parlez-vous anglais?”
Travel tip 2: France runs on a different voltage to some other countries
France runs on 220 volt electricity, so if you are travelling from the US, you will need a voltage converter as well as a socket adapter. Computers are OK, but if you bring a blow dryer without a voltage converter, you are going to fry your blow dryer! France isn’t the only country like this; voltage does vary around the world, so always check before you travel.
Travel tip 3: Don’t expect fast service in a restaurant
Of course Paris has its share of fast food joints, but if you dine a French restaurant, then don’t become impatient if you don’t get lightning fast service. The French like to take their time eating, so service may seem a bit leisurely. It’s not poor service, it’ just the way they do it.
Travel tip 4: Coffee etiquette
Coffee is not drunk with a meal in France, it is drunk at the very end, so if you order a coffee to go with your meal you are going to get some rather odd and derisory looks. Also, If you order a café, then you will get something along the lines of an espresso shot. If you want a milky coffee, then ask for a ‘café au lait’ or ‘café à la crème fraîche’.
Travel tip 5: Say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ in stores, buses and restaurants
When you step inside a small store or boutique in Paris, always say ‘Bonjour’ to the storekeeper. It’s the done-thing in France and you will be rewarded with a warm welcome and a lot more help, if you need it. And, don’t forget to say thank you, ‘Merci’, on the way out too.
Travel tip 6: Casual in Paris means smart casual
If you don’t want to feel out of place in Paris, then don’t wear old sneakers and cutoff jeans! The French are notorious for judging people by their clothes and in Paris, it being the fashion capital of France, everyone looks good, all the time.
Travel tip 7: Baguettes are not just baguettes
If you want the real taste of a real French baguette, then order a ‘Tradition’ not an ordinary Baguette. “Baguette de tradition française” is the real thing and its ingredients are actually controlled by French law.
Travel tip 8: Don’t be offended if people look at you
The French love to check out what you’re wearing or what you are doing, it’s all a part of the French way. Don’t be offended, they are not making a challenge, they just love fashion and people watching.
Travel tip 9: Taxis are expensive in Paris
The Metro in Paris is extensive and will get you anywhere that you need to go so avoid the taxis, particularly at night because they are very expensive. Even a small trip down the road will cost you a small fortune, so avoid the temptation to jump in a cab when you can walk.
Travel tip 10: Take an umbrella
Whatever time of year you visit Paris it’s always a good idea to pack a small, foldable umbrella. The weather in Paris can be very unpredictable and it would be a shame to ruin your visit with a soaking from the rain.
Have you ever been to Paris? What are your favorite Paris travel tips?
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