10 Paris travel tips you need to know about
Ah, the City of Lights! Who wouldn’t love to go there? Everyone loves it apparently, judging by the millions of tourists flocking to the world’s most popular travel destination every year. The French capital is simply packed with sightseeing musts that you should see at least once in your life. And don’t forget the patisseries, cafes and restaurants, where you can taste food that’s become the stuff of legend. There are thousands of reasons to visit Paris, and here are ten tips to help you have the time of your life.
1. Plan every step
Of course, this may not be literally possible if you are a first-time visitor to Paris, but try to plan as much as you can in advance. Unless you’re going for a year, chances are you won’t be able to see all the museums, churches and markets that everyone swears are a must-see. So, focus on the ones you really, really want to visit, and research the best transport routes.
2. Take a day to just walk around
Another one of great Paris travel tips is, once you’re in Paris, spend one day just wandering its streets, riding on the underground or on buses to get the feel of the city, it’s worth it! The Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame de Paris are not going anywhere, after all, you can visit them on your second day. Besides, while wandering, you could happen upon an improvised flea market and, if you’re lucky, make a great deal, such as a Louis Vuitton handbag for 5 euros.
3. Be careful with your money
Paris is full of ATMs but it’s also full of pickpockets, so make sure your cash is safe. This is particularly true for the underground but also for the streets, where a popular scam involves people trying to get you to sign some petition or other, and rob you in the process. Be extra careful.
4. Be ready for the stinking underground
It smells bad, especially at some stations, and it is also full of beggars and homeless people. Begging is a business for some and a very profitable one, so resist the temptation to give these people any money. They will go to their bosses, not to them. One more thing about the underground: keep to the left on escalators, unless you want to be trampled by Parisians in a hurry, which basically means all Parisians.
5. Take your umbrella
Another one of useful Paris travel tips is to be prepared for rain. Paris weather is very unpredictable – it may be sunny at one moment, and pouring down the next. So, equip yourself accordingly with a jacket and an umbrella. Also, the locals advise tourists not to visit the city in August, where many restaurants are closed and the heat is unbearable.
6. Tips are included in the bill
If you’re wondering whether it’s a good idea to tip your waitress in the cafe where you had that lovely fresh croissant and coffee, do so, to the tune of no more 5% of the bill. Although the tip is always included in the bill, salaries in the sector are low, so any addition will be welcome, if you are happy with the service, of course.
7. Eat small, not big
Another one of good Paris travel tips, especially, if you want to taste authentic, freshly made food in Paris, is to aim for smaller, off the beaten track restaurants with small, limited menus. Larger establishments that offer ten entries, twenty main courses, and a host of desserts have the food made elsewhere some time ago, often, from frozen ingredients. A small menu guarantees that the food is made in the restaurant and, more likely, from fresh products.
8. Beware the lunch hour
Every weekday between 12 am and 1.30 pm Parisians leave their offices and go to lunch. This means that without a reservation, it will be well-nigh impossible to find a table at a restaurant or a cafe. Either be at the restaurant at 11.50 or wait till the lunch hour is over.
9. Desserts are expensive
That is, the exquisite-quality, scrumptious creations of world-renowned French confectionery geniuses are expensive. But they are worth it. There are a few places in Paris where you can taste these, in case you have a sweet tooth. Places like La Patisserie des Reves or Christophe Michalak, which you can research online before getting on the plane, as part of your planning.
10. Say “Hi” at the bakery
Being polite to the sweet lady who is wrapping your a 100% original Paris baguette with ham and butter is not just good manners, it’s tradition here and it doesn’t cost anything, so be nice. Also, for that original baguette, make sure the sign on the window says Boulangerie – these are the only places that sell fresh bakeries made in the house.
Do you have some Paris travel tips of your own?