If you are planning a trip to Paris, here are 17 things you should know before you go.
Visit Paris is in the “off” season.
The best time to visit Paris is just before or after peak season. June and July are crowded with tourists from all over the world, making for long lines at attractions and crowded accomodations.
Pro Tip: August is traditionally the time when Parisians go on holiday. Lots of stores and shops close during August.
Book your accommodation well in advance and stay in a central location.
Accommodation is going to eat up a large portion of your travel budget. Try to stay some place as centrally located as possible and book in advance.
Pro Tip: Pick up a business card or take a picture of your hotel and hotel address to make it easier to find your way back if you get lost.
Explore the city on foot.
Forget renting a car in Paris. It’s congested and crazy. Besides, Paris is best explored on foot. Experience Paris from a local’s perspective.
Pro Tip: Wandering around Paris will easily rack up 5 miles a day, so be prepared to wear your comfiest shoes.
Enjoy self-guided walking tours.
Take advantage of free walking tours, you’ll learn a bunch and get a more intimate look at the city.
Pro Tip: If you take a guided tour, don’t forget to tip, that is how the guides make their money.
Use public transportation.
Hop on the metro; it’s fast, efficient, and affordable. If you will be using the metro regularly purchase a carnet (a pack of ten metro tickets at a discounted rate).
Pro Tip: Save yourself the hefty fine for prematurely discarding your metro ticket. Hold on to your ticket in case an agent checks your metro ticket at any time during your journey (including your exit!)
Beware of pickpockets and scams.
While scams abound throughout Paris, touristic areas are especially hot spots for scammers.
Pro Tip: Don’t take any pamphlets, try on jewelry or sign anything. Lock your backpack and put your wallet in your front pants pocket.
Learn a little French.
The French don’t appreciate you NOT making the effort. Learning a few key phrases will go a long way.
Pro Tip: Always greet the shopkeeper when you enter.
Purchase the Paris Pass.
If seeing all of the attractions are on your bucket list, purchase the Paris Pass (buy it here). You’ll skip the long lines plus you’ll get free transportation on the metro and buses.
Most people do not plan enough time to explore Paris. You simply are not going to cram everything you want to see in a weekend. Plan enough time! The Louvre will take hours on its own.
Things are closed Sundays.
As a predominantly Catholic country, many businesses are closed on Sunday, or at the very best, operate under limited hours.
Pro Tip: If you need to purchase something from the supermarket, prepare ahead.
Enjoy your coffee.
Nothing is more cliché than sitting in a café, sipping on an espresso, and people watching. Take in the experience at least once!
Eat! Eat! Eat! Ditch the chain restaurants and indulge in one of the best gastronomic cities of the world. Don’t be afraid to try something new and authentic.
The Arc de Triumph has a better view of the city that the Eiffel Tower.
Braces yourself for disappointment if you think the Eiffel Tower has the best view of the city. If you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy view, then I highly recommend the Arc de Triomphe.
Don’t dress like a tourist.
Skip the loud prints, sports team logos and booty shorts. Opt for a neutral tones. Bold touristy outfits only flag you as a scam worthy tourist.
Explore the path less traveled.
Some of the best gems in the city are off the beaten path. Don’t be afraid to explore some of the lesser known, less touristy areas. There are twenty districts (arrondissements) in Paris. Each has its own points of interest and attractions.
Pro Tip: Do some homework and figure out which district vibe speaks to you.
Reservations are a must.
Popular places book up fast, especially during the weekend. Plan ahead and book your table in advance. The same goes for attractions, book in advance whenever you can.
Pro Tip: Parisians eat late, dinner is often after 8p. Many restaurants don’t even open until after 7p.
Rain doesn’t have to deter you from enjoying Paris. There are several covered passages containing shops, restuarants and boutiques. Passage des Panoramas (the oldest covered passageway in Paris), and Passage du Grand Cerf are definitely worth exploring.
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