Paris: know before you go

Paris is such an amazing city with so many layers to it. As visitors, we are destined to only ever discover a few layers.

However there are some tricks to enhance your experience in the city of lights. Today I am going to share my top 12 things that you should know before going to Paris

View of Trocadero from the Eiffel Tower

1. Parisians are actually quite friendly

Parisians are actually a lovely bunch and not nearly as snobbish as I was led to believe. I would understand if they were snobbier given the sheer amount of travellers that flock to Paris every year.
My advice is to smile and learn a few French words, such as

  • Bonjour = Hello
  • S’il vous plait = Please
  • Merci = Thank you

While most Parisians speak some English, making an effort to speak their language goes a long way, or you could try having your personal Scott (the husband), I have yet to meet someone who does not immediately like Scott.

Eiffel Tower in Black and White

2. The metro is easy to use

I have written a post about everything you need to know about getting around in Paris. It is surprisingly easy to use public transport in Paris once you know a few facts.

3. Street sellers are the worse

It is illegal to buy from these sellers on top of it being unsafe. My advice is to ignore them and keep walking.
I once nearly got into an altercation with one of them because they kept pushing their wares into my face. But it’s truly not worth it, just keep walking.

4. Scammers are just plain annoying

There are quite a few pickpockets as well as scammers in Paris, as in any other major city. Please stay vigilant.

5. Sim cards

I rely heavily on Google maps and the internet to navigate while in Paris, so a sim card is very important for me.

Lebara has some very good deals or you could also try SFR or Orange.
Just make sure to bring your passport with you, otherwise they won’t sell you one.

6. Queues are not that bad, if you plan ahead

Here are some tricks to avoiding queues.

7. Honeymooners are very well treated

Parisians are romantic at heart and they love romance and by extension newlyweds. The first time we went to Paris, we were on our honeymoon and while never seeking it were offered a few freebies.
We were once offered a bottle of champagne and that was such a nice and unexpected gesture.
So if you are newlyweds, make sure to let them know. You will be very well looked after.

Colourful Paris

8. Dogs

Parisians might live mostly in apartments but they still love their pets. You can see them walking their dogs around town. In Paris (and most of Europe), it is actually ok to bring your dogs into restaurants.
What they fail to do is pick up after their dogs, so be careful when walking around.

9. Best area to stay in

As you might know Paris has 20 arrondissements, each with their own unique sub-cultures. The area you choose to stay should be influenced by your likes and dislikes.
I quite enjoy being near to attractions and shops. I also really like upper market areas with a classy but hip vibe, which is why I often choose to stay in the 1st or 2nd arrondissement.
But no matter which arrondissement you stay in, just make sure to be close to a decent metro. In my opinion, the Chatelets des Halles is one of the best metros in town. Several lines including the RER trains services the Chatelets des Halles.

10. Eating

French people take their food seriously and it is not unusual for them to spend a few hours sitting down for a meal.  So don’t rush your meals, you will be frowned on. You are also not expected to finish everything on your plate and you should never ask for a doggy bag.
The French will be a lot friendlier if you follow these rules.
Also, there is no need to tip, your bill will very often include a 12.5% surcharge for service.

Walking in Paris

11. Sundays

I was very surprised to discover how quiet Paris is on a Sunday. Most shops are closed on a Sunday with the exception of boulangeries and some local food stores.
In spite of this, Sunday is one of the best days to be in Paris. Many attractions, such as the Louvre is free on Sunday. The open air markets are open and provide an insight into the lives of Parisians. And there is nothing better than wandering the small streets of Paris and the feeling of having it almost all to yourself.

12. Customer service

I think the stereotype of rude Parisians comes from people’s experience in shops and cafes.  In France, “the customer is king” does not really apply.  The staff and customers are seen to be equal.  This can be seen as rude, or not very friendly.  A quick bonjour as you enter a boutique goes a long way.

I once had a shopkeeper be slightly abrasive to me only to warm up significantly when i spoke french to him. So make sure to say bonjour and Merci and you will have a much more pleasant experience.

I hope that you found this post helpful. I would love to know your thoughts about what you wished you had known before going to Paris and what tips you might have to enhance the experience of Paris.



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