Like many of you out there, my first time to France was a trip to Paris. The nation’s capital city is a must-see and is like nowhere else in the world. But it’s still a bustling city that can take advantage of unsuspecting tourists who don’t know how to get the most out of the City of Light. In addition to knowing what to do in restaurants and at the French marché, here’s a quick list of Paris travel tips to make your trip memorable for all the right reasons.
Paris travel tips
In my opinion, Paris is one of the most stunning cities in the world and is known for its charm, sights, food, museums, the rude French (just kidding) and so much more. Whether your budget is massive or you’re trying to save some cash, there’s something for you not to mention many affordable hotels in Paris as well as apartment rentals. Paris is the top tourist destination in the world for a reason.
So to get the most out of your trip, here are 8 Paris travel tips:
1. Keep your passport safe
How many times have we heard stories of tourists’ passports being stolen? To avoid the hassle of getting yours replaced, keep your actual passport in the safe at your hotel. Then, just keep a photocopy of it on you at all times in case you need to show it to an official while exploring the city. Along with this, keep your phone and other valuables tucked away and out of reach. Standing in the middle of the street with a map at top tourists attractions will make you an easy target for thieves and scammers, so don’t give them anything to take advantage of!
2. Pick the right time to travel
Before moving to France, I had visited Paris in the dead of winter and during the summer. There is no bad time to visit Paris, but if you can’t stand the heat, you may want to avoid the summer. Air conditioning is not the norm! On the other hand, if you hate the cold and rain, the summer may be your best bet. Also, many Parisians vacation during the summer months. If you’re flexible with timing, consider the off-season to snag a deal. You’ll benefit from cheaper accommodations and fewer lines at popular tourist destinations. If you’re into shopping, the twice-yearly sales are January and July. Really though, you can’t go wrong with timing.
3. Eat well
There’s no shame in eating at places that are familiar to you, but when in Paris, promise me you’ll at least have one excellent French meal. And let’s not forget the pastries and macarons! Tip? Ask the locals where they eat (you can start with the concierge at your hotel).
4. Arrive with an open mind
Sometimes travel is weird, uncomfortable, awkward and even frustrating. But if you’re able to keep an open mind about Paris and the French and take hiccups along the way in stride, you’ll have a much better experience. Things don’t always go as planned — it’s a fact. Don’t let one bad experience color your whole trip or an entire country. Things will seem weird and different. Embrace it all!
5. Wear comfortable shoes
Although I see French women walking around in what I’d call unwalkable shoes (5-inch heels? really?), as a tourist you’ll want a comfortable shoe for all the walking you’ll be doing when sightseeing. That doesn’t mean something old fashioned and ugly. Plenty of French woman rock flats and even Converse sneakers. The cobblestone streets in some areas aren’t kind to spike heels, so wear a practical shoe, deal?
Guide books are fabulous and offer excellent suggestions on what to see and do. But sometimes the best parts of your trip will be unscripted and off the beaten path. Make sure you set aside some time to just wander. In French the verb for that is flâner. Lazily strolling around is fun and you may create your best memories by just aimlessly taking in all Paris has to offer.
7. Do an open-top bus tour
In addition to learning about the sights and acting as a tour, a bus tour pass doubles as a scenic form of transportation to get you from point A to point B without having to go underground. Most are hop-on, hop-off and cover the entire city, so use your bus tour to see the city and to get around. You can rest your legs for a little bit. 😉
8. Attempt to speak French
No one expects tourists to speak perfect French, but we are all capable of learning a handful of words en français. Be polite and at least attempt a little French even if you only know 5 words. It makes a major difference in how you’re perceived and treated.