How to make your trip in Paris unforgettable

Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world (from 1st to 3rd rank depending on the sources) and an essential destination for anyone who wants to visit France. But there may be a large gap between Paris as you would imagine it, and the reality. Not to be disappointed by your first visit in Paris, you should plan your trip as much as possible and know some tips we will list in this post. Just follow some or all of these tips and you will never forget your journey.

Paris by David Min on Flickr

Save money by planning your trip at the good period

If you can, avoid the summer period. In July and August, there are almost more tourists in Paris than inhabitants. The restaurants, cafés and shops may be tempted to increase their prices. Some monuments or museum (just a few of them) are also a bit more expensive in summer.

A very interesting thing to know is that most of museums and monuments are free on 1st Sunday of each month. If you can, plan your trip around this day to visit great museums free of charge (it’s the case of the Louvre Museum for example).
Here is the list of the good deals for museums and monuments in Paris : http://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/themed-guides/paris-for-free/low-cost-culture/free-admission-and-good-deals-in-museums-and-monuments-in-paris

Do not miss anything

Our only advice is to plan your trip efficiently (we recommend you to use Veezeet which was designed for this…), especially if you come from far away. It would be a shame to miss half of the amazing things to see in Paris, because there are many interesting monuments, museums, restaurants, gardens and other things to see in addition to the Eiffel Tower you already know. We’ll talk about all of these monuments and museums in another post. For the moment, we are going to remind you the monuments you cannot miss :

You probably already know most of them, but here are the places you must see if you go to Paris :

All the places that are not listed here are probably very interesting. But most of the time, your time in Paris is quite short, so we’ve only put the very important ones. As we said, we will make another post about it.

Avoid tourist traps

Terrace of the Café A, Paris by Audrey on Flickr

To save money and have better memories from Paris, try to avoid the tourists traps, especially concerning restaurants, cafés and hotels. As you can guess, the restaurants and cafés that are located next to touristic places, like the Eiffel Tower for example, can be a bit more expensive due to the presence of many tourists. Again, we do not want to generalize and there are certainly good restaurants and cafés in touristic areas, but you will have more chance to taste good dishes at a good price if you move away a little from the very touristic area. Moreover, if you take the little streets of Paris to find a good restaurant, you will discover another city, more authentic and historical. And you will definitely enjoy it. Similarly, we are sure you would prefer enjoying a coffee or a beer peacefully on the terrace of a small café, instead of quickly drinking your beverage in an overcrowded room.

Move like a true Parisian

The Paris subway network (known as Metro) is one of the densest in the world, so wherever you want to go, you can go by Metro. And if you want to go far, or if you do not want to walk at all, you can also use the numerous bus lines or one of the five RER (city train) lines.
You can have a look on the interactive map on the RATP’s website, or download it in PDF.

To save money, you can by some tickets for tourists (that allow you to travel at will in Paris during one or more days). Have a look on the RATP website (in French…. we asked us to translate it in English as soon as possible) : http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_20585/tickets-tariffs/ or http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/r_92961/les-titres-destines-aux-touristes/

Metro in Paris by Stephen Walford Photography on Flickr

When travelling in Paris (by metro, bus or RER) you must pay attention to the “Zone” where you are. The region is divided in 5 zones : Paris is the Zone 1, and the zone increases as you move away from Paris. A normal metro ticket (the “T+” ticket), allows you to move from a point to another by Metro (all zones), bus (zone 1) and RER (zone 1).
So take care if you try, for example, to go from “Chatelet les Halles” (Paris, Zone 1) to “La Défense” (Courbevoie, Zone 3) in RER (line A) with a T+ ticket : this is not the right ticket and you would be liable to a fine. So, pay attention to the place where you want to go, and how you go there, but if you only use the Metro, you can travel peacefully.

When you are in the subway, or generally when you are using public transports or visiting a museum or a monument, take care to the numerous pickpockets that act in Paris (and in big cities in general). Tourists are specifically targeted, so try to not look like one : if you wear sunglasses, shorts, a sun hat, flip flops and a slung camera, you are really looking for troubles.

Taxis in France are generally quite expensive so try to avoid them if you can. A very small number of taxis tries to trick tourists by making them pay too much with various explanations : “on Saturday, the price is doubled”, “the price is doubled after midnight”, “it’s the holiday so it’s more expensive”, … The price can be higher during the night, the rush hours or on Sundays, but some taxis try to take advantage of the situation to increase their prices. Of course, this concerns a minority of taxis and most of them do they work honestly.
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Learn a little French

It is a reality, lot of French are not at ease with English. However, most of French people would be happy to help you if you ask them. But as you know, the French are proud of their language and may be offended if you only speak in English. The consequence is that they will answer in French, or will pretend not to understand you.
To avoid that and look nice, learn a little French before leaving. Just the basic sentences to show you made the effort to learn French and try to speak French.
Another point is, like Japanese people, French people attach great importance to politeness. So take care to what you say.

Useful sentences :

- Bonjour Monsieur/Madame : Good morning/afternoon Sir/Madam
- Excusez-moi : Excuse me
- Où se trouve XXX s’il vous plait? : Where is XXX, please? (ex: Où se trouve la Tour Eiffel s’il vous plait? / Where is the Eiffel Tower, please?)
- Comment aller à XXX, s’il vous plait? : How can I go to XXX, please?
- A quelle heure ouvre XXX, s’il vous plait?: What time does XXX open, please? (ex: A quelle heure ouvre le musée? / What time does the museum open?)
- A quelle heure ferme XXX, s’il vous plait? : What time does XXX close, please?
- Puis-je avoir un café s’il vous plait? : Can I have a coffee please?
- Au revoir et merci : Goodbye and thank you.

If you follow these tips, you will enjoy your journey in Paris better and some tips can be applied to other cities in France and in the whole world.

2 comments

  1. Daniëlle says:

    Nice written, it´s indeed wise to learn some French! I love your first photo of Pont des Arts, really nice! If you like it, you can check out my blog for more tips about saving money in Paris,http://worldofparis.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/budgettips/
    It’s always fun to share some knowledge :)

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