Ah, Paris! The city of love. It’s no surprise that over 18 million tourists visited the city in 2018 alone. With so much to see, do, EAT, and experience, planning a trip to Paris may seem overwhelming.
Not to worry! Here are 15 tips for visiting Paris that are sure to make planning your trip a pleasure, and help ensure you have the time of your life while there.
15 Tips for Visiting Paris
Unfortunately, the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris did put a damper on tourism–but only slightly…
The reason? People simply can’t seem tog et enough of this stunning city. Following these simple tips can keep you safe, and help you have the best experience possible.
1. Flaunt Your Student Status
One of the best perks of still being in school– you can visit just about any museum or exhibit in Paris for greatly reduced prices.
It’s true, all you need to do is bring your current student ID and show it when purchasing tickets.
Of course, if you aren’t lucky enough to still carry a student ID you’re not completely out of luck. You can get in free to museums like the Louvre, Centre Pompidou, and Musee d’Orsay if you plan to visit on the first Sunday of the month between October and March.
2. Tipping isn’t Mandatory
Just as the French value excellent food, they value excellent service. Waiters and waitresses in Paris are fortunate enough to make enough to qualify as a living wage.
Not to mention, the service charge is already included in your bill. However, if you are simply stunned by excellent service, you can include a tip when paying.
Unlike American restaurants, in Paris, 5-10% is considered a generous tip.
3. Pack Comfortable Shoes
We know, we know, Paris is famous for its unmatched fashion. Still, opting for fashionable shoes over comfort when it comes to your shoes is never going to make for a pleasant trip.
With all the sight-seeing and walking you’ll be sure to put in, packing at least one pair of sensible, comfortable, walking shoes is a MUST.
4. Keep Away From Protests
For better or worse, the French are passionate people. Large protests can be common in Paris, especially during election seasons or right after large sporting events.
If you happen to hear of or come near a protest, it might be wise to turn the other way for safety’s sake. While they are not always violent, anti-police protests, taxi-unions, and others have been known to get slightly out of hand when expressing their dissatisfaction with the system.
5. Learn Some French Language Basics
If you plan on visiting France, especially the capital city, it’s considered poor manners to resist at least attempting to learn some French language basics.
Download a podcast for the flight, check out a book, heck, rent Amelie. Whatever you do to practice some basics, it’s better to know a few things than none at all.
6. View the Eiffel Tower
What we mean is to view the Eiffel Tower, not necessarily the view from the Eiffel Tower.
Many tourists assume the romantic experience and panoramic view from the top of the tower will be the high point of their Parisian experience. On the contrary, many visitors are left disaffected after their visit due to large crowds, long lines, and expensive rates to reach the top.
Instead, view the entire tower, and amazing views of the whole city from the top of L’Arc de Triomphe, or the Notre Dame towers.
7. Ride Public Transport
Basically, it’s just a lot less expensive. You’ll save pockets full of cash by opting for a public transport pass instead of hailing taxis everywhere you go.
8. Lookout for Pickpockets
If you’re going to Paris, you will be approached by homeless or others demanding money.
Just be sure to keep your bags, purses, and wallets close. Don’t store anything hanging over your arm or in your pants pockets. Doing so is practically asking for something to be stolen.
9. Mind Your Manners
The French people are more formal than Americans so when in doubt, always use your s’il vous plaits and mercis.
Remember that you are a visitor in their country and as such, many French citizens expect you to be aware of customs and cultural norms. Try not to offend with a lack of cultural awareness.
10. Choose Your Stay Wisely
If your visit to Paris will be a short one, don’t stay in a neighborhood at the edge of the city.
This will mean your precious time and money commuting in to see the major attractions and sites.
11. Tour Smart
The number of stunning attractions in Paris is almost endless. So, when your time is limited and you want to see it all, tour smart by planning ahead.
This site and others can help you find the best times and deals for planning museum and exhibit tours to save you some dough.
12. Dine Late
Some of the tastiest French restaurants don’t serve dinner or even open until 7:30. This is because most Parisians don’t eat dinner until 8:30 or 9 pm!
Many restaurants in Paris, like the famous Polidor, have maintained their classic interior dating back to the 1800s. They are sure to make for a fun and tasty late-night dining experience.
13. Don’t Visit in August
Unfortunately for many Americans, summer vacation is also time-off for many Parisians. Small local businesses (the kind you definitely want to visit), like local boulangeries or bakeries, are often closed for the whole month of August.
Parisians take their summer vacation time seriously and you’re sure to miss out on some of the best Paris shops and restaurants if you go during this month.
14. Take Your Time
One of the biggest mistakes tourists make is trying to cram everything into a weekend.
To really get a feel of the city and it’s charm, taking your time and not rushing about from major attraction to major attraction is vital.
15. Download City Apps
Make your travel easier by finding and downloading local apps to see how to navigate the city.
Many apps can also be found that tell you deals on attractions or wait times for lines.
More Helpful Travel Tips
Make your next French trip a delightful memory to last a lifetime with these 15 tips for visiting Paris.
For those travelers looking to save a bit on budget-friendly locations, review our post on 6 awesome places to visit that won’t break the bank.