If you want to have a better time whilst visiting then consider following these tips. There a number of common mistakes which travellers make in Paris. I have a few French friends and acquaintances that are from the city. This means that my post is a mix of what I found out as an outsider and what I learnt from locals.
Don’t carry tons of luggage bags
I have never had huge suitcases with me when travelling to Paris as I visited as a day tripper. The first time I went I only had a small backpack. The second time I visited just to go to Disneyland Paris I carried the same backpack. And the third and fourth times Paris was a stopover. I had a bigger bag but it wasn’t a large suitcase. The reason why I think carrying a huge luggage bag isn’t advisable is because Paris has many cobblestone streets. It can be a hassle if you are travelling by public transport. And the city is large. If you can afford a pricey taxi to your hotel and back again then lots of luggage won’t be an issue. But, I still feel it’s an unnecessary schlep and if you take lots of luggage with you imagine how much more will you add when you return home. Think ahead because you will want to buy a few souvenirs.
Don’t skip winter without considering it
Winter in Paris is from December till February. According to Trip Savvy the average weather in Paris during winter is:
- December: high of 46 F, low of 37 F, 11 days of rainfall
- January: high of 45 F, low of 36 F, 10 days of rainfall
- February: high of 46 F, low of 36 F, 9 days of rainfall
The upside is that during winter Paris is less crowded. The off-peak season means you will save money flight,trains and accommodation are all cheaper. But, if you hate cold weather give it a miss. My French room mate Gwen and Syrian friend Maria who’s boyfriend has been completing his degree in Paris both gave me this advice.
Don’t use taxis
It’s much cheaper to travel via public transport. Taxis in Paris are expensive. My French friends all warned me about using them whilst visiting. Rather use the metro like I did the bus or the train. Save your money and spend it on a croissant later.
Don’t fly in too far away
Charles De Gaulle airport is the closest airport to the city. If you can afford it choose this airport. Arriving at an airport which is far away from your hostel or hotel will add on more travel arrangements. And with the high cost of taxis you might end up paying a whole lot even if you managed to score budget plane tickets.
Don’t stay too far away
I saw that Disneyland Paris is quite a distance from the rest of Paris. Booking a place to stay close to Disney only makes sense if you will be spending lots of time at the theme park. If you want to see Paris itself your accommodation should be closer to the city itself.
Don’t be conned
Paris is a big city and that means that con artists are out there trying to fool tourists. This happens in every major travel destination. My advice is to do some research by doing a quick Google search on Paris travel scams. The more popular ones are the bracelet scam where someone ties a bracelet around your arm and expects you to pay for it if you can’t untie it. And the “seller” won’t tell you that you need to pay for the bracelet before he/she puts it on your wrists, side note the “bracelets” are normally ugly stringy ones nothing chic about them.
You might see petitioners around tourist sites in Paris asking you to sign their forms. You will see them with clipboards and pens whilst you are signing someone will be stealing your wallet if it is a scam petition. Rather walk on say no to signing if it’s a legitimate cause you can always support them by signing online.
Don’t get on a tour bus
The reality is that these tours are normally costly. You can walk around to the main tourist sites yourself. It’s what I did and I saw most of the main attractions. The thing about the buses is that they don’t have special lanes which means that you are likely to end up in a massive traffic jam if you take these buses.
Don’t be intimidated by the metro
I asked a lot of questions when I took the metro alone. The first time I took it I was in a group so I was less concerned. The second time was early on a Sunday morning. A friendly Parisian helped me without me asking because I was looking at the board to make double sure that I was going the right way. Ask questions and take note of your stop. It’s not that hard to navigate.
Don’t throw away your travel cards
If you are on the metro etc. keep your ticket. And if you use the metro remember to throw your ticket away only after you have gone through the turnstiles of your final destination. You can get fined for not having your ticket and no exceptions are made. It will be as if you never bought a ticket and officials will think you illegally rode on the metro.
Don’t buy bottled water
At restaurants wait staff will offer you bottled water if you ask for water. Specifically and politely ask for tap water. It is safe and clean. And remember the plastic waste from bottled water is bad for the planet. Opt for a glass of water instead it’s cheaper and less wasteful.
Don’t eat just pizza or Mickey D’s
I broke this one big time. On one of my trips I had a Big Mac and it wasn’t anything special. I was with a group of people I just met and had to go with the flow. I did get to eat a delicious chocolate tart on the trip though. The next time I found myself in Paris on a Sunday extremely early as it was almost everything was closed. I saw the streets being sprayed with water. And I ended up eating pizza at a random place because it was open and I was starving. I did eventually get to eat crepes with nutella in Paris at a little side walk café’. There’s lots of things to eat and you will find cheaper options if you walk away from tourist hotspots. Just don’t just eat a burger which you could’ve eaten at home.
Don’t buy tickets on the fly
I got away with doing this as I arrived at the crack of dawn. I literally saw the sunrise in Paris. But if you plan on staying longer and want to see everything that Paris has to offer then do pre-book your tickets. You can skip the lines and note that even the skip the line ticket holders will stand in a line. But, the line will be much shorter.
Don’t wear high heels
French women aren’t walking around every wear in heels. If you want pack a pair of them for when you go out to a fancy restaurant or club. If you are going to the opera or ballet you should wear smarter clothes as well. But, don’t be concerned about looking like a tourist if you wear sneakers (takkies). Most Parisians wear ballet flats (pumps) or sneakers. And its flat boots in winter and autumn.
Don’t visit the Moulin Rouge if you are on a tight budget
The cost of watching a show at the Moulin Rouge back in 2016 was enough to make me snort laugh at my laptop screen. You get dinner and champagne with a show but it was the cost was a staggering €180 my rent in Germany was less than €200 a month. The ticket was therefore almost as much as my rent. The cheapest ticket on promotion is €99 which includes half a bottle champagne. And I’m not even a fan of champagne. I decided that I will go one day when I’m rich maybe. You have to be dressed up smartly no shorts or sandals. It is also a place for tourists locals don’t got to the Moulin Rouge.
If you can afford it then book here: https://www.francetourisme.fr/moulin-rouge-en.html
Don’t just stick to tourist spots
You can see so much more if you choose to walk around and get a little lost. I only did this once and spotted the Petite Palais this way. I ended up visiting it for free that Sunday morning and I randomly took photos of flowers at a garden. Every travel moment doesn’t have to be about monuments have fun and explore a little.
Don’t snub the supermarket
I learnt this by staying in Laval not in Paris itself. If you are in a travel city check out the local supermarket. Locals are buying their groceries there this means that in most cases you will find quality products. Whilst staying in Laval I went to Fougères with my friend Juliet and her Grandmother I ended up buying a bottle of wine and Madeline’s to take back to Germany. Then Juliet’s grandma insisted on paying for my things such a kind women. Anyways the quality of the wine and Madeline s was excellent. You can buy wine, cheese, packaged cakes and so much more from a supermarket to take home. Your souvenirs don’t have to be from stores, visit local markets and supermarkets it will also make you time in Paris less touristy.
Don’t forget to explore by night
Bridges and the Eiffel tower happen to be sparkling at night time. Walk around at night and take a few shots of Paris at night it’s a beautiful time to be in the city there’s a reason why it’s called the city of lights.
Don’t add love locks
Love locks are popular in Paris but, did you know it is a nuisance. Parisians and city officials are constantly trying to combat them as love locks erode the stability of bridges and other structures. They harm the city more than adding to the aesthetic skip adding a lock rather add one on this website and protect the Paris’s bridges.
Don’t skip Disney
If you are an adult the idea of going to Disney might sound weird. I hopped onto a bus alone and went and I was 26 at the time when I visited. I bought the Minnie ears and had my photo taken with Mickey. Did a few of the rides and saw the fireworks show. I ended up making a new friend as well. If you want to go but you’re hesitant because it’s not a solo travel spot or because you think you’re too old then don’t be. It’s okay to act like a kid again for a day or two, if you have time and cash go to Disneyland Paris I had a blast. And I now want to visit every Disney theme park in the world.
Don’t over tip
Your tip is included in the cost of your meal. That means you should only tip if the service was truly exceptional. Over tipping isn’t necessary.
Do you have any Paris don’t let me know in the comments? Thank you so much for reading my blog. I appreciate it and take care.