As I’m currently relaxing at the outdoor terrace of the hostel I’m staying at in Annecy, France, I can’t help but to think that just two days ago I was in Paris yet again. It was a quick 4 day trip, but having it been my third time visiting within 4 years, it felt like it went by a lot quicker than my previous trips.
On this current solo Euro trip that I am currently halfway through, I was originally supposed to have come with a good friend, but he couldn’t accompany me last minute. It would have had been his first time in Europe…but oh well. And during my stay at a hostel in Paris, apparently every friend I had made was their first time in Paris. I felt responsible to share any knowledge I had of Paris, as well as to answer their many questions.
So, after much sitting, drinking, and thinking, here are the most important tips I could possibly offer you for the time you do finally come and visit la belle Paris!
1. Paris is not expensive
Whoever said Paris was expensive is WRONG. Okay, maybe a tad bit right, but only because Paris is home to very fine restaurants, exquisite shops, and home to many artists around the world. But you definitely do not need to be rich to come here. Hell, you can even be broke and still afford to visit Paris!
2. Not everyone speaks fluent English
No matter what, you will always be approached by in French. It’s just something you have to get used to, so play your part and learn your basics as well (bonjour, merci, oui, non, au revoir, etc). Most Frenchies speak basic English, so you should be fine. One way or another, you will have to figure out how to communicate with one another! May it be broken French/English, sign language, pointing…you get the idea.
3. Do pickpocketers exist!?
Yes, they do. Are they everywhere? I don’t know. Are they obvious? Hell no. Have I ever seen anything? Nope. Never experienced anything happen to myself or anyone I know. But still, it doesn’t hurt to always be alert of your belongings wherever you are. And don’t carry your valuables with you, okay.
4. “Excuse-moi, can you please sign this?”
There are scammers by every important monument of the city, but I always seem to find them by the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame than any other place. A lady or a child or a lady with a child will approach you and ask if you can sign a paper for whatever cause they are ‘pursuing.’ The problem is that while you’re too busy signing your life away, you’re being pick pocketed. So, with a straight face say no firmly and they will walk away.
5. Taking a taxi
Why would you even bother taking a taxi though? If need be, download Uber and request one. So much cheaper. But either way, the public transportation in Paris is so easy to navigate through, trust me. The metro will most definitely be super crowded, but you’ll be okay.
6. Don’t throw that metro ticket away just yet
Speaking of taking the metro…hold on to that little ticket! You’ll never know if you’ll be asked to show your ticket once you are leaving, so be sure to hang on to it until you completely leave the metro station. Also, there are metro stations all over Paris and of course, you’ll always be able to purchase a metro ticket in a ticket machine inside the station. However, if you already know that you will be riding the metro various times, then I recommend purchasing a package of them the first time you approach the machine. You’ll save time and possibly money.
7. Pack your shoes, leave the heels
As obviously stupid as that sounds…well, that happened to moi. Like literally right now, during this trip. I packed my sandals, these loafers that were not properly broken into, and my heels (because I already knew I would be going out a few times to dance). Well, the loafers cut me way too deep, so I threw them away a few days into my trip and had to buy actual shoes. First and last time I will ever make this mistake, so please learn from me as I keep learning from myself too.
8. Don’t forget to bring an adapter and voltage converter
Unless you don’t live in Europe where you’ll have the same outlets as in France, then you’ll need to buy an adapter to charge your cellphone/laptop/etc. A voltage converter would also be a good idea to buy if you see that you’ll need one. They’re inexpensive to purchase and can be found in lots of stores and online, but if you forget to buy one then you can purchase one in the airport or at a market near your stay.
9. There aren’t lifts in every hotel/hostel
You know that annoying phrase “pack light?” Yeah, well, do it. Most of the hostels and hotels are very old buildings, so they do not have elevators, but they do have a lot of stairs to give you a good work out. Don’t expect your place to have an elevator, better to come with the mindset that you’ll be carrying that luggage up the stairs all by yourself. Now go back, and take off the unnecessary crap you think you’ll need.
10. Expect to pay a bit more if you sit outside
If you’ve always wanted to sit outside at a cafe and eat, relax, and people watch then you certainly can! But you’ll be charged a bit more. Why? I don’t actually know, but it’s just business.
11. Don’t be shy to ask for the bill
You will sit there for hours wandering if your server has forgotten about you as you trace him running back and forth between tables, believing he’s starting to act like you’re not even there. Not true. French people love to take their time when it comes to eating, so they will not approach you because they simply assume you are not finished yet. So, once you’re ready to go simply wave him down and ask for the bill.
12. You don’t need to tip- again
Once you’ve paid your bill then you have already tipped your server. It’s automatically included, so don’t feel obligated to leave an extra tip. Trust me, they’re not expecting it from you. Just go.
13. Don’t worry about trying to fit in
After people watching for so long, it’s always interesting to see so many tourists (especially females) trying so hard to fit in with the French people. You don’t need to. Remember, you’re there to enjoy yourself, not to be preoccupied on trying to be someone else. Don’t be shy to take that photo in front of the Eiffel Tower and smile, too! However, you don’t want it to be so obvious that you’re a tourist too, so keep it in between.
14. Leaving without accomplishing what you wanted to do the most
The very first time I had visited Paris, the only thing I wanted was to go on top of the Eiffel Tower. That’s pretty much it. I only stopped at the second floor, and didn’t bother going all the way to the pointy top for whatever dumb, inexcusable reasons at that time. I regretted it as soon as I made it back home. Both times I’ve gone back, I always head straight to the very top because it’s one of my favorite things to do, and I know too well by now that I’ll regret not going to the top once I leave. So, ask yourself, is there anything you’d truly regret not doing after you leave Paris?
Is there anything else you’d add on to this list!?