Well, the time has finally come! After three weeks away on holiday, I’ve returned with a hard drive full of photos and knowledge to share. So without further ado, let’s get into my top 5 tips for Paris!
Tip #1: Try to stay out of the tourist areas
I know that the romantic dream of sipping champagne on a hotel balcony overlooking the Eiffel Tower is almost too sigh-worthy to pass up, but trust me, pick accommodation outside of the major tourist areas. Not only will you save money, but as you go out to pick up your morning baguette, you’ll be brushing shoulders with Parisians instead of other tourists. If you can afford it, opt for a holiday apartment. There are lots of options on websites such as Trip Advisor and Homeaway, and you’ll be feeling like a local in no time!
Tip #2: Learn some basic French before you go
You don’t have to be a master of the French language to explore Paris, but I’ve found that Parisians warm up to you a lot more if you politely ask ‘parlez-vous anglais?’ (do you speak English?) before reverting back to your native tongue. If you want to be extra polite, you can add ‘s’il vous plaît‘ (please). Remember to always say ‘bonjour’ (hello) as you enter a store, and ‘merci‘ (thank you) to thank someone. The French are very polite, and they like it if you’re polite too!
Tip #3: Don’t fall for scams!
There is so much beauty in Paris, but unfortunately hawkers, beggars and scammers can sometimes put a downer on your day. Many of you will have already heard stories about the beggars and hawkers in the city, but please be wary of scammers! Try to avoid groups with clipboards, as many of these people will ask you to donate money (no less than 10€!) to a charity cause, which is a scam! Never let these people hug you or touch you, as they could also be after your wallet. I know I’m sounding a bit paranoid here, but I’ve encountered them near the Eiffel Tower, and have read numerous reports of people being scammed by these groups. They will usually approach you and ask if you speak English. Just ignore them or give them a firm “no!” and move on. Don’t let it ruin your trip, and just think of it as part of the experience!
Tip #4: Take public transport… everywhere!
Where I live, getting around the city and suburbs without a car is almost impossible. Paris however, does not have this problem! Take the metro and the RER for fast, reliable transportation. If you know you’ll be moving frequently around Paris for a few days, take advantage of their metro pass, which makes things extremely easy. The passes do get a bit exxy if you’re planning on travelling to all 5 zones, but the ease of use makes it worthwhile. Remember to always be vigilant when using any public transport. I didn’t use a money belt when I was away, but I always kept a hand over my handbag and a close eye on the people around me. As long as you stay alert (especially on packed trains), you shouldn’t have any problems with pickpockets.
Tip #5: Plan your trip for autumn or spring
Summer in Paris can get hot and extremely busy, and although winter is much cheaper with fewer tourists, the weather leaves a lot to be desired. To meet halfway, think about planning your trip in autumn or spring. The weather is still on the cool side (for an Australian girl like me!), but the vibrant colours and smaller crowds are definitely an advantage. Plus, flights and accommodation are usually not in peak season during this time, so if you book early, you could snag yourself a deal! Just sit back and imagine Paris in the springtime for a minute!
Well I hope that my tips are somewhat useful to anyone planning a trip to Paris in the near future. I’ve got plenty more photos and experiences to share of my travels through Europe, so remember to check back soon!
Until next time, au revoir!