Top 10 tips for your first time in Paris
Going to a foreign city can be pretty stressful, especially when you’re not sure of what awaits you. But you don’t have to worry, today I will be sharing with you my top 10 tips for your first time in Paris. As it is your first time, you might not be aware of many things about the city. Paris is a huge city, so you need to know how to get around the city, when is the best time to enjoy its landmarks, what are the best tips to make sure you enjoy the city in the best conditions. Because, you obviously don’t want to stand in lines for hours, especially if your time in Paris is limited. You also don’t want to be spending unnecessary money. You obviously want your stay in Paris to be an amazing experience, and so do we! I’ve lived in Paris for many years, so I will be giving you a few tips and advices I think will be useful to you! Read on and find out my top 10 tips for your first time in Paris!
Know a few French words
First of all, I strongly recommend you to learn a few French words. Some Parisians don’t speak such a good English, that is why they don’t particularly like to speak English and try to avoid to. However, Parisians love it when visitors make the effort to speak their language. They will be much more friendly and willing to help you, if you know a few words of French. Plus, your first time in Paris will be much more entertaining and interesting if you speak the locals language. It will be kind of a challenge for you, because the French language is not that easy. It is always so much fun to learn a new language! So, if you do want to follow this first advice, here are a few words you will definitely use during your stay in Paris:
- Bonjour which means “hello” in English. Anytime you enter a place, you should greet the staff. This is very polite! That’s what us Parisians do, so you should do the same, otherwise you might be considered to be rude.
- S’il vous plait which means “please”. This is another courtesy word. Always say s’il vous plait anytime you ask for something. It does not cost anything, and that way you show how considerate and good-mannered you are.
- Merci which means “Thank you”. Show your gratitude by simply saying merci.
- Où est la station de métro la plus proche? which means “where is the nearest metro station?”. This question will probably be very useful, especially if you’re lost. Because in case you get lost, you can join the nearest metro station to check your location, then have a look at your metro map to know where you are. Just remember that “où est” (/u/ /e/) means “where is -” so if you want to know where something is, ask “où est” and add the thing you are looking for. For instance: où est la Tour Eiffel?, où est le Musée du Louvre?, où est la rue de Rivoli?.
Buy a travel pass to get around the city
For your first time in Paris, you need to know what are your traveling options. Indeed, you can either purchase single tickets or invest in a travel pass. You need to think about how you’re planning on getting around the city. If you plan on walking a lot and visit the city on foot or only ride the metro occasionally, the t+ tickets, which are single tickets sold per unit, will do.
Nonetheless, if you want don’t like to walk and prefer to take the metro, buying a travel pass could be a good idea! This decision also depends on the amount of days you’re staying in Paris. But, if you want to know more about your options, read this article. I’ve written it a few months ago, but it will definitely give you an overall view about the Parisian metro, how to use it, and help you choose the best travel pass for your first time in Paris.
Bring some comfortable shoes
Bring some comfortable shoes. This will definitely contribute to the success of your stay. Ladies, you can leave your high heels back home, because it would a terrible idea to wear them while visiting the city. As you probably know, when you visit a new city, you walk a lot! And I can guarantee you that, since there are so many things to do and see in Paris, you will be walking the whole day. You don’t want to miss anything, and a bad choice of shoes might ruin your first time in Paris. When the days are warmer, I personally like to wear some Converse All-Stars, because they go well with any outfit, may it be a dress or a pair of jeans. When the days are colder, I like to wear flat heel boots, because they are practical as well. You need to bring whatever feels comfortable to you. Your feet will thank you!
Beware of pickpockets
While in Paris, you need to stay alert and beware of pickpockets and their scams. Always keep an eye on your items, especially on the metro. Sometimes the wagons get very crowded and pickpockets take advantage of the situation and discretely take your phone, wallet, from your bag or pocket. You should definitely avoid using your phone on the metro. When the metro stops at a station, some pickpockets wait for the time the doors close to quickly take your phone away from your hands, so you don’t have time to react. In case you’re wearing a backpack, wear it at the front of your chest.
Another scam that is pretty common is the one where someone comes to you asking for you to sign some kind of petition. Be very careful, because they are actually distracting you while another person is stealing your belongings. So if someone comes to you asking for you signature in some dubious paper, just keep walking!
Warn your bank and your mobile phone operator about your trip
Before going to Paris, you should call your bank and mobile phone operator to check the kind of services they can offer you during your stay. People end up paying a lot of money for these services abroad because they weren’t well informed about their options. Call your bank, and ask if your credit card will charge extra for the conversion rate. Also, ask some informations about the procedure in case you need to transfer money while in Paris. These are some issues that might occur, so plan ahead and be prepared.
Also, as you know, nowadays we are used to being connected all the time. We coulnd’t live without our smartphones and the connectivity it provides, especially in a city like Paris where Internet comes in handy, for instance, in case you need informations about a certain place. So call your mobile phone operator beforehand to make sure you have access to your usual services and find out the prices of calls and texts abroad.
Join a walking tour
One of the best tips for your first time in Paris is to join a walking tour. This is truly a must-do while in Paris, because you get to walk the city in the company of a local. During a walking tour, you get to discover the best places only known by the locals and the most interesting histories about the city. It’s the opportunity to get strong insights into the Parisian lifestyle, culture and history, because the tour guides are people who have lived in the city for years and it almost has no secrets left to them. They are captivating and engage with the visitors, because they want to pass their passion for the city on to you. So, while walking Paris with them, you will surely get to discover new perspectives on the city of Paris in an entertaining way.
Check the weather forecast before going to Paris
You probably already intended to check the weather forecast before your trip to Paris. But I insist, you really can’t forget to do so before packing. The weather in Paris is very unstable. You can have a bright sunlight for hours, and suddenly it starts raining cats and dogs for the rest of the day. Be ready for every eventuality. Always check the weather before going to Paris.
Know when to tip
Tipping is always very nice, but in case you were wondering, you don’t need to tip for every service provided in Paris. In cafés, bars and clubs, you are not required to tip, unless the bartender or the waiter was very thoughtful.
However, there are some situations in which you really should tip. For instance, a generous tip for the tour guide is very appreciated. This person will be spending at least an hour with you, showing you the city, answering all your questions and making sure you have an enjoyable moment. Tipping is a good way to show your gratitude and how much you enjoyed the tour. Also, you should leave a tip at the restaurant, if the server is friendly, attentive to your demands, suggests a very good wine to go with your dish, a tip will be deserved.
Buy a Paris museum pass
Buying a Paris museum pass depends on the amount of days you’re staying in Paris and of what you intend to visit. If you want to visit most of Paris landmarks, you should consider buying the pass. For two days, it will cost you 48 euros. For four days, it will cost you 62 euros. For six days, it will cost you 74 euros. This pass is a great deal, because it is very practical. It gives you access to most Parisian museums and some of the city monuments, such as the Panthéon, the Arc de Triomphe, and the upper galleries of the Notre Dame Cathedral. If you want to order it online, you will be charged an extra fee.
Try planning your trip ahead of time
My last tip for your first time in Paris is for you to try planning your trip ahead of time. Make a list of everything you want to see in Paris, buy your tickets in advance, check the locations and opening hours. Have a look at public transports map to get used to it and have an idea of how to get around the city. But, more importantly, enjoy yourself! The planning of a trip can be stressful, in particular, if it is your first time, but everything will be fine. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further information about anything.
You now know my top 10 tips for your first time in Paris. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and that it has been helpful to you. Feel free to share tips of your own, so we can grow as a community of passionate travelers and Paris enthusiasts. See you soon in Paris!