One of the most sensationalized cities in the world, it’s the city of light, city of romance, every girly-girls dream vacation or shopping fanatics fantasyland. There are just a few things you’ll want to know before visiting Paris.
Its not easy to get there without having some preconceived ideas of what to expect in your mind. That being said, I had to see what all the hype was about.
Before visiting I had heard stories about Americans having bad experiences there due to the “unfriendly,” or “rude” French people… Being someone who MUST see for myself, I paid no mind and decided to go anyways. Glad I did.
And also, that sort of sounded like a challenge? (chill, Aries) Like, you mean they were really rude to you for no reason? Every single place you went? …low-key hard to fathom for me. Plus I’m a big believer in “you get back what you give,” you know, karma ‘n all that.
Now thats not to say some people aren’t rude for no reason, I’ve ran into plenty of “rude for no reason” people.
Gotta say that it didn’t happen in Paris though.
I was pleasantly surprised. Not once did I experience the impressions above. The experiences others shared with me, and the experience I had for myself did not align. And THAT is the beauty of travel.
Some places may resonate with you, and some may appal you. But being that you are you, and no one else- every place will be absorbed differently depending on you as an individual.
That being said, Paris can stay. I am down with the “city of light.”
Paris is an easy city to love, and an easy city to enjoy. It inspires a feeling of “I don’t want to leave,” and there’s so much to experience.
That being said, there’s handful of things I wish I would have considered more seriously before I went… Like learning a little more french and not using uber so much (I’m such a sucker for convenience). Anyways, here you have it!
Learn Some Basic French
I feel like this one is more obvious but really, don’t go to a country or into another culture and expect your native language to be catered to. Otherwise you’ll be missing a huge part of travel… you know, the opportunity to learn new things.
Truly, it will get you far, even it’s just a handful of words!
Good Day = Bonjour /bon zor/
Good Evening = Bonsoir /bon swah/
Good Bye = Au Revoir /oh-ruh-vwah/
Please = S’il vous plaît /see voo play/
Thank you = Merci /mer-sea/
You’re Welcome = De rien /duh-rhee-uh/
Excuse me & sorry = pardon /pahr-doah/
Ma’am = Madame /mah-dahm/
Sir = Monsieur /mis-eeyuh/
Yes = Oui /we/
No = Non /no/
A Mini Pocket French Dictionary is super helpful to have!
Being Friendly Gets You Far in Life
Ok so, I definitely knew this already but sometimes what people tell you can get stuck in your head… Like the French don’t like Americans thing. Not true. Just don’t act entitled (I think some Americans may or may not struggle with this, haha hence the misunderstanding).
If you’re open, friendly and respectful (also mindful of local customs and expectations) then its highly unlikely you’ll have a bad experience.
For example, if you’re visiting the Catacombs and it closes in 5 minutes but you’ve got 20 people in front of you in line… be prepared for the possibly that you might not get in.
Even if its your last chance to see it.
(I’m talking to you, fellow American lady with her two teenagers who were behind us in line and didn’t get in… yeah, remember when you screamed at the line operator and said “but we’re American! We’re leaving tomorrow!” and then threw a little baby fit and kicked over the line divider…?) …probably the type of americans that *NO one* likes, including the French.
If you give compliments, are polite, are aware of local customs and know even just a few words in the local language, you can get pretty far almost anywhere.
So moral of the story, be open, friendly and respectful…you’ll be likely to attract positive experiences and help contribute to changing any existing stereotypes.
Planning Ahead is a Good Idea
40 million tourists visit Paris every year (according to 2018’s numbers), so be prepared for the crowds, especially if you visit during peak season (june to september).
The Paris Pass is a great investment if you’re really trying to see a lot of museums and attractions. It includes pretty much everything you would want to do/see in Paris and makes it easy even offering some skip-the-line options!
If you’re more like me and prefer to first vibe out the city when arriving to a new place, then do that instead.
So, if you DO want to see some main attractions in Paris, it’s almost always better to plan ahead and purchase tickets / skip the line passes to save on time and guarantee you’ll get to go!
If not, you could be caught spending most of the day waiting in lines or even missing out on things you wanted to see. Just something to keep in mind.
Either Budget More for Uber, or Use Public Transportation
This is a big one that I wish I would have paid more attention to when planning my trip. The things I wanted to do in Paris were all pretty spread out across the city, either costing us a 30 minute walk or a $20-ish uber.
I ended up spending about $150+ on ubers over the span of a week in Paris. With public transportation being so cheap and easy to use, its definitely way smarter to jump on the metro or a bus.
It wasn’t until we met up with our cousin who lives there that we realized this… sometimes you just get caught up in the glow! But Paris really does have one of the best subway systems in the world, don’t make the same mistake as I did and actually utilize it!
Also Recommend: 10 Quick Tips for Travelling Cheap
Soak in the “Good Life”
Paris really is full of that “good life” energy. From the cafe culture, to the fashion, to the food… it truly is the place to live your best life. To look good, feel good, and eat good. I loved it.
One of my favorite things was sitting on a cafe or restaurant patio and enjoying a beverage while people watching. Soak in the good vibes and enjoy. You don’t have to do much or see everything to experience my favorite part of Paris.
Also: Try an Authentic Croissant on the First Day
Why the first day? Because you’re gonna want one every single day afterwards… they’re that good. I didn’t get around to the croissants until I had been there for a few days and I was floored. So, learn from my mistake and get to a boulangerie asap! Ble Sucre is one of the best.
The Saavy Backpacker has the best guides for Europe and I used their Paris Travel Guide to help pick out which arrondissement to stay in and where to find the best croissant! Credit to them for recommending Ble Sucre 🙂