I wrote these tips for a friend who was starting her Paris trip right after mine. I can’t say enough how much we enjoyed our trip and Paris is now one of my favorite cities. And here are a few tips and things to remember if you embark on a trip of your own.
- The metro is really easy to use. Everything is clearly marked, it is everywhere and goes to just about every part of the city. I think it is as easy to use as Chicago’s. You can buy 10 tickets for 10% off. (Doug and I used about 4-6 per day depending on what we wanted to see).
- Eat as many croissants as you can. (they are ah-mazing)
- Go to a cheese shop (fromaugerie) and make sure to also get some of their salted butter. It is one of the best things I have ever tasted. I swear that when Kate Moss said “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” she had never had french butter.
- Check out a local market if you can (there is one in the city almost every day of the week). Doug and I grabbed bread, wine, cheese, meat and went by the Seine and had a picnic.
- Bring some portable wine glasses and a bottle opener. Always be ready to crack some vino!
- Tourists are terrible. And everywhere. So, be prepared the eiffel tower will feel a lot like times square (especially during the day). It’s still great to see but also be careful of pickpockets and people walking up to you. Doug and I saw someone getting robbed and then the police started chasing them. Craziness. We went during the day and then at night. At night (which the sun doesn’t set till almost 10:30) it is really lovely. Grab a park bench, vino (again) and wait until midnight (or on the hour after the sun goes down). The tower will light up for about 5 minutes. It is also really pretty to watch from a bridge over the seine (right behind the eiffel tower).
- Art. If you want to buy some art, some of the cheapest and best place is along the seine by the musee dorsay. There are also places in the Montmarte area but tend to be more expensive.
- If you want to go to a museum, buy the tickets in advance. The Louvre had an over 2 hour wait the day we went.
- Take time to forget about everything else and just enjoy.
- The people are incredibly nice. I think this rudeness stereotype is a thing of the past. They are kind, gracious and willing to help.
- Yelp is really helpful to find great places to eat. Some reviews are in English but we often went for the highest stars with the majority of reviews in French and found some pretty fantastic local spots that way.
- Google Maps (load maps in your phone over wifi at your hotel before you head out and you can navigate yourself to the city). They will also help tell you what metro lines and transfers you may need to make. We ended up turning on a data plan so that we could get maps out and about because our Belgium leg of the trip was more difficult to navigate than France.
“I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you. You search for answers. You wonder what it all means. You stumble, and you soar. And, if you’re lucky, you make it to Paris for a while.”
― Amy Thomas,