For many French people, Paris is over-rated. It’s cloudy, rainy, polluted, full of tourists, stressful, and people are not famous for their courtesy. But my boyfriend being Spanish, and me having a lot of family members there, I had to take him there (over and over). And the truth is, I had to review my judgement. I’ve been harsh on Paris. It may be crowded, and very grey, but it does have this charm à la française, this romantic atmosphere.
But in order to fully appreciate it – and keep your banker happy -, you may need some insider’s tips. So here is my ultimate guide for you to take full advantage of the experience!
- If you are a student, always ask for the student/youth discount!
This is valid for museums and any kind of attraction. Make sure to bring your ID and student ID: sometimes it is an age limit rather than studentship. Generally, always bring your ID, since security has been highly increased at tourists attractions.
- Take advantage of the first Sunday of the month!
In Paris, several museums offer free entrance the first Sunday of the month. Some of them do it all year long, and some only certain months. You can find the list here.
- Get the hang of Parisian transports system!
One of the most expensive things in Paris is transportation. And yet, it is so necessary, considering the width of the city! But don’t let the tourist advertisements fool you. Most of the time, the tourist passes are not worth it.
My typical day in Paris is 2 round trips a day, and I always take the 10 tickets pack, that I share with my boyfriend. Most of the time (unless you got a hotel really outside Paris), you will only need two zones, that will be pre-selected on the screen.
On weekends and holidays, if you are a student, you can get a youth ticket, which gives you unlimited rides for 1 day at a much cheaper price. Now that you kind of know what you’re talking about, please, go to an information desk and ask the RATP staff. They’re really nice, helpful and you can purchase your tickets there. Remember that tickets are valid for one hour only on bus rides. In the metro, as soon as you exit, your ticket expires!
- Make sure you don’t get fooled in a restaurant!
First rule: avoid restaurant where the menu is translated into many languages unless you read some good comments on TripAdvisor. Also, in France, bread and water are free. For the water, don’t ask for a bottle, ask for a carafe. Some restaurants try to take advantage of tourists, feel free to ask them where it appeared on the menu if you find some extra costs on your bill. Also, tips are not that big of a thing there, but if you liked the service, it is highly appreciated, of course.
If you wanna try some good French cheese, I highly recommend that you book a table at Fromagerie Danard. My boyfriend and I went there for our anniversary, ordered a Tour De France (you can tell them your preferences and they’ll adapt) and absolutely loved it. Our waiter spoke French, English and Spanish fluently, which is very rare and much appreciated since my boyfriend isn’t very comfortable with French.
- If you need a ride, try Uber or VTC services!
Uber is very developed in Paris, and there are many other VTC services (= Voiture de Transport avec Chauffeur, basically a private diver) that are much cheaper than taxis. Make sure you download Uber app, or make a quick google search to find a VTC. Taxis are over-priced there, especially when they notice you’re a tourist. Also, keep in mind that Paris transports map is REALLY good. You can go anywhere by public transports.
- Take into account French schedule for your activities
For example, lunchtime is usually from 12 to 14. Therefore, all the lunch formula (= menu that is cheaper for lunch than for dinner) that may be available in some restaurant are no longer served after that time. Of course, some restaurants may serve later, but I wouldn’t risk. Dinner time is usually from 19 to 21. Before and after that, you will most likely not get served.
These times are also good to keep in mind since they’re the ones during which attractions are likely to be less crowded. You can easily spend a few hours lining up to go up the Eiffel Tower, but if you try in the early morning, during lunch, or right before closing time, you may be lucky.
- Please, don’t ever play with the gamblers!
Do you know gamblers? They’re these people who play a hide-the-ball game in the street, and you’re supposed to bet to “make money”. You can watch this very short video of gambling if you don’t know what I mean. It may look like people make a lot of money in those games, but I can assure you, it is a huge scam. I have seen an old guy losing 50€, just like that. It always looks so crowded because the “others players” are just part of it. Sometimes they pretend to leave – but just follow them once, you’ll see that they’ll never go very far. They’ll always come back.
They may also come to you if you’re watching, like “Oh, I’ve seen the ball! It’s in the right one! I bet 50€, you follow?”. Please, don’t EVER say yes! Honestly, I have no idea how they manage to trick everybody with the ball, it has to be so fast. But I know from experience that it is fake, and please, don’t get scammed by these people.
If you liked this guide and would like to read about what I love to do and see in Paris, leave me a comment and don’t forget to give it a like!
Have you been to Paris? What are your tips and tricks for a perfect stay there?
Cover photo: ©Maylis Saigot – maylissaigot.wixsite.com
Metro photo: ©Fabrizio Verrecchia – pexels.com
Cheese photo: ©Foodie Factor – pexels.com
Restaurant photo: ©Helena Lopes – pexels.com
Ending photo: ©Marta Siedlecka – pexels.com