There are countless people in the world who consider Paris a dream travel destination. It is very easy to understand that since we are talking about a city filled with history, glamour, architecture, cuisine, art, and fashion. The City of Lights truly has something for everyone.
The only problem is that people do not really know enough about the city when they visit Paris. They just hop on their Cathay Pacific flight and plan to see the Eiffel Tower. Paris is much more than what you see in the main travel guides so make sure to remember the following practical tips for first timers.
Prepare For More Than Just Romance
First-timers often see Paris in an idealized way. They think about art nouveau cafes, romantic candle dinners, Eiffel Tower sunsets, poetry, and so on. While all of these are completely true, you should do more research to see more things that the city can offer.
As an example, foodies simply adore the capital of France. There are numerous incredible local cafes and Michelin-starred restaurants for you to enjoy. And your curiosity will be satisfied by numerous historical places. It does not really matter what you enjoy, you will find countless exciting things to experience in Paris.
Do Not Visit During Peak Season
Without a shadow of a doubt, you should visit Paris during April or October since this is the off-peak season. Tourist rates are lower, crowds are smaller, and there is a lot of nature to see in Paris. When visiting during spring, you will enjoy the cherry blossoms. When visiting during autumn, you can enjoy streets and parks covered in foliage and some of the best pumpkin spice lattes in the world. These two months are simply perfect for photo shoots, engagements, family portraits, weddings, and everything else off the beaten path.
Book Hotels Close To The Paris Center
Paris has 20 districts, known as arrondissements. Every single one has some attractions and museums. However, the closer you are to the city center, the easier it is to enjoy the best that the city has to offer. While accommodations will be a little pricier, it is well worth it and you can save on transportation.
The Paris Pass
Since there are so many things to do in Paris, you might end up spending a lot during your vacation. The Paris Pass is great for that. This multipass is wonderful for the first-timer. You can use it to visit over 75 museums and attractions and can do so in up to four days. Access includes extra benefits, like being able to skip the lines. You will even receive a metro pass for free.
Those interested in culture and art though should seriously consider the more attractive Paris Museum Pass. It offers access to some of the best cultural centers, art galleries, and museums, including The Louvre, The Versailles Palace, and The Pompidou Center Museum.
Wear Really Comfortable Shoes
Paris has many beautiful cobblestone streets. They are really pretty but if you are not used to them, they will wreck havoc on your legs.
Everyone will tell you that Paris should be explored on foot. But, to do this, it is better to get rid of the heels. Just wear really comfortable shoes. Also, seriously take into account how far attractions are from one another. For instance, Notre Dame is farther away from the Eiffel Tower than you might initially think.
The best thing that you can do to move around Paris is to use public transportation. The Paris Pass we mentioned above is great for the metro, just like the Paris Metro Pass. Alternatively, you can use the Velib, a public bicycle-sharing system. There are close to 2,000 stations in Paris.
Make Your Restaurant Reservations Way In Advance
Visiting Paris without experiencing fine dining is a shame. The problem is that the popularity of Michelin-starred restaurants in the city is very high. You will first have to think about where you will eat and then you absolutely have to make your reservation in advance. If you do not, you will end up standing in line for a long time and you might not get a table at all.
Be Careful With Scams And Pickpockets
If you will take the metro, make sure to be very careful with scammers and pickpockets. As a tourist, you will be singled out as a potential target.
It is best to leave money in the hotel room if you have high amounts, just like all important documents (including your passport). At tourist attractions, you will see several people. Some of them will look really innocent and will ask you to sign a petition or take a free friendship bracelet. Such situations are just scams. The best thing you can do is leave or avoid them as much as possible.
Take A Travel Adaptor With You
You might think this is obvious, but so many tourists do not know the fact that Paris plugs are different. The European power plug is two-pronged. Sockets are deep and circular. In a fancy hotel, you might have access to an alternative plug. But, in budget hotels or Airbnbs, this luxury will most likely not be available. The travel adaptor can easily get you out of trouble. It will be very useful for you, especially when you come from the US.
Be Careful With Opening Times
Locals in Paris are known to take their time. They value rest, just like in most of Europe. During afternoons, there is a service break and dinner starts after 7:30 PM. Many restaurants and shops are closed on Sundays, with summer breaks usually happening during August.
It is important to know that opening times do vary a lot all throughout the year. This is because of daylight savings time and season changes. Such changes are sometimes illogical but you are going to Paris and you have to take the locals into account. Always check opening times and do it a couple of days in advance at least to be sure everything is ok.