Visiting Paris? Do NOT Make these Mistakes!!!
#1 Not Speaking French
Now, I’m not saying you have to be fluent, but even speaking a little bit of a french goes a long way here! I know getting accustomed to a new language and culture can be intimidating (was absolutely the case for me) but trust me, it’s a right of passage in France. French people will appreciate that you’re at least trying to speak the language - even if it’s not perfect - and will be more inclined to help you if you find yourself in a pinch. Here are a few tips - (1) Greetings – Whenever you’re entering a cofee shop (or any establishment in Paris for that matter), make sure to greet the employees, waiters, or staff by saying “Bonjour” if in the morning or afternoon and “Bonsoir” if in the evening. It’s a sign of respect and at times seen as extremely offensive if forgotten! (2) Questions - If you have a question for someone, one way to approach them is by saying “Bonjour, j’ai un petite question s’il vous plait” which means, “Hello! I have a quick question for you,” and then proceed to ask your question (typically “avez-vous” which means “do you have…” if you’re looking for something in a store works perfectly!). Knowing a few simple phrases in French will make your life a lot wasier once you get here.
As an American who’s been living here for the past four years (with many a mistake under her belt) there are a handful of things I wish I’d known before visiting the City of Light. Excited to share with you a few of the common mistakes I’ve seen Paris tourists make to help you better navigate your stay without the stress and overwhelm that can sometimes come with it.
#2 Racking Up International Data Charges
In this day and age, wherever we go, our cellphones are likely attached to our hips (guilty!). We’re quick to reach for our phones to capture fun moments, special memories, share our experiences with friends, or have it handy for directions (google maps has literally become my best friend). But when you’re traveling abroad, this can cost you a pretty penny! American mobile companies are known to charge super high fees to use their services abroad. $10 per day to post on Instagram while abroad? No thank you. I highly recommend you consider getting a French sim card to avoid racking up data roaming charges while you’re here. And lucky for you, Orange recently launched an all-inclusive ‘Holiday” SIM card for tourists in Europe! This ready-to-go SIM card connects automatically and includes unlimited calls and texts to and from 30+ desitnation in Europe (and from Europe to worldwide). It’s valid for 2 weeks and is usable on any device – phone, tablet, hostpost, etc. This is definitely a great way to avoid international roaming fees from your mobile provider, and save a bit of money (to spend on food of course) while you’re here.
#3 Not Researching Restaurants First!
I’ve had some of the best meals of my life in Paris! The food here is absolutely amazing…if you know where to go. A common mistake that I’ve seen tourists make is not researching restaurants before they go, and eating around touristy areas. This typically leaves them disappointed and not so impressed with the food scene here, yikes.
For one, cafes and restaurants around most landmarks in Paris (i.e. Eiffel Tower) tend to be extremely overpriced with subpar food. Moreover, there are sooo many restaurants in Paris that random walk ins can be a hit or miss – you’d rather be safe than sorry! Take it from a major foodie - do your research and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what food scene in Paris has to offer.
In addition, not all restaurants in Paris are open all day! There are a handful of restaurants that close midday - opening for lunch/brunch until around 2:30/3:00PM and then reopening around 7:00PM for dinner. Trust me, you do not want to make your way to a restaurant just to find out that it’s closed (has happened to me too many times).
#4 Only Eating French Food
When you come to Paris, you want to be immersed in all things French culture. You want to eat french food, go to the bakeries, and sip the cutest little espresso at the cutest little café. So definitely, definitely do all of these things, but don’t forget that Paris is home to some insanely delicious international cuisine.
I’ve had some of the best Senegalese, Italian, Greek, Mexican, Vietnamese, and even American Soul Food right here in Paris! And this list goes on. Although it’s great to indulge in french cuisine here (and I highly recommend you do), you’d be doing a disservice to yourself if you came to Paris and didn’t take advantage of the many many different culinary experiences that Paris has to offer.
#6 Doing Too Much in One Day
Perhaps the most important mistake to avoid! A common mistake that I see tourists make is cramming too many activities into one day, and not staying long enough. I’m guilty of it too.
Being in close proximity to so many other picturesque countries and cities in Europe, it’s easy to make Paris a quick pitstop on your Eurotrip. But I’m telling you, there is so much to see and do in this city that you’re going to want to give yourself enough time to take it all in. I’d recommend giving yourself at least week to really experience all that Paris has to offer.
You’re going to want to give yourself time to sit in one of Paris’ beautiful gardens (Jardin des Tuileries is a favorite!), walk around and explore the city, people watch from a café, take photos at a few of the most instagrammable spots in paris, and on top of it all make memories that will last a lifetime! Trust me, itt’s a lot more fun to take in all that is this city without the pressure of having to rush to your next activity.
Do not cram too much in one day!
And that’s a wrap! Hope this helps you avoid a few of the most common mistakes that I’ve seen tourists make when visiting Paris. Wishing you a fun, safe, and stress-free trip!
#5 Staying in the Suburbs
So I get it, staying in the suburbs or in the outskirts of Paris can be a lot less expensive than staying in the city. But I’m telling you, if you’re planning most of your activities require you to be in Paris (restaurants, museums, sightseeing), staying within the city will be your best bet.
For one, it’s a bit more expensive to commute from the suburbs to Paris compared to commuting within the city. A metro ticket to commute within Paris will cost 1.90€ for a single ticket (also consider a weekly pass), while a ticket to get from the suburbs to the city can cost you around 6.15€ (depending on which zone you’re community from)!
You’ll also want to keep in mind the commute time! Commuting from the suburbs to Paris could easily take you anywhere from 45min to an hour (sometimes even longer). And if you’re planning to visit for about a week or so, you’re not going to want to spend most of your time on the train.
On another note (for all of my friends who are coming to Paris from the United States), keep in mind that Paris is set up a bit differently than most cities in the United States. For instance, in the United States, it’s pretty common for the suburbs to feel a bit safer (less crime, etc) than the inner city. But in Paris, it’s the opposite!
Now, I’m not saying all suburbs here aren’t safe, I have a few friends who live in the suburbs and are super comfortable, they love it! But, there are quite a few areas in the suburbs that are not the safest places to be. So if you’re visiting Paris for the very first time and aren’t too familiar with the suburbs, I would highly recommend you stay in the city, just to be safe.