My non-existent psychic powers tell me that you are traveling to Paris for the first (or fifth) time and are in desperate need of some expert Paris tips?
Am I right?
I know, not at all impressive since the title kind of gives it away but honestly, these Paris travel hacks are pretty useful, even if you’re not traveling to Paris for the first time.
Because Let’s’ Be Honest:
Whether you’re traveling to Paris France for the first time or the tenth time, whether you’re visiting in the summer or exploring Paris in the winter, all travelers can make mistakes.
Sadly, it’s one of those Rather Annoying Parts of the Human Condition. Sigh.
I mean, I’ve gotten on the wrong subway train in New York City and I’ve lived here for well over twenty years.
These Paris tips and tricks are a great refresher course for anyone, especially someone who is always traveling alone in Paris, like me.
Plus, I’m Accident Prone:
So this post is as much for me as it is for you.
But seriously, we all have places to go and people to see.
So, without further ado:
Let’s check out this list of 15 super secret Paris tips. And yes, prepare to have your mind BLOWN!
Maybe “blown” is a bit of a strong word.
Regardless of how you feel about my tips, I do promise that you’ll laugh, laugh, and laugh some more at some fo the hilariously awkward travel situations that always seem to get myself into!
Since I am, SADLY, incapable of making it rain money, this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
1. Try to Visit the Louvre on either a Wenesday or Friday Evening, When the Museum is Open Late.
Not surprisingly, Musee the Louvre gets insanely crowded, especially during the summer.
Well, not only is the Louvre probably the most famous museum in the world but the Louvre artworks are some of the most important and iconic pieces in all of art history, like the Mona Lisa.
I mean, it was an important Dan Brown novel location so clearly, the Louvre is a big deal.
***Plan out what art pieces are at the top of your must-see list before entering the Louvre. This way you’ll have a game plan and can quickly and easily navigate through this insanely large museum.***
Anyone and everyone is trying to visit the Louvre as part of their first time Paris itinerary.
So If You Visit the Louvre During the Day in the Summer:
Not only will you hit a long line to purchase tickets but you’ll also hit a long line to procure an audio guide, and to present your ticket to enter the museum.
***If you have to visit during the day, then definitely book a Louvre Museum Timed Entrance ticket NOW so that you can just walk right into the museum. Trust me, this is SO much easier and less stressful than waiting in line for hours, just to buy tickets (Pair that with waiting in line to get through security and you’ll have one epic wait indeed). Trust me on this! You have LIMITED time and do NOT want to spend your entire vacation waiting in line.***
I made this mistake and it was heinous. I waited so long and there were so many people, that I almost left because I got a huge case of the “eff its”.
So Be Wiser Than Me.
And visit the Louvre on either a Wednesday or Friday evening, when the museum is open until 9:45 pm.
You’ll be surprised by the number of people who leave early because they think that the Louvre hours is only open until 6:00 pm.
And if You’re Hungry Afterward:
Hop on the 7 Metro Line and take it to Le Peletier. From here, walk about 7 minutes to the iconic Le Bouillon Chartier Restaurant, for some authentic and totally affordable French food. And no need to rush since this restaurant is open until midnight.
PSST: The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays so don’t plan to visit on THAT day!
2. Assuming That It’s “Paris” So It’s Totally Safe
I didn’t Feel Unsafe in Paris.
But it’s a major city, so one of my best tips when visiting Paris is to be careful.
Just Because You’re in Paris:
Doesn’t mean that you’re in some sort of safety bubble and are, therefore, totally immune to danger.
Many scammers and thieves actually prey on the fact that you’re lulled into a false sense of security because you’re in Paris, the unofficial romance capital of the world.
So To Be Safe:
Be aware of your surroundings, try not to look like a tourist (So don’t be waving that selfie stick, huge camera, and money all around like a baton. Your basically telling the world you’re an ATM), avoid pickpockets in the metro and at major Paris tourist attractions by carrying your bag in front of you, never take all your cash and passport with you at one time, and never accept gifts from strangers or hand over a credit card or passport to anyone without asking for ID.
Nothing ruins a trip faster than getting scammed so it’s better to be safe than sorry (One of the worst mistakes I made in Barcelona, Spain).
Also Be Careful at Night:
The last time I was in Paris for a day, I was walking along the Champs-Elysees, back to my hotel, and got this weird feeling that I was being followed.
I looked over my shoulder:
And I saw these two young men behind me. I slowed, they slowed. I walked quickly, they walked quickly.
I started to panic because I knew they were following me. I was about to run into a store to call the police, but they saw the fear in my eyes and immediately apologized.
They basically said I looked nice and wanted my number.
But Always Play it Safe:
You never know what someone’s real intentions are.
Always be aware of your surroundings, AKA you should probably get off your cell phone (No judgment. I do it too).
Which brings me to my next tip…
***Looking for some gear to help keep you safe while traveling to Paris? Awesome! Because somof of my ALL TIME FAVE, anti-theft products include a Pacsafe messenger bag (This bag has a slash-proof wire that runs through the strap, comes in a variety of different neutral colors, has locking zippers, and multiple, hidden pockets that block RFID readers from scanning your personal information), a Personal Safety Alarm (since you can’t really bring mace and pepper spray with you on a plane, this personal safety alarm is a good alternative since it’s small, easy to use, comes with three triple A batteries, and makes a loud noise when you press it during an emergency so that othera know that you need help), and a regular, everyday lock, just to help keep your personal belongings extra secure.***
3. ALWAYS Buy Travel Insurance
Danger, danger Will Robinson!
Mom-sized lecture about the importance of travel inssurance coming at you in 5, 4,,3, 2, 1…
But in all seriousness:
I only mention the imprtance of travel insurance because I care. And I get it!
I too have forgone travel insurance in a vain attempt to save money beofre a fateful trip to Barcelona!
And the result?
Well, my bag was STOLEN and I was unable to get reimbursed for any of my stolen belongings since yeah, I didn’t have travel insurance!
If I had purchased a World Nomad Travel Insurance plan (Do Yourself a MASSIVE favor and get some Wolrd Nomads Travel Insurance NOW!), then I would have been reimburded for up to $1000 worth of lost belongings with their basic plan, and even more with their awesome explorer plan (This is now the plan I usualy get since I’m a travel blogger and always carry way more than a $1000 worth of gear).
Not only does World Nomads travel insurance cover almost any destination that you might ever want to visit (like Paris), but they also provide you with an amazing level of coverage that includes almost any travel disaster possible, short of being impaled by a rogue unicorn horn.
Their policies are also incredibly easy to customize, can even be extended, and or changed, while you’re on the road, and offer emergency medical coverage of up to $100,000!
Go forth, get travel insurance, and be the happy, not-so-little traveler that I know you want to be.
Because this lecture is now (THANKFULLY) officially OVER!
4. Definitely Go to the Arc De Triomphe (SPOILER ALERT: I think the view from here is BETTER than the view from the Eiffel Tower).
Okay Maybe It’s Just Me:
But I have been to so many places and have seen so many “amazing views” that sometimes I just kind of want to save money and skip the view altogether.
Half the time, you pay $20 just to visit the top of a really tall building and snap some mediocre photos for ten minutes. You then begrudgingly browse the gift shop because you cannot believe that THAT was it. Then you go right back down again and vow, “never again”.
Anyone Else Feel Me?
It just feels so lame and like such a waste of time and money.
I didn’t go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe on my first visit to Paris.
And I totally Regretted it.
At the time, I didn’t realize that the Arc de Triomphe has one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
A much better view than the one you get from the Eiffel Tower.
***That being said, I feel like it’s kind of mandatory to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower while you’re in Paris. I mean, if you don’t do this were you really in Paris at all? Exactly. Now me, I went LATE at night and thought, “Oh gee, I’ll skip the line”. Yeah no, There was a line to go through security and then another insane line to head to the top in an elevator (you can walk up but calves of steel are not my claim to fame). I eventually started to panic because thought the Eiffel Tower was going to close before I could go to the top. So if you must go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, save yourself the unnecessary stress and purchase your Eiffel Tower, Second Floor Priority Access Pass right here, right now! Also, if you want to try and avoid the crowds at the Eiffel Tower, then just take the stairs behind the Croatian Embassy and you might just find an amazing view that you can enjoy all by yourself (mostly).**
The tickets are cheaper than the Eiffel Tower and the wait times are much shorter, giving you extra time to explore some of the other, less touristy attractions in Paris.
Oh, I Almost Forgot:
You also get an amazing shot of the Champs Élysées from above.
What are you waiting for?
I’ll let you judge for yourself. Look above and see how amazing the view is.
5. Don’t Assume All the Hotels in Paris are Insanely Expensive
The “first time in Paris where to stay” question is always a tricky one.
And PS, I Don’t Do Hostels.
I’m sorry but I can’t. I did the whole dorm thing when I was like twenty and after hearing one too many couples gettin’ jiggy with it, I decided never again.
But I was Poor:
So I exclusively booked private rooms in hostels, with shared bathrooms, since I thought that was all I could afford.
But Then I Did a Little Research.
Yeah, these private rooms were MAYBE $10 cheaper than a room in a three-star hotel.
So duh, I was booking the hotel. Momma didn’t raise no fool.
My latest trip to Paris was super last minute and it was August so I gave myself a little pep talk and prepared to cry when I saw the price of hotel rooms.
Shockingly, I found hotels for as little as $60 a night! And good ones too. Not a glorified cardboard box with a “scenic view of the Eiffel Tower”.
So Moral of the Story:
Don’t spend too much on hotels while in Paris! I booked the Mercure Paris 9 Pigalle Sacre-Coeur (a four-star hotel in Montmartre) and Villa Opera Drouot (a four-star hotel in the center of Paris) for less than a $100 a night! And if you’re traveling as part of a family, you can also read about some of the best places to stay with kids in Paris.
Why the two locations?
I like to get up early and beat the crowds to major attractions. And getting up early is much less painful if I am at a hotel that is close to the sight that I am getting up early to see.
When You’re Not a Morning Person:
It’s all about strategy my dear friends.
6. DON’T Sleep In Every day
I am an anti-morning person.
The LAST thing I wanna do on my day off is get up at the ASS CRACK OF DAWN.
But Guess What?
If you want some AMAZING views of the Eiffel Tower, without the population of a small country in your photo, then you’re gonna have to get up early.
It’s just a fact.
And there are certain sights that you should plan on getting up early for if you actually want to enjoy Paris top tourist attractions without feeling like you’re in a herd of cattle.
If it’s super touristy, then plan on waking up early; attractions like Versailles Palace, Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Paris Catacombs, Musée Rodin, etc.
***If you are planning to visit Versailles Palace, especially in the summer, then I HIGHLY recommend getting the Versailles Priority Admission and Audio Tour. You can skip the ticket line and if you arrive early, the line for security shouldn’t be that long either. You can also try spending one day in Lyon while in France. ***
7. FYI Macarons and Macaroons are NOT the same!
***Some of my favorite places to indulge in the best macarons in Paris include Carrette, 25 Place des Vosges (great eclairs), Ladurée, 75, Avenue des Champs Elysees, Angelina, 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, Pierre Hermé, 4 Rue Cambon, 75001 Paris, and Fauchon, 30 Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris.***
8. Skip the Show at the Moulin Rouge
I’ll Admit it:
I was young, naive, impressionable…and only like two years younger than I am right now. LoL.
But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Obviously, one of the many major attractions in Paris is the Moulin Rouge, perhaps the most famous cabaret in the entire world.
I felt like I HAD to see a show at this iconic Parisian institution.
And Guess What?
It was not great, and that’s being nice. Not only were the tickets ridiculously expensive but I felt like the show was a bit tacky.
Fine. It’s a cabaret so obviously, you’re gonna see a nip or two. But the show was just very cliched and not as well done as I expected (Maybe my standards were too high. I am from NYC and associate Broadway with stage shows).
They had a woman randomly swimming around in a pool with an albino python.
Yeah, I Still Don’t Get it.
So clearly I was meant to see this show so that you don’t have to.
9. While We’re at it, You can Probably Skip the Catacombs too.
I swear I really love Paris!
But the Catacombs?
I don’t know, They kind of fell flat for me.
I did wait a long time to get in so that might have tainted my experience, but I just didn’t find them that interesting.
In My Mind:
I expected this fascinating and exciting tour through one of the most macabre and haunted places in the entire world.
What I got?
A mediocre audio tour that relied too heavily on the ick factor of a series of skulls to create an entertaining Paris tourist attraction.
Please Don’t Hate Me. That’s Just My Opinion. You May Love it.
Instead of visiting the Catacombs of Paris, I recommend exploring the Père Lachaise Cemetery where Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and various other icons of history are buried.
The cemetery is gorgeous and the tombstones are really interesting too!
Just take it from me and go to the bathroom at the front office, BEFORE you enter the cemetery. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.
10. DON’T OVERSCHEDULE Yourself
With so many amazing day trips from Paris, it can be easy to overschedule yourself.
But don’t do it! It’s a trick!Trust Me:
You’ll only end up making yourself completely and totally miserable.
I know It’s Hard.
My natural inclination is to think, “Oh gee, shiny, pretty, enchanting historic city. Must visit every single attraction since I might never come back.”
Yeah, we call this travel ADD.
You see a shiny new Paris attraction and you have to visit. But don’t!
Part of the Pairs’ appeal is slowing down, relaxing, walking along the Seine, and having a picnic in one of Paris’ exquisite parks, like Jardin des Tuileries or Jardin du Luxembourg.
Savoir the joy of Paris.
Don’t stress yourself out and rush from one top attraction to the next, desperately trying to beat the ever-ticking vacation clock.
Pick a few sights that you really want to see and enjoy those.
You might actually be able to slow down and enjoy every moment of your precious vacation, especially if you’re American and get a lame two weeks of vacation a year. Boo! Hiss!
***Also take some time to get out of Paris and explore some of the amazing things that the rest of the country has to offer, like Limoges, France. ***
11. Get a Paris Museum Pass! LIKE NOW!
By the Way:
This is not a FULL list. I only included MAJOR Paris attractions here to show you that this pass will basically include everything that you’ll actually want to see.
Oh, I Almost Forgot:
The Paris Museum Pass also includes 20 super fab attractions OUTSIDE Paris, like Château de Versailles, Château de Fontainebleau, and Villa Savoye.
Still Not Convinced?
For the 2-Day Pass to pay for itself, you need to visit a minimum of 3 museums/monuments a day (aka visit attractions with admission fees that are the equivalent of €26 a day).
For the 4-Day Pass to pay for itself, you need to visit a minimum of 2 museums/monuments a day (aka visit attractions with admission fees that are the equivalent of €17 a day).
For the 6-Day Pass to Pay for itself, you need to visit a minimum of 1 or 2 museums/monuments a day (aka visit attractions with admission fees that are the equivalent of €12 a day).
Get your Paris Pass now and rejoice at the multitude of savings you’ll enjoy.
Feel Free to Buy Me a Trip Around the World with all Your Savings.
I accept cash, checks, credit cards, and money orders!
12. Be Prepared to Eat Dinner Late in the Evening, Since That’s What Most Parisians do!
Like in much of Europe:
Most Parisians tend to eat dinner right around the time that this Golden Girl is getting ready for bed (i.e. around 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm).
Take a trip to Paris and you’ll soon discover that most restaurants won’t actually re-open for dinner until around 7:30 pm (Yeah, most restaurants here do indeed close between lunch and dinner).
Yup, cue the heartburn for anyone in the audience who actually understands what Prilosec is.
So, plan accordingy and don’t expect to enjoy an uber-posh, Parisian dinner right at 6:00 pm, on the dot.
Not only does this place serve an array of amazing vegetarian and distinctly non-vegetarian entrees, but they also have an assrotment of wicked awesome small plates that are perfect for anyone looking to do a mini, culinary tour of sorts.
And if you’re not exactly sure what to order while you’re here:
Then you can’t go wrong with either the savory pancake with guanciale, the breaded free-range porkchop with a fried egg, black rice, red cabbage, and curry sauce, or the black chocolate tart with cappuccino ice cream (Yup, that last dish is DEFINITELY my favorite).
13. Get the Skip-the-Line Ticket Before You Visit Versailles
Not surprisngly, a trip to Versailles is kind of an essential part of any Paris itinerary.
That is also the reason why you absolutely, CANNOT visit Versailles without first getting a skip-the-line, Versailles ticket here!
Everyone and their brother’s sister’s wife’s dog is gonna be there with you, exploring one of the most famous palace’s on Earth.
You really don’t wanna be “that guy” who has to wait in line for two to three hours, just to nab a coveted, Versailles entrance ticket (especially during the summer when it’s peak, tourist season).
Because by the time you do FINALLY get inside (since there is another long line for secuirty):
You’ll have to frantically dash around, desperately trying to seel everything before your bus deaprts for Paris.
Which is definiitely not how you wanna see Versailles (Unless you’re Forest Gump and actually enjoy running across America).
Instead, make a plan, prioritize what do you want to see for the day, and devote an entire day to exploring the grandeur of Versailles (Don’t miss the palace gardens and the Petit Trianon since both are flippng awesome).
***I know it may be tempting to try and pair your visit to Versailles with another popular day trip from Paris (like Normandy, Mont Saint Michel, Giverny, the Loire Valley, etc.) but DON’T. Trust me, there are plenty of things for you to do at Versailles that will make you want to spend the entire day there. Also, even if you do end up purchasing skip-the-line tickets, I’d still try and get there as easly as possible (like right when Versailles opens), just so that you can avoid wiaitng in a long AF security line.***
14. Avoid Visiting Paris in August
Truth be told, summer is probably THE absolute worst time to visit Paris.
Not only is it crowded AF, but the lines to get in anyhwere are horrendous. Couple this with an ambient temperature that coould cook a raw egg and you have a rather hellish expereince, to say the least.
If you MUST visit Paris during the summer, then please do so in either June or July, when most local businesses are actually open.
Because not surprisingly, Guess what?
Yeah, Parisians actually want to take a vacation too!
If you do visit Paris during August, then you’ll probably find a ton of local businesses and restaurants closed since most locals take the month off and flee, I mean, er, take a break from, the beyond intense heat of Paris (If you need to visit Paris during August though, not to worry because all major tourist attractions will still be open).
If you can, heed my midlly safe advice and visit this amazing city during basically any other month of the year.
15. Use the Metro
The metro in Paris really isn’t that difficult to use.
There are a ton of different lines that you’ll need to navigate, but doing so is usually pretty straightforward.
The metro is infinitely cheaper (and faster, depending on traffic) than either the Hop On, Hop Off Bus or a taxi.
So I mean really:
Why wouldn’t you use it?
Just do yourself a favor and hold onto your ticket until you exit the train.
Police here really do check for your ticket while you’re inside the station.
To save money, try and purchase a carnet, or package of ten tickets, since, like with most things in life, buying in bulk is infinitely cheaper than purchasing tickets individually (You may also want to get the Navigo Pass if you plan on staying in Paris for more than a week).
And if you want to exit the train?
Yeah, you’re gonna have to press a handy dandy little button to do so since the doors on the train don’t open automatically.
You for sure do not want to end up like me and obliviously stand there while the matro station you were supposed to get off at just fades away into the distance.
And all because you forgot to push a button (I know. I felt like a total idiot)!
***Paris does indeed have Uber and, not surprisingly, it’s way cheapear than taxi. However, definitely don’t take an uber to the airport since riding the RER train there a much faster and cheaper!***