My non-existent psychic powers tell me that you are traveling to Paris for the first time, 2018 edition.
Am I right?
I know, not at all impressive since the title kind of gives it away but honestly, these traveling to Paris tips 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 are 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.
No one has time to commit these epic travel fails while going to Paris for the first time, especially if you’re doing a short, Paris 4 day itinerary.
So Check Out This List of Paris France Travel Mistakes to Avoid.
I promise you’ll laugh, laugh, and laugh some more because I get myself into some hilariously awkward travel situations when traveling to Paris alone.
Things You Should Know Before Your Visit to Paris
1. Visiting The Louvre During the Day
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 so that you can just walk right into the museum. So much easier and less stressful than waiting to buy tickets.
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.
***The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays so don’t plan your visit for that day.
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.
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, 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)
3. Not Ascending the Arc De Triomphe
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 get an Eiffel Tower, Second Floor Priority Access Pass.
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 below and see how amazing the view is.
4. Assuming 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!
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.
5. Sleeping 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.
(Below is actual footage of me when I wake up in the morning).
***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.
6. Assuming Macarons and Macaroons are 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.
7. Catching a 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.
8. Visting the Catacombs
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.
9. Overscheduling 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. ***
10. Not Getting a Paris Museum Pass
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!
Yup. I’m making it rain with savings.
So there you have it:
A list my favorite Paris travel tips and tricks so that you too can fall in love with this enchanting city, just like I did.
Keep these Paris travel hacks in mind and I’m sure you’ll have an amazing trip to Paris.
Any more questions, comments, concerns, or declarations of love (I like those)?
Feel free to drop a note in the comments!