Paris For Beginners (Things to Know Before You Get There)

Guide to Paris

Paris, Before You Get There

Ah, Paris – a location that so many dream of visiting (me, included for the last 20 years!). This is the land of fashion, of beautiful architecture, of art museums, of amazing food and pastries, and of course, of the lovely landmarks including the lovely Eiffel Tower. Everything here is so picturesque that it’s easy to get rosy-eyed and gloss over the little details of how to make your stay in Paris easy. I know I did.

So here are a few tips that will make your stay in Paris less bumpy.

Getting From the Airport

There are buses that go straight from the airport to the center of Paris, but the prices are around 17 euros. If you’re traveling solo, this is definitely a great budget way to get to your hotel.

Another option is the taxi, where you can get a flat rate of 50 – 60 euros from the airport to Paris. It should not cost any more than 60 euros, as the flat rate is the law. If the taxi driver charges you more, you are being scammed – you should take a photo of their license and report them to the authorities.

Guide to Paris

Transportation

As a city, Paris’ underground public transportation system is on point. People can go to all of the landmarks by walking just a block or two from metro stations, which is so handy. We were quite lucky in that our hotel ended up being right on top of a train station, so getting places was even easier.

There are three types of trains in Paris – Metro, RER, and Trams, but you’ll mostly be using the Metro or the RER. Metro makes shorter and quicker stops within the city, whereas RERs don’t make as frequent stops and they go beyond Paris (we took the RER to get from Paris to Versailles). They go through the same train stations, so it’s easy to access both. Both cost the same, as long as you remain within zones 1 – 3 in Paris.

If you plan on staying for the week, we suggest you purchase the weekly Metro pass with the ticket attendant.

Scams to Watch Out For

Joseph had mentioned that Paris has high amounts of scams. I thought he was overreacting. But not a second after I stepped onto my first train ride, I was pickpocketed. I was wearing a burgundy cross-body bag with a magnetic flap, and mindlessly walked into a tight crowd of pedestrians coming in and out of the train. Immediately, I realized I had made a mistake by not protecting my bag. As soon as I reached clear space, I looked in my bag and my wallet was gone.

Since then, I’ve clutched my bag whenever I move in and out of public transportation, as well as in any tourist hotspots. Or to be safe than sorry, keep your bags protected, your wallets and phones out of easily-accessed pockets, and, as Mad-Eye Moody from Harry Potter constantly reminds Harry: “constant vigilance.”

Another scam you will encounter many times are ladies who will come up to you and ask “Do you speak English?” Say no and walk away. Otherwise, they’ll try to distract you while pickpocketing.

While we were with a friend, someone came up to our friend and handed her a rose. It seemed like he handed the rose to her out of sheer kindness. But alas, nothing is ever free. Five seconds later, he hounded her date, demanding that he pay for the rose. We were able to return the rose and shoo him away, but not everyone is that easy to get rid of.

There are still plenty of scam tactics that happen all around Paris, and I hope that at least a few of these tips leave you aware of it even happening.

Ordering Food

France is all about the food, we all know that.

Tipping – it isn’t customary to tip in France, so what you see on your bill is all you have to pay. Of course, if your server goes above and beyond, feel free to tip.

Free Water – If you ask for water, they will ask “still or gas?”. Either of those choices will leave you with an overpriced bottle of water. However, if all you want is free tap water, tell the server “une carafe d’eau” and they will bring a carafe of tap water. It is the law in France that restaurants provide tap water when requested.

Affordable eatery – There are plenty of restaurants that are delicious in Paris, most of them are pretty pricey, and those prices start adding up – quick. Some options for budget friendly options are sandwich places, boulangeries, or if you look hard enough, you’ll find affordable and wallet-friendly restaurants, even in tourist spots.

In fact, right by Notre Dame, we went to a restaurant that charged 14 euros for a starter, an entree, dessert AND wine. WHAT?! And by golly, the place was delicious!

Guide to Paris

Shopping

Shopping in Paris has been more affordable than in the US. The great thing is, the price we see on the price tag is the price we pay because the tax is already included. Even then, most of the time, it is cheaper than in the States. PLUS, in popular tourist shopping locations like Galleri La Fayette or any of the designer stores, if you spend more than $175 in a given location, they will also give you a 12% VAT refund when you head back to the airport.

These are just some of the tips that I found was useful during my trip to Paris. What are some tips that you can share?

Guide to Paris

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27 Comments

    • Deasy Noel
      June 27, 2017 / 12:00 pm

      Glad they could be of help to you, Dominique!

  1. Nina
    June 27, 2017 / 12:20 pm

    These were great tips. I loved the fact that tax/tip was included in the price that I had to pay in stores or restaurants, while I was in Paris.

    Nina’s Style Blog

  2. Kate
    June 27, 2017 / 1:04 pm

    These are really good tips. My husband and I very nearly got mugged in Paris so it really is a city you have to be careful in. That said, it really is a magical place too. x

    Kate Louise Blogs

    • Deasy Noel
      June 27, 2017 / 1:26 pm

      Oh gosh, I’d love to hear your near-incident. Glad it wasn’t a done deal!

  3. June 27, 2017 / 1:27 pm

    Paris is one of my favourite cities and you’ve provided such great tips! You are so right about the scams there. In all the cities I’ve travelled too I think I’ve noticed pickpocketers and scam artists the most in Paris.

    Ciara
    http://www.ciarasalloum.com

  4. June 27, 2017 / 4:18 pm

    I adore Paris and found myself nodding along as I read your tips. It’s unfortunate that scammers and pickpockets are so common in the city, and while I haven’t experienced them myself yet (knock on wood!), I’ve heard several horror stories. Constant vigilance is definitely key!

    Jenny // Geeky Posh

    • Deasy Noel
      June 27, 2017 / 6:38 pm

      Wow, that’s crazy you didn’t encounter them. I’ve had the “Do you speak English?” attempt a handful of times, and I just had to wonder what drew them to us compared to other folks.

  5. June 28, 2017 / 5:25 am

    Awesome tips! I would love to visit Paris one day, it seems like such a beautiful place! I didn’t know that there was that many scams in the city, I will definitely remember that if I ever travel there! I love your pictures, they are so beautiful – they capture the beauty of the places perfectly. Thanks for sharing, have a lovely day.

    xxxx from Emily // http://www.diamondsanddachshunds.weebly.com

    • Deasy Noel
      June 28, 2017 / 11:34 am

      It was definitely an eye-opener when it happened to me, as I had a rosy outlook of Paris. It’s still a very beautiful city, as long as you’re aware of it happening.

  6. June 28, 2017 / 8:10 am

    I just bookmarked this post for when I finally get to visit the city of love!

    THANK YOU!
    xx Lisa | lisaautumn.com

    • Deasy Noel
      June 28, 2017 / 11:33 am

      So happy that we can help you! :)

  7. June 29, 2017 / 12:58 pm

    Great guide babe! I wish I had seen it prior to my travels to Paris. You are so right that it’s such a picturesque place to be and I was totally googly-eyed when I visited. Wish I was still there!

    http://www.marypolka.com

  8. June 30, 2017 / 12:48 am

    Pick-pocketing is so scary to me, but these tips are priceless. Thank you!

    Sharni // A Girl & Grey

  9. July 2, 2017 / 12:00 pm

    Oh wow, it is a very useful post! Love all your tips. I read about pick pocketing before but completely forgot about it. So happy that you reminded me about it. Thank you! :)

  10. July 2, 2017 / 10:30 pm

    but WAIT! Did you get your wallet back? What happened after that?
    This was a great post to read— I love reading posts where they can prepare you for scams, and better transportation– because those are some of my greatest fears while traveling.

    http://cynicalduchess.com

    • Deasy Noel
      July 3, 2017 / 8:38 pm

      You’re the first to catch that, haha. I actually did. My husband and his French friend went back to the scene of the crime and found my wallet lying on the floor with everything intact (I didn’t have any cash). Trust me, though, I know I didn’t drop it. A group of rowdy kids were sitting next to us, and they kept whispering towards me and looking at me oddly. One of the kids shouted out “don’t worry, lady, you’re safe.” Then ten minutes later, he handed me my compact mirror, and said “Be careful, lady”. Ten minutes after that, one of his friends handed us something else. Joseph takes it, thanked him, looked at what he got – it was a Samsung phone that none of us use. He said “Oh, this isn’t ours.” The kid takes it back, laughing his head off, and went back to his group of friends.

  11. July 12, 2017 / 10:38 pm

    Love those tips! Wish I could be Paris someday!

  12. July 20, 2017 / 4:16 pm

    Wow there are so many cultural differences that I wouldn’t think to account for, like just asking for water! Thanks for these tips!

    Kim
    Simply Lovebirds

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