There are so many great things to do in Paris that it can be easy to get overwhelmed and flustered. You aim to see it all in a short space of time… and then… end up in one flurried mess. Paris is a beautiful city and if planned right, it could simply be one of the traveling adventures you’ll never forget. Here are some simple tips for a successful experience in Paris.
- MAKE A LIST
Write down a list of what you really want to see and do. This way you will always have a visual guide at your disposal. Next, jot down the days you have available and divide up your list between the time you will have to explore. Be strategic: plan activities in the same area or schedule themed travel days. For example, seeing the museums near cafes that you really want to visit or visiting all the fashion districts in one day. It’s also a good idea to make a list of spots near your hotel. Make a list of your must-eat-at restaurants too. That way you’ll avoid dining at overpriced, poor-quality bistros that you find at the last minute.
- FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE METRO MAP
Paris has 16 metro lines so figuring it out at the last minute can take up a lot of time. Download an online subway map and take some time to look over it before your trip. Mark down where you’re staying and where the major tourist attractions are too. This way, you already know in advance which metro lines you’ll be riding and what stops you need to look for.
- KEEP AN OFFLINE MAP
If you’ve read my post on finding and losing the Eiffel Tower, you will know that getting lost can be a remarkably wonderful experience. That being said if you choose to get lost, get lost wisely. Always have a paper map in your bag or a downloaded city map on your phone and the name and address of your hotel written down.
- LEARN SOME FRENCH PHRASES
There is nothing more romantic than being able to speak French in the city of love, but more than that, it can help when exploring too. Knowing some basic phrases will make it easier if you need to ask for directions or order a cafe au lait (coffee with milk). If you want to get to know the locals, then knowing some French phrases will definitely make it easier to initiate a conversation. Of course, you can easily switch to an online translation app or travel phrase guide book.
- USE LOCAL TRANSPORT
Riding the metro is easier than taking the bus, but the experience is completely different. The metro is underground which means you can’t take in as much of the city views as you would when traveling above ground. Take the bus and get wonderfully lost.
- KNOW THE WEATHER FORECAST
The weather in Paris can change a lot over the course of a few hours so be sure to check the weather forecast daily. This way you’ll be able to rearrange your schedule should rain be predicted. Wear comfortable shoes and always carry an umbrella.
- LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CITY
Knowing some interesting facts about the attractions you want to see will make it more meaningful when you get there. Do some research, buy a guide book and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- DRESS FOR THE OCCASION
Checking the weather forecast means you’ll also be able to dress appropriately whatever the weather may be. Parisians love to dress up so it’s also a good idea to check the dress code for shows or fancy restaurants before you get there.
- BE SAFE
As with every big city, pickpockets are all around. My wallet was stolen just after arriving in Barcelona and I can assure you, it’s not a great feeling when you realize that all your credit cards, cash and travel tickets are gone. Paris is no different. Be extra careful around popular tourist attractions and when on the metro, especially during rush hour.
- WHEN IN PARIS
A true adventure means experiencing a city like the locals do. Don’t be afraid to take an hour or two at lunch or dress elegantly in black on a gloomy day as you waltz the streets exploring. Your adventure doesn’t have to be expensive too. There are tons of little Parisian cafes and cheap eats all around not to mention free museum days on the first Sunday of every month.