In my opinion, Paris is the prettiest city in the world, at least compared to the cities that I’ve been to so far. You can never get enough of Paris, every time you go there, you’ll discover more and more beauties. I was a student in Paris so I know the streets pretty well, cafes, parks as well as the tourist traps to avoid. If you want to hear about my tips for Paris, keep reading.
Paris metro is very user friendly and there is no chance you will get lost in it. Once you are in the station, look for the metro map and find the last station of the direction you are going. From thereon, it is very easy to find the right platform. There is only one train that stops and leaves from each platform; therefore you don’t risk getting onto a wrong train. (This, however, does not apply to RER trains that go to suburbs or the airport)
Keep in mind that certain stops are so close to each other; it is more practical and cheaper to walk between those than going underground. For example, you can walk from Odeon station to St Germain des Pres station in five minutes, maybe even less.
If you prefer buses, I must say it is not as easy as the metro lines but each bus stop has a detailed map where you can find the bus that you should take. Some of them also have screens showing when the next buses will be arriving.
You can use the same ticket for bus and metro. One thing you should remember is to keep your used ticket until you get off the bus or the metro as controllers can ask you to show them at any time.
When I was a student (about 15 years ago) in Paris, it was almost impossible to find a taxi. I never forgot the day when I waited almost three hours in Champs Elysees with two friends of mine for a taxi at night and finally, we had to walk home. It is now much easier to find a taxi but as they don’t stop everywhere, you should wait at taxi stops indicated by the “Taxi” sign.
Don’t bring a 500 Euro bank note to Paris; otherwise it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for you to change it. Shops won’t accept it unless you spend at least 400 Euros and the exchange offices are not legally allowed to change it. Only Banque de France can change it. It is very annoying when you have that much money in your pocket and you can’t actually spend it.
Is Paris an Expensive City?
Obviously Paris is an expensive city, but that that doesn’t mean that you need lots of money to enjoy the city. There are plenty of options in Paris, which makes it easy for everyone to find something suitable. For example, you can buy a baguette sandwich (my favourite is jambon-fromage) from a boulangerie, some fruit and a bottle of wine from the market and you are ready for a nice dinner in Jardin de Luxembourg for 10-15 euros. Don’t forget wine is pretty cheap in the land of wines.
If you order a “coffee” at a French café, you will get an espresso. So if you want an Americano or filter coffee, you should clarify it. Most of the time, servers leave the bill on the table, especially if you only have drinks. If you pay in cash, you can just put the money on the table and leave. Having said that if the café is in a crowded area, it will be wiser to make sure that the server takes it.
You can drink tap water in France. They usually ask you whether you want tap water or bottled water. You can go for the tap water instead of paying for bottled water.
I must warn you the service sector is not the most powerful point of Paris. You may have to wait longer than you expect to order or to get the bill.
Seine Boat Trips
One of the biggest tourist traps in Paris is the Seine Boat Trips. I’m sorry to ruin your dreams about floating around Paris but trust me walking along the riverbank of the Seine and crossing the beautiful bridges is much better.
Is it worth going up the Eiffel Tower?
Here is another tourist trap. I ended up going up the Eiffel Tower once, even though I didn’t want to as my friend insisted so much. It was in February and the wind up there was terrible. But the weather wasn’t the only downside. I wouldn’t have gone up there anyway as it’s not the best place to see the city if you ask me. Don’t waste your time waiting in the long queue.
By the way, if you are wondering where the best stop for a gorgeous Eiffel Tower photo is, the answer is the intersection of Rue St Dominique and Rue Surcouf.