mistakes avoid paris

10 Horrible Mistakes You Need to Avoid When in Paris

Paris, being a major European destination and flocked by an average of about 15 million tourists each year, can be exciting and at the same time intimidating for the first timers because of the French’s reputation as snobbish, because of the language barrier, because here, you are always reminded as an outsider or a foreigner.
But enough of that intimidating feeling. Breathe deeply, pack your bags and you’re going to the city of the love and locks. Here are the top ten mistakes you need to avoid when hitting the most romantic city in the world for the first time.

360 at Museè du Louvre #parisjetaime #travels #exploremore

A video posted by carla abanes (@justtravellingsolo) on

Taking the airport taxi

If you’re flying into Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport, you don’t need to take the airport taxi to get to your accommodation or to get to the Paris city center. Take the airport taxi and I bet it will cost you about 40 euros. Say goodbye to your 40bucks.

This is what you should do. From the arrival area, follow the direction that says trains. Its in the same building. Buy a train ticket for Eur10.00 on the ticket machine for Gare du Nord. Debit and credit card works on these machines. All trains from the CDG airport goes to and stops at Gare du Nord. From Gare du Nord you can change to the Metro trains that will take you to your accommodation address. Viola! You’ve reached the Paris city center.
paris mistakes

Falling for the bracelet scam

When visiting touristy places in the city center, beware of the group of men that are usually standing at top of or at the bottom of the stairs in River Seine or at Montmartre holding in their hand what seem to be a friendship bracelet and ready to approach you. These nice and cute looking friendship bracelets are worth Eur10.00 each and they will slap it on your arms if you walk towards them and you’re forced to pay the amount. There goes your 10 bucks.
paris mistakes

Not just the bracelet scam but there others, like ring found scam, sign a petition scam and many others. Avoid these group of men or young girls asking if you know how to speak English. They are part of many scams that will crowd around you when you stop for them. Just walk away or say a firm NO and change your direction.
Read : 10 Essential Safety Tips for Women Who Travel Solo

Not walking

Paris is a nice beautiful walking city! Take your camera and go on a walking tour. its even much better if you ditch your map and just get lost. On my first day in Paris, I went looking for the Shakespeare & Company bookshop without a map. All I know is that it is near the Notre Dame Cathedral. I got lost around Rue de Université something and I saw these beautiful small souvenir shops in one of the narrow streets and they sell the french movie on DVD that I have been looking for the longest time!
So I advise you to get lost. Ditch the map, grab your camera and wear your most comfy walking shoes. You will never know what treasure(s) you will find.
paris mistakes

Giving tips

It is not customary to give tips in cafes or bars or clubs in Paris. You can give a little extra but it is not needed. Plus that cocktail cost you a lot already.
But when dining out in fancy places or it’s fine dining scene, then you have to give some extra to that waiter who went a little far in giving you excellent wine pairing tips. Some taxi drivers expect a little extra when driving thru a massive traffic jam.
paris mistakes

Paying for water

When ordering your meal in a diner or cafe, it is perfectly fine to always ask for a pitcher of water. You have to ask the waiter, else he will hand you an unopened bottled water which you will need to pay for.
If you are a little courageous with speaking French, you can say “Je’ voudrais un carafe d’eau, Merci.” which means, “I would like a pitcher of water, thank you.”

Not learning basic French

Before you come to Paris, or during that long haul flight, you might want to learn some basic French that you can use for your stay. To the French, it also shows respect that you are learning their language and embracing their culture.

Phrases like “Merci” (thank you), “Bonjour” or “Salut” which means a greeting Hi, “Au revoir” which means goodbye will go a long long way. Learn these phrases and say it with confidence, smile and you earn a smile back from the “snub” French staff and also it ensures you get a good service.

Buying museum pass and metro pass online

If you are not a museum person, then these museums passes are not for you, even if you think you will save a lot on entrance and tour fees. Decide first what activities you want to spend time on when in Paris. Factor in also where in Paris you are staying.
I did not buy any of these passes online because A. I am not the museumy type and B. I planned to do a lot of walking. For commuting around Paris, I bought a carnet (pronounced as /car-ney/) of metro tickets. simply put you are buying 10 metro tickets in advance for a cheaper cost. Eur4.00 cheaper!

paris mistakes
paris metro ticket

Going to Versailles

For the entire week that I was in Paris, I never went to Versailles. I find it touristy for my taste and I told you I am not the museumy type. I researched instead on what day trips I can take outside Paris. I found out that an annual Grande Braderie de Lille was happening that weekend in Lille, in the northern part of France. Boom!
So I went to Gare du Nord and bought a return ticket to the city of Lille to experience Grande Braderie de Lille. It was an amazing experience! Imagine the whole town in one loud happy fiesta scene.

I never regret not going to Versailles. The palace and the garden will always be there. And I can always come back!
Read : Amazing Daytrips Outside Paris Aside From Versailles

Watching or counting your calories

You need to remove the word “calorie” from your memory and what it stands for while in Paris. Every street and nook here has a boulangerie with an inviting smell of baking croissants. I don’t think I ever said no to any invitation. Whenever I go walking, I stop by those small boulangeries, buy a croissant or a baguette and eat it while walking. I have no idea how the French women stay slender and slim here. Must be all that walking.

In Paris, the calorie doesn't count. Click To Tweet
Experience the Laduree´ at Avenue de Champ Elysees. Buy a box of those beautiful colored french macaroons and sit at one of the park benches facing the Arc de Triumph. Viola!
paris mistakes

Not greeting the shop owners

In Paris, whenever you enter a shop or cafe, it is customary to greet the staff or the owner a simple “Bonjour” and a smile. It is disrespectful if you enter and leave the shop without greeting its staff, especially if you browsed for too long, disturbed their item displays and left without buying anything.
You need to greet “Bonjour” when entering and say “Merci, Au revoir” (thank you, goodbye) when leaving. They will also greet you the same and they will give you a great service that you expect.

Read : Recommended Affordable Hotels in Paris

Read : Recommended Activities to do in Paris

Enjoy Paris et Merci!

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Add Your Comment
  1. Reply

    The last time I was in Paris I was pleasantly surprised about how every time I entered in a cafe the owner came personally and greeted – like I was a precious guests. Who said French were rude?
    tip: if you are European under 25 years old, you`re most likely to have a free pass to museums.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 16, 2016

      Nice tip about the museums! I remember too there are also days that museums entrance are free but just cant remember which one? Maybe I’m because Im not really museumy. Yup I never encountered French snubs either but thats the reputation.

        • nina
        • March 29, 2016

        Museums used to be free every first Sunday of the month. Not anymore…
        Only on Bastille day now.
        Still free for Europeans under 25years old.

          • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
          • March 30, 2016

          Thank you for sharing this tip! Afraid im past the 25yrs old limit hahahaha. Thanks for dropping by too and visit again soon!

  2. Reply

    Helpful tips! 🙂
    I was cautious of most of these. But I did visit Versailles, not sure if I would visit Paris again I did make a trip there.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 20, 2016

      I guess Versailles depends on what is your travel personality. I enjoyed it more when I went on a couple of daytrips outside Paris. I will definitely visit Versailles soon, its a great excuse to go be a Parisienne again even for just a few days.

      Thanks for dropping by and come back anytime soon!

  3. Great tips Carla 🙂 Totally agree with on the fact that when in Paris, do not bother counting the calories. The baked goodies and desserts are too good to avoid 🙂

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 21, 2016

      High five!! Paris is a disaster waiting to happen if you are too obsessed with counting calories hahahaha.

      Thanks for dropping by and come back again soon!

  4. Reply

    Basic french greeting as simple as “Bonjour!”! We walked in a boulangerie one time and did not greet (common in Singapore right?) and the baker man started to address us in French that it’s customary to greet and acknowledge the person there. Haha! At least that’s how I understood it with his hand gestures. We ended up all laughing! 🙂

    • Garth
    • September 17, 2016

    Great tips! I bought the book of carnet tickets last time we visited. Not heard of the bracelet or ring scam before, so thanks for sharing that tip!

    • Dan
    • November 10, 2016

    These tips are spot on. We just went the first time and didnt use a taxi, didnt count calories, and saved buying metro tickets. We got the same box of macaroons and still have the box. BUT, we really did enjoy Versaille, Luckily it was very convenient to where we were staying

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