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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Enjoy Paris et Merci!
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