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13 Insider Tips You Should Know Before Going to Paris

Traveling to Paris can be both exciting and a bit overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. From understanding local customs to knowing practical tips, there are several essential things that can help make your trip smoother, so we’ve pulled together these Paris travel tips to help make your first time in Paris go that much smoother.

Paris Travel Tips

Familiarizing yourself with these insider tips will not only save you time but also enhance your overall experience.

These insider's tips tell you everything you need to know for your trip to Paris.

1) Check Metro times:

This may sound basic, but it’s not. The metro is one of the best ways to get around Paris—not only is it good for your wallet, but it’s also pretty convenient.

That said, one of the things that most people don’t realize is that the metro doesn’t run 24 hours- and if you happen to be out later making friends (cough), then there’s a possibility that you might be the last train back to your hotel.

Metro trains usually start running around 5:30 AM and stop around 1:00 AM. On weekends, trains run a little later, until about 2:00 AM.

Make sure to know the first and last train times for your stops. This can help you avoid being stuck far from your hotel late at night.

During rush hours, trains come more often, about every 2-3 minutes. Outside of these times, you might wait 5-10 minutes for the next train.

Keep an eye on any planned maintenance or strikes. These can affect the Metro schedule and your travel plans.

Having a Metro map handy may sound simple but knowing where you are at all times is an important Paris travel tip. You can find them at Metro stations or download one on your phone.

Check online schedules or apps to plan your trips. This way, you can enjoy the city without worrying about missing your train.

Things you should before you visit Paris. An insider's guide.

2) Buy museum passes

You can’t go to Paris and not check out any of the wonderful museums- and if you’re going to do that- then you NEED to get the museum pass.

This museum pass is our favorite

Passes come in different options. You can get one for 2, 4, or 6 days. Prices range from €55 to €85.

The pass lets you skip the ticket lines. Just show it at the entrance, and you’re good to go.

You can visit many famous museums. These include the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Rodin Museum.

If you plan to visit more than a couple of museums, the pass is worth it. There’s also a pass that includes the hop-on, hop-off pass, and over 90 attractions.

Plus, it helps you make the most of your time in the city.

13 things you should know before traveling to Paris.

3) Learn basic French phrases

Knowing a few French phrases while visiting Paris can make your trip smoother and more enjoyable.

Here are a few simple words/phrases to remember.

  • Bonjour (Good morning/Hello)
  • Bonsoir (Good evening)
  • Merci (Thank you) and Merci beaucoup (Thank you very much).
  • If you need to ask for something, “Je voudrais” (I would like) is super helpful. For example, “Je voudrais un café” (I would like a coffee).
  • S’il vous plaît (Please)
  • Excusez-moi (Excuse me)
  • Au revoir (Goodbye)
  • To ask for the menu, say “La carte, s’il vous plaît”.
  • If you have food allergies, let your server know by saying “Je suis allergique à” followed by the allergen.
  • Don’t forget “L’addition, s’il vous plaît” when you’re ready to pay your bill.
  • Où est (Where is). For example, “Où est la station de métro?” (Where is the metro station?).
  • C’est loin? (Is it far?) + C’est proche?(Is it near?)
  • Pouvez-vous m’aider? (Can you help me?)
13 tips on how to make the most of your time in Paris.

4) Visit the Louvre on a Weekday

If visiting the Mona Lisa is on your list, be sure to visit the Louvre on a weekday.

Weekends tend to be busier, which means longer lines and more crowds. However, going on a weekday will give you a more relaxed experience. Additionally, museums are generally less crowded in the evenings.

You’ll be able to see the artwork without constantly having to navigate through large groups of people.

Note: The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, so plan around that.

Wednesdays might also be more crowded as people assume the day after the closure will be less busy. Fridays have extended hours until 9:45 pm, offering a great opportunity to explore after dinner.

Weekdays are generally quieter, and you’ll have a better view of popular pieces like the Mona Lisa. It’s also smart to enter through the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel entrance, where lines are typically shorter.

You can also take your time to appreciate lesser-known works. If you want to avoid lines altogether, consider buying skip-the-line tickets with a guided tour like this one. We highly recommend it because it is one of our top Paris travel tips!

Bonus tip: Free Museum Days

Many museums in Paris offer free entry on the first Sunday of the month. Take advantage of this to visit popular spots like the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay.

5) Eat at a Local Bistro

Eating at a local bistro in Paris is a must, not only because the food is great, but you’ll also not pay tourist prices. Bistros offer a cozy, authentic French dining experience that you can’t miss. Local bistros are often family-run. You’ll get to experience the warmth and hospitality of Parisian culture firsthand.

Make sure you eat at the right time. Lunch at Parisian bistros typically lasts from 12 to 2 p.m., and dinner usually starts around 7 p.m.

Want to try classic French dishes? Order a croque-monsieur or coq au vin. Pairing it with glass of French wine is never a bad idea either.

Look for places where locals eat. These spots are often off the beaten path but worth the effort. Don’t be shy to ask locals for recommendations, either.

Note: tipping is not mandatory as the service is included in the bill, but leaving a small amount (5-10%) is appreciated if the service is good.

13 tips on how to make the most of your time in Paris.

6) Walk along the Seine

Walking along the Seine is a must when you’re in Paris, and no, most tourists don’t add this to their itinerary while in Paris. This iconic river runs through the heart of the city, offering stunning views and a peaceful atmosphere.

We suggest you start near the Musée d’Orsay and stroll all the way to the Pont de l’Alma. It’s a great way to see Paris’s most famous landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral. The walkways are car-free, making your walk relaxing and enjoyable.

The bridges over the Seine are also worth admiring. The Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge, and it offers a great vantage point to view the river.

Walking along the Seine is especially magical in the evening. The city lights reflect on the water, creating a romantic ambiance perfect for a leisurely stroll.

You can also find a ton of cafés and benches along the way if you want to take a break. These spots are perfect for taking a break and enjoying the scenery.

Looking for the best views of the Eiffel Tower? We have you covered

7) Best Views of the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, and there are several fantastic spots in Paris where you can enjoy stunning views of this architectural marvel. Here are some of the best places to capture the Eiffel Tower from unique perspectives:

1. Trocadéro Gardens:

This is arguably the most famous spot for photos of the Eiffel Tower. The Trocadéro Gardens offer a perfect vantage point with the tower in the background.

  • Tips: Arrive early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid crowds and capture the best light.

2. Montparnasse Tower

The observation deck on the 56th floor of the Montparnasse Tower provides a panoramic view of Paris, including a stunning perspective of the Eiffel Tower.

  • Tips: Visit around sunset for breathtaking views of the city as the lights come on.

3. The Roof of Galeries Lafayette

This department store’s rooftop terrace offers a great view of the Eiffel Tower, especially from its glass dome.

  • Tips: The terrace is free to access, but be sure to check the opening hours and availability.

4. Bir-Hakeim Bridge

This bridge offers a unique, framed view of the Eiffel Tower, making it a great spot for photography.

  • Tips: Visit during the day or at sunset for a picturesque view. The bridge itself is also a lovely spot for a stroll.

5. Champ de Mars

The spacious gardens around the Eiffel Tower offer a great view, especially from the lawns near the tower. It’s also a perfect spot for a picnic.

  • Tips: This area is especially beautiful at sunset, with the tower lighting up against the evening sky.

6. Rue de l’Université

This street provides a charming, framed view of the Eiffel Tower, often seen between elegant Parisian buildings.

  • Tips: Walk along this street for a less crowded, picturesque view.

7. Seine River Cruise

A boat cruise on the Seine offers a unique and dynamic view of the Eiffel Tower from the water.

  • Tips: Choose a dinner cruise for a romantic experience or a daytime cruise to see the tower’s details up close.

8. Parc du Champ-de-Mars

This park offers a beautiful, open view of the Eiffel Tower, perfect for leisurely walks or picnics.

  • Tips: The view is spectacular at sunset, providing a golden hour glow over the tower.

9. Rooftop Bars

Some of Paris’s rooftop bars, such as Le Perchoir or the Sky Bar at the Hotel Raphael, offer stunning views of the Eiffel Tower.

  • Tips: Enjoy a drink or a meal while taking in the skyline. Reservations are often recommended, especially at sunset.

10. Montmartre

From the steps of Sacré-Cœur Basilica, you can get a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower across the cityscape.

  • Tips: Visit early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds and enjoy the view in peace.

These locations offer some of the best views of the Eiffel Tower, providing both iconic photo opportunities and memorable experiences. Whether you’re looking for a perfect spot for a photograph, a romantic evening, or a serene moment with the tower in the background, Paris has it all.

8) Stay in a charming arrondissement

Choosing the right arrondissement can make your stay in Paris unforgettable and safe. Each district offers its own unique charm and character, catering to different preferences and ensuring a pleasant experience.

1. 1st Arrondissement (Louvre)

  • Charm: At the heart of Paris, this area is close to major attractions like the Louvre, Tuileries Garden, and Palais Royal.
  • Safety: Generally safe, especially due to the high tourist presence. However, stay vigilant against pickpockets.

2. 3rd and 4th Arrondissements (Le Marais)

  • Charm: Trendy with lots of boutiques, galleries, and lively nightlife. Perfect for exploring local culture and history.
  • Safety: Safe and bustling, but keep an eye on your belongings in crowded areas.

3. 18th Arrondissement (Montmartre)

  • Charm: Bohemian feel with an artistic history, picturesque streets, and stunning views from the Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
  • Safety: While charming, some areas can be less safe, especially at night. Stick to well-lit and populated streets.

4. 6th Arrondissement (Saint-Germain-des-Prés)

  • Charm: Mix of parks, shops, and cafes, making it ideal for a relaxed family trip.
  • Safety: Very safe and family-friendly, perfect for leisurely exploration.

5. 15th Arrondissement (Vaugirard)

  • Charm: Quieter and more residential, offering a local feel while still being close to major sites.
  • Safety: One of the safest areas, ideal for a more laid-back experience.

6. 10th Arrondissement (Canal Saint-Martin)

  • Charm: Blend of cultures and a lively atmosphere with plenty of cafes, bars, and vibrant streets to explore.
  • Safety: Generally safe but can be busy and crowded. Be mindful of your surroundings, especially in the evenings.

By choosing the right arrondissement based on your preferences and being aware of safety tips, you can ensure a memorable and secure stay in Paris. Always remember to respect local customs, stay vigilant in crowded areas, and enjoy the unique charm each district has to offer.

9) Use euros, not cards

When in Paris, it’s best to have euros in cash for most transactions. Small shops, cafes, and markets often prefer cash. While cards are accepted in many places, some small businesses may impose a minimum amount for card payments.

Carrying smaller denominations of euros, like 5, 10, and 20€, is beneficial. Larger bills can be inconvenient as some places may not accept them due to concerns over counterfeit money.

Public restrooms in Paris sometimes charge a small fee, usually around 0.50€. It’s handy to have coins for these situations, as many places don’t accept cards for such small amounts.

Relying on cash helps you avoid issues with international card fees or problems with card machines. Using euros can make your experience smoother and help you enjoy Paris without worrying about payment issues.

10) Beware of Pickpockets

Pickpocketing is a common issue in crowded areas such as tourist attractions, public transportation, and busy streets. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

  • Keep Valuables Secure: Use a money belt or neck pouch to keep your money, passport, and credit cards safe. Avoid keeping valuables in easily accessible pockets or bags.
  • Stay Alert: Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded places. If someone bumps into you or distracts you, check your belongings immediately.
  • Close Your Bag: Always keep your bag zipped or closed, and hold it in front of you when in crowded places or on public transport.

Read: Best travel purse for Europe

12) Avoid Scams

Here’s the thing- there’s a pretty good chance that either you or someone traveling with you will be the target of a scam in Paris. Scammers often target tourists. Here are some common scams to watch out for:

  • Petition Scam: Someone may approach you asking to sign a petition. While you’re distracted, an accomplice may try to steal your belongings.
  • Friendship Bracelet Scam: A scammer may try to tie a bracelet on your wrist and then demand payment. Firmly decline and walk away.
  • Fake Charity: People may ask for donations for fake charities. Politely refuse and keep moving.

13) Getting Around Paris

Getting around Paris can be easy with the right information. The city offers a variety of transportation options to help you explore everything it has to offer, and figuring out your options before landing at the airport is part of the key Paris travel tips.

Public Transportation Options

Paris has an extensive public transportation network. You can use buses, metros, and trains. The metro is the fastest and can get you nearly anywhere. Buses are great for sightseeing since they travel above ground. The RER trains help you reach farther destinations, like the airports or suburbs.

You should get a Navigo card or a Paris Visite pass. These cards allow unlimited travel for a set number of days. Keep some change on you, as you might need it for smaller purchases or if you want to use public restrooms.

Navigating the Metro System

The Paris metro is made up of 16 lines, each with its own number and color, and learning how to navigate it is at the top of our Paris travel tips. You’ll see maps at all stations and on trains. Listen for announcements about the next stops. Trains come every few minutes, so even if you miss one, you won’t wait long for the next.

Stations are often named after the streets or landmarks they are near. Be sure to know the name of the station nearest to your destination. Validate your ticket by inserting it into the turnstile. Hold on to this ticket as you may need it when you leave the station.

Bike Rentals and Car Services

Biking is a fun way to see the city. Paris has a bike rental system called Vélib’. You can rent a bike from any station and return it to another. It’s affordable and many streets have bike lanes. You’ll enjoy seeing Paris at your own pace.

For car services, you can use taxis or ride-sharing apps like Uber. Taxis can be found at stands or hailed on the street. Be aware that taxis can be more expensive, especially during peak hours. Ride-sharing services are usually more affordable and convenient but always check the fare estimate before you book.

Paris is a bucket list item for a lot of people- and rightfully so- it’s a magical city with all the sights and sounds that you could want so getting the most out of your trip requires a little preparation.

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