Planning your first trip to Paris? It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement that the City of Lights brings and forget to do your homework (I speak from experience). This can lead to a lot of unnecessary headaches that can easily be avoided.
To avoid catastrophe, here are my 6 rookie mistakes to avoid in Paris. It’s your first trip there, let’s make it memorable… in a good way!
6 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid in Paris
1. Not saying "Bonjour!"
Part of traveling to any new place (especially one as popular as Paris) includes knowing a few basic phrases and common etiquette. Repeat after me: your French does not have to be perfect. It doesn’t matter if your “Bonjour” sounds more like a Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds “Bone-JAW!” Try anyways.
Bonjour is the polite thing to say when you enter a building. Whether it’s a shop, restaurant or museum, show off your manners with a gentle greeting.
2. Forgetting transportation when you arrive in CDG
For many, myself included, you can be so excited to book that flight to Charles de Gaulle that you completely forget how you’re going to leave CDG. Especially after a long flight, you can be too tired to really figure out how to get from the airport to your hotel.
Fortunately, you have many options. If you’re truly wiped out, you can call an Uber. If you’d like to save money using public transportation, the RER B line is a straight shot into central Paris and will take roughly 45 minutes.
You could buy a single ticket for around 10 euros, or choose the Navigo Decouverte, a weekly pass for unlimited rides on all metro, RER, and bus lines in all zones 1-5, which includes Charles de Gaulle airport. The Navigo comes with its own set of specifications, so make sure you’ve read up on it before you commit.
3. Forgetting that most shops are closed Sundays
I must say, I really admire Paris for their commitment to honoring their weekends and taking time off to spend with family. In such a tourist-frequented area, I don’t know that I’d be able to shy away from staying open an extra day.
But most shops will be closed on Sundays. The 24/7 hustle and bustle I know as an American comes to a screeching halt here. Sunday is a day for leisure, make sure you plan that into your schedule.
4. Museums and major sites close on Monday and Tuesdays
Be careful when you plan out the museums and major sites you’d like to visit. Places like the Louvre, d’Orsay and Versailles are closed on either Mondays or Tuesdays. Perhaps it would be a great time to do a little shopping then.
5. Visiting in August
I say this with love, as someone who did visit in August (and doesn’t entirely regret it)… this isn’t the month to go. Parisians like to take vacations in August, and will close their businesses during that time to avoid the hassle. So your options for food and shopping will be a bit more limited.
In addition, August is hot. I say this as a midwesterner, I was broiling. And because many famous spots (like Versailles and the Lourve) aren’t air conditioned, you may start melting yourself.
It’s best to visit during shoulder seasons, like the spring or fall. Both are lovely with smaller crowds and manageable weather.
6. Not drinking tap water
The tap water in Paris is perfectly safe to drink, and will save you money too! When you ask for water at a restaurant, make sure to specify (politely) that you would like tap water. Otherwise you may end up with sparkling or bottled water, which can add to your bill.
Save money, drink tap water.
Did these tips help prepare you for your first trip to Paris? Hope so! Lemme know in the comments!
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