What Tourists Need to Know About Paris
“Urgh, I hate Paris. It’s dirty and crowded and too touristy,” some people will tell you.
“Oooh, it’s my favourite city in the world. It’s beautiful and romantic and has the best food in the world,” others will swoon.
While I don’t know if you’ll love or hate Paris, I do know it’s a city everyone should visit at least once.
1. Say “Hello/Goodbye” when you enter stores and restaurants
Wonder why the woman behind the counter of the boutique you just strolled into is giving you an icy glare? Did you say “bonjour” when you walked in the door? If you didn’t, that’s most likely why she’s giving you the evil eye. It’s not because you’re a tourist. In Paris, it’s imperative to say “Bonjour Madame/Monsieur” when entering a shop or restaurant, and “Merci Madame/Monsieur” when leaving. Smile, say “Bonjour,” and you’ll often get an equally warm response back (and perhaps even offers to help you find something).
2. NOT ALL things in Paris are expensive
While you will find many things in Paris to be quite expensive, Paris does not necessarily have to be a city that sucks all the money out of pockets and bank accounts. After living in the city on a poor student’s budget, I learned some valuable tricks on how to save money while still having a great time in Paris. For example, there are plenty of ways to Eat Cheap in Paris. Plus, walking around the city, taking in the sites, and people-watching for hours cost nothing.
3. Beware of “The Ring Trick”
As you are walking around, enjoying the sights, someone passes you and appears to pick up a gold ring off the floor. They ask if it is yours and say it must be your lucky day as they give you the ring. Only then do they ask you for money; their “family” may also appear at this time to pressure you into paying. The “gold” ring is nothing more than a piece of brass or copper that is totally worthless. You only realize this, of course, once you‘ve handed over your cash.
4. Taxis are expensive, especially at night
Probably because the Metro is so quick and easy to use, taxis in Paris tend to be on the expensive side. A ride that is only a few kilometers long can end up costing you a small fortune. This is especially true late at night, when taxi fares go up even more. This means if you are stuck after the Metro shuts down (at 1 am), you may find yourself having to part with a fat stack of cash just to get home. Stick to the metro or be prepared to pay hefty taxi fees if you decide to travel above ground.
5. Public restrooms are NOT ALWAYS FREE…or easy to find
Finding a public restroom can be a bit on the tricky side in Paris. Great places to look for public restrooms are the many parks scattered throughout the city. Don’t be surprised to find an attendant, however, and be expected to shell out 40 to 50 centimes when you use them. You’ll also see those intimidating automated toilet structures on the streets of Paris. They cost a little bit of money to use, but they do the trick in a pinch. You also can find FREE restrooms in many large department stores.
Pro Tip: If you’re planning to see for yourself What Tourists Need to Know About Paris, make sure to do your research first; also try looking to book your flights using online travel agencies as they tend to, on average, reduce airfare costs by about 43%, a few good ones being Flighthub.com, Travelocity.com, JustFly.com or Expedia.com.