I first moved to Paris in 2010 for a 3-month internship. But the City of Lights deserves much more time to be explored. That's why I returned, years later, and settled down in Paris for some time.
Below are some practical tips I wish someone had explained to me when I first moved there. Most of them apply not only to Paris but to the whole country of France.
Supermarket prices can vary a lot. If you live outside of Paris, do your shopping there, as the prices in the capital tend to rise. If you live in Paris, however, you can still find good prices if you know where to look.
The website Que Choisir (www.quechoisir.org) compared the prices of the supermarkets nationwide and concluded that, for their tested cart, the average price was 410€. They found that, in Paris, the cheapest place where you can do your shopping is at the Casino Géant, 98 Boulevard Masséna, 75013, with an average price of 375€, below the national average.
On the other end of the range, with prices that can reach 491€ for the sample shopping cart, you’ll find the chain Monoprix, which tends to be quite expensive.
Other cheap alternatives are Leader Price and Dia. Carrefour is also a good choice, with good prices and good quality.
The ticket restaurant are vouchers given to the employee by the employer when there is no restaurant or canteen at the workplace. These vouchers are a way of the employees getting a salary complement that is not subject to taxes and that allows them to pay for their meal.
The value of the ticket restaurant varies in different companies and the employee can only be attributed one per day. They can be used in restaurants but not exclusively. Boulangeries and many supermarkets also take them, although the shopkeeper may refuse to do so. You can never be given money back in the case where your bill is of a smaller value than the ticket restaurant you used.
La Poste is the French post office. It is open at varied times, depending on the location, and you will find one not far from you.
Sometimes, with bureaucratic issues in France, emails are not sufficient, as you might send them and never get answers. A more effective way to have companies replying to you is by sending a letter, especially a lettre recommandée, which means you’ll have a way of tracking what you sent and legal proof of how you sent something, in case you ever need it.
Boulangeries are quintessentially French. You will find them everywhere and, oftentimes, they will make your mouth water. Especially if you come from places like the UK, you will probably be used to buying your bread in the supermarket. When moving to Paris, do yourself a favor and use boulangeries as much as you can.
Boulangeries are full of awesome fresh baguettes, in a wide range of varieties, always with a great quality. The simplest one (and very tasty) is just called “baguette”. You can also ask for a “tradition”, which will be slightly more expensive but different and amazing. And then there are all the alternatives to explore: pain de campagne, aux céréales, de seigle…
In the boulangeries you will also discover the wonderful French patisserie. Their cakes are amazing, come in all different types, and you will want to try every single one of them.
Both mobile phones and landline numbers in France have ten digits. You will find that people tend to say those digits in groups of two. If you come from abroad, you will probably, at some point, need to call France from abroad and, in that case, pay attention to the following:
Standard mobile number: 06.XX.XX.XX.XX (or 07.XX.XX.XX.XX)
What to dial if you’re abroad: 0033.6.99.99.99.99 (0033 is the French country code. Notice that you drop the first “0” when adding the country code).
France is divided into 101 départements, which are an administrative division of the country. Paris is département 75.
Postcodes are related to the départements. A postcode is always composed of five digits, the first two being the number of the département. So, for example, if you see the postcode 94100, you will know that it stands for a place in the département 94.
With Parisian postcodes, you can tell not only the département but also the arrondissement. For example, 75008 stands for a place in Paris in the 8th arrondissement.
Let’s hope you’ll never have to use them but, in case you do, here they are:
15 – Samu (medical emergencies)
17 – Police
18 – Sapeurs-pompiers (Fire Brigade – fire, gas leak, accidents, and medical emergencies)
112 – European Emergency Number – it redirects all the calls from the above-mentioned numbers.