Tips for traveling to Paris

Jennifer Bonn
Jen Bonn

When you are traveling especially to another country, small details can make a huge difference in your trip. There are cultural differences as well as information that you learn only by traveling to a destination several times. France is a good example of a destination that you will enjoy more with a few insider tips. France is a beautiful country rich in history. The food is amazing, and the French are wonderful but there are quite a few cultural differences. Knowing a few of these will help make your trip more enjoyable. Here are a few ideas that will help you enjoy the city of lights.

· Keep your metro ticket until you have left the station, not just the train. The controleurs (ticket checkers) with green jackets can ask for your tickets and fine you if you do not have them. They are notorious for not accepting any excuse.

· The metro ticket is also good for the bus.

· If you are traveling with a student group, you can ask for a reduced rate at the metro ticket window. There is some paperwork to fill out, but it is worth it.

· Travel light. Hotel rooms are smaller and so are the elevators. Big bags can cause problems.

· Put your phone on airplane mode to avoid roaming charges.

· Sign up for Skype or Viber to communicate globally.

· When you enter an establishment, greet the people working there. It is very rude not to do this.

· Standing at the counter in a café is cheaper than sitting at a table.

· Meals at cafés cannot be rushed. If you are in a hurry, order something at a fast-food restaurant or street vendor.

· If you do not finish your plate in a restaurant, you might insult the cook. In France, food preparation is an art and they really want to please you.

· Even though the tip is included in your meal, if you thought the service was good, you should leave a little extra.

· The ATM is your best bet for money but it’s always a good idea to take out a few euros at the airport or from your local bank which will order them for you.

· Alert your bank and your credit cards that you will be traveling.

· Steak tartar is raw hamburger.

· Pepto Bismal could be a big help if something does not agree with you. You can buy chewable tablets.

· If there is an emergency in a building or someone gets lost, agree on a spot to meet. I always told my children to go to the front of the building. It came in handy when my daughter went to the restroom three minutes before they evacuated us for a bomb threat.

· If you can read a metro map, you cannot get lost. The ends of the lines are the directions. Each line has 2 directions. Circles indicate a correspondence where 2 or more lines connect.

· When you arrive at your hotel, keep a copy of the hotel’s address with you in case you are ever lost when you are out. If this happens just hop in a taxi and show the driver the address.

· Dress in layers. Weather in France can change quickly.

· Wear comfortable walking shoes.

· Leave anything valuable at home.

· Keep all money, phones, and passports in a closed bag/purse/pouch in front of you. Do not leave anything in a pocket or in your back pants pocket or backpack.

· The best way to enter the Louvre is through the Palais-Royal metro stop.

· You should buy a converter and adapter for electricity before you leave.

· Stamps and postcards can all be purchased at stores called tabacs.

· There is a wonderful spot in the Luxembourg Gardens to picnic, but which side you can sit on alternates each day so just follow the natives.

  • Be careful of something called a faux taxi. They are taxis that do not have to regulate their price. Only use the taxis with the taxi sign on top and don’t hesitate to ask how much it will cost to arrive at your destination.
  • Try to speak the language even if it is just merci, and bonjour.
  • On the metro, you always let people descend before you climb on.
  • On the metro, if an older person, a handicapped person, a pregnant woman, or a woman with small children climbs on, you should give up your seat for them.
  • When asking for directions do not jump in front of someone and just say “Où se trouve?” Begin with a polite opening such as “Bonjour Madame “
  • Bring dryer sheets to put in your suitcase to keep clothes smelling nice.
  • Bring one or 2 plastic grocery bags to put laundry in.
  • When you go to Montmartre and want to have your picture drawn, it’s good to know that you are supposed to haggle over the price. It’s also a good idea to say that if you do not like it, you will not buy it. You do not have to pay until after the picture is done.

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I am passionate about running, parenting, education, and self-help information. I enjoy writing articles that will offer readers the information needed to help them in some way. I recently retired from teaching French and Spanish for forty years. I run every day and have done all kinds of races from 5ks to ultra-marathons. I have three children and three grandchildren. I write for several magazines in my area, I am a contributor and in charge of the Pinterest board for a parenting magazine called Screamin Mamas, and I have a second book about to be released through Loving, Healing Press called 101 Tips to Ease Your Burdens.

Kennesaw, GA

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