Going to Paris is magical in most circumstances, but there are a few tips and tricks that can make it even better. I have been teaching French for 40 years and have taken 19 student trips to Paris. Each time I go I learn something more. Here are 10 tips that will help you on your next trip.
1. There is a taxi scam at the airport. Someone will approach you and ask if you need a taxi. When you say yes he will lead you down a hallway and outside to where a taxi is waiting. Unfortunately, this type of taxi can charge you double the normal rate. Follow the taxi signs in the airport and you will be well taken care of, and you will have more money to pay for the adventures waiting for you.
2. When your taxi drops you off at your hotel, ask if you can make a reservation to be picked up at the end of your stay. If you ask your hotel to do it they will charge you for the service.
3. There are several ways to enter the Louvre. I have always found that going in through the metro station was the easiest. Your stop is Palais-Royal.
4. Go early to museums before the lines get long.
5. Walk as much as possible because you will see more, and you will discover new things.
6. Learn a few basics of the language. It makes a difference in the way you are treated if you make an effort to communicate.
7. Café culture should be a separate article but here are some basics.
· It is less expensive to eat at the counter than at a table.
· Don’t just order coffee unless you want an expresso. Ask for a café americano if you want an American coffee.
· Don’t expect to rush through a meal in a café. The French believe food should be savored.
· In most cafés, the tip is included but you can add extra if the service is good.
· Read the menu that is posted outside to check the offerings and the prices.
8. Toilets could also be an entire lesson. Here are a few pointers.
· You need to tip to use some toilets, so have some change ready.
· If you use the bathroom in a café make sure to order something.
9. Book your tickets for attractions in advance. Booking in advance makes your experience much easier. You can often skip the lines, and you can at least not stand in line to buy the ticket. Go to the website of the attraction, or go to the online site of the Paris tourist office www.parisjetaime.com
10. Buy metro tickets in advance if you can. The metro ticket is good for both the metro and the bus. Hold onto your ticket until you leave the station because there are people who can check to see if you have a ticket, and if you do not have it you could be fined. Take a quick tutorial on reading a metro map, and it will make traveling around much easier.