TRAVEL TIPS

Paris

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1. Travel light

Many buildings, especially in Paris, have narrow wooden staircases and no elevator… So make sure you pack small and light luggage if you want to avoid hassle when you arrive!

2. Get a credit card with a chip

Cards in France have been equipped with chips for decades and you have to punch in a pin to pay for anything.

3. Getting cash at ATMs

Note that many French cafés and restaurants have a minimum amount for credit card payment (often 10-15€), below which you will have to pay in cash. Ask for the closest ATM (“le distributeur le plus proche”) in a shop or café in order to get directions. Most French ATMs accept foreign cards (Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, etc).

4. Free water!

Ask for “une carafe d’eau” if you simply want tap water that won’t cost you anything.

5. Ask for the check

When you want the check, be sure to ask for it. Just say, “L’addition, s’il vous plaît!” because they will not bring it to you if you don’t (unless they’re in a hurry to free the table!). French people love staying at the table talking forever, even after the traditional end-of-meal “café”.

6. Tipping

It is not required to tip every time you eat out, since waiters’ salaries are accounted for in the price. However, it is common to leave a tip when you have been particularly happy with the service or food and want to reward the waiter.

7. Opening hours

Shops will often be closed at lunch time (12-2pm), especially outside of Paris. And they will close around 7-7:30pm. Most of them will be closed on Sundays and national holidays. For restaurants, be aware they do not stay open all day! You can have lunch from 12 to 2pm and dinner from 7pm to 10-11pm. There are exceptions, especially if you are in Paris and touristic areas.

8. Wireless access

Most places will have free WIFI (wee fee) but you might have to ask for “le code”. If you are a customer in a café or a restaurant they will be very happy to help.

9. Get a French phone chip

If you’re staying for a while of if your provider doesn’t have an international data plan, get a cheap phone chip. The most common companies in France are Orange, Free, SFR and Bouygues. They have shops everywhere that you can easily find through a quick Google search.

10. Pack good walking shoes

Paris in itself is not too large, and its cute little streets and grand avenues will tempt you to walk long distances. Be prepared with a pair of comfy flat shoes!

11. Transportation

The most convenient way to get around in Paris is to get a pass. The one you take will depend on the length of your stay:

  • 1-5 days: Paris Visite Pass. Get the “Paris Centre” (zones 1-3) pass to get around the main attractions, and then buy individual tickets to go to specific places the suburbs (eg. the airport, Versailles or Disneyland). With this pass you will get a few discounts in some Paris attractions. More info here: http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/r_61634/paris-visite/
  • Week / month(s): Navigo Découverte pass. Same as the Paris Visite Pass, get zones 1-3 of the metro. Please note that, in this case, weekly passes will invariably start on Mondays and monthly passes will start on the 1st day of the month; so if you’re arriving in-between, purchase tickets that will take you to the beginning of the next period first. For example: if you arrive on a Friday to leave on the next Sunday, get a 2-day pass first, and then a 1-week pass starting from Monday.

12. Getting around:  Arrondissements (boroughs) and Quartiers (neighbourhoods)

The city of Paris is divided in 20 arrondissements. The first one is in the center, and the following ones spiral outwards in a clock-wise direction. Most of the famous tourist attractions can be found in one of the central 8 arrondissements. When asking for an address you inquire: “Quel arrondissement?” (which borough?) in French. Having the information you will be immediately located, knowing how far is the place from where you are.

Also there are les Quartiers (the neighbourhoods). One of the most famous is the Quartier Latin (the Latin Quarter) that spreads across the 5th and 6th arrondissements and where the Sorbonne University is located. Another one is the Marais in the 4th arrondissement, where many trendy shops and cafés are located.

Paris map

 

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