Learning a few key things to prepare you for a pleasant trip to Paris never hurt! We’ve provided some small but helpful tips for a better trip to the City of Light.
1. Learn basic French.
- Bonjour – Hello
- Merci – Thank you
- Oui– Yes
- Pardon – Excuse Me
- S’il vous plait – Please
- Au Revoir – Goodbye
2. Tipping is not required.
Compared to America, tipping is not required in Paris. In fact, a service charge, or “service compris” (tip included) may already be included in your meal that essentially serves as your tip. If you received greatest service and you feel generous, you can include a 5-10% tip but do so in cash as there is no tip line when you pay with credit card.
3. Restrooms are not always free.
Public restrooms are not always free; you will most likely need to pay at least 0.50 euros to use them. When possible, use the restroom at a cafe or restaurant before you leave. Otherwise, make sure you have change on you!
4. Avoid restaurants in touristy spots.
Cafe and restaurants around touristy spots such as the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe charge a premium on food and drinks. Walk a few blocks away from these hot spots to enjoy more affordable, authentic meals.
5. Ask for the check at the end of the meal.
Unlike in the United States, you will need to ask for your check at the end of the meal – don’t expect the waiters to bring it to you.
6. Take the time to eat your meal.
The French love to savor their food and drinks, so expect to eat your meal at a slower pace than you would in America. Because the French are not in a rush to finish the meal, the service may be a tad slower than what you’re used to. Don’t fret – just enjoy the conversation and presence of your company!
7. Take the metro everywhere.
- Cabs are expensive – walk with your own two feet instead! Nothing is as great as taking a leisurely walk and exploring all the nooks and crannies of Paris. If you need to arrive to a destination faster, then take metro. It’s reliable and efficient.
8. Avoid visiting in August.
Parisians are on summer holiday in August so you may find many shops closed. Plus, the hottest months to visit are July and August. Despite the summer holiday, peak season in Paris is June to August, so expect large crowds and long lines at many of the main attractions.
9. Parisians love to smoke.
If you hate the smell of smoke as I do, this will be bothersome to you when visiting the City of Light. If you suffer from asthma, be sure to bring an inhaler.
10. Don't go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Like with most iconic monuments of a city, going to the top is expensive. There are plenty of other free spots in the city to climb and get a view of Paris that includes the Eiffel Tower. For views of this, go to the top of Tour Montparnasse or head to Montmartre.
11. Ask for tap water at restaurants.
Otherwise, waiters may give you bottled water and they’re not cheap. And not to mention bad for the environment! Tap water is safe to drink in Paris.
12. Parisians love to eat late.
Many cafes and restaurants open for lunch from 12pm to 2pm and re-open for dinner around 7pm to 10:30pm. This is actually most of Europe as Europeans generally eat their meals at a later time than Americans.