Paris is one of the most romantic and cosmopolitan cities in Europe. Now that’s really saying something! When you visit this amazing metropolis, you see immediately why so many people make it a stop on round-the-world trips. Although beautiful, Paris is also pretty fast-paced and frantic. If you’re planning to visit Paris, then here are some tips to help you avoid sticking out too much!
The first tip I can offer is to learn at least a few French phrases. In France, like a lot of continental Europe, English is widely taught and spoken. You’ll usually be able to find someone who speaks decent English, but they may not always be that friendly! Although a lot of Parisians do speak English, many of them are very proud of their language and culture. If you approach them and begin speaking in English, they won’t appreciate how presumptuous you’re being. No one’s expecting you to be fluent, but learning a few common words and phrases will be highly appreciated. I’ll start you off with one you’ll be using a lot: “parlez-vous un petit peu d’anglais?”.
You should be on the lookout for pickpockets in Paris, particularly when you’re passing through metro stations. This is a big risk in any European city, especially if you’re a tourist. The worst spots for it are on the metro, on lines that go past many popular attractions. French pickpockets know a tourist a mile off, and will see you as an easy target. Luckily, there are some easy ways around this. The easiest precaution to take is simply making your valuables harder to reach. Put them in smaller pockets deep in your bag, rather than carrying them on your person. Stay vigilant about common tactics as well. Many pickpockets wait for that crushing swarm of people getting on or off a train to dip their hands into people’s bags and pockets. You can find a more complete guide on the French US Embassy website.
Finally, be sure to get a lot of navigation materials if you’re planning to get around yourself. Most tourists in Paris, and a lot of the locals to be honest, rely entirely on public transport. This is mainly due to how hard it is to get around in a car! Paris is a truly ancient settlement, and many of the roads were built for horses and coaches. This of course leads to a lot of traffic jams. There are odd-angled boulevards and avenues wherever you go, and finding somewhere to park can be an absolute nightmare. This has given rise to a lot of services such as Paris France Parking. This allows travellers and day-trippers to reserve spaces on certain roads. In general, my advice about driving in Paris is not to! If you are though, make sure to research rush hours, routes to attractions, and parking.
Hopefully, these three tips will do something about the big “tourist” label hanging over your head! Visiting Paris can feel a little daunting. However, a little preparation really goes a long way!