5 things I wish I’d known about Paris before visiting

Paris has got to be my favourite travel destination in Europe. I’ve loved my time there each visit, and have been itching to book to go again as soon as I’m on the Eurostar home!

It can take a little while to get used to the French way of doing things, so a little preparation in advance will go a long way and help you settle in quicker when you arrive, and really get the most out of your time in Paris.

Having a picnic is completely normal in Paris

One of the things we never really did in Paris (so far at least) is go somewhere nice and have a picnic.

To someone from the UK, this is a totally alien concept. You might see a few people doing this in some of the London parks, but elsewhere having picnics in public places isn’t really a ‘normal’ thing to do unfortunately!

In Paris however, both locals and visitors alike regularly take some food and a bottle of wine to the banks of the Seine or one of the many parks across the city, and sit for a few hours to relax.

On our next trip, I’d love to do exactly this, on the lawns behind the Eiffel Tower. I hear it’s a bit of a tourist trap, with people trying to sell drinks constantly, but I think chilling and watching the Eiffel Tower’s lights sparkle at sunset would be a lovely thing to do!

It isn’t like the movies

Paris is a beautiful city, but it really isn’t like how the movies portray it.

Like pretty much every city, Paris does have some very rough looking areas, and much of the city is covered in graffiti and the usual rubbish you tend to find in big cities, as well as literally thousands of people trying to sell you little plastic Eiffel Tower models or friendship bracelets.

Speaking of the bracelets – Paris is awash with scammers, especially at the tourist hotspots. Again, this is nothing unusual for a big city, but it’s worth remembering that it is a big city and does come with all of that sort of ‘stuff’ despite the glamour and romance that the movies might show!

The good news however is that it’s easy to look past all of this and really appreciate Paris for what it is.

Take your time, and walk when you can

The Metro in Paris is very good and I’d definitely recommend it as an easy and cheap way to get around, however some of my best memories have come from just wandering around the city, or choosing to walk instead of take the Metro.

You really do miss so much if you’re on the metro underground! If you’re staying close to the centre of Paris, I’d really recommend walking in to the centre at least one morning during your stay, and keep your eyes open for a boulangerie (bakery) on your way to wherever you’re going for an AMAZING croissant, and stop somewhere for coffee too.

You’ll see Paris ‘for real’ rather than just popping up above ground at each tourist site! There’s so much more to see in Paris than just the big attractions.

Take your time, and take a walk.

Book what you can ahead of time

One tip that I think everyone repeats is to book at least some of your attractions before you arrive. It will be cheaper and you won’t have to queue as long.

The Eiffel Tower for example attracts queues of several hours, which you can (for the most part) skip if booking in advance.
Tours at places like the Notre-Dame also sell out, is it’s worth booking early while spaces are available.

It’s also worth researching the best places to buy and collect tickets – I know some museums and galleries are part of the same group, so tickets can be bought or collected from other quieter ones to avoid the longer queues at the one(s) you want to visit.

Remember – C’est la vie 🤷🏼‍♂️

According to France24.com, France’s workers are among the most likely to go on strike in Europe.

During each of our visits to France, we have been affected by more than one strike or bout of industrial action.

France has a history for revolt, it’s almost engrained in to the French way of life. The French people are passionate and proud of who they are, and they stand up for themselves when they don’t agree with something, By taking industrial action, they collectively protect their way of life.

It’s admirable – I really wish we in the UK had the same outlook, and we as a general public stood up for ourselves once in a while against our government (but let’s not get in to that!)

It is worth remembering that during a visit to France, there may be some long queues and occasional delays. Just try to shrug it off and go with the flow! There will be times when ‘being in a rush’ will be going against the grain!

If you’re planning a trip to Paris, I really hope you enjoy it as much as I do! It’s a beautiful city with so much to see and do – you’ll have a blast!

Thank you for reading 🙂

One Comment Add yours

  1. Timothy says:

    I hadn’t taken note of the picnic thing. Is it so unusual in the UK? But it’s so British, I thought…

    Liked by 1 person

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