Paris is a huge city with tons to see. Gorgeous cathedrals, endless museums, a mix of classical and modern architecture, great fashion, and of course amazing food and beverage scene. The perfect trip does exist and it can differ from visitor to visitor. Follow these tips to avoid tourist mistakes for an extra EXTRA trip to Paris!
Pro Tip: When I travel, I like to create a folder in my browser and bookmark helpful articles. Consider bookmarking this article so you can circle back to it. Also, we’re a tour company so we’ll add some Paris tour options into the mix.
17 Tips for a Very EXTRA Trip to Paris
17. Climb Up the Arc De Triomphe
Considered by many to be the best view in Paris, this triumphant arch sits in the middle of a busy intersection connected to Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
It costs 8€ to get inside and you have to climb over 284 steps to get to the top but it’s worth it.
The arch is open daily from 10 am to 10 pm. Check their website for more information.
16. Get Ready to Eat Late
Paris is not as late as Spain nor as Italy, but don’t try to sit down to dinner prior to 7 pm. Any self-respecting Parisian restaurant will not open prior to 7 pm.
That said, you may find a decent cafe or bistro with continuous service that shouldn’t be scoffed at.
15. Dress for the Cold
Paris is cold for most months of the year. Unless you plan on buying something when you arrive, it doesn’t hurt to bring some warmer evening clothes in case of cool weather.
Exceptions are June, July & August. That said, I have been to Paris in early June or late August and wished I had a light jacket for the evening.
14. Explore Beneath the City of Paris
The Paris Catacombs are one of the most unique places to visit on our planet. Isn’t that what travel is all about?
Needless to say, these catacombs are extremely popular and it is a tight space. People literally line up around the block to see them.
You can buy Paris Catacombs tickets online or reserve a small group tour of this jaw dropping site. There are apparently 6 million skeletons inside this ossuary and many of the ones you’ll see are organized into works of art!
13. Eat What the Locals Recommend
The French, especially Parisians, are proud people. Even foreigners living in Paris normally adopt the culture with great pride.
If you have an open mind and a good pallet, ask your waiter what they recommend. If you picked a good restaurant they won’t lead you astray.
I went out to eat in Paris one evening and asked the waiter what to eat. He held out his hand motioning to my menu and asked, “May I?” Took the menu and walked away. It was the best meal I have had in Paris.
Check out our article on Foods You HAVE to Try While in Paris.
12. Drink What Locals Recommend
I think you get the point.
The French have great wine and Champagne. If you are a wine snob, do your thing. If you are not, ask people what you should drink.
This extends past wine. After dinner, there is an assortment of cordials that you should try. Ask your server what should come next.
11. Visit the Louvre and Liberty Leading the People
The Louvre is an incredible gallery of national and international art. Some is meant to be there and some is stolen. All of it is worth seeing.
The Louvre is an enormous structure at over 650,000 sq ft. (60,000 sq meters). It pays to pay for a guided tour of the Louvre. Luckily, ours is the best!
We also have a great video on the top things to see at the Louvre. Don’t forget to subscribe to our Youtube Channel… please!
10. Do a Tour of Versailles
I went to Versailles in 2017 after years of being away. It was a cool day in April and I was shocked at how long the line was to get inside.
Our guided tour of Versailles is reasonably priced and makes visiting this hunting lodge easy. A licensed guide also brings you inside the museums, instead of an audioguide, and brings the building to life.
Versailles is one of those places you go by yourself, are in and out in 20 minutes, and say, “We definitely didn’t need a tour.” Then you go to Versailles with a guided tour and say, “Thank god we took a guided tour.”
If you go without a tour you won’t know what you are missing.
9. Bring Stylish but Comfortable Shoes
Like any city in Europe, you will do a lot of walking. You should bring some sort of comfortable sneakers for getting around.
That said, it’s also Paris and people are super stylish. You don’t want to be walking around in fluorescent Asics. You’ll stick out.
People in Europe don’t walk around in gym clothes so you will stand out if you go to the Louvre in basketball shorts and a tank top. Find a pair of sneakers that are neutral in color and you should be good. If you want to stay safe, wear black.
8. Purchase Travel Insurance
Now, more than ever, travel insurance is something you should look into. Just be aware of what your travel insurance policy covers. Does it cover cancellation for any reason? Does it cover a pandemic? Tsunami?
We recommend AIG / Tavel Guard as we’ve never heard any negative feedback from our customers who have purchased their policy.
7. Ride the Metropolitan and Download RATP App
Paris is huge so getting around can be difficult but the Paris Metro is literally incredible. It goes everywhere and fast.
You’re going to want to download the RATP app because a massive metro is a confusing metro. The app does the thinking for you so you can be on vacation.
6. Visit The Fountain of Apollo in Versailles
Going to Versailles is a Paris must. What started as a modest hunting lodge is now a palace literally adorned with gold.
Its a pretty quick ride on the RER from Paris and worth the trip. You can spend the whole day there and plan a picnic in the gardens or easily do it in a morning or afternoon.
5. Dinner is About the Food
You’ll read more about how I approach lunch in Paris below but for me, dinner is a serious experience.
Don’t get me wrong, my goal is to laugh a lot with a happy belly but I don’t want to mess around. I always plan out my dinners in advance and make reservations. French food, like Italian, has incredible regional diversity and you can find almost every regional cuisine represented in Paris.
Again, Dinner in Paris should be taken seriously!
4. Lunch for the View
I am in Paris a few times a year for work. Lunch for me is a time to sit outside, facing the street as you should in Paris, and enjoy the scenery.
I hope and want to eat well but I am more concerned about the ambiance. If I get both, then great. If not, I am happy with a decent meal on an awesome street.
3. Credit Cards are King, Mostly
You can pretty much use your credit card anywhere in Paris. There may be a bread shop with a 10€ minimum but otherwise, feel free.
If you are going to use a debit card, you’ll need a chip debit card with a pin code. Most people in Europe wouldn’t even know to mention this as having a pin for purchases is normal.
Call your bank a few weeks before your trip to make sure you are set up or get a better credit card for international travel.
2. Use an ATM, Not an Exchange Bureau
This goes for anywhere in Europe. Find an ATM with no fee agreement with your bank or take the maximum out possible to reduce how many fees you need to incur.
99/100 it is cheaper than exchange places which I simply wouldn’t ever use.
1. Ride Electric Scooters in Paris
I am not referring to a romantic Vespa ride around the city. Paris is home to a huge grid of scooters that are basically left all over the city. Yep, the scooter’s children ride but bigger and powered by a battery.
You can download an app from one of the company’s that offers them, I use Bird only because it was the first one I picked up, and off you go. Your cc info is stored into the app and tracks your usage.
How much does it cost? It’s pretty cheap. You can either pay a 1€ and then .15€ per minute you ride or buy a block of time. They go for 2.50€ for 10 minutes or 5.50 for 30 minutes.
Honestly, this is one of the things I look forward to when going to Paris. You can cruise down the Seine or around town super easily. Paris has great sidewalks so it is pretty safe. I spent a decade on a moto in Rome so you’ll have to decide for yourself how comfortable you are.