Things You Should Know Before You Visit Paris

The Eiffel Tower
For the first few years in Paris one of my favorite places to take my soon to be wife was the Eiffel tower.

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I had climbed it countless times, however this was not how we usually spent out time there. We would crack a beer and lay down a blanket at Parc Du Champ De Mars which is at the base of the Eiffel Tower.

It was hear we would wait until sunset eating, talking and getting tipsy. This is in my top 3 best picnic spots in Paris.

Parc Du Champ De Mars Picnic
However there is something things you need to know about picnicking at the Eiffel Tower. For many months of the year the grass at Parc Du Champ De Mars is fenced off to be re grown. You should have no problem picnicking in the warmer months however in the colder months it will defiantly be fenced off. Unfortunately there is no exact date it all depends on the weather and other government regulated factors that year.

EiffelEiffel Tower Lights At Night
The other thing you need to know is that the Eiffel tower lights up every hour on the hour beginning just after sun set. The  Eiffel tower will finish lighting up at 1am in the colder months and 2am in the summer. This is a truly romantic sight to see when sharing Paris with a loved one for the first time.

Eiffel Tower Opening Times
If you want to climb the Eiffel tower then you have the option of walking to the first level or taking the lift all the way. The cheaper option is to walk however is not for everyone. Be warned this is no easy climb and it is recommend that you have a certain level of fitness before attempting. Also the lines to buy a ticket can be massive in the peak season. You may be in line for up to 3 hours, so I recommend getting there first thing in the mourning when the lines are small. The Eiffel tower opening time is 9am from 15th of June to 1st of September and 930am the rest of the years.

Rude Parisians That Hate Americans
So it is well known to many people around the world think Parisians are rude and some say they hate Americans. I have found this to be far from true on both counts and most experts will agree with me. In fact in a lot of cases and as especially from the younger Parisian generation they are really into the American pop culture and trends. I have many French friend and coach against many other basketball teams in Paris and most of them really were quite friendly. In fact I had a much warmer reception with Parisian teams than the teams i played for back back home.

It is true that some Parisians can have quite a cold front to them but this has nothing to do with Americans. For the most part it is a working city much like New York, Sydney or Tokyo so they are very caught up in the hustle and bustle of getting too and from work.

However there is also another case which I have seen Parisians give a cold hard reception. It is when you walk into a retail store or shop and you feel its strange they are not trying to help you more or are not very friendly. Most people walk into a shop and just start looking around at products but the etiquette in France is that it’s rude not to say hello and be polite. So if you do not make the first gesture then it is very likely that you will not be received well. It is much like if someone walked into your home and they did not say hello, this would leave you a bit disgruntled and wondering why this rude person is in your home and did not introduce them self.

You will be much warmly received if you learn a very small bit of French aswell. Parisians are much more receptive if you make an effort as many of them do speak English however not all of them can. I suggest learning to say Hello (Bonjour/ bonsoir), Good bye (orevuar) and do you speak English (Parlez-vous anglais) at a bare minimum. After all you are in there country and you should learn their customs and etiquette before you enter.

Paris signature scam
Photo Author | Quinn Dombrowski

Scams, Gypsy’s and Thieves
If you follow the link below I will give a much more in depth look into Paris scams, gypsy’s and thieves that you need to be aware of but for the moment I will give you a quick overview.

There are three types of tourist suckers as I like to call them. These people feed on the unaware and innocence of tourists blindly enjoying there holiday. The scammers, gypsy’s and thieves are mostly a result of poverty and lack of education not to be confused with the homeless whom are not preying on anyone but simply trying to get through the winter.

You will see the gypsy’s and scammers in the touristy areas of Paris. Be on the look out, you may be caught unaware when they steal your wallet or bag from the metro. Do not be fooled by their age they can often be very young, I have had one as young as 8 years old try to steal my phone.

How to Avoid Them
My tip is to say “No” firmly and keep walking, if they start touching your and getting very close to you or more than one of them start surrounding you then you need to be more assertive and then keep walking. At this point you should double check that your valuables are all still there. Another thing you can do to reduce the risk is not to play with your wallet on the metro or leave your bag on the floor without holding on to it.

Getting from A to B in Paris
If you are a fit person and want to see more of Paris than you would in a on a hop on hop off red bus or below ground in the metro then I suggest walking most of the time. Since Paris is only 9 miles wide from east to west and 6 miles wide from north to south then it really does make the whole city walkable. Also the majority of the Paris attractions are located towards the center or if not a 20 minute walk from the center. For all forms of how to get around Paris we have started an article listing 15 of the best way.

Paris Metro and Buses
The best advice I can give you about the metro is that it is shuts down at 1pm and you have to get off where ever the train stops at that time. We learnt this the hard way, one night we thought lets jump on a train and see where it take us. Then suddenly everyone was ushered out of the train station and was standing on the street wondering where the hell we were. We were lucky that a nice Parisian man pointed us in the right direction and were able to walk home in about 30 minutes. However it was quite scary not having a clue where we were.

The Paris metro system is one of the most advanced in the entire world and is really quite easy to navigate. I am putting together a tutorial about the metro and buses so you can be well aware. To be honest I like to use the bus system the best as you can see a lot more of Paris above ground. It is a very easy system just like the trains. You simply need to look up a bus timetable map and do some navigation much like the train.

If you are traveling in peak hour be prepared not to get a seat, to feel very cramped, hot and uncomfortable. Even though it is an amazing system it is also the primary mode of transport for all Parisians to and from work. If you want to get off a busy train you need to use the word “Pardon” DSC01123simply say this word nice and loud so they can hear you and push your way threw.

Hop On Hop Off Red Bus Tour
The red bus tours are also another great options as they not only go to the main monuments and attractions but they are also very informative as there are headphones that inform you about Parisian history. However this is defiantly the more expensive option and I recommend if visiting in winter not to sit upstairs as the wind chill factor is unbearable which I learned from experience.

Paris Airports
There are three main airports which you can arrive or depart from. It is important you know which one you are at as they all have quite a significant time difference in which it takes to get to and from Paris.
Charles De Gaulle airport is the main one and most common. This takes about 40min to 1h to get there depending on the traffic, taxi wait time or shuttle bus driver people pickups. Orly airport which is about 30min – 50min away and the last is Beauvais airport which is 1.5hours to 2hours by shuttle but not recommended by taxi. To help avoid getting a bad driver or being over charged i have compared and found the best shuttle service in paris.

Sydney arrondismont street signNeighborhoods, Districts and Arrondissements
When you first enter Paris or are looking to rent a hotel you need to know exactly where you want to stay and in which neighborhood to stay in. The districts or neighborhoods are known in Paris as Arrondissements. You will see them written on maps and street signs and abbreviated as 1e, 2e, 3e etc… The Arrondissements start in the middle of Paris and spiral outwards to 20e on the outside of the city.

Is Food Expensive in Paris
Paris Supermarket FeatureYes it is quite expensive in Paris to eat out every night however there are a few tips I can give you to save some money. If you know you are going to be out all day either pack yourself a lunch or go for the cheaper option and get a crepe. When you shop at one of the main Paris supermarkets stores such as Franprix, G-20, Carrefour or Monoprix you will save your self a lot of money because food in Paris is only expensive if you eat out for every meal. In fact you could get a nice fresh baguette from a French bakery for about 0.80 euro and if you get it early morning they are always much better as its fresh.

As i see more things in Paris to inform our readers i will add them to this page. We hope this was helpful so please keep reading our blog to see more tips from our Paris Journey in France.

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I am an australian citizen but consider my self as a local when it comes to knowing about paris. I have lived there with my wife for a few years and quite simply fell in love with the city, culture and the people. I would like to try and help others to see what i saw without incuring any of the hard lessons i had to when i first arrived.

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