So you’re planning a trip to the ‘city of lights’, Europe’s most romantic city! Although the prospect of seeing famous sights such as the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Sacré Coeur is an exciting one, here are a few tips to keep in mind both before setting off and during your stay in Paris.
It’s definitely worth learning a few French phrases before your visit, even a few basic ones. Many Parisians in the tourist areas speak some English, but learn some polite phrases and you’ll often receive a much a kinder response! You’ll be surprised by the effect that they’ll have- a little effort on your part goes a long way to bridge the communication gap. Here are a few essentials:
– Bonjour – Hello.
– Au revoir – Good bye.
– S’il vous plait – Please.
– Merci – Thank you.
– Je ne parle pas français. En anglais, s’il vous plait – I don’t speak French. In English, please?
When is the best time to visit? There’s really no particular month during the year that can be considered the ‘tourist season’ in Paris, as visitors tend to flock to the city all year round. However, if you want to enjoy a climate that is neither too hot nor too cool, making for an all round pleasant stay, the best time to go would be in autumn.
Before you pack your bags for your fairytale Paris holiday, make sure you have your Paris travel guide on hand. This way, you can map out a clear itinerary as to which parts of Paris you wish to explore first. As there are so many attractions in the city, this will save you a lot of time- it certainly beats asking for directions in broken French on the underground!
Speaking of the underground, always remember to hold onto your metro ticket until you exit the station. Ticket inspectors occasionally stand at the exits and if you don’t have yours, you will be fined 35€ on the spot.
If romance is the reason behind your visit, don’t fall in to the trap of limiting yourself to visiting the city’s main tourist attractions. Although places such as the Champs Elysées, Arc de Triomphe and Musée d´Orsay cannot be missed, Paris has much more on offer than this series of tourist-infested hot spots. They don’t call it the romance capital for nothing. The city is filled with charming cafes, elegant restaurants, adorable cobblestone streets and fashionable streets, perfect for a romantic stroll, meal or drink with your loved one. So just have wander!
Continuing with the theme of romance, make sure you visit one of the city’s parks. One of the reasons that makes Paris so unique from other major metropolitans is its abundance of beautiful and accessible parks. Here you’ll be able to go for a romantic stroll, eat, people watch, kiss, read, talk- often there’s even free wifi! So why not get out your picnic blanket and settle down for lunch?
You’ll find it’s much more worthwhile walking or taking the metro, rather than taking a cab in Paris. It is a compact city and no building is usually more than a few hundred metres from a metro stop. Cabs are expensive – you pay by distance and the amount of time spent in the cab. So, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam with the metre running, the cost of a short trip can be enormous!
Finally, we come to the issue of accommodation. There has always been a big debate about whether it is best to stay in a hotel or rent an apartment whilst on holiday. While there are supporters for both sides, renting Paris apartments is usually the most comfortable, practical and often affordable choice. Apartments offer all the space you’d need and is very cost-effective, especially if travelling in a group or with your family. Firstly, if your holiday is long-stay, apartments often work out cheaper than hotels. You would also have the option of preparing meals yourself, which can save you money on eating out. Furthermore, apartments offer the convenience of doing your laundry easily whilst on holiday and, at the same time, are a great way of immersing yourself in the city’s culture by living like locals and amongst neighbours.
– By Luis Gasca
*About the author: Luis is a travel enthusiast who resides in the popular town of Barcelona from where he is already planning his next adventure.