When you start planning a trip to Paris is usually given importance to establish a few tours and study everything you can visit in Paris. The great amount of attractions that Paris has makes this step essential to take advantage of the time, but sometimes some equally important practical details are left aside.
For that reason, in this article I leave you some simple tips to make the trip go well. Sometimes it is the small details that make the difference between a great experience and a troubled stay, such as knowing how to get around the city or the possibility of acquiring a tourist card to save a little and increase comfort.
1. Visit the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower when the crowds are not too high
If there are two places that should always be visited when traveling to Paris(even if you only spend 1 day in Paris) those are the Louvre museum and the Eiffel Tower. Their importance, however, can make it too crowded and the experience not as satisfying as you want it to be.
To try to avoid the crowds you should take into account the busiest times, as well as which are, in principle, more conducive to see both attractions with more tranquility:
- As for the Louvre Museum's opening hours, the ideal would be not to visit the museum between 11:00 and 16:00, as this is the time of day when you can find the most crowds. Remember that it opens its doors around 9:00 in the morning, so getting up early to have time to see the Louvre with more tranquility could be the solution. Likewise, you can also go in the afternoon or take advantage of the days when the opening hours are later, usually until 21:30 or so.
- Climbing the Eiffel Tower during the high season, in summer in Paris, usually involves long queues, especially on weekends. Outside this period, the crowds drop off quite a bit, but my advice is to try to get there early, before 10:30. Another good time to go up is from 17:00 or at night.
2. Book your tickets in advance for the most visited sites
Paris is one of the cities in the world that receives more tourists every year. One of the consequences of this attraction is the endless queues that form in front of its main tourist sites, from the Louvre Museum to the Eiffel Tower, through the visit to the Paris Catacombs or the Rodin Museum.
These waits, in addition to generating discomfort, end up being a great waste of time, especially in cases where the stay is short.
To avoid these queues, there is only one solution: buy your tickets in advance. Fortunately, many of the attractions in Paris offer this option to avoid long waits. If you are going to visit Disneyland Paris, don't forget to get the pass that allows you to get on the Disneyland attractions quickly.
3. Save on the subway with one of the available passes
Cities as big as Paris force their visitors to use public transportation to get to many places. Fortunately, the French capital has a very efficient transportation network.
The main way to move around the city quickly is the metro, which will allow you to avoid the existing traffic.
In my article How to use the Paris metro you have all the factors to take into account. Among them, the great usefulness of the "Next Stop" application of the company that manages the subway of the French capital, the RATP.
. This application includes a practical map of the lines in operation and allows you to calculate itineraries without having to be connected to the internet.
Although if you are not going to use the metro much, the single ticket, called Ticket t+, will suffice, if you foresee that you will have to use public transport a lot, you have the option of purchasing one of the passes offered:
- Paris Visite: this transport pass is widely used by those visiting the city for a few days. There are several modalities depending on the duration (between 1 and 5 days) and the areas you want to visit. It also includes discounts for some of the tourist attractions in Paris.
- Navigo Pass: in principle, this pass is cheaper than the previous one if the stay is going to be about a week in Paris. The main disadvantage is that it is somewhat more complicated to obtain, since you need a passport-sized photograph and pay 5 euros non-refundable.
4. Save on your visits with the tourist card
Unless you are lucky enough to be able to extend your stay in Paris for more than 7 days, to make the most of your time you will have to make a prior list of what you want to see. In the economic aspect, also important, it is interesting to investigate the options that the French capital offers.
Possibly the best way to save on your visits is the Paris Pass tourist card. It is a card with which you have significant discounts when entering more than 60 attractions, including entry to the Louvre Museum, the Arc de Triomphe or the Basilicaof Saint-Denis.
In addition, it is also worth knowing that on the first Sunday of each month you can enter many museums for free.
5. Discover Paris on a tour or with the sightseeing bus
The sheer size of Paris (plus its surroundings) and the sheer number of places to visit can make sightseeing complicated. Getting from one place to another takes time that you may not have, not to mention the time spent researching how to get to each monument.
To avoid this, one of the best options is to hire one of the many tours that can be done in Paris. Practically everyone will find one that suits his or her interests, from gastronomic tours to those that only cover a few specific districts. In addition, you can also make excursions outside Paris.
Another option to save time are the tourist buses. These allow you to get on and off as many times as you want and usually tour the most interesting places in the city.
Finally, you can always resort to an interesting option that the city offers its visitors: the Batobus. It is a boat that travels along the Seine with the same conditions as a tourist bus, as it allows you to get on and off at its many stops near the most important attractions.
6. Dare to know the other Paris
Although it will always depend on how long you are in a city, personally one of the tips I like to follow the most is to go a little off the beaten path. In the case of Paris, with its many hidden charms, you can discover breathtaking places if you decide to walk around the neighborhoods of Paris.
These are places less visited by tourists, but that will delight anyone who finds them. Here is a short list of these places, but I'm sure you can find more on your own:
- Canal St-Martin: this is a kind of artificial tributary of the Seine through which merchant ships sail. The walk along its banks is really nice, something that Parisians who usually have a picnic on good weather days know. If you are lucky, you can see how the bridges open to let the boats that still travel along it.
- Passages and galleries: Paris is full of passages and galleries that combine beautiful architecture with wonderful decoration. My advice is to get a good map to plan a tour.
- Viewpoints of Paris: beyond the views from the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame, Paris offers its visitors other viewpoints from which to contemplate the city. Some, such as the Montparnasse Tower are paid, while others, such as the terrace of the Printemps Galleries are totally free.
7. Experience Paris by night
When the sun goes down, the city of Paris is transformed and shows a different face. In Paris at night its streets and many of its monuments are illuminated and life continues to bustle in a multitude of places.
Although everyone has a different way of traveling, there are some attractions of Paris at night that you should not miss. Here I leave you a small list of the most essential ones so you can find the ones that best suit your interests:
- Visit the Eiffel Tower: the icon of Paris lights up at night to show its imposing figure to the whole city. To enjoy it you can simply contemplate it from a nearby point or make a night climb to the Eiffel Tower to see the metropolis from above. Finally, if the weather is nice, you can also sit on the Champs de Mars and have a small picnic at night.
- Enjoy the nightlife: although it is a cliché applicable to many cities in the world, it can be said that Paris never sleeps. The livelier ones will find plenty of bars and nightclubs to enjoy late into the night.
- Go to a cabaret: many say that Paris is the birthplace of cabarets. The most famous is undoubtedly the Moulin Rouge, which offers the possibility of dining and nightlife.
which offers the possibility to dine and watch the Moulin Rouge show. Other equally interesting are the Lido, the Crazy Horse or the Paradis Latin.
- The Seine at night: the river that crosses the capital also offers visitors several possibilities to enjoy it at night. The most obvious is to take one of the night cruises on the Seine, but if they are not to your liking I recommend that you simply stroll along its banks contemplating its beautiful bridges.
Getting around Paris by night
Since transportation schedules are limited, getting around at night will depend on the time of day. Thus, the metro is in operation until 1:00 (2:00 on weekends). Later you will have to find another way to get around, such as the bus service called Noctilien, which operates between 00:30 and 07:00 in the morning, or take a cab.
8. Adapt to Paris schedules
Although the opening hours in Paris are somewhat more flexible than in smaller French towns, the differences with Spain are still noticeable, especially when talking about the restaurants in Paris.
Any traveler should adapt to the customs of the country they are visiting unless they want to run the risk of finding everything closed. In the French capital people usually eat between 12:00 and 13:30, so it is relatively common for many kitchens to close at 14:00.
On the other hand, the dinner time is usually from 19:30 - 20:00, which means that if you want to have a snack you will also have to advance the schedule considerably.
9. Include French gastronomy among the attractions of Paris to discover
For those of us who love to discover the gastronomy of the places we visit, Paris is a great opportunity. Tasting different dishes is the best way to get closer to its culture and it is something that I advise you not to miss.
Among the most typical dishes you will find in the French capital are foie gras and escargots(snails). Other names you should learn are boeuf bourguignon (a veal stew with red wine), quiche Lorraine (a kind of savory tart with meat and cheese) or croque-monsieur (croquettes).
cheese) or croque-monsieur (a classic baked cheese and ham sandwich).
French cheesesdeserve a special mention.
It is not for nothing that France is known as "the country of a thousand cheeses". Apart from restaurants, you will find them in every market and store and they are, from my point of view, one of the best gifts you can bring. They also star in some of the most interesting gastronomic tours of the city.
If you want to pass for a Parisian, I recommend you to imitate their typical breakfast: the café au lait with a croissant fresh from the oven. In addition, you will also have to join their wine and cheese culture, without forgetting to try a glass of champagne on occasion.
10. Learn a few more tips to make your visit to Paris perfect
To make your trip a complete success there are some little tricks that can be useful and easy to follow:
- Learn a few phrases in French. You don't need to become bilingual, but learning to say bonjour (good morning), merci (thank you) or s'il vous plaît (please) will help you in some occasions. If you add monsieur or madame, the result will be even better.
- Closely related to the above is the great importance given in France to manners and education. Never forget to say hello or ask "please" in restaurants or ticket offices and always try to avoid "tuteo".
- It may well not occur to you, but you should still know that feeding pigeons is strictly forbidden. The fines, moreover, can be quite high.
- Bathing in the Seine is also forbidden, even in summer. If you can't resist the urge, just go to the so-called Paris Plage.
- One last prohibition that may be useful for you to know is that showing up drunk in public carries the possibility of being fined. Obviously, you will not be fined for drinking wine while having a picnic in a park, but be careful not to exceed a certain limit.