Iconic, full of history, and known as one of the most romantic cities on the planet, Paris is on the bucket list of many travelers. With such high expectations, many tourists are shocked to discover that, while still amazing, the reality of Paris is a little different from the narrative.
If you don’t know what you’re doing in Paris, you might end up with more regrets than positive memories. To get the best out of your time in the City of Lights, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the mistakes that rookies make in Paris, and avoid them at all costs.
Check out these silly mistakes that all first-timers make in Paris.
10 Visiting In Peak Season
Not everyone has enough flexibility to travel during ideal times. Nevertheless, if you can help it, avoid visiting Paris in peak season and instead wait until the crowds have diminished a little. Generally, the worst time to visit is between July and August. July is hot and brings hordes of tourists, while August is when locals take their own vacations, so some establishments are closed.
April to June or October to December are preferable times to travel if you have the option of being flexible. Paris is still Paris in peak season, but with many more challenges.
9 Spending Hours Lining Up For Attractions
If you do visit in peak time and want to tour the famous landmarks, resign yourself to the fact that you’ll be lining up all day long. Even in the off-season, attractions like the Louvre and the Eiffel tower always have lines snaking out the door and beyond. Rather than spending hours in a queue, there is one trick you can try.
An hour before closing time is the best moment to visit landmarks because most tourists believe an hour isn’t enough time to see everything inside. If you don’t typically spend a long time in museums and the like, this trick is perfect for you.
8 Thinking The Eiffel Tower Will Give You The Best View
It’s natural to want to venture to the top of the famed Eiffel Tower to get a view of Paris. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that’s the best view available. There are plenty of others, many of them cheaper and less crowded.
The views from Galeries Lafayette and Sacré-Coeur are all glorious. You can actually see the Eiffel Tower from Galeries Lafayette, which is a bonus. The climb to the tower of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica might tire your legs out, but the view is worth it.
7 Falling For Typical Parisian Scams
In any major city in Europe, there are predators who will try to scam you, and Paris is no different. A typical Parisian scam involves young girls who come up to you in busy places asking you to sign their clipboard. They ask questions or pretend to be deaf in order to distract their target while someone else pickpockets them.
Another one to look out for are men trying to sell string bracelets, often tying them to your wrist without permission and then becoming aggressive when you don’t pay. It’s best to avoid these people at all costs.
6 Visiting Versailles If You Only Have A Few Days
The Palace of Versailles is on the bucket list of many visitors to Paris. While the landmark is full of history and worth a visit, it might be a mistake to include it in your itinerary if you only have a few days in Paris. There is so much to see in the City of Lights and taking the time out to travel to Versailles and then line up for hours to see it could end up being something you regret.
When you’re time-poor in Paris, it’s better to postpone a trip to Versailles for another time, when you have more days to spare.
5 Failing To Learn Any French At All
Strictly speaking, you don’t have to learn French to visit Paris. A lot of people working in hospitality, tourism, and retail speak English. However, you will always fare better if you understand a little French.
For one thing, locals will appreciate you more if you make the effort of speaking even a few words in their tongue. You might experience less of that typical Parisian rudeness this way. Also, understanding the basics means you won’t be reliant on locals to explain signs, directions, and menus that don’t have an English translation.
4 Ignoring The Shopkeeper When You Enter Their Store
In Paris, entering a store and ignoring the owner or the person working there is considered to be rude. While shopping in a foreign country, it’s not really in your best interest to draw the wrath of shopkeepers.
To ensure the best service possible, simply say “bonjour” when you enter the store, just to make your presence known. This will likely win you brownie points, show the worker that you’re not just another ignorant tourist, and might even help you to make a friend.
3 Splurging On A Hotel Breakfast
It’s tempting to pay for a big buffet breakfast at your hotel, especially when you have to walk past steaming trays of crepes and pastries on your way out every morning. However, if you’re interested in saving a few dollars, skip the pricey hotel breakfast and find it elsewhere.
In Paris, it’s easy to find a café where you can buy a filling croissant and coffee for less than €5. Most of the time, the café will be within walking distance from your accommodation. Save on breakfast so you can splurge on other things.
2 Paying For Water
Seasoned travelers know that there’s no need to pay for water in Paris. As there are thousands of tourists who don’t know this, some waiters will try to take advantage of their naivety by charging for water anyway. Unless you want sparkling or mineral water, don’t fall for the trap of paying for bottled water.
French tap water is fine to drink and won’t cost you a thing. Simply ask for “une carafe d’eau” to avoid paying for something that you can get for free. With the money you save, buy an extra pastry the next day.
1 Staying Far Out Of The City
If you’re booking your accommodation months in advance, it seems like a good idea to pay less and stay far out of the city. When it comes to the actual holiday, you are likely to regret this decision when you are spending hours on a train to get into the heart of the city.
When you’ve got so many things to see, time is of the essence. You’re better off paying a little more to stay central, than wasting huge segments of your day commuting. Besides, when you add up travel expenses, it might not work out that much cheaper to stay a hotel that’s far out.