The capital of France is one of the the most beautiful cities in the world and home to poets, artists, architects, sculptors with a rich and colorful history. We have prepared a small guide to help you enjoy and explore your Paris travel like a local.
French is the official language and the most widely spoken. English is not used much and though most locals can understand English, they prefer that you at least try to speak some basic French. And regarding basic French, some things are to be considered if you don’t want to come off as rude.
Wish people with:
– ‘Bon Jour’ (pronounced as Bon Zour), meaning ‘Good Day’
– ‘Bon Soir’ (pronounced as Bon Swaa), meaning ‘Good Evening’
– ‘Au Revoir’ (pronounced as Au vah), meaning ‘Good Bye’
– ‘Merci’ (pronounced as Mer-si), meaning ‘Thank You’
Best time for Paris travel:
Paris can be visited any time of the year, but winters can difficult to walk around due to the cold. The city of lights does get a complete makeover around Christmastime and is a sight to cherish. Springs and summers are beautiful with nice weather, long days and ample opportunities to enjoy the parks, cafe terraces and the summer fests – primarily the Fête de la Musique on June 21 and the military parade and fireworks on July 14. Like other parts of Europe, August is a holiday month wherein most French people go off on holidays of their own. The capital slows down, becomes more calm with most of outlets including restaurants remaining closed.
Best Time to Visit April October August
Lowest Prices January February March August December
(*According to Booking.com)
Paris can be an expensive place to visit but then the experience is worthwhile.
Hostels: Cost around upward of 30€/night in the central districts of Paris. The prices go down as you move away from the center and can cost around 25€/night in areas such as Montmartre and the suburbs. Most places include a typical French breakfast – which is a melange of French breads, croissants, jam, and coffee.
AirBnB: Average prices are around 50€/night for a private room with a double bed. It might be economical to rent out an apartment for a family of 4 which would cost around 100€ for 1 bedroom, 1 living room and a kitchen.
Budget hotels: They start at around 50€/night and go up depending on the amenities and location. Most offer free internet, but some have it as a paid option. Check before making the reservation.
Food: Avoid the touristy areas where the prices are almost 30+% higher than the normal and the quality worse. On average, a 3-course dinner at a nice restaurant would cost between 30-40€ per one. Takeaway food options cost around 8-15€/person depending on the purchase. Groceries are nominally priced and should cost around 50€ for a weekly supply.
Getting around in Paris:
Paris boasts of one of the world’s most extensive and efficient public transportation systems. The main transport company is RATP and they provide a multitude of options to choose from – and all of them are clean, run on time and cover huge distances. But then the metros can be crowded also – not only because Parisians don’t prefer cars but also because of the huge influx of tourists. The main transport options are – Metros, RER Trains, Buses, Trams and SNCF Trains. Metro trains run from 5:30 in the morning to 12:40 in the evening on weekdays and till 1:30 on weekends including Fridays. There are night buses available for late hours but with less frequency and coverage.
Get the metro map: Available free of cost at information booths at any metro station and can also be downloaded online at the RATP website. RATP is the main transport company and provides multiple other maps also – including maps for RERs, buses, night buses and local maps for Paris.
Transport Apps: Easy to use and with providing very accurate information – some great transport apps make life really easy when traveling in Paris. You can enter the source and destination of your travel, and can find various options, estimated travel time and cost for your travel.
The most commonly used apps are:
Fares and Tickets:
T+ tickets are used on metros, buses and trams. A single ticket costs €1.90 but a carnet of 10 tickets is economical at €14.50. There is a separate ticket for RER trains and range from €1.90 to €12.05 depending on the zones travelled. RER train fare from Central Paris to CDG Airport is €10.30.
Mobilis pass: A one day pass costs from €7.50 for Zones 1-2 to €17.80 for zones 1-5 but does not include travel to airports.
If you are planning to use the local transport more often – the Navigo pass turns out to be more economical and with a wider coverage. You can use it on any mode of transport and is available in the monthly(valid from the first day of the month) and weekly format( valid from Monday to Sunday).
The monthly Navigo pass costs €75.20 and the weekly Navigo costs €22.80 and is better value than the other available passes.
A one day Paris Visite pass for zones 1-3 costs €12.00. A five day pass is for €38.35 and provides discounts on some attractions.
Tickets and passes can be bought at any metro, RER or tramway station and also when boarding buses. They can also be bought at the various Paris Tourist Information centres.
Local Paris Travel Tips:
1. Avoid the metros and RER at rush office hours, primarily between 8-10 am(in the morning) and 5-8 pm(in the evening).
2. The most overcrowded lines are generally metro lines 1, 2, 4, 11, 12, and 13 , especially at rush hour. Similarly the most crowded bus lines are 38, 28, 68 and 62 but they also service most of the central areas of the city.
3. Metro lines 2 and 6 run mostly above ground and offer good views of the city. M6 specially offers a great view of the Eiffel Tower over the river Siene near the metro stops Passy and Bir Hakiem.
4. RER is fast and does not stop at every stop, unlike the metro. It saves time and is also air conditioned. A 30 minutes journey on metro would take around 20 minutes on the RER. RER B also takes you directly to the CDG Airport.
Day travel trips from Paris:
Paris is a treasure trove but the surrounding areas can be just as enchanting. Try out some of these day trips:
1. Provins: a quaint, medieval city located about an hour and half from Paris. Trains leave approximately every 45 minutes and you can use your Navigo pass to travel on them.
2. Versailles: The world famous Chateau de Versailles is 30 minutes from Paris. Treat yourself to beautiful gardens, magnificent palace and Marie-Antoinette’s estate.Prepare well, the area is huge and you would not want to miss any of it. Take RER C to visit the chateau.
3. Rambouillet – Royal Château now Presidential palace: 30 mins from Paris, a nearby forest for hiking and some cool biking. It lies on the same RER line which connects Versailles – RER C.
4. Chateau de Fontainebleau: Beautiful chateau, a relaxed town and the home of INSEAD, one of the world’s top business schools. The jungles are famous for hiking and make for a great day trip.
5. Moret-sur-Loing: A charming, walled village of artists, and near to Fontainebleau. The tributary of river Seine, called Loing passes through the city center and adds a beautiful charm to the village.
Scams in Paris:
1. The Gold Ring Scam:
(video from a visitor on whom the scam was tried on)
Get offered a gold ring with a seemingly-authentic 18k mark. You know it is not yours but somebody will offer it to you and ask you take it and then demand money for it.
2. Pickpockets in Louvre museum: Louvre attracts a lot of tourists and it can get really crowded. No doubts, it is a heaven for people trying to pick your pockets – especially near the painting of MonaLisa. Be careful and store your wallets safely.
3. Ball and cup game, aka shell game or three pea game: Like in most other parts of Europe, it is the same in Paris and involves you bet on the cup containing the ball after the cups have been switched multiple times by the guy conducting the game.
Assisted by their accomplices, acting as if actively participating in the game, they try to encourage others and make some quick money. Once you are hooked, the scammers will deploy the sleight of their hands and make sure you keep losing your money. Very common around Eiffel Tower and Champs-de-Mars.
4. Petitions: The name says it – young girls approach you asking if you speak English. They will ask you to sign a petition, under the pretext of which they would steal your valuables. Or make you sign a document which makes you give the girls some money. As soon as you get involved, you are surrounded by the accomplices forcing you to heed to their demands.
5. Rose, Friendship band scam: You get offered a rose or a friendship band or some other gift. Once you accept it, you are hounded to pay an exorbitant sum for it.
Paris travel for women and girls:
Paris is generally pretty safe to travel, but then you never know and it is better to keep some things in consideration to make sure you have a safe and a beautiful trip. Don’t befriend strangers and be conned with their charm. Stay safe and away from the scammers toiling around the touristic attractions. In case of emergency, contact the CFCV, an association for safeguarding women and their rights.
Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And boasts of an amazing array of tourist attractions which can keep you hooked for days and weeks. Some of the top attractions in Paris are:
1. Eiffel Tower: The de-facto symbol of Paris and one of the most easily recognisable landmarks in the world. The tower is illuminated daily from sunset until 1:00 am (2:00 am in summers).The views from the top of the tower are incredible and offer an amazing peek into the city of Paris, its structure and architecture. But beware of long queues to purchase the tickets to the tower top. Or buy them online at the official website. Do not purchase from other places, as the tickets are priced over and above the actual cost.
2. Notre Dame de Paris: More famously known as simply Notre-Dame(Our Lady of Paris), is the most famous middle ages Gothic Cathedrals and is famous for its size, and architectural designs. If you want, climb to the top of the bell tower and enjoy magnificent views of the city.
3. Museums: Paris is home to around 130+ museums – no doubt you are spoilt for choice. Most of the museums are free on the first Sunday of the month and hence get really crowded also. Don’t forget to check out:
3a. Musee du Louvre:
World’s largest museum, and one of the most crowded museums in Paris. Houses the MonaLisa which draws a never ending crowd of people.
3b. Musee d’Orsay: A railway stations converted into a museum and houses an impressive collection of French art, including the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world.
4. Le Marais: Also called the Latin Quarter, it is a historical area near the Notre Dame and is a great mix of touristic pleasures – narrow winding roads, cafe and restaurants lined squares and streets, plethora of bars and some of the best eateries in town. If you like mediterranean food – do not forget to try out the fallafels at L’as du Fallafel.
5.Sacre Coeur: Situated in Montmartre, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris is located at the highest point of the city. Don’t forget to see the basilica from behind, where many believe it gives the best views of its architecture. From the footsteps of Sacre-Coeur, enjoy amazing views of Paris and play a game to try to pinpoint the various spots in Paris.
6. Montmartre: Paris’s bohemian neighborhood and the artistic district. Home to the famous Moulin Rouge and the lovely, narrow streets. Pigalle, can be a bit seedy for some- being the red light district of the city and because of its many sex shops.
7. Pere-Lachaise Cemetery: Paris’s most famous cemetery and the final resting place for the likes of Jim Morrison, Chopin and Oscar Wilde. Normally not crowded, it is hauntingly beautiful and difficult to traverse also without a map.
8. The Gardens: Well maintained, manicured and very comfortable gardens add a beautiful charm to Paris. Take some wine, a baguette, some cheese and olives and have a lunch picnic in one of the gardens as as the locals do. The more famous of the gardens are the Luxembourg Gardens, Jardin des Tuileries ( right in-front of the Louvre), Park Monceau and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
9. Arc di Triomphe: Standing at the west end of Champs-Élysées, it is one of the most famous landmarks of Paris.The monument honors the martyrs of the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars. Get a good understanding of the French history and take the steps to go to the top and get incredible views of the city.
10. Champs-Élysées: The most prestigious address in France, the avenue is lined with cafes, restaurants, high end shopping outlets. No doubts an expensive street and always busy, but a must visit. The Bastille Day parade is held here every year on 14th July.
11. Paris Catacombs: An array of tunnels underneath the ground, which were used as the burial sites in olden times and as hiding tunnels during the World War, the Catacombs can be a bit freaky. Home to remains of more than 6 million people, and their skulls and bones, the Catacombs is a very different experience but very popular also.
Planning to travel to Paris? You can use the Talk Travel App and directly talk to a local to help you with your travel planning and have a much more enjoyable experience during your Paris travel.
Let us know if you have any other suggestions to be added to this guide.