Visiting Paris for the First Time? Check out These 10 Paris Tips by a Local | World In Paris (2023)

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Best Paris Travel Tips for Your First Time in Paris

One of the greatest cities in the world, Paris is a vibrant and cultural city, with famous sites at every turn and never enough time to see them all. Paris is also regarded as the world’s most romantic city and a heaven for foodies and fashion lovers.

We still have to meet someone who is not willing to visit Paris soon or to come back and discover more!

Visiting Paris for the First Time? Check out These 10 Paris Tips by a Local | World In Paris (1)

Everyone visiting Paris for the first time wants to have a memorable trip, and there’s nothing like Paris tips and tricks from a local to get the best out of the French capital.

In this article, we are sharing our best Paris insider tips for visiting Paris for the first time: must-see Paris travel tips as well as all-time favorites and off-the-beaten-path things. Read this article as a complement to our Paris Travel Planner, and you are set for a unique trip to Paris!

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1. If Possible, Travel During the Best Time to Visit Paris

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The first of our Paris tips is about the best time to visit Paris. ‘Paris is always a good idea,’ and there is never a bad time to visit Paris. The city has great parks and beautiful avenues and streets, but it also has some of the world’s best museums and other interesting indoor options.

There are, however, a few things you might want to take into account when planning a trip to Paris.

Generally speaking, the shoulder season – Spring and Fall – is good because it’s often less crowded and the temperature is pleasant.

If you want to beat the crowds and pay less for things like transportation and accommodation in Paris, you should consider visiting Paris in November, early December, and January.

If you are interested in shopping, consider visiting Paris in January or July, during the sales, when it is possible to find fantastic bargains.

To get the full picture, check out our in-depth articles about the best time to visit Paris and the seasons in Paris.

Check out our suggested itineraries for your first time in Paris:

  • One day in Paris
  • Two days in Paris
  • Three days in Paris
  • Four days in Paris
  • Five days in Paris
  • Six days in Paris
  • One week in Paris
(Video) 10 TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST TIME IN PARIS | Visit Paris & Love it!

2. Get the Most of Your Time, Book in Advance, and Skip the Lines!

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Unless you visit Paris off-season, you’ll experience frustrating long lines at all Paris’s main tourist attractions.

Waiting in line will not only make you waste precious time; the chances are that you’ll be exhausted even before starting your visit! That’s why the second of my tips for traveling to Paris is about booking your tickets for the main attractions in advance.

Below I list the Paris main attractions you will need advance tickets for and have added links to my favorite trusty providers for your convenience.

We also have detailed articles on how to skip the line in Versailles and how to skip the line in the Louvre, the two attractions that see the longest lines and crowds.

Finally, have a look at our Skip the Line in Paris article, with the best days and time slots to avoid the crowds in the main tourist attractions.

3. At the Airport, Only Use Regular Taxis (or Verified Private Airport Transfers)

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Taking a ride with a regular, official taxi is what we would consider a matter of common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many tourists still get lured!

At the Paris airports, you’re likely to be approached by someone offering a private taxi service. It might be tempting because it seems easy (no need to search for the taxi stand) and faster (not waiting in line). NEVER accept this kind of ‘offers.’

If you’re lucky, you’ll end up spending much more (those nonofficial cars don’t have a meter), and you can’t exclude that such a ride could lead to more unpleasant surprises or dangerous situations.

If you don’t want to take public transport and you prefer to know from the beginning how much your ride will cost, I recommend booking a private airport transfer from the Parisian Airports to the city.

We like Welcome’s transfer services, with good cars and the best English-speaking drivers in Paris, but other booking platforms like Get Your Guide offer similar services.

4. Save Money on Public Transport

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France has good high-speed trains (named TGVs), with very regular connections between Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg, and more. It is very easy to plan weekend trips from Paris by train or longer trips to the rest of France as it takes a little as three hours from Paris to Marseille or from Paris to Strasbourg.

(Video) Paris: Mistakes 1st Time Visitors to Paris Make

High-speed trains can be costly, though, especially if you buy your train tickets at the last minute. But the good news is that there are ways to find cheaper options if you plan your trip months in advance.

Find here more information and book your train tickets

For getting around Paris, the Parisian Metro is the best option. The metro in Paris takes you everywhere in the city, with opening times starting from 5.30 am to 2.15 am on weekends.

Apart from the single metro tickets, valid also for bus and tram rides, the Parisian Metro has different passes well worth the investment, especially if you take the metro more than 3 times a day. Check out our quick guide to the metro of Paris for all the Paris metro tickets and our best tips.

5. Aside from the Landmarks, Discover the Daily Life in Paris

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When visiting landmarks or some of the most famous attractions in Paris, you’re likely to see more tourists than locals.

But there’s so much to a town or city like Paris than its landmarks and main streets. There are many hidden gems in Paris, and letting yourself get lost where locals live and hang is the surest way to feel like a local.

To get a little more of Paris, you must venture where the residents are. So choose one of the lesser-known districts of Paris, put away your map, and just wander.

There are several other ways to get a taste of daily life in Paris.

  • Take public transport
  • Go to local markets
  • Have a stroll near a University
  • Drop-in a supermarket
  • Go where people work
  • Take a walk in residential areas

For long stays, you can also book a furnished apartment in Paris instead of a hotel, like one of these apartments in Paris with Eiffel Tower view.

6. Discover Popular Food in Paris

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We all like sushi and pizza, but hey, you are visiting Paris in France, the cradle of one of the best cuisines in the world!

Few countries in the world offer such a variety of dishes as France. From north to south, region after region, you’ll discover different specialties based on local, typical ingredients and products. The good news is that in the French capital you can savor the best of all the French regions.

Ask locals for their favorite restaurants, market stalls, and Paris food, and then be sure to check them out. Join a cooking course and learn how to prepare your favorite French dish. Enjoy French traditional food in any of the Parisian bistros. Stop for a coffee and some people-watching in a cute Parisian cafe. And be sure don’t miss Paris best cakes!

TIP: The Paris Gourmet Tour is an excellent introduction to local food in Paris

(Video) 25 Essential Paris Tips in 8 Minutes

7. Safety Paris Tips

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Despite what you might have heard in the media, France is a safe and welcoming country, and I never felt unsafe in Paris. Still, by the main tourist attractions, watch out for petty crimes and foul play.

France is a safe and welcoming country. However, like everywhere in the world, in big cities and by the most sought-after attractions you might incur in petty crime and foul play.

In public transport, always keep your handbag or backpack in front of you to avoid possible pickpockets. Never keep your camera hanging around your neck or your wallet in your trousers back pocket. Instead, store them in your bag, possibly in a zipped pocket not within easy reach.

Be cautious when approached at train stations or by famous landmarks by people offering to help. While most of them will be genuinely generous, some might be trying to rob or scam you.

On long-distance trains, keep your bag always on the racks above your seat. Don’t trust the racks between the seats and the train doors (lessons learned here).

Don’t leave your belongings unattended in public spaces, and better keep your bag on your lap or between your feet. We recommend using an anti-theft travel bag or a theft-proof backpack for safe travel.

8. Avoid the Tourist Traps When Visiting Paris

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It is no secret that the most visited places are also potential tourist traps, and Paris makes no exception. Avoiding the tourist traps in Paris is often a matter of common sense. However,there are a few rules that are likely to keep you off the tourist traps.

– Avoid changing money in airports, at La Défense, and near touristy sites. Same for money withdrawal with a foreigner card

– Skip cafes and restaurants close to the main landmarks and all the places attracting hordes of visitors. Prices can be 2 or 3 times the price than in other neighborhoods of Paris.

– Beware of restaurants displaying photos of the dishes and menus in several languages. They are obviously for foreigners.

– Beware of additional charges in many cafes when sitting at a table. Most of the times, Parisian cafes have a price for having something standing at the counter or sitting at a table

(Video) A Female Traveler's Guide to Paris & Mistakes to Avoid | 4 Day Paris Itinerary

– Don’t rely too much on Tripadvisor, and learn how to read behind the lines. Search for advice and reviews from locals

–Read a good Paris travel guide or France travel guide to prepare your trip.

9. Take a Day Trip from Paris to Explore its Surroundings

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With so many interesting sites around Paris, I won’t blame you if you want to block one day or two of your Paris Itinerary to get out of town and explore what the Parisian region has to offer.

From Château de Versailles to other fairy tale castles near Paris, from Provins medieval town to picturesque towns like Giverny,there aregreat day trips from Parisor fantasticweekend getaways by train or guided tour.

10. Just Say NO

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The last of these Paris tips is to learn to say ‘NO.’ It is ok to have a plan full of interesting things to see & do but should you rush through it just for the sake of moving on to the next thing on your list?

This is definitely one of the biggest travel regrets among international travelers. They come to Paris, they see many extraordinary things, but in the end, the general feeling is that if they had just chosen half the things, they would have discovered much more about the city, especially about local life.

So much better to allow yourself to go with the flow and see where it takes you. Most of our greatest travel memories have come from us saying ‘YES’ to not doing what we’d planned.

So there you have it, the best Paris tips and tricks for visiting Paris for the first time, from where to go, what to do, and what to avoid, all these Paris travel tips will ensure a smooth first time in Paris.

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How do I visit Paris for the first time? ›

  1. Visiting Paris for the first time? We've got you covered with these practical tips!
  2. Paris is more than just a romantic city.
  3. Visit during off-peak season.
  4. Book a hotel near the center.
  5. Buy the Paris Pass.
  6. Wear comfortable shoes.
  7. Use public transportation.
  8. Watch out for pickpockets and scams.
12 Aug 2022

What are 3 things tourists should remember when visiting Paris? ›

10 Things to Know Before Going to Paris
  • Don't gamble or buy anything on the streets. ...
  • Don't butt out on the street. ...
  • Avoid restaurants in very touristy spots. ...
  • Don't buy croissants or bread in big chain stores. ...
  • Stand right. ...
  • Avoid expensive rooftops. ...
  • Avoid fancy cafés. ...
  • Learn a few words in French.
16 Nov 2016

Are tips included in Paris restaurants? ›

In Paris, the bill in bars and restaurants includes a service charge, so you do not have to leave a tip. However, if you have been satisfied with your meal and the service you are welcome to do so. A tip in general amounts to 5 to 10% of the bill.

What I Wish I Knew Before traveling to Paris? ›

10 Things We Wish We Knew Before Visiting France
  • 8/10 ASK FOR THE CHECK. ...
  • 7/10 KNOW WHEN TO TIP. ...
  • 4/10 SHAKE HANDS OR KISS. ...
18 Sept 2019

Where is the best area to stay in Paris for the first-time? ›

The best areas to stay in Paris for first-timers are the neighborhoods around Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Le Marais, Le Quartier Latin, Saint-Germain-des-Près, Champs-Elysées, Canal St. Martin, Bastille, Montparnasse, Montmartre, and Belleville.

Where should I eat for the first-time in Paris? ›

L'Ami Jean
  • View All Restaurants.
  • FTG (Frenchie To Go) 9 Rue du Nil, 75002 Paris, France. ...
  • Miznon. 22 Rue des Ecouffes, 75004 Paris, France. ...
  • Holybelly 5. 5 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 Paris, France. ...
  • Angelina Paris. 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France. ...
  • Caractère de Cochon. 42 Rue Charlot, 75003 Paris, France. ...
  • Breizh Café ...
  • Ober Mamma.

What should I be careful of in Paris? ›

A few tips to discover Paris peacefully !
  • Beware of pickpockets. ...
  • Make payments by banker's card. ...
  • Remain vigilant. ...
  • Keep your baggage close to you. ...
  • Keep a copy of your ID papers. ...
  • Contact the relevant authorities after the loss or theft of your ID papers. ...
  • If you are assaulted, call an emergency number.

What should I wear in Paris? ›

In general, Paris everyday fashion is more dressy than American style. This DOES NOT mean business clothing. For Paris clothing styles, think dressy top (or the type of top you'd wear to work) plus nice jeans (dark colors are always a good choice).

How do you dress like a local in Paris? ›

You'll see a red dress or yellow top, but not plaid on plaid or a full pink look. During the day, you can't go wrong with stylish jeans, nice sun dresses and classic jackets. French women love a blazer day or night. Same with a button down shirt, pretty and simple blouses and cozy, chic sweaters.

How much should I tip in Paris? ›

Tipping is not required by etiquette in restaurants, but if you enjoyed your meal, it's nice to leave 5 - 10%. If you really enjoyed the meal, or plan on returning to the restaurant and want the wait staff to like you, 15% is a generous tip.

Do you tip taxi in Paris? ›

It's nice to give small tips for great service but it isn't expected. Similar to how you will tip at restaurants, taxis expect tips around 1 – 2€ when they give great service.

Is it rude not to tip in Paris? ›

Tipping is not required in France (although there are a few exceptions). You don't need to tip French waitstaff because they get a living wage and benefits. It is NOT considered rude to tip in France. There is no standard percentage for tips in France.

How do you tip a waiter in France? ›

You are not required to tip waiters/waitresses. A 15% service fee is automatically included in ALL cafés, restaurants, bars, etc. as part of the price of each item (not on top of the total). Servers in France get salaries, paid vacations, health care, and living wages.

What district of Paris is the best to stay in? ›

If the French capital is synonymous with the Eiffel Tower for you, the best area to stay in Paris is the 7th arrondissement. This upscale neighborhood is not only on the footsteps of the landmark itself, but also home to beautiful streets, historic architecture, and great restaurants.

What is the safest area in Paris to stay? ›

A Look at the Top 9 Safest Areas to Stay in Paris
  • Champs Elysées.
  • Le Marais.
  • St Germain.
  • Châtelet.
  • Montmartre.
  • So-Pi.
  • Canal Saint-Martin.
  • Oberkampf.
6 Feb 2022

Where should I stay in Paris to walk everywhere? ›

The best place to stay in Paris for first-time visitors is the Louvre and Bourse neighbourhoods. These are the city's most central districts. You'll be within a walking distance of many historic sights, boat cruises and plenty of restaurants.

Can you drink tap water in Paris? ›

Paris tap water is considered safe to drink according to French, EU and international standards (WHO). Every day at the Eau de Paris research and analysis laboratories receive and record over 200 samples which divided among different chemical, organic chemistry, bacteriology, and corrosion departments.

What time should I eat in Paris? ›

Parisians don't dine until at least 8.30 pm as prior to that, time is set aside for “l'apéritif”. If you're used to eating earlier, restaurants in the more-frequented tourist areas are open from 7 pm onwards, although you won't see too many Parisians at that time!

How can I eat cheap in Paris? ›

Paris on a Budget: 10 Tips to Spend Less For Great Food
  1. Eat out at lunch instead of dinner. ...
  2. Opt for 'une formule', which is a set menu. ...
  3. Order wine by the glass. ...
  4. Beware of sodas and sparkling waters. ...
  5. Go to the bar inside a café to have your coffee. ...
  6. Order “à emporter” ...
  7. Avoid “le brunch” ...
  8. Eat like a Parisian.
9 Jun 2021

Should I use cash in Paris? ›

The currency of France is the Euro. Take sensible precautions and remain alert when handling cash and credit cards in public areas and at cash machines. Credit cards are widely accepted. You may be asked to provide ID if you can't pay by chip and PIN.

What is considered rude in Paris? ›

French people tend not to visit unannounced or uninvited. To do so is considered rude. When invited to a dinner, it is common for guests to ask their hosts if they are required to bring something on the day. Guests may also bring a bottle of wine or dessert.

How do I not look like a tourist in Paris? ›

Skip the baseball caps, white socks, sneakers, large colorful backpacks, and fanny packs. Instead, opt for dark skinny jeans, plain shirts without logos, and leather shoes. Top it off with a scarf and you will look tres French.

What is the most visited place in Paris? ›

1. Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower (la Tour Eiffel) ranks high on the list of places to visit in France and is the most-visited tourist attraction in the world.

What is Paris best know for? ›

Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is known worldwide for the Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame cathedral, and the Eiffel tower. It has a reputation of being a romantic and cultural city. The city is also known for its high-quality gastronomy and the terraces of its cafés.

What is Paris syndrome? ›

Paris syndrome (French: syndrome de Paris; Japanese: パリ症候群, romanized: Pari shōkōgun) is a sense of extreme disappointment exhibited by some individuals when visiting Paris, who feel that the city was not what they had expected. The condition is commonly viewed as a severe form of culture shock.

What are 2 things that you shouldn't do when you're eating in France? ›

Things you should NEVER do when dining in France
  • Don't ask for more food.
  • Don't get your steak well done.
  • Don't put your bread on the plate.
  • Don't put butter on the bread.
  • Don't drink anything but wine or water with dinner.
  • Cut into cheese correctly (or let someone else do it)
  • Don't cut up the lettuce.
28 Mar 2017

What is a typical breakfast in Paris? ›

A typical breakfast in Paris is a croissant (buttery roll of flaky pastry) and/or a tartine (French bread sliced lengthwise, with butter and jam), café au lait (coffee with milk, also called café crème), and perhaps some fruit or juice.

What is a typical lunch in Paris? ›

A typical French lunch consists of a starter (l'entrée), such as a salad, soup, some terrine or pâté, followed by a main course (le plat principal) of meat or fish, and then a cheese course or dessert – a formula that comes in varying degrees of simplicity or extravagance depending on the setting and day.

How do I visit France for the first-time? ›

10 France travel tips first-time travelers need to know
  1. The French take their time. ...
  2. Learn a few key French phrases. ...
  3. Say bonjour before anything else. ...
  4. Avoid being a target for pickpockets. ...
  5. Get out of big cities. ...
  6. The French are friendly and polite. ...
  7. There's no dress code.

How long do you need in Paris? ›

At the minimum, plan for 3 days in Paris to get a great taste of the city, visit some of the main sights, and explore the main neighborhoods. But if you really want to enjoy yourself, I'd recommend 7 days in Paris as a good starting point, especially if it's somewhere you've been dreaming of visiting for a long time.

Is Paris easy to navigate? ›

Paris can be a tough city to navigate, but don't worry, even if you've never used public transport. This guide will help you get around Paris safely, quickly, efficiently and best of all without breaking the bank.

How long is first visit to Paris? ›

First-time travelers should try and plan around 4-5 days—ample time to enjoy some classic Parisian highlights and visit a few of the 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods).

What should I know before going to France? ›

General Tips for Travelling to France
  • France is not just Paris. France doesn't begin and end in Paris! ...
  • Geographically interesting. ...
  • Travel off-season for a better experience. ...
  • Getting cash from the ATM is cheaper. ...
  • Cash is king. ...
  • Always keep your ID on you. ...
  • Courtesy is key. ...
  • The French aren't rude – Unless you are.
12 Jun 2020

What should I bring to France? ›

Paris Packing List: 20 Things Not to Forget & 5 Things You Can Leave at Home
  1. Small backpack. Don't take a big bag for your trip to Paris! ...
  2. Camera. Of course! ...
  3. Universal adaptor. ...
  4. Umbrella. ...
  5. One photo ID. ...
  6. Raincoat. ...
  7. Sweater or jacket. ...
  8. Debit/Credit card.
26 Sept 2022

What do I need to do to prepare to travel to France? ›

Quick Facts
  1. PASSPORT VALIDITY: At least three months beyond date of departure from the Schengen area. The 12-page U.S. emergency passport is not valid for visa-free entry into France.
  2. BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: Must have at least one blank page for stamps.
  3. TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Not required for stays under 90 days.
27 Jul 2022

Which is the best area to stay in Paris? ›

If the French capital is synonymous with the Eiffel Tower for you, the best area to stay in Paris is the 7th arrondissement. This upscale neighborhood is not only on the footsteps of the landmark itself, but also home to beautiful streets, historic architecture, and great restaurants.

What is the best time to visit Paris? ›

September and October are arguably the best months to be in Paris — a brisk breeze seeps into the air, Paris Fashion Week is in full force, and turning leaves line the city's most scenic jardins. Finally, November and December bring seasonal cheer, French delicacies, and galette des rois in shop windows.

Is Paris expensive? ›

Paris is one of the most expensive cities to visit in Europe. Whilst there are cheap and free activities, the city is famous for its art galleries and fine dining that you won't want to miss completely when visiting Paris.

Can I speak English in Paris? ›

While speaking English, in Paris, is not considered rude, expecting every French person to speak French will surely be seen as such. To avoid a cold reaction from the other party, it will always be appreciated to start the conversation with a simple sentence in French.

Can you drink tap water in Paris? ›

Paris tap water is considered safe to drink according to French, EU and international standards (WHO). Every day at the Eau de Paris research and analysis laboratories receive and record over 200 samples which divided among different chemical, organic chemistry, bacteriology, and corrosion departments.

What is the cheapest time to visit Paris? ›

According to the Paris Tourist Office, average rates are highest during May, June, September, and October. The lowest average rates occur in February and August, although rates may also be lower than average during the last two weeks in November, first two weeks in December, and last two weeks in January.

Is 4 days enough in Paris? ›

For this reason, four days in Paris offers a perfect compromise. In four days you can hit many of the city's major sights and attractions, and still have time to breathe, kick back, and enjoy some people-watching at a Parisian terrace.

Is 3 days enough in Paris? ›

Is 3 days enough time to visit Paris? Yes. As someone who has lived in Paris for several years and who knows the city inside out, I would say that three days is more than enough time to see all of the highlights as well as discover a more off the beaten side of the French capital.


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