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Paris Travel Tips

1. Do Learn Some French Phrases, Don't Stress About Using Them - Most Parisians in the tourists areas speak some English. However, when in France, learn some polite French phrases to "break the ice." You only need to learn five key phrases, and you'll be surprised by the effect that they'll have.
2. Do Shop in Paris, Don't Forget to Say "Bonjour Madame" and "Au Revoir" - Unlike the US where "business is business", the French view their shops as an extension of their homes. You would not enter a stranger's house without saying "Hello" and "Goodbye", so remember to do so when in Paris.
3. Do Order in Cafés, Don't Complain About How Long it Takes to Receive Your Order - In America, we grab our coffee and go. In Paris, part of the pleasure in drinking a warm, caffeinated beverage is the relaxing experience of savoring the drink, talking to friends, and "people watching". Cultural critics were wondering if the French would "take to the streets with their drinks" when Starbucks opened in Paris. The French, like Americans, love Starbucks - their stores are packed, but you won't see any "To Go" cups. For the French, the social aspect of lingering over a coffee is the point.
4. Do Express Your Opinion, Don't be Surprised When the "Customer Isn't Always Right" - In France, there isn't the rapid pace of job churn in the retail/service industries that there is in the US. People are paid a living wage, and stay in the same profession throughout their lives. If you're a frequent visitor to Paris, you'll notice the same waiters in cafés, the same desk clerks at the hotel, the same salesgirl at your favorite boutique.
5. Do Ride the Metro, Don't Throw Out Your Ticket - Hold onto your purple ticket until you exit the station. The Metro Police occasionally stand at the exits, and using hand-held scanners, inspect every exiting ticket. If you don't have your ticket, you will be asked to pay a 35€ fine on the spot.
6. Do Visit the Eiffel Tower via the Trocadéro Metro Stop, Don't Use the Bir Hakeim Station - Most tour books advise getting to the Eiffel Tower via the Bir Hakeim métro stop. Technically, this is the closest stop, but exit at the Trocadéro station directly across the Seine instead.
7. Do Order a Drink, Don't Expect Ice - Expecting a tall, iced Diet Coke? Forget-About-It -Parisians don't add ice to their drinks. Instead, of complaining and demanding ice, which the café won't have, enjoy the fact that the chilled drink is poured at your table by the waiter in an elegant glass, complete with a lemon twist.
8. Do Shop Early at the Department Stores, Don't Go in the Afternoon - In the afternoons, tours that spend the mornings sightseeing at museums, disgorge their customers in the Grand Magasins district. Literally, hundreds of tourists spill out of buses and into the Printemps or the Galeries Lafayette.
9. Do Explore the City, Don't Take a Cab - Walk or take the métro. Paris is a compact city, about 6 miles across, and no building in Paris is more than a few hundred yards from a Metro stop. In Paris, cabs are expensive - you pay by distance and the amount of time in the cab.
10. Do Ride the Métro at Night, Don't Depend on It Running Until Dawn - Before planning a night on the town, check when the last MÈtro departs your station. The Métro stops running between 12:40am and 1:20am on weekdays and an hour later on weekends. Trains are staggered between these time frames. Which means if you jump on a train and need to transfer, you might be stuck between stations.
11. Do Sightsee, Don't be Paranoid about Pickpockets - You can have your wallet or purse stolen in a small town just as quickly in a big city so use reasonable measures to protect your hard earned funds. We find that if you are aware of your surroundings wearing a money belt isn't necessary.


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