10 Tips I Wish I had Going to Paris

26 Oct

Paris. Photo: Alicia Bok

1. You are not going to see everything. But do see your favourites. Take one day to just walk around and get lost. And take one day out to run errands. Doing so in Paris is so much more romantic and it also forces you to slow down.  P.S. The Louvre  is at least two visits. The people watching is so much more interesting than seeing the actual Mona Lisa.

2. Bread, cheese, wine and a park are your best friends.

3. Cabs suck. Especially late at night because they’re never around. Pre-plan if you are going to be out late and drunk. Be prepared to walk.  Especially if you are not in the city centre. There’s a reason ballet flats are popular here.

The Musee D'Orsay. This shot was taken when the museum was closed.

4.  Always double check museum times to make sure they are not closed.  On the first Sunday of the month, most museums are free; Mondays and Tuesdays are when some museums are closed.

5. Check the outer arrondissements too. It’s not as scary as you think. The 20th is especially a hot district right now. The 13th has some pretty good Chinese food. Who knew?

I couldn't deal with not being able to find "un lisseur" so I caved and got a blow out. When in Paris...

6. Bring a hair straightener (and appropriate adapter) with you if you have unruly hair. Nothing is more daunting than going around the city, being beckoned out of a salon, then not knowing how to say “Do you sell a hair straightener/iron?” in the native language.  This is the French I did not learn in High School. Also, the French speak in brands. “Hair straightener” was a no-go; “Babyliss” lead me to some very expensive solutions. Bonus: getting your hair “did “in another city and then taking pictures with good hair in front of famous monuments is fun.

7.  Trains are better than planes. But you will pay for a “reservation,” so tack on an extra 20 to 30 euros for that train ride over to Amsterdam.  Also, keep belongings close.

Even the dogs in Paris have cute names like Mousquette or Mousqie for short. Please! It's Swoony Mcswoonersville over here right now.

8. The Canadian bar is worse in Paris than it is in Canada. P.S. don’t go to a Canadian bar in Paris, even if the sign says “Great Canadian Bar.”

9 . Don’t believe all French Men. As charming as they are, they may not show up for a date and have you crying along the River Seine (or watching nineties music videos in your hotel room for a few hours). Bonus: a Scottish expat bar and UK lads are just around the corner.

10. The babies and dogs are cuter; the restaurants more tightly packed; the city not as dirty as most say; the French not as mean and surly as most perceive;  reaching the top of the Eiffel Tower is anti-climatic (and kind of windy in my experience). If you make an effort, you will be well received. Sometimes, the action is not at the top but down below (i.e. Champ de Mars); and never shake a hand. Major faux pas. Bisous Bisous.


2 Responses to “10 Tips I Wish I had Going to Paris”

  1. David October 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Good tips overall.
    I’m adding my two cents, though:

    1. It’s sad that some people go to the Louvre only to go see “the actual Mona Lisa”. Seriously it’s the least interesting thing in the museum, as you already know what it’s like (and yes, it’s smaller than you expected) and you won’t actually see it, you’ll just be in front of it with hundreds of other people, and just get a glimpse of it, but not “see it” like you’ll see any other piece of art that you don’t already know.

    2. Just a quick word about bread, cheese and wine. Eating just that doesn’t constitute a “French meal” 🙂

    4. First Sunday of the month free entrance applies to National Museums. City Museums (Carnavalet, Petit Palais) are always free. Most museums are closed on Mondays, however the Louvre and Beaubourg are closed on Tuesdays.

    5. The outer arrondissements are as safe as the inner ones (except for some parts of the 18th and 19th at night, but then again, the Champs Élysées are not that safe at night either) and it’s actuall where you’ll see the “real Paris” as opposed to the touristy one. And yeah, you’ll make interesting discoveries there (do you know there are not one but three Chinatowns in Paris?)

    8. Don’t go to the Great Canadian, go to the Moose instead. 😉

    9 . Sorry, I won’t start telling you about the “rules” (of lack thereof) of dating in France, it would take too long.

    10. Paris is dirty, it’s definitely the dirtiest city in France (with Marseilles? The rest of France is clean though). Don’t go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Who wants to wait in line for two hours and get a few of Paris without the Eiffel Tower in the background (cause you’re on it). Go to the top of the Montparnasse tower or the Belleville Park instead.
    I’m not sure what you mean with “never shake a hand” though.

    • nearafar October 29, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

      Phew! This is the biggest comment I’ve gotten to date. Thank you! Mainly it was a tongue in cheek way of things I learned in Paris. Thanks for taking it so literally!

      As for the Louvre, the one exhibit that really struck me was their Egyptian collection. It’s incredible! Yes, the Mona Lisa is overrated. I didn’t know that tip about Musuems, so thank you! I also did not know there are three Chinatowns in Paris. Wow! They have some really good Chinese food there. I love discovering things like that. When I go back. I really want to check out the 20th, but I’ll have to do more research into the 18th and 19th arrondissements. Dirty or not, I love Paris. I’ll definitely be taking your tips into account! What I meant by “never shake a hand,” is an anecdote. I was at a Chocolate Salon and my friend introduced me to his friend’s sister. I shook her hand and she was immediately taken aback because the French always give the cheek kiss and don’t shake hands. A very simple custom, but one I forgot in the moment. C’est la vie!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: