Are you planning a trip to Paris? Are you looking for tips so you are more prepared for your first time in Paris? Well, you have come to the right place, because I have visited Paris several times and I have the advice you need to help you with your planning!
Paris, the City of Light, is a well-loved and major European capital city. Over two million people call Paris home. Planning an itinerary for your first time in Paris can seem very overwhelming, but it does not have to be a daunting task.
I have used my own experiences during several stays in Paris to list 7 things I know will make your first time in Paris more memorable and more fun
7 Things To Know Before Your First Time In Paris
1) Riding The Metro Is Easier Than You Think During Your First Time In Paris
Chances are you will probably be flying into one of Paris’ larger airports, either Charles de Gaulle International Airport or Paris-Orly International Airport for your first time in Paris. You will want to budget one hour to get to the hotel or flat where you will be staying once you leave the airport.
I have traveled to my final destination by Ubering and also using the Paris metro. Both took equally the same amount of time, but the Uber ride was VERY EXPENSIVE and the metro was a much better deal.
Typical Paris metro station.
There are ticket kiosks at the airports where you can purchase metro tickets. Thankfully, there are very helpful attendants available to assist you with buying metro tickets to your final destination in case you have any questions.
Riding the metro from the airport into Paris will be much more convenient for you if you have luggage that is easy to navigate with. This 4 piece impact spinner luggage set is a good example of luggage with spinner wheels that will be easy to roll along with you and onto the metro.
The set is really reasonable in price and comes in a variety of colors to select from. If you are interested in hardside spinner luggage instead, this is a great choice, affordable and in many colors.
Soft-sided or hard sided, the choice is yours! Whether you plan to check your bag with the airline or use a carry-on, having the 360 spinner wheels will make all the difference in the world.
You can purchase single metro tickets, or you can buy a booklet of tickets instead, which is what my family and I did the last time we visited Paris. The booklet of tickets is a much better value for you during your first time in Paris, especially if you plan on seeing a lot of Paris’ attractions.
The Paris metro system is expansive and you will be able to easily get around town to wherever you wish using it while experiencing your first time in Paris. There is a scaled-down schedule at night, so research that as well as you plan.
There are a lot of stairs when using the Paris subway during your first time in Paris.
One of the only downsides I know of with the Paris metro system is that it is in not that friendly to the disabled. I have never seen an elevator to use.
If you or a member of your traveling party is disabled, has difficulty walking distances or climbing lots of stairs or rides in a wheelchair, you will probably need to consider alternative transportation for them during your first time in Paris.
2) Stay In A District During Your First Time In Paris That Interests You
Administrative districts in Paris are called arrondissements. And there are 20 of them, each with their own unique flair and character. Historic neighborhoods are within the districts. It is very important you decide which one matches up to your goals for your first time in Paris.
When I travel to Paris with my family, we stay in the 7th district. There’s just something about being close to the Eiffel Tower. We are also very close to all the major Parisian attractions that interest us, like the Louvre Art Museum and Notre Dame.
Those that are not within walking distance, we use the metro to get to, like the Champs Elysees, and visiting the Arc de Triomphe. As a runner, it is a lovely and quaint neighborhood, and I especially enjoy running alongside the River Seine.
The beautiful and elegant Louvre entrance pyramid.
Another interesting district worth considering is #18, Montmartre. It is so vibrant. So artsy. Sacre-Coeur Basilica is there, along with the Moulin Rouge, and both are very much worth visiting.
Montmartre boasts the absolute best views of Paris. The restaurants and souvenir shops are a bit more affordable, so don’t plan your first time in Paris without considering at least a visit to Montmartre.
Montmartre boasts this spectacular view of the entire city of Paris.
Depending on your plans and goals during your first time in Paris, selecting the right area, or district, in Paris will enhance your trip, and reward you with many wonderful memories.
3) Ways To Get Around Paris Will Surprise You
Once you are settled and well-rested, it is time to set out to explore Paris. As I already mentioned, the metro is absolutely the most reliable and cost-effective form of transportation during your first in Paris.
Do not rule out using taxis or Uber either, as they both do offer convenience, depending on your destination.
When we last visited, we noticed green electric scooters randomly left all over Paris. Literally on the sidewalks. Within a short time, we realized the lime green scooters were for rent!
If you are interested in renting one, you have to download the company’s app to your phone (there were three companies when we were there). Then you will need to input your credit card information. We used Lime.
My daughter Victoria, from Follow Me Away, scootering the streets of Paris.
Each scooter is GPS enabled, and you can very easily find an available scooter near you. Use the app on your phone when you are ready.
When you have arrived at your destination and are finished with your scooter, you simply sign out from your phone app. The applicable amount is charged to your credit card.
And then you leave the scooter wherever you are. The only rule is to not leave the scooter near the street or in the middle of a pedestrian walkway.
Here I am navigating Parisian neighborhoods on my e-scooter. On main thoroughfares, there are dedicated bike lanes to use when scootering. But on side streets, you scooter alongside traffic.
It was great fun riding the electric scooters. On the main thoroughfares, there are wide lanes dedicated to bicyclists and those who scooter. But on the smaller side streets, you will have to ride your scooter on the road alongside buses, bicyclists and all the cars.
I advise it is better to rent one when the streets are not so busy. But I found that drivers in Europe, especially Paris, are much more cognizant of bikers and scooter riders. You really do not have much to worry about.
One thing we could not figure out is how or when those electric bike batteries were recharged. Every morning when we researched how many scooters were available for our party of four, and where they were located, they always had 100% full batteries. A mystery!
Depending on the season of your first time in Paris it may be a bit chilly to go scootering around. This windproof softshell fleece lined jacket would be ideal to keep any guy warm. This lightweight unisex windbreaker will protect from the chilly wind too.
If riding an electric scooter does not appeal to you, perhaps renting a bike sounds better. There are many bike stations around.
Again, you will need to download the bike company’s app on your phone. And then input your credit card information. In the past we used Velib. And unlike the electric scooters, the bikes must be returned to a bike station and locked in a bike stall.
Riding bicycles around Paris is a great and economical way to see the city.
Because of the scooter craze, there were a lot more available bicycles to rent. Bicycling is also great exercise, and another fun way to get around Paris.
And finally, do not forget about walking! Walking during your first time in Paris will give you a unique experience different from biking or riding the scooter.
You will want to bring along a pair of good sturdy closed-toe shoes for those 20,000 steps a day days you will be having. These Skechers empire fashion sneakers would be ideal. They are affordable and come in a wide variety of colors. These go-step lite-agile walking shoes by Sketchers are also a great choice.
If you travel to Paris in the warmer weather, I suggest you consider bringing a pair of Vionix ortho sandals. I have several nonleather pairs and I swear by them. They are so comfortable and wear like iron. You can count on them during long sightseeing days during your first time in Paris.
4) Save Time And Money By Purchasing Your Attraction Tickets Online
Are you planning to spend time at the Louvre Art Museum? How about visiting the Basilica de Notre Dame? Sainte Chappelle? It is almost always less expensive to purchase your tickets online beforehand.
You can walk inside the Eiffel Tower. Purchasing tickets online ahead of time is imperative, otherwise the lines are LONG!
If your time is limited, and you only have a few days during your first time in Paris, an added bonus for purchasing your tickets online is you probably will not have to wait in the long lines at the venue to buy your tickets.
Or to enter because you have your tickets in hand. This can save you considerable time affording you more time to devote to other attractions.
While you are out and about while your first time in Paris, you want to make staying hydrated a top priority. Having a reusable water bottle is not only eco-friendly but smart. This leak-proof collapsible roll-up water bottle would be ideal for travel.
This Brita hard-sided water bottle comes with several filters, which is very important to consider when traveling. Having clean filtered water is great protection.
My personal favorite is the Bobble water bottle. I never travel without it. The Bobble replaceable filters mean safe filtered water at all times.
5) Save Money During Your First Time In Paris By Getting Food And Snacks At A Local Grocery Store
Of course, the food is better in Paris! Nothing much can beat sitting in a French cafe or out on the patio watching the world stroll by during your first time in Paris. But Paris can be very expensive, and not very budget-friendly.
Fran Prix grocery stores are a fixture in Paris. There seems to be one on every corner! Stock up on drinks, fresh fruit, snacks, and pastries or French bread.
These items are budget-friendly and can serve as a quick breakfast or lunch. Or to bring along with you during your first time in Paris as a snack. Sightseeing can make you hungry!
In Europe, you will have to pay for grocery bags. It is not much, but often enough, it can get annoyingly costly. These foldable, waterproof reusable grocery bags would tuck in a corner of your suitcase and be perfect for filling all of your groceries.
If you want larger bags, these eco-friendly bags fold into small squares and have a larger capacity. I always bring my own reusable shopping sacks when I travel, tucked away in my suitcase.
Outdoor markets are all over Paris as well and very affordable to shop at.
If you make several trips to the grocery store during your first time in Paris, you will need more than one reusable grocery sack. Being waterproof is a great feature. Best of all you will be saving money.
6) On Your First Time In Paris Be Aware Pickpocketing Is Real
We are all aware to be vigilant of our surroundings and belongings when traveling. We all try to remain aware and in the moment. But in Paris, the pickpocketers and scam artists are real and very prevalent. And smarter and more cunning than us.
On our last trip to Paris, 3 out of the 4 of us traveling together were victims of Parisian pickpocketers. I do not want that unfortunate experience to happen to you or anyone traveling with you. And the police were very laissez-faire because I believe these violations of travelers’ personal property and space is a regular occurrence.
Beware of exhibitions or games, such as this one. It was a big scam, and tourists were being pickpocketed when distracted.
One of the first things I would advise to protect yourself and your personal information is RFID protection. These RFID color coded blocking sleeves are a great price and do not add any additional bulk to your handbag or wallet.
They come in multiples so you can share with family or friends who are traveling with you. You will all be protected from electronic pickpocketers.
My daughter found a well dressed young woman with her hand in my travel backpack on a very crowded street in Paris. In broad daylight. I did not even feel her unzip my backpack! Thankfully we caught her in the act before she was able to steal anything from me.
But it was a rude wake-up call that my backpack was woefully inadequate. This Travelon anti theft classic backpack has locking zippers and RFID protection. Also, it has a slash resistant handle and panels.
If a backpack is not your thing, how about this Travelon classic essential cross body messenger bag. Again, it has all the anti-theft features of the backpack, but in a crossbody instead. And wow does it come in a ton of colors to choose from!
If you are looking for something larger, this antitheft travel laptop backpack is TSA ready and comes with lots of protection. I like that it has double zippers that you can lock together if you purchase some locks, (or even a paperclip would slow down a thief.) And you will not have to remove your laptop from it when going through TSA screening.
7) On Your First Time In Paris Enjoy Eating Out Even If You Have Dietary Restrictions
These days everyone has some kind of dietary restriction, allergy or request when it comes to eating out. In our group of 4, there were 2 vegetarians, 1 vegan, and 1 omnivore. We were able to eat dinner at any Paris restaurant after long days of sightseeing, with no problems.
By all means, do not be afraid to notify the restaurant or cafe’s waitstaff of your special requirement. For me, it was being vegan. My daughters were vegetarian. Always ask for a menu written in English and ask for it to be explained to you. I never hesitated to ask for menu items to be veganized.
Imagine my surprise and delight when I found out even McDonald’s offered a vegan option!
Do not be afraid to venture far and wide throughout all of the neighborhoods of Paris in search of that perfect foodie experience. And do not forget fast food restaurants. In Paris, even McDonalds serves something a vegan can eat!
Additional Advice For Your First Time In Paris
Here are some quick tips and tricks which hopefully will enhance your first time in Paris and make it less stressful and more enjoyable.
UPDATED: Stay vigilant! During our last trip to Paris, our family of four was robbed 3 times. We discussed at great length how we had to remain vigilant to protect ourselves against pickpocketers.
However, we were not successful. My daughter had her brand new Olympus camera stolen in the broad daylight in a McDonald’s Restaurant in the Montmartre District of Paris while we were having afternoon refreshments.
My thief was caught red-handed with her arm up to her elbow inside of my backpack. Lucky for me my daughter apprehended her, and I was carrying my passport and credit cards on my body. She wore better clothes, better shoes and more trendy sunglasses than I did. She did not “fit” our idea of what a pickpocketer was.
Finally, Terrence had his backpacked unzipped while on the very crowded Paris subway. The burglar had his hand inside an outer pocket but was foiled by a Good Samaritan seated nearby.
Please do not have any preconceptions of who can violate you by stealing your possessions. Stay vigilant and alert. Hope you have more success than we did.
Remember to always stay hydrated. Bring a nondisposable refillable water container and refill it often! Not only will you hedge the odds against getting sick, but you will also be saving a lot of water bottles from being sent to the French landfills.
Do not worry about the language barrier. When I visited Paris, I knew very few French words and had absolutely no difficulty communicating with the Parisians. The French know enough English that you will be able to communicate enough for them to understand. There are even translation apps you can download to your phone.
Call your credit card company and check to see if charges foreign transaction fees every time you are out of the country. If it does, inquire about applying for a credit card that does NOT charge such fees.
When using an ATM in Paris France, make sure it is in your bank’s network, so you do not incur a transaction fee every time you use a French ATM to withdraw money. Also, consider withdrawing larger amounts of money, fewer times, to limit the transaction fees by your bank.
Packing Tips For Your First Time In Paris
I think that using these useful packing tips will enhance your trip to Paris and help you remain organized while there.
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring during your visit to Paris. This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind. You can keep your most valuable documents safe and secure next to your body.
If you have a pouch already you may not want to or need to invest in a new one, like me. If it does not come with the RFID protection, these RFID sleeves would be handy to prevent identity theft.
This configuration comes with enough passport and credit card sleeves that the entire family would be protected. They are slim too, so they will easily fit into your current pouch or wallet.
Don’t forget to bring along a universal power adapter on your trip to France. This worldwide power plug is a great example and will charge your phone at the end of your busy days.
And this world traveler adapter kit can charge several devices at the same time. This is what you will need when there are several people traveling in your group, or if you bring several electronic devices on your trip that require charging at the same time.
If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips. It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have.
And wow is it fast! I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about. And if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek Selfie Stick and Tripod for my birthday. It has Bloothtooth connectivity so it is very easy to use. It is made of durable aluminum and is very lightweight and easy to carry. I love mine and I think you will enjoy it too!
I was never a fan of packing cubes until I tried them out! Now I am sold. These Bagail packing cubes are the exact ones I use whenever I travel. I cannot believe how much more organized I am now!
Hydration is so important. You want to remain hydrated to support your immune system which in turn will be stronger to fight off any germs you will encounter during your travels. You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for travel and it will fit nicely in the pocket of a backpack or your purse. Also when filled with water, it is not too heavy to carry.
And the Bobble carbon filter ensures fresh clean water whenever and wherever you fill the Bobble. You can find filter replacements here.
Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium. Then this set of collapsible silicone foldable water bottles would work well for you. Would not take up much space in your suitcase at all. And you will be receiving a set of two.
You will want to bring a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great. It is very affordable and is available in many color options for you to choose from. The fact that it folds down into a zippered pouch will make it easy to pack.
Perhaps you need a more substantial backpack for your international travel. This antitheft backpack has a charging port, is water-resistant and can comfortably carry up to a 15.6″ laptop.It comes in a range of colors to choose from and it is inexpensive as well.
You will be walking more than usual when visiting Paris. A sturdy and comfortable pair of walking shoes is a must-have.
These waterproof all-season shoes are extremely affordable and yet fashionable. Mostly everyone is familiar with the Skechers brand, and these Air Run high fashion sneakers come in a lot of colors to match your outfits and are still affordable.
You may be visiting Paris in warmer weather, and you may want a pair of sandals to wear exploring. I highly recommend these Vionics adjustable strap orthotic sandals.
I have several pairs of these exact Vionic sandals in several colors that I bring with me *everywhere* I travel. They are very comfortable. I also sometimes bring along my Vionic Tides flip flops. The toe post is so comfortable which makes wearing these super comfortable.
Bring a lightweight scarf or shawl. Scarves and shawls are very popular in Europe, especially in Paris. Both men and women wear scarves, both decoratively and as a layering piece to keep warm.
This cotton unisex lightweight scarf is versatile and can be worn in any season. And here’s another option to consider: this lightweight sunscreen shawl scarf would do double duty to protect you from the sun in the warmer seasons as well as being a fashion accessory layering piece.
We all need to protect our eyes from the sun’s harmful UVA/UVB rays. These unisex polarized sunglasses come in a lot of lens colors and frame designs and are extremely affordable too.
If you are fond of the aviator-style of sunglasses these polarized aviators may interest you. I like polarized sunglasses because they remove the glare and help you to see things more clearly. This will be very helpful in Paris.
If you are in need of new luggage, this expandable soft side spinner luggage is affordable and comes in lots of colors. If you like hard-sided better, then you may favor this hard-sided luggage set better.
Both sets come with TSA approved zippers locks and 8 wheels per piece. Either will be great for the plane or train or even your car depending on how you plan to travel to Italy.
I know my 7 tips will help you plan an outstanding first time in Paris trip! If you are reading and you have already visited Paris, please add any tips in the comments section below that helped you during your first time in Paris!
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