Going to Paris for vacation is a very exciting trip to plan. Here are three practical tips that can help make your travels to the City of Lights easier and more enjoyable.
1. Have a plan.
Paris a very busy city with many options on how to spend your days. Make sure you’ve planned out at least one or two places you want to visit each day. In going to Paris you don’t want to waste any of your days because of bad weather, so my best advice would be to have some indoor and some outdoor activities. This way whatever the weather you can have an enjoyable day. If you are planning to visit the Eiffel Tower or other very popular spots it is best to purchase your tickets ahead of time in order to miss the long lines. In planning make sure to prioritize a few places you absolutely must see, but know it is not possible to see all of Paris in one trip. One other piece of advice would be to consider what sort of atmosphere do you want to create for your trip? Do you want a very cultural trip filled with visits to museum and monuments or a ’taste of French life’ trip with time spent in cafes and parks or a literary trip where you visit the old haunts of writers/characters.
2. Learn a little French
Maybe you studied French in high school or maybe you’ve never studied it in you life. Either way it is advisable to learn a few little phrases before going to Paris. It is true that the majority of Parisian you run into in will be able to speak English to varying degrees, so why learn a little French? For firsts it is polite to make little adaptations to the place you are visiting. A big positive of trying to speak in French (no matter how poorly that may be) is most French people will appreciate your effort to speak their language and thus will be much more accommodating and patient (and almost immediately speak to you in English). Some of the simplest and most important phrases to learn are greetings, thank you, how to ask for the bill, and where is the bathroom. Learning a few phrases may seem like a daunting task, but it can really pay off.
3. Remember Paris is a foreign city
France is not widely different from other western countries, so sometimes travelers forget that despite the similarities France, like any foreign country, does have its little cultural differences. These differences come in all shapes and forms most of which you can learn about in guide books in order to be prepared. One that you will most certainly experience when you eat at a cafe is you might have long ago finished your meal, but the waiter still does not bring out your check. It’s not that they’ve forgotten, but rather that in France it is rude to bring out the check right away as it implies it is time to leave. When you are ready to leave, simply ask the waiter for your bill (l’addition s’il vous plaît) a very good french phrase to learn) and they’re bring it right over. Another important difference you will notice at a cafe or any public space really is the difference in volume of the French vs. Anglophone conversation. Parisians are always in close quarters, so out of politeness generally speak much more quietly than we anglophones do. When you’re out for a meal at a cafe remember to keep your voice down a little. You don’t have to whisper, but listen to the volume of your cafe neighbors and then try to mimic it. Before getting upset it is important to always remember that just because its not your way of doing something doesn’t mean its the wrong way.
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