Paris Trip Tips:

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Jan 2nd, 2013, 11:51 AM
  #1
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Paris Trip Tips:

This is NOT my trip report. However, this IS a list of things I learned while traveling and while in Paris. These are things that you may have heard before and some of which I wish I had been told before going:

1. When traveling with teenagers abroad, expect some family drama and roll with it
2. When in Paris, you will walk, walk and walk some more
3. Ride the metro--it is efficient and affordable
4. No matter how many times you ride the metro, your metro map is GOLD- USE IT!
5. Sometimes metro tickets work twice, sometimes you don't need a ticket because the gate has been left open, and sometimes you need a ticket to get out of the station
6. Airport departure from a foreign country (at least at Charles de Gaulle airport) is CRAZY and take a lot of time-- get to the airport EARLY
7. The French LOVE good manners- always say hello, good evening, thank you, and good bye
8. Speaking just a little bit (un peu) of French goes a LONG way
9. Many Parisians working in the tourist areas and restaurants speak English- if you try your French, they will use their English
10. There are scam artists everywhere and are not above using their puppies and/or children to get your money
11. Pickpockets are real
12. Parisians sleep in late, eat dinner late, and stay up late
13. The perfect time for coffee and a break for a pastry is around 5:00pm
14. Dinner starts around 8:00
15. Parisians love french fries (frites). They serve them with nearly everything.
16. Paris can be a dirty city: poop, trash and graffiti-- look past it to see the beauty of the architecture and the culture
17. In France, bread is life. Eat it...a lot...it's delicious.
18. People in Paris don't drink water like we Americans do. When sitting down to eat, order water right away and order many of them.
19. Wait service in any restaurant/cafe in Paris is slow to American standards. Expect it and be patient.
20. It seems that everyone in Paris smokes
21. You really do need to know some of the language of the country you're traveling to
22. French pastries taste as delicious as they look. Try them all!
23. People really do eat baguettes every day and so should the tourists- breakfast, sandwiches, snack...
24. Parisians love ham (jambon)- you'll find it on or in lots of foods.
25. Yes, people in Paris dress nicely but you will not be looked down upon for dressing in nice jeans and sneakers.
26. Take a short 1-2 hour nap on your first day- you'll feel better for it, then get outside and get some fresh air and sunshine
27. The flight is LONG- especially when traveling from the west coast. Wrap your mind around it.
28. Sleeping on the flights is difficult. Be prepared.
29. Stay in an apartment- you'll really get a feel for the neighborhood and the people who live there
30. Bring a reusable grocery bag to use when shopping at the markets for food (if you're in an apartment and have a kitchen to use)
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 11:58 AM
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IMHO - almost every single thing you have listed is obvious - to anyone who has ever traveled abroad or read anything about Paris.

But meals are not late - they are normal hours - 1 pm for lunch and 8 pm for dinner. And waitstaff are NOT slow. They are giving you time to eat - restaurants in France are not Applebees (thank god! - trying to rush you through a whole meal in an hour).
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 12:02 PM
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nytraveler- this was my first time traveling abroad. These things were NOT obvious to me, my husband or my kids. They are simply a list of things I learned while traveling.

And yes, compared to most American standards, meals in Paris are late and wait staff is slow. We typically eat by 6:00 around here and are rushed in and out of the restaurants in an hour. We are also checked on many times and our water and drinks refilled often throughout the meal.

Not saying that the way things are done in Paris are irritating, just making a note of how they are different from what most Americans are used to- especially those who do not live in big US cities or those who have not traveled overseas.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 12:06 PM
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"26. Take a short 1-2 hour nap on your first day- you'll feel better for it, then get outside and get some fresh air and sunshine"

I'll have to disagree with you on that. On one of my first trips to Europe I took a nap and had jet lag for a week. I've take more than a dozen trips since then, and I always stay up until nine the first night and have never had jet lag.

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Jan 2nd, 2013, 12:16 PM
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maitaitom- this was what worked for my family. We had no trouble with jet lag. Stayed up till 11:00-midnight every night and had no trouble sleeping or getting up and moving by 9:00 every morning. In fact, my son slept for about 5 hours upon arrival to the apartment and still had no trouble sleeping that first night or in dealing with jet lag the remainder of the week. What works for you doesn't mean it's what's best for everyone. In fact, I asked advice on jet lag before traveling, and my thread got 48 different responses. So again, this is just what worked for us.

Let me make myself clear, this is just MY list. Not saying anyone needs to agree with it. I guess I don't understand why people are so negative on this site. I asked a lot of questions on this forum before going to Paris, and got some great advice, but these were things we learned while traveling. What's with the negativity? Just because some of you have traveled extensively doesn't mean that the rest of us who are new to this can't post our thoughts without being picked apart. Wow.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 12:21 PM
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I agree with egwright about the nap on the first day, it works that way for me. But I know that is a minority opinion on this message board.

I would be careful about using metro tickets twice or going in through an open gate without using a ticket, as there can be spot checks and if you do not have your ticket, you can be fined.

And many of these tips are not so obvious. They are sometimes the subject of controversial threads on this message board, such as what to wear and whether to stay in an apartment or a hotel.

It is always interesting to hear somebody's take on their travels.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 12:25 PM
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Nikki- we always had a ticket to give to either the machine upon exiting or to show to the metro people who were spot checking tickets upon exiting. We were just surprised at the inconsistency surrounding tickets.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 12:30 PM
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I'm not being negative, I just don't agree with you on that point.

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Jan 2nd, 2013, 12:33 PM
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#5 - you had better have a validated/used ticket if an inspector comes along. they won't want to hear that the gate was up.

You left off taking the bus, a great way to SEE around you as your are in transit.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 12:38 PM
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DebitNM- we never rode the bus so I didn't include it.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 12:46 PM
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This is a good list for first-timers. The problem is that newbies never look for these lists; there have been many lists posted here as advice for the uninitiated.

You can take what you've learned in Paris and translate that to other European countries and you'll be all set for your next trip.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 12:53 PM
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Well - I can only judge by what I know - but eating lunch at 1 and dinner at 8 is NOT late. And any decent restaurant in the US - (not fast food chains) gives you 2 hours for dinner. Not constantly harassing you while you try to enjoy a meal.

I can understand if people rise very early and eat meals very early in some rural areas - but have never seen it myself. And would think that anyone who had visited a sizable city would be used to meals at a more reasonable hour - people are rarely even home by 6 pm. (Meals are later in some places - esp Spain - where dinner is typically at 10 pm).

And I don;t mean to be critical - but I would think that reading 1 or 2 guidebooks - or even watching a couple of episodes of the dreaded Steeeves would have made most of this obvious. He is, after all, aimed at the first time traveler.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 01:08 PM
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To the OP: some posters can't help but criticize people presenting information they've learned - especially if the poster already knew what you are presenting. Take it in stride.

For a first timer, you presented the most valuable part of Paris trips - being polite by speaking the native tongue.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 01:22 PM
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nytraveler- you may not mean to be critical, but you are.

People who live in suburbs with teenagers and who live by school schedules don't eat lunch at 1:00 and dinner at 8:00. I am up at 4:30 every morning, at work by 7:00, teaching by 7:45. My kids have lunch at school before 11:00 and that is the second lunch hour. They are out of school by 2:10 every day- dinner is by 6:00. Most families living like this do not go out to dinner often, so having dinner at a nice restaurant at 8:00 is not something that happens frequently; in fact, most of the time these experiences are limited to vacations. By 8:00 we're shutting down, finishing homework, and getting ready for bed...definitely NOT going to dinner at a nice restaurant for two hours.

I think that you need to accept that not everyone lives like you or has the same experiences. As I have said several times, this is MY experience. I read several guidebooks, asked questions on this site, read through several trip reports and, God forbid, watched Rick Steves, but these were all experiences for a first time traveler. In fact, my husband and I turned to each other and said, these are the things no one ever tells you.
This is ridiculous.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 01:22 PM
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"To the OP: some posters can't help but criticize people.."

Nobody is criticizing the original poster, but, in my opinion, to tell people to take a short nap on Day One will work is is not necessarily good information for many. Everyone is different. I know a lot of friends who have napped their first day, and the first few days were miserable because of jet lag. My brother-in law was a mess for almost a week because he took a two hour nap on Day One. Ot screwed up one of my trips. Others, like the poster can nap and it works. Terrific. But to just say, "Take a short 1-2 hour nap on your first day- you'll feel better for it," is just not true for a lot of travelers.

I love the rue Cler. Others here hate it. If you want to go...great. If not...that's cool, too. You can have differing opinions on this board, or has that changed in 2013?

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Jan 2nd, 2013, 01:31 PM
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We've had many a thread debating napping or not and it will continue!

Everyone needs to figure out what works best for them. Same with rue Cler.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 01:36 PM
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26. Take a short 1-2 hour nap on your first day- you'll feel better for it, then get outside and get some fresh air and sunshine.

maitaitom
I'll have to disagree with you on that. On one of my first trips to Europe I took a nap and had jet lag for a week. I've take more than a dozen trips since then, and I always stay up until nine the first night and have never had jet lag.

When we took our first trip several years ago...I had read stay up,keep going on your first day...I tried but sometimes the body just doesn't do what you want.

After arriving I had to stop and lay down for about an hour. I didn't have any jetlag for the rest of the trip and I had no problem going back to sleep that 1st night. You should trust your own body,do what is best for you.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 01:56 PM
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egwright10--While I have been to Paris a handful of times, I still appreciate your list. What works for you might work for others. The thing with the metro tickets that DebitNM mentioned is important. Anyway, I am with you and rarely eat as late as 8pm, etc. My days are much like yours. Anyway, I just wanted to give you some encouragement to keep posting and don't let the negative nellies get to you. There are plenty around here, but there are also nice people around too. We all were first time European travelers at one point and we need to put ourselves back in those shoes on occassion Sounds like you had a good time and will go again.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 02:01 PM
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Dear eg,
Without being negative, I think what puzzles readers is that you clearly did your homework:

"I asked a lot of questions on this forum before going to Paris, and got some great advice, but these were things we learned while traveling."

and " I read several guidebooks, asked questions on this site, read through several trip reports and, God forbid, watched Rick Steves, but these were all experiences for a first time traveler. In fact, my husband and I turned to each other and said, these are the things no one ever tells you.

The paradox is your list is filled with elementary things, contained in almost every Paris trip report or travelogue. So I think what may be perceived as criticism is more puzzlement.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 02:17 PM
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apersuader65- Thank you!
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