Tips for Traveling to Paris Part One- From Fashion to Safety

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You know what guys? I just love Paris. I could live there.

Recently Jay and I went there for our second and third time this year. My love for Europe grew about 23841%. We have got a little hip in this past year and were able to book some fun tours around the city. If I haven't said in previous blog posts.. scheduling tours or tour guides is probably one of the smartest ways to make your vacation more enjoyable. You don't have to go overboard and book every day full of tours and events but a few good ones here and there is always nice. This post is going to give you some general tips for traveling to Paris. From fashion to safety, Paris is another world it's best to be prepared for your trip.

I have arrived!! 


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Fashion:
First of all you have to look the part. This is pretty simple.. just pack a bunch of neutral colored clothes mostly black, maybe a few pops of color but not much. I would not suggest wearing flip flops around any time of year. For the ladies those sock buns are gods gift to women! It will take a couple tries to get it down but they are cheap and very chic! (perfect for wearing post flight so you can go sight seeing looking fab without a shower and blow dry) --> Link for sock buns
Comedy Video about Shopping and Fashion in Paris

  •  Don’t fail to dress neatly. Parisians assume everyone wants to be dressed well. No big white sneakers (no matter what you read), no jogging pants, no short shorts.
  •  Don’t expect closet space at the hotel. Especially if your staying at a Parisian hotel they are even worse than the Hilton.
  • Pack lots and lots of scarves and just wear them with everything. New scarf=New outfit in my book.


This is a good example. I'd recommend flats and a scarf.  



Special packing items:
  • Umbrella
  • Rain coat or water resistant jacket (for a light drizzle)
  • Comfortable walking shoes.. sometimes I wear my ugly walking shoes with a really cute outfit and only let people take pictures of me from the ankles up. Hey no one will ever know and my feet will be thanking me later. 
  • Wine opener- We have not had much luck with the ones they provide in European hotels. 
  • European plug adapters
  • Black Sunglasses
  • A cross body purse that zips shut big enough to fit a water bottle and umbrella into. 
  • Love lock for the lock bridge. Click here for more information on the Love Lock Bridge
  • Be prepared for all weather conditions


Beggars and Tourist Trap Tips:

  • The Gold Ring Trick- If a man or woman come up to you asking you if you dropped a gold ring just ignore them completely. Even if you look at them or say "no" they will try to converse with you. I think it's pathetic and funny.. seriously. Someone will walk up behind you and toss a ring on the floor, pick it up, and ask you if you dropped it. Then they try to sell it to you after you just wasted 5 minutes trying to figure out what's going on. These people typically hang out by the love lock bridge and Notre dame but I've seen them everywhere. 
  • Shaking Eiffel Tower Dudes- These guys are normally illegal immigrants who make their money from selling you these cheap Eiffel towers at astronomical prices. They will stare at you right in the eye and shake them on their over sized key chain looking thing. It's kind of creepy. I would not want to buy anything from this people. Just for the simple fact that they are really annoying. I've seen them near the Lourve and Eiffel tower. 
  • Children on the Trains- I have been told from multiple local Parisians that there are little children that reach into your coat pockets and purses while your on the train. Since they are short and a lot of people aren't expecting a kid standing near them would do that they end up getting away with a lot. I recommend keeping your hands in your pockets and wearing a purse that zips and keep it in front of you so you can see it while on the trains and walking in the streets.  
  • Consolidating Souvenir Shopping- The best thing to do in these crazy touristy cities is to pick one souvenir shop to buy all of your stuff. Grab a few things in a store and see if they are willing to make a deal. If they are.. go get all the stuff you want and haggle haggle haggle!! I always start with 50% and try to end with 20% - 30% off. The nice thing about doing this is that you only spend time shopping once. I think it helps you make more out of your trip so you not in the back of your mind going "hmmm what will I get for little Sue?" 
  • Taxi Drivers at the Airport (CDG)- If you don't know like you at least look like you know where your going in the airport people will approach you asking you if you need a taxi (or any other service.) These people are first of all not safe to do business with. Second of all they will over charge you and not let you haggle down. If you don't know where to find a taxi or your driver service please ask someone at an information desk. Don't get into an unmarked car and don't follow anyone but an airport employee. A good tip is to call the hotel ahead of time and see if they have a discounted driver service arranged from the airport. We found out that our hotel offers a driving service half the price of our taxi fare. Saving $$ where you can is always a good thing. Especially you will be using a service that is trusted by the hotel so chances are it's safer. 
Safety:

  • The last time we were in Paris we heard that little kids are going onto the train when it's full and reaching into everyone's pockets and purses. Stealing what they can and getting off at the next stop.If the train is crowded I always hold my purse right on my chest that way I can see it. Ladies- Try to stand butt against the wall if you can because a man is always trying to cop a feel!! Shocking I know!! 
  • Don't make eye contact with other people on the trains. 
  • If you are by yourself sit or stand near the door that opens so you can get off easily if you feel uncomfortable. 
  • Pretend like you know where your going even if you don't. Plan your train route out ahead of time so Parisians don't view you as a weak link tourist. 
  • If you need help with directions try asking a store owner over someone walking on the street. 
  • Watch out on the sidewalk. Outside the big roads, sidewalks there are very narrow. However, Parisians will rush along them talking on their phones and not pay attention. Mesmerized by a sunset or shopwindow, it’s easy to stop suddenly. Then the busy person right behind will be thrown on top of you. Just sayin' be aware of your surroundings... you’ll avoid collisions.

Eating out:
  • If it's a Friday or Saturday night you might need a reservation for some places. 
  • A lot of restaurants are closed Sundays, Mondays and sometimes even Tuesdays. 
  • Make sure to take an afternoon break each day of your vacation for a glass of rosé, champagne, or espresso at an outdoor café. Day trips to Reims (the Champagne region) for a tasting at Veuve Clicquot, House of Mumm (which is the sister to the Mumm winery in Napa) and, Moet and Chandon (my personal fave) Be aware word on the street is that they are a little stingy with the tasting amounts. Check out Versailles for a tour of the amazing gardens and palaces at Chateau de Versailles are also worthwhile.
  • Look for restaurants with a lot of turn over. You will have a better chance of getting a fresh plate of food if your eating at a place that does a lot of business or a place that is replenishing their buffet hot plates often. The street side creperies are a good choice. 
  • Sometimes it's fun to get some wine, dried meats, cheese, and some fruit. Lay out some towels on the floor of the hotel room and have a little picnic. We were able to open the windows to our hotel and listen to the street music while we sipped wine and ate the finest charcuterie and fromage plates. 
This is the Cheese plate we got along tour with John Paul. We got some cheese and meat to go from here and ate this later on. 

  • Always pack some american snacks such as crackers for your cheese plate and protein bars when you don't have time to eat. 
  • Plan for about 2-3 hours for dinner. Dinner starts around 8 PM in Paris so if you want to get a seat without a reservation try going slightly before. 
  • Lunch in a restaurant will be at least an hour if not longer. 
  • Don't think everyone speaks English.. Even if they have an English menu. Learn a few terms and make a list of foods you don't like in french so at least you know what not to order. 
Tours and Tour guides: 
  • The first time we went to Paris we had got the "Paris Pass" some people swear by it. I say if it's your first time to Paris and you want to see everything this would be a good route to take. However, I felt like we spent so much time trying to find these places then we get there and it's another 10 Euro for the audio guide. The audio guides are not a bad thing but it just takes the conversation out of the experience. Personally Jay and I recommend getting a tour guide for each museum. If your going to go with the Paris Pass or something similar I would recommend taking a walking tour beforehand so you can get a good lay of the land and some insider information on how to access these buildings with your "skip the line" passes. Viator is a good choice for those tours. I would say they are a middle grade tour service (we weren't blown away) and one day our guide didn't even show up! But.. they are decently priced and it gets the job done. 
  • If you go to Paris you MUST at lease schedule one tour with John Paul and his team. I fell in love with Paris and Montmarte when we did one of his tours. He really embraces Paris and tells stories that create that loving romance Paris magic that we all dream about. Another plus is that he's originally from St. Louis so he is very easy to understand. Not to mention he also speaks exquisite French. The other guides are also very fluent and well spoken in English. John Paul will take you to places that you would never go to as a tourist and places you couldn't go unless you spoke french. Click Here for a Link to John Paul's Page 
John Paul and I after our dinner tour! 

  • While the Louvre is considered the go to museum in Paris, we enjoyed the Musée D'Orsay more. It's smaller so it was more digestible for the person who isn't exactly well educated in French art history. ***An added bonus-- the view of Paris from the rooftop is Christmas Card picture-worthy. Also eat lunch in one of the most fabulous rooms ever. 
  • For a mellow and memorable evening, sit on the steps of the Sacré Coeur with a beer or a bottle of wine and watch the Eiffel Tower come to life and sparkle every hour on the hour until midnight. 
  • Most museums are open late (until 9:30 or later) once or twice a week. These are excellent times to go since the museums are about half as crowded as they are during the day. This also frees up the day to take in another activity.
Money Situations- 
  • Don't accept the offer to pay in US Dollars when using a credit card. Sometimes the card swiping machine will ask you if you would like to pay in $ or euros. Selecting $ will result in additional charges. They will not inform you of these charges.
  • We use the ATM machines without any problem. It's supposed to be the best conversion rate. There are tons of them in the city so select one that is not in a busy touristy area. Again don't make yourself a target. Be aware what the fee's are for using an ATM in Europe before you go. 
  • Get a credit card with this type of gold/silver chip on it. Most of the machines they have there don't work well with the swipes and this will result in most of your cards getting shut down from multiple tries. 



Just a Reminder.... 
Take things slowly. Have a good time!! Although rushing around is Parisian, rushing your pleasure is not. A beautiful moment, a drink, a view are all the best when thoroughly savored. Slow yourself down by finishing every meal with a coffee.
Chill out have a good time. Don't sweat the small stuff.
Don’t over schedule. Leave time for discoveries.


Cheers!!