5 Travel Tips to Max Out Your Stay in Paris

City Travel, Dispatches from the Road, Featured, France, Travel Philosophy — By on April 19, 2010 at 10:00 am

The women in my family have been talking about taking an “all girls” trip to Paris for years.  In our minds, the City of Lights was a romantic place with fine architecture, effortlessly classy people, perfectly preserved history, and delicious wine. So when we finally made it there we were thrilled to discover that Paris is all of that and more! The city is so chalk-full of places to see, people to meet, food to eat, and culture to experience, that it could take forever to explore it all.  For you travelers who need a snapshot guide to Paris, here are my topfive must-sees to help you make the most of your time there. Bon Voyage!

1). The Charm of a basic “bonjour”

For some reason the French rock a bad rep when it comes to manners and willingness to help confused, non-French speaking tourists.  Seeing as how my family and I have zero (well, very little) knowledge of the French language, I was curious to see how we’d manage.  As it turns out though, everyone we encountered was nothing but kind and courteous!  Looking back, we think that the warm reception probably had something to do with our use of the few French pleasantries we actually knew.  Greeting waiters or sales people with a friendly bonjour, and throwing in a merci here and there really seemed to have a positive impact on how people treated us. So even if you don’t know more than a simple hello, goodbye and thank-you, use them- it will be much appreciated and your experience will be all the better for it!

2). Use the Metro!

The map of the Metro’s 14 subway and 5 RER lines may look pretty intimidating, but it’s really not as bad as it seems.  In fact, the metro system is very easy to navigate, it runs frequently and is fairly punctual. It’s a huge cash saver for travelers who can’t afford cabs. Though walking and exploring the small streets and alleys is the best way to get a feel for the city, Paris is a big place and the metro is a quick, cheap way to get from one area to the next.  If you’re with travelling with a few other people and want to save a few more Euro cents, buy a carnet (a set of 10 one-way tickets) – it works out to be cheaper than buying a bunch of individual tickets.  Don’t forget to hold onto your tickets (you may need it to pass through electronic turnstiles on the way out of the station).
3). Browse Galeries Lafayette

Even if you aren’t a shopaholic, Paris’ fashion paradise, Galeries Lafayette located near the Opera House, is still worth a peak.  With its stunning stain glass, domed ceiling and opera style balconies, the interior of this 7-story mega department store is a piece of art in of itself.  Shop (maybe window shop) the designer clothes til you drop or hang out at the cafe on the second floor with a cup of cafe au lait (they also serve champagne if you’re feeling fancy) and enjoy the view.

4). Buy a Museum Pass.

If you’re a museum buff (or even if you aren’t and just want to see three of the million museums in Paris), buying a museum pass can save you some cash and some time.  Flashing the pass let’s you bypass the ticket line and head straight into the museum–when you see the ticket lines you’ll see how much it’s worth it!  Before purchasing the pass be sure to check out the museum hours so that you can plan your days accordingly.  Remember that the pass includes entrance to sights such as the Palace of Versailles (it’s already €23 to see the Chateau and Marie Antoinette’s house without the pass) and a trip to the top of the Notre Dame.  Two (€32 ), four (€48 ) or six (€64 ) consecutive day passes are available. 
5). Visit Trocadero for an amazing view.

On our last night in Paris, as my family and I were running to dinner in attempt to beat out the next bout of rain and be on time for our reservation, we stopped dead in our tracks when we stumbled upon the most spectacular, jaw-dropping view of the Eiffel Tower.  With an eery, orange glow, the tower reflected onto the wet pavement in front of us- it looked like we could have reached out and touched it. Everyone around us was starring in awe and snapping away with their cameras- it was the perfect photo opp!  To catch a shot yourself head to the Trocadero Metro stop and walk to the Musee de l’Homme.

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  • Amy says:

    I am in Paris now, and I agree, Trocadero is an amazing place to view the tower. Good tips.

  • Brandy says:

    Great tips! I’d love to take a girls’ trip to Paris, as the one time I went there I was alone. And I definitely agree with #1 – I know a total of maybe five words in French, but people were lovely, friendly and polite.

  • Jama Kut says:

    It does appear that everybody is into this sort of stuff nowadays. Don’t actually fully understand it nevertheless, even though thanks for trying to describe it.

  • Indira Tryon says:

    A good look at this you have, even though I do not go along with every thing that’s been explained I can see your case.

  • Charles says:

    If you want to max out your stay in Paris you first have to find the right hotel inside Paris!
    It is not that easy, I tried a couple of bad three stars in Paris but I liked two three stars that I recommand the Hotel Les Jardins du Trocadero Eiffel Tower Paris and the Hotel California Saint Germain I booked them at http://www.atrip2paris.com

    I hope you ll enjoy your stay in Paris!


  • Trocadero in Paris is umbeliveable! You can see the tower! good tips!