Acting Like a Local | Tips for Tourists in Paris


So, you have decided to take a vacation to Paris. Your plane tickets are purchased, your hotel or apartment is booked and you have a rough itinerary sketched out. All that’s left is to finalize some plans and get your stuff packed. To help you with that and make sure your trip runs as smoothly as possible, here are some of our tips!

How to look like a tourist (photo: Lingoistics)

How to look like a tourist (photo: Lingoistics)

Plan in Advance

Buy your tickets ahead of time: Tickets for places like the Eiffel Tower, boat tours and Giverny are sometimes cheaper (but definitely more convenient) if you book ahead of time. All of these tickets can be purchased online before you take your trip. Skip the lines at the Musée d’Orsay, Louvre and other popular destinations by buying tickets online ahead of time. If you plan on going to a lot of museums, buy a Paris Museum Pass for 2, 4 or 6 days. It is accepted at a variety of places around Paris and will help save you money.

Make reservations in advance: Although wandering around Paris and stumbling into a local brasserie is a great way to get a taste of local life, if you are a foodie there are probably some must-try restaurants on your list. For the more in-demand restaurants, reservations are necessary and should be made far in advance of your arrival. Luckily, a lot of places like Frenchie have started to take online reservations.

Lines at the Eiffel Tower (photo: Very Very Audrey)

Lines at the Eiffel Tower (photo: Very Very Audrey)

Blend In

Dress like a parisian: Leave your New Balance sneakers behind! Plan your outfits so you don’t stick out as a target for pickpockets. Choose simple pieces of clothes without big, flashy logos on them. Be sure to pack layers, a scarf and some sort of a jacket (think trench coat or leather jacket instead of a North Face fleece). And don’t forget your umbrella! A sure sign of a tourist is someone walking around with an umbrella or plastic poncho emblazoned with “PARIS”.

Be Aware: Though it is probably a myth that English speakers talk louder than the French, English stands out in a crowd. Be aware of how loud you are being and try not to draw attention to yourself. Keep you bags closed, especially while on the metro, and keep your valuables and money hidden away.

Reading up on Paris (photo: Michael Kwan)

Reading up on Paris (photo: Michael Kwan)

Do Your Research

Know cultural standards: Before you leave, read about different cultural practices in France so you are not completely overwhelmed when you arrive. Read up on restaurant etiquette so you don’t walk into a bistro at 3pm starving and expecting to order food. Even if you don’t speak French, always say “Bonjour” when you enter a store or restaurant and “Au revoir” when you leave. It is considered very impolite if you do not.

Be aware of scams: If someone comes up to you on the street and asks you if you lost a gold ring, keep walking. Paris is full of scams such as this one, targeted at unsuspecting tourists. In Montmartre, people will come up to tourists and start making bracelets on their wrists without asking and then will try to charge the person for a bracelet they didn’t want in the first place! Around the Eiffel Tower, avoid the people selling replicas of the tower and just wait to buy one in the official stores in the tower. Oh and those games with the 3 cups and a ball where it looks like everyone is winning tons of money? Those are, unfortunately, also scams.

Keep all this advice in mind while traveling and, of course, have fun!

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