I’ve had a few friends ask for my Paris traveling tips and recommendation. So I thought it would be helpful to create a travel tip list for you gals. These tips apply to almost every European country you visit !
This is just my personal experience and a recommendation I would give a friend if they were traveling abroad for the first time. I Hope you find it helpful!
- Use a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees, or you will be responsive for 3-5% fees from your creditor.
- Exchange currency with your Debit card from an ATM for the best rate and most convenience and lowest fee. Banks and money exchange rate booths will charge you a percentage up to 3% as a fee for exchanging your money, but if you withdraw cash at an ATM the bank gives you the cash in current currency with the best rates.
- Purchasing designer handbags or items can be a little less expensive than in the US. But there is a catch, Paris and other European countries don’t charge you sales tax but they do charge a VAT fee. If you are a visitor from the USA or other countries you can get your VAT tax refund with a proof of purchase receipt. You’ll need to ask for a form at the airport, look for a sign that says “VAT REFUND”. You’ll most likely have to stand in a long line, and have your item you purchased with you, and you’ll be asked to fill out a short form to get a refund in the mail for your VAT purchases. The minimum purchase to qualify for a VAT refund was $275 last time I checked. It’s a nice way to save some money!
- Public transportation is gold: Metro, train, high speed trains are the most efficient and budget friendly option. The France metro stations are clearly labeled with an M or “METRO” sign. There are many metro stops within the city of Paris.
- Purchase a four day metro pass to save money. You’ll need a cash or a credit card that has a PIN. (Make sure you create a pin with your credit card company ahead of time!)
- Use Google maps offline: it will save your latest directions search and will be available during offline use when you don’t have wifi. I also take screen shot of the directions and save it and note the nearest Metro station. Don’t forget to map directions back.
- Walking: everything is pretty central in Paris. It’s a city of walking and everyone walks. No wonder all the Parisians are so fit.
- Uber/ Taxi: I don’t personally use Uber, but It is a more convenient option.
- Get a good map: last time I was in Paris, I printed out a nice color map of Paris including all the major Metro stops. I just googled one and headed to kinkos to print it out. Or you could purchase one in Paris at any convenient store or Download the Metro stop app.
WHERE TO STAY
- Airbnb: I love the comfort and convenience of Airbnb’s. It gives you a chance to explore a new neighborhood, get to know the owner, and get recommendations from a local. The price is fairly reasonable for about $150-200 a night for 1-2 bedroom flat. Aim to stay in the posh and convenient Latin Quarter -Le Marais or equally fabulous Saint Germain (where all the shopping is)
- Creme De La Creme of Hotels: If you want to lavish in luxury and want a room with the most splendid views, there are many options to chose from. The very popular blogger hotel Plaza Athenee and one of the top ten luxury hotels of the world Shangri-la . Be prepared to fork over $1,000 plus a night for the extravagant room view.
- Boutique Hotels: there are many boutique hotels that give you the emenitites of a hotel but are not as expensive as the top luxury hotels. Check out
- Couchsurfing : budget conscious option for college minded travelers. Stay with a local safely and often free. If you don’t mind sleeping on a sofa that is. It’s a good option if you are traveling solo and are open minded and comfortable getting to know a local/making a friend.
BEST VIEW OF THE EIFFEL TOWER
- Arc De triumph – many steps to walk up there are no elevators but the view is worth it. It’s about $10 for entrance
- Trocadero- Metro stop – takes you right to the platform where you can see the Eiffel tower from the back of the park (see the photo on top of post) It’s free no charge for this view
RESTAURANTS & EATING
- I recommend eating at a place where the menu is not in English and the people eating there are almost all locals, you’ll get the best eating experience , it’s likely not a tourist trap and provides a high quality dining experience.
- Dinner starts late: 7 pm – midnight at most restaurants
- Lunch is 12-3 pm and they close till dinner, except cafes
- Google translate for menus: download the app, you can thank me later. It’s so helpful gals! It has an option to translate a live picture from your phone camera. It’s helpful for Menu’s in restaurants. You can open Google translate and click “use camera” option and it will open your camera and in real time translate the words in the camera.
- Restaurants are closed after lunch till dinner time. 3-7pm so plan your mid day snack accordingly
- Make reservations for dinner. All the restaurants are small and only accommodate small parties, so calling ahead to make reservations a month in advance is recommended. For lunch, arrive before they open typically at 1pm and stand in line for walk in
- Restaurants and most stores are closed Sundays.
WHERE TO EAT
- Comptoir De La Gastronomie: My favorite restaurants in Paris. I once had a 5 hour layover in Paris and this is where I went to eat, and almost missed my connection. Haha! It’s so good gals, get the Foie Gras ravioli and a glass of wine, it’s amazing here!
- La Comptoir Du Relais : One of my top picks, the squid ink pasta is one of the best
- L’Ami Jean: A great dinner spot that’s unassuming but with the most tender beef cheek and other absolute deserving of excellent rating dishes. Make sure to make reservations.
- Le Souffle: As the name suggests, the only reason you’d go here is to let your souffle eating tastebuds dance
- Angelinas: The most decadent and delicious hot chocolate you’ll ever have.
- L’As du Fallafel : the best falafel you’ll ever taste in the hip Jewish quarter
- Berthillon: One of the best icecream spots, they have the famous double single scoop cones and will make your ice cream look like a delicate
WHAT TO DO
- Explore and eat through the city! I recommend for first timers to space out your days with one main attraction to see a day. And leave the rest of the day open to exciting roll -with -the -punches opportunities that you stumble upon. You want to wake up early to get to your main attraction as the later in the day it is, the more tourists there are.
- The highlights of Paris: Arc De Triomphe, Tuileries Garden, The Louvre, the lovers bridge, Notre Dame, pont Alexandre.
- Take a day trip to Palace of Versaille
- Take a stroll and plan for a romantic picnic along the Sienne
- Watch the Eiffel tower light up at night
- Go shopping
- Explore the cafes of Paris
- Lock in your love with a lock at the lock bridge, it’s sadly true that a lot of the bridges with locks have been taken down due to their weight weighing down the rails. But with some luck and a bit of research you’ll find one that is still there.
- Remember, no matter what you do, try to enjoy every experience; the good and bad. Stress only happens if you are in a rush to see it all. You can’t possibly see everything so remember quality over quantity. There is always a reason to come back !
If you enjoyed this post, please share, pin, and comment below. I read every single comment and it keeps me in the know that someone finds this helpful . Thanks Gals! Travel well and often !