Paris: 50 Do’s and Don’ts guaranteed to improve your trip

Looking for advice about how to act or what to do during your upcoming trip to Paris? The amount of “advice” online can be daunting, with endless lists about how to act like a “real” Parisian (whoever they are!).

The truth is, there isn’t just one type of Parisian, nor is there one way to act when visiting the city.

But you know us — we couldn’t resist creating a jumbo list of our own. However, we’re listing only friendly do’s and don’ts that will help you make the most of your trip and your budget. Do… keep reading!

Related Paris reading:
• 10 costly mistakes that tourists make
10 Ways to prepare for your Paris vacation
The best SIM Cards for a trip to France

Paris Cheese

Browse the cheese, but don’t forget to say hello, er “bonjour”, to the shopkeeper. Photo: LEAF Project


1. Do say “Bonjour when engaging with another person. This includes all salespeople, servers, front desk, etc. Bonus points for adding a “Monsieur” or “Madame”.

2. Don’t worry about not speaking French beyond the basics. However, do learn a couple of words. Bonjour. Au revoir. Merci. Monsieur. Madame. Oui. Non. Voila — you’ve got it. (Want more? Here are 10 French phrases that can help you save money.)

3. Do seek out locals, or at least try to talk to them at a picnic or in a bar. But try to drop a couple of words in French. It’s a good conversation starter.

4. Don’t expect the French to be rude. They’re just humans. (And you’re far less likely to find yourself in a rude situation if you stick to rule #1 above.)

5. Do learn how to use an “inside voice”. Parisians, in general, are a lot quieter in public places than we’re used to being in the US. You will notice this tout de suite in the Metro, restaurants, in line at the bakery, etc.

Forget a beret! Rock a scarf in Paris. Photo: onourtravels

Forget a beret! Rock a scarf in Paris. Photo: onourtravels

Clothing and Packing

6. Do wear comfortable shoes (no stilettos) and clothes that can easily be layered. Pack a nice outfit for special occasions, but don’t go overboard here. You’re mostly going to be walking, and walking, and walking…

7. Don’t come unprepared for the weather. Research the weather before you go and pack accordingly, when possible. Pack an umbrella and a light rain jacket.

8. Do wear a scarf in the winter and fall. It might seem like a cliché, but it’ll keep you warm and Parisians wear them all the time. Wrap yourself up — you’ll fit right in.

Paris Picnic

A Paris picnic in the park is a definite DO! Photo: Caleb Phillips

Eating and drinking

9. Don’t buy bottled water in a restaurant unless you like or need bubbly water. Otherwise, stick to a “carafe d’eau”. It’s delicious — and free.

10. Do spend at least an hour at a café terrace at some point during your trip sipping something. Bring the journal, notepad, book, or postcards, and have the whole experience.

11. Do refill your water bottle at any of the city’s outdoor water fountains. It’s the same delicious water Parisians drink daily. Eco-friendly! Free! Photo-op!

Go for a "tradition"! Baguettes at La Grande Epicerie in Le Bon Marché. Photo: kanuck

Go for a “tradition”! Baguettes at La Grande Epicerie in Le Bon Marché. Photo: kanuck

12. Don’t buy a baguette “ordinaire”. Stick to the “tradition”. Trust us on this one.

13. Don’t fuss over eating like you eat back home. This is not home, so breakfast options and coffee choices are not the same. (Sorry. But not really.)

14. Do eat things that you have never tasted before. This is Paris and we like to eat. (And we like to eat things that might seem rather unusual to you at first. Go for it!)

15. Do order a carafe of wine at lunch to share… or for yourself. Wine is cheap in France! And you’re on vacation, right?

16. Do eat as much as you can. Once you’re home, you won’t get any more baguettes. Well, maybe you can buy one from Whole Foods, but it won’t taste the same. Here’s how to eat like a local for under €20 a day.

17. Don’t go to McDonald’s. I mean, it’s fine for a bathroom break (and for emergency free Wi-Fi), but the experience isn’t really that different or more exciting than you’d have at the Golden Arches back home.

18. Do throw yourself a picnic if possible. Head to an outdoor market, get some cheese from a fromagerie, some fresh baguettes and head to the wine store. We’re so there.

19. Don’t write off ethnic food in Paris. A lot of it is really good and unique. Just don’t fiddle with the American stuff. But the falafel? Winner!

20. Don’t tip needlessly in restaurants. Please don’t. We’ve talked about this already.

21. Don’t eat anywhere within a beret’s toss of a major tourist destination, especially Sacre Coeur, Eiffel Tower, or Notre Dame. Push a bit farther afield and look for something more authentic without “tourist pricing”. Here are a few choices for dinner in Paris.

22. Do consider restaurants that aren’t listed on TripAdvisor. The site isn’t the final word on dining in Paris — and, actually, it can be quite an echo chamber, sending more and more tourists to the same restaurants, while smaller establishments remain ignored. Head off on your own… follow your nose and your own instincts.

Paris Hotel

Book accommodations in a central location like Hotel Marignan in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Photo: EuroCheapo


23. Don’t pay for breakfast in a hotel or hostel if you don’t have to. It will probably cost you about €9-14 for something that you get (fresher!) at the corner bakery for about €3-4.

24. Do book a hotel that’s as central as possible to avoid wasting time in transit. You might have to pay a few more euros per night, but you’ll save a lot of time and money. EuroCheap has hotels whether you’re a romantic or traveling with your family. Check out our full guide to cheap Paris hotels.

25. Don’t touch those items in the minibar. Head to the nearest supermarket to pick up water, drinks, snacks, champagne, fruit, etc.

Paris Cafe

Always keep an eye on your stuff in touristy areas like cafes and popular attractions. Photo: Danile Lobo

Money and Safety

26. Don’t carry your passport and all of your credit cards with you. Leave your passport and some of your plastic in a safe back in the hotel. (Also, do make a copy of the passport and keep it with your travel documents.)

27. Don’t fall for street scams (aggressive petitioners, “charity” collectors, bracelet/ring scam artists, three-card monte dealers, shell game hucksters, etc.). But don’t be freaked out by normal people. Simply avoid anyone who approaches you in an unusual manner. If it feels odd, keep on walking.

28. Don’t let your guard down. Petty crime exists here. Just because Paris can seem like a movie set doesn’t mean pickpockets don’t lurk in the shadows. When sitting at a cafe, keep your purse safe and valuables (including that smartphone!) off the table. Things can disappear from your table between sips…

Paris Shop

Photograph the outside of the quaint shops, not the people inside. Photo: Natalie Marchant


29. Don’t take pictures of people in shops. They tend not to like it that much. It’s going to get awkward.

30. Do go to Paris’s famous flea markets to find something totally unique to bring home. We promise you’ll find something more special than an Eiffel Tower snow globe. (Well, you might find a cool vintage Eiffel Tower snow globe.) Check out a few of our favorite flea markets.

31. Don’t be entirely cheap. Sometimes a few extra euros can go a long way. And if you want to embark on a shopping spree, here’s how to do it on a budget.

Paris Boat Tour

Yes, a river cruise along the Seine is touristy, but it’s also a lovely way to see Paris. Photo: Jean-Pierre


32. Do visit all of the touristy sights that you’ve been eager to visit, even if there’s someone in your group moaning and groaning about it. Don’t leave with regrets about not having visited (fill-in-the-blank). You can even get started on your very first day in Paris.

33. However, don’t feel you have to go to Versailles, even though it’s famous and big and glorious. It won’t change your life unless you’re completely obsessed with Louis XIV.

Do you really want to spend very much time with these people pushing up against Mona? Photo: asrusch

Do you really want to spend very much time with these people pushing up against Mona? Photo: asrusch

34. Do buy a travel guide. Much of the information listed is evergreen and will be useful. Plus, it doesn’t run out of batteries and it’s a lot less costly to lose (or spill a glass of wine onto) than an iPad. Here are a few of our favorite Paris guidebooks.

35. Do read a few websites and travel blogs before visiting. (As you’re reading this post right now, you’ve already mastered this one. Well done!) Often websites have more offbeat and more recently updated information than guidebooks and magazines.

36. Don’t bring a selfie stick. No one will like you, and many museums look down on them. Take your photo the old fashioned way — ask that guy from Minnesota walking past you to take it.

37. Do take a boat ride along the Seine. It’s breezy and romantic — well, unless you get stuck with a group of 100 teenagers who are literally going bonkers.

38. Don’t come with a padlock and leave it locked to one of our monuments. Please just don’t.

39. Do take advantage of the city’s many free museums, festivals, and concerts. Paris is full of amazing free attractions, especially during the summer.

40. Don’t just see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Try to find something else that resonates with you — and that you don’t have to fight to get close to.

41. Do keep your expectations realistic and remain flexible, with a sense of humor, if possible. Paris is not perfect and sometimes things don’t go as planned. (The Eiffel Tower workers go on strike the day you visit? Take a photo — you’ve got a story!)

42. Don’t plan too many day trips from Paris. I’ve lived here for years and have yet to discover all of Paris. If you have a week, you might not want to spend five days day tripping…

43. Don’t walk around with your headphones on while visiting. Why should your ears miss out while your other senses get to enjoy Paris?

44. Do know the hours and opening times of major sights in advance. Go early or late to avoid the big crowds. And know if you can book major tickets in advance (you can at the Musée d’Orsay and Eiffel Tower, among others).

45. Don’t scorn other tourists – we’re all in this together.

Paris Metro

Don’t be afraid to take the Metro and be assertive when boarding if needed. Photo: Chris Yunker


46. Do use the Metro to get around town when you have more than 4-5 stations between you and a destination. Is it closer? You can easily walk that. Of course, you can also take a taxi, bus or Uber, too.

47. Don’t be shy in the Metro. Say “pardon” and shove gently when needed.

48. Don’t ride a Vélib public bike if you do not feel safe cycling in a city. It seems fun (and it is!), but it can also be dangerous, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Paris’s streets and traffic patterns.

49. Do some pre-trip research on how Paris works, even if it’s very basic. Know how to get to and from the airport, for example. And be prepared for your first day in Paris.

Paris Wifi

Paris has many public Wi-Fi spots, but it’s also important to disconnect when on vacation. Photo: JC Lemay


50. Don’t try to connect to free Wi-Fi every chance you get. Yes, it’s tempting, especially if you’re used to being constantly connected back home. But you’re on vacation — Instagram and Facebook when you get back to the hotel at night. You have the power to put away your phone! (Your traveling companions will thank you for this one.)

One last thought

Do resign yourself to the fact that you can’t see it all during your visit. You’ll just have to come back. Paris is a life-long love affair, and it only gets better with each visit.

Your tips

What do you do to make your Paris adventure even better? Tell us in the comments below.

The post Paris: 50 Do’s and Don’ts guaranteed to improve your trip appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

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