Paris is often referred to as The City of Light (La Ville Lumière), both because of its leading role during the Age of Enlightenment, and more literally because Paris was one of the first European cities to adopt gas street lighting.
Now with this mind, there is a lot of excitement in visiting Paris. However…..there are list things to know before traveling to Paris for first-time travelers from the United States.
- They use the metric system. In other words, they use kilogram for pounds, Celsius for Fahrenheit, meters for feet, and many more. Here are some simple conversion tips:
– 1kg = 2.2lbs. So, you divide any kilo by 2 to get an approximation
– Over 25°C (77°F) is Florida weather in the winter with no humidity.
– 1m = 3ft. So, you multiply by 3
- Despite whatever you have heard about the Parisians or French people, it is “fake news”. They are friendly if you try. Don’t automatically expect (demand of) them to speak English to you, if you attempt French they will be helpful.
- Currency conversion is $1.00 = .80€. The dollar is not in your favor.
- Credit cards are accepted but not the American Express. Amex is used primarily in large establishments (i.e. hotels). Also, when purchasing with your card, keep it in euros rather than USD. It is in your favor. Try to avoid using your debit card as they charge a foreign transaction fee.
- Paris is very ethnically diverse which is phenomenal.
Resturants and Meals
- You know how McDonald super-size everything, it ain’t happening here. The meals are in small proportions in relation to what we have in the States. For example, the drinks are in ounces – between 3oz and 5oz. Now the bread and baguettes are a nice size and very filling.
- Restaurants are cozy (small) spaces and they don’t rush you and/or you don’t rush them. The concept of “fast food” doesn’t exist. The environment is of leisure. The establishments want you to stay, appreciate, and enjoy your meals.
- The restaurants do not like substitutions. This is not Burger King and you can’t have it your way. What is on the menu is what you get
- They don’t believe in splitting checks. So bring cash or designate one person to pay the bill and reimburse each other later.
- Tipping is not required as it is automatically in the bill.
- There are no washcloths in the hotels. I am warning you! Don’t be shocked! BYOW!!!!
- The rooms are not the size we are accustomed too. I would compare it to a large storage unit. For example, if you are sharing a room, make sure you get along really well and don’t mind being in tight spaces.
Below is a double room. The Twin is the same size with a 5 inch gap between the beds.
- People in Europe smoke and so it is everywhere. If they blow in your vicinity, it is not intentional.
Metro and Walking
- Be prepared to walk and climb steps. Paris and other European cities are very walkable.
Paris has a great metro system that will get you to the key places within 30 minutes. At some of the metro system, they have kiosk to guide you
Or, you can do what I do, use google maps and select the train option. Screenshot if you don’t have wifi available during the day and you are ready to go.
Now that you are in the “know”, it is time to explore and enjoy Paris. It is such a beautiful city filled with history and sites such Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. Have fun! Be Safe! Relish in the Adventure!
Lovely pieces of advice! Thanks for posting.
It is always fun and interesting to read such articles about Paris, as I am French and live a 30 min train ride away from Chatelet station.
I am happy to see you had a good time here, and it’s true we have a reputation of not being very welcoming, but it’s more a matter of culture clash in my opinion.
We French are very particular about being polite, discreet, always say hello and thank you, and any effort to speak French is appreciated. Not really because we are so proud of our language that we refuse to speak anything else, but because most French are bad at foreign languages (blame our education system) – and it’s always nice to see someone making an effort to “blend in” the country they are visiting.
Amazing tips given, haven’t been to Paris but will keep in mind those tiny tips given by you
I have been to Paris 4 times and amazed at how many people don’t know the things you have included here, thanks for sharing. I hope more people are prepared When they get there after reading your post
Reading this made me laugh a lot. Been to Paris, I can so much relate to every point listed. I think at first, what surprised me most was the food & restaurants,there was a long queue and people in had finished their meals but there were so relaxed! I just had to wait. Yes, the French are friendly contrary to what I read before going. Would I visit again? Sure, many times I’d.
Great tips for when I get to Paris – thanks! I have noticed that rooms and other living spaces in many European countries are much smaller than those from the US are used to. And food/beverage portions.
This is a wonderful post with great tips.One should really keep all these pointers in mind before traveling to Paris and we are going to make note of it. Thanks for sharing.
Great information for my upcoming trip, thank you!