Welcome to Paris! This page was designed especially for someone who is visiting Paris for the first time. The idea is to give you advice in order to better acquaint you with the City of Light, and help you prepare for this exciting trip. Read on!
Once you have settled down in your comfortable hotel room and are getting ready to take your first stroll, take some time to dress appropriately.
First, put on a really good pair of walking shoes to feel comfortable in the Parisian streets. Walking in Paris means stopping often to look at amazing details and buildings. This constant stop-and-go will wear you down if you aren't comfy in your shoes.
Visiting the Eiffel Tower means waiting often over 30 minutes to gain access to the ticket booth, then waiting some more for the elevator on the way up, and waiting some more for the elevator on the way down. So a pair of good shoes will make a big difference to your feet!
Parisian weather is fickle in the springtime and during fall: what starts out as a great clear day can turn rainy and chilly in the afternoon. Pack a sweater and a rain breaker if you are visiting during these seasons. Summer is usually fine (70-85°F), August is generally hotter (80-95°F). Winter is rainy and cold, almost as cold as in NYC.
In any case, take your umbrella along, it may become your best friend -- especially if you intend to take pictures of everything. Rain and camera lenses don't like each other.
Now that you're dressed and all ready to venture outside, here are a couple of useful tips:
- Avoid taking a taxi during the day, notably in the morning until 11:00, and in the late afternoon from 4:00 to 8:00. Streets are jam-packed during those periods, and seeing the meter run while you're a sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic is a disheartening experience.
- Taxi fares: taxi meters show your fare and one of three letters: A, B, or C. If you are within Paris and on the ring outside Paris (the peripheral boulevard), the A rate applies from 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM, and the B rate turns on from 8:00 PM till 6:00 AM. When you leave Paris intra-muros, the driver will turn on the B rate during the day and the C rate from 8:00 PM. If you are far from Paris, the C rate always applies. You will pay extra for every piece of luggage you load in the trunk and if you take the cab from an airport. Don't try to hail a cab in the street too close to a train station: taxi drivers can't load passengers within a 100-meter radius from the train stations. Go to the station taxi head instead, or further away from the station.
- French people have lunch between 12:00 and 1:30 PM, and dinner between 7:30 and 10:00 PM. If you wish to avoid the crowd, have lunch at 12:00 tops and dine out from 6:00 to 7:00 PM. Restaurants rarely serve between 2:00 and 6:00 PM.
- Having a drink at a sidewalk cafe is a necessary experience in Paris (skip it between November and March though,except if weather permits). However, sidewalk drinks are often charged premium prices.
- Although they are saddled with a reputation, cafe waiters are not necessarily rude: they're just in a hurry. So don't take offense if they are impatient with you. Smile and show them what you want on the menu. They won't return the smile, but you will get your order quickly.
- In Parisian restaurants, it is not customary for your waiter to come back to you once you are served to see if everything is allright: they assume this is the case. So don't feel you are ignored: just call the waiter when you wish to have your bread basket replenished. If you dine out at an expensive restaurant, waiters will tend your table diligently. Otherwise, it won't be the case.
- Gratuity: your restaurant/cafe check already includes a 15% gratuity. If you feel like giving an extra tip to your cafe waiter, leave EUR 1 ($.97) on the table. In a restaurant, you may leave EUR 3-5 ($2.7-4.5, more if you are in an expensive place) but again, that's not expected in either case. Your credit card receipt won't show any gratuity line.
Armed with these few basic pieces of advice, you are ready to conquer the asphalt. On to places to visit!
Paris offers a number of interesting itineraries for strollers. You can
follow the waterways (river Seine, St Martin Canal
, river Bièvre) or the 17-km long railway transformed into a most surprising walkway
hung some 50 feet above the hustle-bustle of the city. You can also spend some quality time in any of the large public parks which the city counts(Luxembourg, Buttes-Chaumont, Montsouris, Georges Brassens), discover the gardens of the 14th district
, or else decide to learn live history and architecture in areas like St-Sulpice and St Germain-des-Prés.
This is but a glimpse of the many places you will want to visit during your stay in Paris.
The hotel personnel wishes to be of service to you during your stay in Paris.