Paris, with all its dazzling scenery, delicious food, and daunting history, also maintains the ability to burn holes in your pocket with its temptations. After a weekend getaway to the city of love, here are 5 tips to prepare for navigating through Paris:
1. Plan around the many free attractions Paris has to offer. You could dish extra dough to hit trending sites, but there is so much to pack in for free that it isn’t worth it. Sacre Coeur’s view exceeds that of the top of the Eiffel Tower, and a picnic with market goods provides infinitely more romantic ambience than a lunch on the river (weather permitting!)
2. Markets and bakeries are your best dining options. Even the cheapest goods can be the best French food you’ll taste – our best lunch by far through the weekend was a €3 Quiche Lorraine!
3. Check out Groupon deals. We stayed at a 4-5 star hotel for 2 nights and it was a steal. We were in a central location with easy access to trains, had rooftop views that included the Eiffel tower, and the deal included train tickets round trip!
4. Americans who don’t speak French- pack that thick skin. This is my second trip to Paris, and its no exaggeration to say that the majority of French really do hold a disdainful view of Americans. Even my best attempts to communicate in French had a police officer scoffing at me in his language. Though in my opinion police will be similarly abusive in any culture, this was a common theme in my interactions.
5. Download a map and loosely plan ahead. There’s no worse feeling then scrambling in a foreign culture. I made my desktop the map of Paris’s metro and perused TimeOut Paris for events and hot spots during my study breaks in the weeks leading up to our trip. This allowed us to feel lots of flexibility and freedom upon arriving as we had our fingers vaguely on the pulse of the local workings.
Bonus: Get outta that comfort zone! Don’t let the rude French stereotype or lack of foreign experience keep you from travelling. The experience is what equips you with these skills, and the experience of navigating a foreign culture equips you with skills to navigate the sometimes foreign happenings of life. In sum: minor discomfort leads to major gain!