1. Do not waste a day on Champs-Elysees
Truth be told, a stroll (if bumping into over excited teenagers from around the world can be called that) down the Champs-Elysees is a huge waste of time. Over rated and over priced, the street is best avoided, even by locals. Unless of course you want to shop at the flagship Louis Vuitton or Guerlain stores. If it is the famed Parisian walk you are after, try another street – the delightful tree lined Boulevard Saint-Germain for example. But if you do find yourself on Champs Elysees due to unavoidable circumstances, make sure you steer clear of the obscenely priced cafes!
Photo credit: Kent Kanouse
2. Do not eat at tourist traps
With upwards of 60 Michelin starred restaurants around the city, Paris has no dearth of establishments that can and do charge you approximately the same amount as your air ticket to the city. So keeping the Parisian culinary experience in mind, if you are budget conscious or simply not a splurger, then skip the haute-cuisine restaurants and head to the more informal bistro setups headed by the same Michelin starred chefs. Also, a good idea would be to give the famous brasseries a miss and try out a locally recommended one instead. And never, ever eat at an international fast food chain – that’s just blasphemous!
Photo credit: Tasty Snaks
3. Do not ignore the smaller museums
The City of Light is also the city of museums. Unless you are spending more than a week in Paris, it is pointless to spend an entire day at the Louvre or the Musee d’Orsay being elbowed by a camera wielding over-enthusiastic bunch. The lines are long, the crowd is exhausting and when you do finally make it, you realise the sheer quantity of art on display is so great that you barely have the stamina to enjoy it. So a smart idea would be to head to smaller museums like the Musee de l’Orangerie, the Musee Rodin or the Musee Marmottan that are home to some great art as well. You won’t get to see the Mona Lisa but rest assured, the experience will be far more pleasant.
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Photo credit: Jean-Pierre Dalbera
4. Do not dress badly in the fashionable city
Avoid looking like a tourist – give those shorts and sneakers a miss, trash the money belt and try well-fitted-yet-effortless dressing instead. Preferably in black, gray at the most. And use those designer bags! In a city known for rude/snooty locals, blending in is just the first step!
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5. Do not hire a cab
Cabs may seem convenient but that is one of the greatest Parisian misconceptions. A much better way to see the city is on foot. If that doesn’t float your boat then there is the very efficient metro – a station is never more than fifteen minutes away. Paris offers bikes on rent – an inexpensive way to pedal off that extra croissant.
Photo credit: Phil Hilfiker
6. Do not visit the Eiffel Tower – yes you read it right!
Millions, yes MILLIONS, of people visit the famed tower each year. So if you want to belong to a miniscule percentage of that maddening line – first the ticket, then the elevators to the top and then the serpentine queue back to the ground – go right ahead. May we suggest a far more enjoyable Eiffel Tower experience? Get yourself a table at one of the many rooftop restaurants that offer dinner with a view of what may easily be the most popular keychain in the world! Snide comments aside, you will have a lovely time.
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7. Do not spend big on accommodation
Don’t book the cheapest hotel just because there is some deal they are offering. You will be stuck in the outskirts with an unavoidable daily commute. Instead, look out for a furnished apartment somewhere in the centre of town, preferably near a metro station, specially if you are staying for a long period of time. You will save money commuting and you won’t be hitting your elbows into walls every time you turn around.
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Photo credit: Charlotte Chen
8. Do not forget to stay safe
Paris is safe, but it does have a reputation where pickpocketting is concerned. Specially in crowded areas and the metro. It also happens more frequently late into the night and people who are travelling solo make easy targets. Not trying to scare you into paranoia here, but it is always a good idea to keep your guard up.
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Photo credit: Kenneth
9. Do not shop at the regular places
Don’t limit your shopping to souvenir shops – it is alright to want to return with those typical ‘I was in Paris’ kind of stuff, but it’s not okay to pay through your nose for them. May we suggest a tad more interesting way to acquire your prized souvenirs? Rummage through flea markets and pop up stalls – it’s fun and you will end up with an interesting souvenir instead of an Arc de Triomphe snow globe!
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10. Do not tread the beaten path – experience Paris differently
Don’t let the idea of a guided tour put you off for being too touristy. In fact, it is probably one of the best ways to experience the city. Try a guided walking tour, or one on a bike – tours help you skip lines and get into generally restricted areas. Luckily, bike tours can be arranged in the day as well as the night. Another interesting Paris perspective would be from a night cruise down the Seine.