Paris Travel Tips For Beginners

Paris Travel Tips For Beginners

Paris is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world and has been a city break target for many years. Paris has some of the most visited holiday attractions, with the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Arc de Triomphe on virtually everyone’s list. It’s impossible to see every attraction on a Paris city break so it’s best to scout around first and prioritize.

French culture is much valued in Paris and, in an Americanized world, they try hard to protect it. You will do well to speak a few words of French as locals can turn ugly when shouted at in English.

French cuisine is considered second to none but sloppy and slow service is not unknown and some Paris waiters are notoriously rude to foreigners so don’t waste time complaining.

As with any major city, beware of pickpockets particularly at Gare du Nord and the airports. Gangs often operate at Paris tourist sights like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. They also work the Paris metro system.

Take extra care when crossing roads in Paris, particularly at junctions. Pedestrians do not have priority on crossings, unless lights are also in their favour.

Paris history

Around 250BC, a Celtic tribe, the Parisii, established a fishing village near the River Seine. The Romans took control in 52BC based and named the city Paris in 212.

From the 12th century, the city grew with the Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame – built from 1163 – the centre of government. The Left Bank was the centre of learning while the Right Bank saw the growth of commerce and finance.

France achieved its greatest heights under Louis XIV, the ‘Sun King’, who reigned for 72 years from 1643 and the population of Paris grew to 500,000. Paris become the cultural capital of Europe in the 18th century but 1789 saw the start of the French Revolution. In 1799 Napoleon seized power and Paris grew dramatically.

Following the dark years of Nazi occupation in the last war Paris has prospered. New areas such as La Defence have been built, while new attractions like the Pompidou Centre and Musée d’Orsay opened.


French language

Hello/Goodbye Bonjour/Au revoir
Please/Thanks S’il vous plaît/Merci
Yes/No Oui/Non
1 un/une 2 deux 3 trois 4 quatre 5 cinque

French is, of course, the language although English is spoken widely in restaurants, hotels and at Metro stations. A few words of French is always appreciated in Paris restaurants and cafes. If you insist on speaking English don’t be surprised to be ignored.


Money and tipping in Paris

The euro is the French currency and ATM cash machines are widely available in Paris. Banks normally open 9am – noon and 2 – 5pm. Some close on Mondays and others open on Saturdays. Paris restaurant and hotel bills normally include a service charge – service compris – so there’s no need to leave an extra tip. Paris taxi drivers are normally tipped at around 10%.


Paris telephones

The international code for France is +33. The outgoing code depends on the network (00 for France Telecom), followed by the country code – 0044 for the UK and omit the first zero of the area code. The area code for Paris is (0)1. Most public telephones accept phone cards, available in newsagents. These days your mobile is the best bet for phoning home but check roaming charges which can be brutal.