Between the city’s storied history and beautiful sights to see, there’s no secret why Paris remains one of the world’s top tourist destination. Paris’ rich culture and famous monuments such as the Eiffel Tour make it a must-see for American tourists in particular.
That said, anyone should plan ahead when it comes to visiting Paris, just as they would any major city in Europe. Beyond the typical tips for first-time European travel, Paris requires some special attention to detail for Americans who’ve never been beyond their own backyard. There’s no denying that Paris is a romantic and beautiful place to visit, but it’s also important to have realistic expectations in terms of navigating the city.
So, if you’re hungry to visit France’s capital as an American and don’t know where to start in terms of prepping and planning, keep the following tips in mind.
Figure Out Your Flight Plan
As is the case of traveling to any big European city from the United States, don’t expect to catch a direct flight. Many of the major airlines fly out of hubs such as New York to connect in Ireland or England before landing you in France.
Coincidentally, layovers and tight connections are common, so pack accordingly and move quickly to make your connections. Don’t be surprised if your flight schedule is all over the place and you end up delayed somewhere in the process. If you find yourself in a situation where you indeed get off schedule, you can always seek airline compensation for delays to get your money back.
Big Crowds Should be an Expectation
If you’re going around anywhere that’s considered to be a tourist spot, expect lines and crowds. This rings especially true around the Eiffel Tour and other major attractions such as Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre.
Planning for crowds is a two-way street as you assess how much time you should expect to wait in line and for booking any tickets and tours for such attractions well in advance. Also expect long waits and travel times when navigating the local metro station.
As a side note, safety is always a concern in any highly-populated tourist hub. It probably goes without saying, but be mindful of pickpockets and suspicious activity. Be wary of approaching strangers and don’t do anything to stand out. While you shouldn’t assume the worst of people, it’s better to be safe than sorry when you’re in a country where you don’t speak the native tongue.
Learn a Little French
On a similar note, while many of the French do indeed know how to speak at least some English, it’s likewise expected that you should know some basic French as a courtesy. It’s always beneficial to learn some basic French phrases (“hello,” “please” and “thank you,” for starters) to make communication a bit easier when it comes time to visit a shop or order food.
Mind Your Meals
Speaking of food, Paris can indeed be a bit pricey when it comes to cuisine. If you want to keep more money in your pocket on a day-to-day basis, try hitting up local cafes and bakeries for breakfast and lunch. You can score sweet deals on sandwiches and baguettes at such mom and pop establishments; meanwhile, ordering is often easy as you can point to exactly what you want.
As an American, Paris represents a must-see spot at some point in your life. Sticking to these tips can help you maintain your expectations and make the most of your memorable trip.