My niece Stephanie and her husband, Kyle, are going to be visiting France in April. This is her first trip to France and last weekend, she was peppering me with questions about Paris. So, here is my letter to my niece and anyone taking their first trip to Paris. I’ve tried to offer to some tips for an enjoyable trip.
FINALLY! You are going to France!
You will love it and I will guarantee it will NOT be your last time to Paris or France. I know you already know the “Dos and Don’ts” such as being sure to say “Bonjour” when entering a store, but be sure to check out the following blog posts and pages for more tips on “doing” Paris:
- “Unique Paris Experiences” —consider the Galeries Lafayette fashion show. I know it’s not Paris Fashion week, but seeing you like to be on top of fashion, it’s something different to try.
- “Top 10 Helpful Hints”
- Macarons: you asked me where to buy the best. I highly recommend David Lebovitz’s app, “ParisPastry2” to help you decide. It really helped me find the best patisseries and boulangeries. As for the best macaron place: go to a few places—Pierre Herme, Laduree, Gerard Mulot, Un Dimanche a Paris, Sebastien Gaudard, or Sadaharu Aoki.
- Shopping: If you want to buy something at Galeries Lafayette or Printemps, be sure to get the discount card at the Visitor’s booth. You have to show your passport but you get a 10% off discount card. Keep in mind, your discount won’t apply at the boutiques within the store. It really only applies to the store’s brand merchandise (some exceptions)
- Eiffel Tower: it will be crowded. If you want to go up, book your tickets ahead of time.
- Just sit at a café and watch people go by. I know there is so much to see in Paris, but you won’t see it all in a week. Every time I go back I see something new. Enjoy the moment. Soak in the atmosphere.
- Shopping: you might want to do this on a day when you are NOT visiting sites or museums. Trust me, you don’t want to be lugging packages all over town. Remember that some stores close for lunch. Take a leisurely lunch too.
- Markets: get up early and go!! The experience is wonderful and you could even pick up a roasted chicken and have it for lunch. Here’s a list of the markets and when they are open.
- Buying Wine: don’t discount going to Monoprix or other grocery stores. They carry a lot of wine. There is a wine store that I frequent a lot because it’s in a great location and will be near your apartment:
- Precautions/Scams: I have to mention this because I would hate that anything could ruin your trip.
- At the metro stations ONLY buy tickets from the machine or ticket seller behind the booth. Do NOT buy from people standing by the machines offering to sell you tickets they have. They are used/fake.
- Avoid people who come up to you waving a newspaper in front of you. They will be reaching into your purse/bag as you are distracted. This happened to me in Rome and Nice.
- When taking pictures in crowded places (ie. Louvre) or when on the Metro, watch your purse. Pick pocketing is very common.
- First Day: finally, on the day you arrive, if you MUST take a nap, take a SHORT one and be sure not to go to bed too early. It will be hard getting up in the morning (9:00 am Paris time is 3:00 am Toronto time) but the city is waiting for you so get moving!
I hope you have a wonderful trip and look forward to meeting up with you on your first day and my last night in Paris before I head off to Barcelona.
Affectueusement, (Love from)