Also known as “The City of Lights” or “The City of Love,” Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with over 80 million people visiting it each year. According to most of them, the best time to visit Paris would be in spring or early autumn to still enjoy the warm weather and avoid crowded streets covered in trollers, selfie sticks, and mesmerized looks.
And, although there are thousands of things you can do here to celebrate love, most people who visit the city for the first time fall into the tourist traps and end up spending more than they have planned. Sure, Sacre Coeur, the famous Moulin Rouge, and the Eiffel Tower are a must, but there are countless other magical places touched by the Parisian simplicity that are worthy of your attention.
You can discover them on your own or ask a local to join you on a city tour. Meanwhile, make sure to avoid doing these things.
Never assume all people speak English
Yes, Paris is the capital, and yes, Paris is the most popular tourist place in the world, but this doesn’t mean everyone speaks English. Although you will get along with people in hotels, restaurants, bars, and museums, asking locals for directions in English is not always a good idea.
Because most Parisians are fed up with tourists, some of them will refuse to speak English. Others, especially the elders, won’t know more English than you do French. So, polish your bilingual skills and try to strike a conversation in the local language. If everything else fails, rely on dictionaries and translation apps.
Don’t go shopping on the Champs-Elysees
Unless you are a millionaire, the famous luxury stores on Champs-Elysees are way out of your reach. The boulevard is crowded with people day and night so finding an empty spot at a cafe or a restaurant is uncommon. And even if you are lucky enough to enjoy a chocolate croissant on a fancy local boulangerie, your pocket will not be pleased.
Expect high prices for relatively basic products and rude waiters who are fed up with tourists. You can still strike a pose or gaze at the luxurious shop windows if this is what you wish for.
Don’t pay for the Eiffel Tower sight from your hotel room
Most hotels, hostels, and apartments for rent in Paris will try to attract tourists with their fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower. And who can resist waking up in the morning with such a spectacular sight in front of their eyes?
However, even though the Eiffel Tower is visible from a considerable distance, more often than not you’ll only catch a glimpse of the famous construction, usually blocked by poles, windows, and other buildings. So, unless you can afford to stay at a luxurious hotel where you’ll have your own facial steamer and complimentary drinks, paying for the sight won’t actually get you the view you were hoping for.
Don’t eat or shop in tourist-trap areas
The tourist-trap areas usually include the surroundings of Paris’ most famous attractions such as Sacre Coeur, Champs-Elysees, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Montmartre or the Louvre. These places are costly and are not worth your time. Souvenir shops are packed with overpriced, tacky, and kitschy Parisian gifts too.
If you want to bring back home a memorable souvenir, try flea markets, perfumeries, bookstores or artisanal shops. These products cost more, but they are also authentic and high-quality.
Don’t book a city tour
Last but not least, if you are not pressured by time, Paris is best known by foot. City tours cost a fortune, and the guides won’t be too keen in providing you more than the information you can already read by yourself online and in books.
If you spend at least a few days in Paris, try knowing the city on your own. It is the only way you will discover hidden gems, wander on the small, traditional streets, and get to learn the real Parisian culture.