What NOT To Do In Paris: 8 First-Time Travel Mistakes To Avoid

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Are you visiting Paris, France for the first time soon? Make sure you avoid these common first-time travel mistakes during your trip!

Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world — I used to live there, and I recently returned from a month-long trip that had me contemplating another move in the future.

Woman in Front of Eiffel Tower

But I often hear from other travelers who couldn’t stand Paris and had a bad time there or thought it was totally overrated.

And usually, those travelers made one (or several) of the following mistakes!

These are the common mistakes to avoid on your first trip to Paris:

Visiting During High Season

Woman walking in Paris in the winter

If I had to give any advice about your first trip to Paris, it would be not to go in the middle of summer! June, July, and August are high season for tourists in Paris, and everything is extremely crowded.

All the Parisians leave in August (it’s their main summer vacation month) so the city is just filled with tourists. And it’s HOT during this time of year.

Since most buildings in Paris don’t have air conditioning (even fancy hotels have weaker AC than what you’re probably used to at home) this can be an unpleasant time to visit.

With the Olympics happening in Paris this summer, I’d recommend a visit even less because not only will the crowds be insane, but prices for everything will also skyrocket.

Instead, spring and fall are the best times to visit Paris — April, May, or October are my top picks for the best time of year to plan a trip.

Not Learning Any French

Paris, France - June 16, 2017: The charming Cafe Le Bon Georges. Parisians and tourists enjoy food and drinks at the street french cafe.

You certainly don’t have to become fluent in French before you visit Paris.

And the truth is, most Parisians speak good English already, so you certainly don’t need French to get by. But learning a few basic words will go a long way.

Even just knowing and using “bonjour” (hello), “au revoir” (goodbye), “s’il vous plaît” (please), and “merci” (thank you) is much appreciated.

If you make an effort to speak a tiny bit of French rather than just barreling up to someone and speaking in English immediately, you will find that they usually have a warmer attitude.

Thinking Parisians Are Rude

The pyramid domes at the Lourve, Paris, France.

Many people have the impression that Parisians are rude, but this is truly not the case.

Some of it just comes down to cultural norms. For example, in France, it’s expected that you will say “bonjour” when you enter a shop or a restaurant.

Failing to greet the shopkeeper or hostess is impolite.

Similarly, before you ask someone a question, it’s also polite to greet them first, rather than just walking up and asking “Which line do I need to be in?” or “Where’s the bathroom?”

Falling For Common Scams

Sacré-Cœur in Paris

Unfortunately, Paris is rife with tourist scams, and a surefire way to ruin your first trip is to fall for one of these scams.

Here are some things to be on alert for:

  • Friendship bracelets: A guy will come up to you and start tying a friendship bracelet onto your wrist. Don’t let him, he’ll try to charge you for it afterward!
  • Rose “gift” scam: Similarly, a man will approach you or your travel companion offering a rose as a “gift” but then demand payment after you accept it.
  • Fake petitions: A group of women will come up to you, usually pretending to be from a deaf charity or some other organization wanting you to sign a petition. These are fake and they will either ask you for money or try to pickpocket you.
  • Metro pickpockets: If you’re on a crowded Metro, stay extremely vigilant and keep a close hold on your belongings, because this is when pickpockets most often strike.

By recognizing these common scams, you can easily avoid them.

Over-Planning Your Trip

A Young Couple Having A Romantic Picnic At Champs de Mars, At The Foot Of The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

One of the biggest mistakes you can make on your first trip to Paris is over-planning it and trying to cram too much into a short amount of time.

I get it, if you only have 3 or 4 days in Paris, it’s only natural that you want to maximize your time and see and do as much as possible.

But planning too much can end up making your trip stressful.

Instead of waiting in line with thousands of other tourists to go up to the Eiffel Tower observation deck (which isn’t even a great view since you’re in the most iconic building in the Paris skyline), why not have a relaxing picnic on the Champ de Mars and enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower from there instead?

Or instead of battling the crowds on a day trip to Versailles if you only have a few days in Paris, why not stay in the city and stroll along the Seine or explore a cool neighborhood like the Latin Quarter instead?

These are the types of experiences you’ll remember and enjoy more than feeling like you have to check off every single touristy activity in Paris.

Dressing Inappropriately

traditional french cafe and woman walking during the morning in Paris

I often see tourists in Paris fall into one of two extremes when it comes to clothing.

They’re either completely underdressed, wearing flip-flops, a t-shirt, and a fanny pack, and they might as well have a neon sign reading “tourist” over their head. You don’t want to be this person because it makes you stand out and become more of a target for pickpockets and scammers.

I also see tourists in Paris dressed up like they’re an extra in Emily in Paris. No Parisian actually wears a beret, a fancy dress or skirt, and high heels while walking around the city.

If you go too dressy, you’ll end up being pretty uncomfortable. Instead, I recommend wearing comfortable footwear and sticking to classic darks and neutrals for your clothing.

Throwing Away Your Metro Ticket

Paris Metro

Although Paris is gradually phasing out paper metro tickets in favor of the digital Navigo pass, you might still end up buying paper tickets on your trip.

Be sure not to throw your ticket away, though! When you are exiting the Metro, there are sometimes transit police checking tickets, and if you’re caught without one, you can be fined.

Waiting For The Restaurant Bill

Charming restaurant Le Consulat on the Montmartre hill. Paris, France

At home, you might be used to going out to eat and the waiter coming to check on you multiple times throughout your meal.

This is not how it works in Paris.

You’ll need to flag down the waiter and ask if there’s something you need during your meal, and this includes asking for the check at the end too.

In French, you can say “L’addition, s’il vous plaît” when you’re ready to pay.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.



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