Here is a list of Paris travel tips and hacks that helped me navigate the city for four months!
Paris is a romantic city. It is known to be a dating wonderland. Picnics by the Effiel Tower, hand-holding under the starry night. Who really needs Paris travel tips, right?
Unfortunately, what I’ve come to realize is that it just wasn’t that easy to live in the city of love. In fact, my 4-month stay was really quite hectic. Maybe I would have had a better experience if I just knew the city a little better!
Although learning a few French words is important, this post isn’t meant to inform you of something you probably already know. Wrapping my head around the ins-and-outs of Paris took a bit longer than I thought! From safety to transportation, I will elaborate on a few pointers based on my actual experience in town. Hope these Paris travel tips will help you!
Here are a few extra things to make your trip to Paris easier!
Find affordable flights on Kiwi, a booking site that mixes and matches flights from different airlines to find the best/most economic route (Kiwi offers a money-back guarantee if you miss a connection).
Not renting a car? Enjoy a Hop On Hop Off bus of the highlights of the city!
Find economic hotel options on Hotels.com
Traveling within the City
Trains & Metro
Paris’ extensive metro system has approximately 300 stops. As such, metro stations are easily found throughout the city, especially in the city center. Trains run frequently in tourist zones, usually every 2-5 mins between 05:30 and 00:40 (5:30 am – 12:40 am) Sunday through Thursday and 05:30 – 01:40 on Fridays and Saturdays.
These buses usually stop at every station in accordance with the metro line, so no worries when having a late night out!
The most confusing part of the Paris metro system is pricing.
Individual tickets and multi-day passes are available at every metro counter. Check out the various prices here. The problem is, Paris is divided into 5 different zones.
Every zone is subjected to a different price.
Zone 1-2 is central Paris (Light yellow area on the map). The majority of metro stations are within this zone. After these two zones, the RER Regional Express Network will provide access to other zones, such as Zone 5, where the Charles de Gaulle airport is located. For a more thorough read on zones and transportation, here is a great article that will give you a better understanding of Paris’s metro system.
The French government loves to help us kids and will subsidize a bulk of the cost for an annual pass. While the benefits are great, the bureaucratic process can be a headache. To get the application forms, visit one of the offices in a metro station and ask for the forms for Carte Imagine’R (you will need a valid photo id, a passport-sized photo, school enrollment info and a French bank account reference).
These cards may take a few months to be delivered to your address, which is rather annoying since finding a place in Paris isn’t always easy. However, tickets with Carte Imagine’R ends up being half the price of Navigo (the regular metro pass). It also provides a lot of benefits.
Paris has an extensive bike sharing system called Velib. It’s around EUR 2 for the first half an hour with a valid credit card.
Basically, don’t go over the time limit for each and you won’t have to pay extra!
I took the taxi once, it starts at EUR 4 and is EUR 1.25/km. While I feel for the taxi industry, Uber, is just a lot more budget friendly for my student wallet. Like North America, Uber is really convenient in Paris.
Traveling between Cities
There are tons of buses in Europe, including Euroline, IDBUS, National Express, etc
Megabus is probably the cheapest, with deals as low as ***EUR 1.50*** if you book around a month or so ahead of time. (I was able to book a ticket to Brussels from Paris for EUR 2! Now, they don’t have the most comfortable seats or the most extensive travel destinations, but I thought it was definitely worth it!
Planes and Trains
If you aren’t familiar with Skyscanner, you should be! The site provides the prices on all the days of the select month and shows the cheapest fare. It also has an option for spontaneous travelers. By selecting “flexible” in the destination tab, It will show a list of destinations organized by price from the point of departure.
Trains are quite expensive (yes I do think that Eurorail is extremely pricey).
Clubs and Bars
Paris has two completely different club scenes.
Tips for Top 40 Clubs
Generally expensive to get in, unless you meet a promoter (which is quite easy for girls, but be ready for comments on how to dress and whether you are pretty enough). When you do have a promoter, there is free cover, free alcohol, free booths, you name it!
Some of my favorite Parisian clubs are Nüba, an open rooftop bar/club, and club 79, a fancy establishment in the 16th arrondissement.
Deep House Clubs
Geared towards a younger crowd, most are dressed casually while the cover is not as expensive, though this differs based on the club.
Is Paris Safe?
Overall, I felt safe during my 4-month stay in Paris. However, there were a few incidents that stood out.
1) Always watch your belongings on the metro! The subway can get quite crowded and I did get my phone stolen 🙁
2) Definitely be careful when you are on the border of the city! Paris isn’t the safest at night and certain arrondissements are known to be more dangerous. As a female solo traveler, I always take precautions beforehand.
Compared to say, Italy, People in Paris weren’t overly excited to help out tourists (to be fair, there are a lot of us). But start your sentence with a few French words, they are a lot nicer afterward!
Personal Experiences and Tips
- There are tons of small museums in Paris. The Louvre may be your #1, but don’t miss out on the smaller joys!
- Visit the Eiffel Tower at night. Having a drink on the greenery under the lit up structure is much more romantic than visiting during the day!
- My favorite supermarket in Paris is Lidl. They have some of the cheapest groceries/wines/bread, and some of the most delicious croissants! I remember these buttery pastries are like EUR 0.50 or so!
Weather in Paris
The summers in Paris are warm while winter can be quite cold. Although Parisian snow tend to melt immediately, there always seems to be brown slush around the city streets between December and February. I lived in Paris from January to April and did not love the weather until it was time to leave!
When to visit Paris
Paris is most beautiful during Spring and Fall. Cherry blossom season between late March and early April is a great reason for a visit. Between May and June, the newly-bloomed flowers and the freshly grown grass are truly captivating. September and November also have enjoyable weather and smaller crowds.
Happy Travels xx
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