Top 10 Tips to Paris from an American Tourist

Something about Paris makes me feel at home, walking down the streets of Manhattan. Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve got dirty streets, arrogant people, and public transport. But to top it all, we’ve got charm.

Here’s my Top #10 Tips to Paris.

1. Trocadéro

The defining structure of Paris worldwide is: the Eiffel Tower. Without a doubt, it’s an impressive place. There’s one problem. Walking straight up to the thing will result in a painful neck and you being upset because you can’t have the tower in your photo backdrop.

The solution? Head over to the Trocadéro stop on line 9, and you’ll have a great place just for that. The other option is to walk behind the Eiffel Tower and go to the Champ de Mars which also has great photo spots.

2. Quick and Easy Souvenirs:

Not really sure what to get friends and family, but also not wanting to spend so much on gifts? Look for people selling Eiffel Tower keychains. You can find them all over Paris.

Here’s a secret: You can bargain with them.  The second time I was in Paris, a merchant approached me, but I rubbed him off– “12 for one Euro?” I froze.

Cheap, quick, and easy souvenirs!

Ever since then, I’ve always brought them back/bought them in bulk for people especially because there’s bronze, silver, and gold. Obviously, the prices fluctuate. But NEVER let them sell you less than 5 for one Euro. That’s my two cents.

3. Maps to Guide Your Way

Looking like a tourist isn’t exactly the most desirable thing to do, especially so you don’t get heckled by people selling their wares.

The solution is to get what is called a “Paris Poche” mini-map that is FREE in the subway. The map includes all the buses, metro lines, and RER commuter trains.

If you want bigger sizes, they have those as well for FREE.

Props to Paris.

4. Unlimited Travel in Paris for Cheap??

Going to any major world city isn’t cheap. Considering that world famous sites are scattered over the map, it all adds up and you end up having to argue with whoever you’re with on where to go.

If you’re under 26, Paris has quite a lot of discounts for people. It’s amazing! One of them is called the Billet/Ticket Jeunes which means Youth Ticket. On weekends and holidays, you can buy a ticket for only 4€ at the info stand provided you have your ID and can travel wherever you want from zones 1-3!

Billet/Ticket Jeunes with Paris Poche

5. If You Still Want a Steal.

Maybe you’re not under 26, there is still a great way for you to have unlimited access. This also counts for those under 26 who aren’t around during the weekend or holidays. Get what is called a Mobili pass. It has the same benefits as what was mentioned in tip #4.

It’s all demonstrated in the video above.

6. Louvre? Don’t wait longer than you need to.

Whenever people pass by the Louvre, one can’t help but fix their eyes on the mass of people in an elongated snake trying to enter the Pyramid.

I remembering hanging out with one of my friends and hearing rumors of this secret entrance and how to skip the line. Then one day we tried it, and success!

If you go via the underground entrances (of which there are many.) You can find yourself inside very quickly!

There oddly was no line that day…

Once you’re underground, you’ll find the line for security. JUST KEEP GOING THROUGH. The ticket office is beyond security! Don’t let confusing signs turn you away. They almost did to me my first time.

If you are under 26 and a resident of the EU, you don’t need a ticket. You just walk through and people will check your ID. If you aren’t a resident of the E.U. or curious for the other free times to visit the museum check out the Louvre’s website.

NOTE: The Louvre is CLOSED on Tuesdays.

7. Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau is not your Final Destination.

Les Champs-Elysées is probably THE most famous street of Paris. It’s known for it’s shopping and definitely a crazy busy place worth your time.

One problem, where do you get off the metro? Easy right! One of the stops is called Champs-Elys — WRONG. It’s still on les Champs-Elysées, but it’s the stop you need. Even the next one is still a bit of a hike.

Your solution is the GEORGE V metro stop. It’s smack dab in the middle, right where most people want to be.

8. Pickpockets, they’re more real than Santa.

This is a dark tip, and I hate to mention it. Unfortunately many an American/Asian becomes an easy target in Europe. Sucks that I’m both, but pickpocketing is no joke.

There are two ways around this.

Always be confident. Look like you belong. Act as if you know Paris like the back of your hand. If you choose to carry a huge map around and speak English loudly, you’re essentially alerting everyone that you’re not from around there.

Don’t let your guard down. Refuse to look like you’re easy target.  You’re a sensible person and well established, that’s why you travel in the first place. You hit adventure in the face! As long as you just pass your eyes over your shoulder every once in awhile you’ll be fine.

I couldn’t believe that pickpockets were a big deal when I first came to Europe. Contrary to popular belief, New York is REALLY, and I mean REALLY safe. I kid you not when I say I’ve SEEN things happen. People get robbed, including family members.

Always avoid two types of people: The ones who ask if you speak English, and groups of teenage girls with clipboards. Anyone with clipboards is worth avoiding.

They often come asking for a signature on a petition, and as you bend over to sign, while another person comes from behind grabbing your wallet, with a single file behind you both. This simple technique means the wallet travels faster than your car can in a matter of seconds. The metro is a definite hotspot for pickpocketing, especially when train doors close.

Not trying to scare you or be mean, just be safe.

9. Arc de Triomphe

Another MUST-GO. A great place for photos is right in the middle of the street where you can get amazing shots.

“Is it worth going up?” You ask. Yes, all 284 steps of it. The view of Paris from above is phenomenal, and there aren’t many places on Earth where you stand in a meeting place of 12 streets altogether. It’s damn impressive.

10. La Boulangerie is an Easy Heavenly Breakfast.

For some reason, one of my favorite things in the world is the boulangerie. The French have MASTERED the art of baking, and inside these common place buildings are some of the world’s most delectable pastries.

Croissants, Baguettes, Pain au Chocolat, Milles Feuilles, the list goes on and on. This is definitely not a tip specific to Paris and luckily bakeries are scattered throughout France. There is no shortage of bread whatsoever. Benefit from French bread and pastries as much as you can when you’re there. Because I guarantee you, you’ll miss it when you’re gone.