Paris For First Timers - 10 Things to Know Before You Visit Paris

paris things to know

Paris - the City of Love. Also known as the City of Lights because it was the place of Enlightenment in the 1700s (not because of the awesome Eiffel Tower lights). If you're planning a trip to Paris for the first time, I am so excited for you! As they say, Paris is always a good idea, and with these 10 things to know before you visit Paris you will be prepared to see the most visited place in the world.

#1. There's Not Much Point Going Up the Eiffel Tower

eiffel tower worth it

The Eiffel Tower is the most iconic sight in Paris, and one of the most iconic sights in the world. It's high on many people's bucket-lists and for good reason - it really is spectacular. But whilst we do recommend that you visit it, that you take lots of instagood photos of it and that you get at least one embarrassing selfie, we don't recommend that you go up the Eiffel Tower. Why?

Lots of people go up it to see the best views in Paris, but surely the best views in Paris involve the Eiffel Tower, right? Without the Eiffel Tower in your view/photo whose to say you aren't in any other European city? Instead we recommend spending your time going up Tour Montparnasse where your view will have the Eiffel Tower and the Louve in it and/or going up the Arc de Triomphe because the Eiffel Tower is closer.

#2. You've Got to Go in the Summer

when paris
Photo credit: pixabay

Paris is always a good idea, but a much better idea in summer: when it's warm the abundance of parks and outdoor spaces in Paris can be enjoyed properly. There are picnics to be had, and lazy rides along the river to go on. Take your pick of the best vacation rentals in Paris, and guarantee yourself a wonderful summer trip. 

#3. Paris Isn't Actually Expensive

paris cheap expensive
photo credit: pixabay

Contrary to popular belief, Paris isn't really that expensive. Or rather it isn't if you don't allow it to be. You just need some simple rules like buying food at least a few blocks away from big tourist attractions (which really you should do in every city to lower the price and raise the quality). Accommodation prices are very competitive, so if you book in advance you will almost definitely be able to secure a great deal - luxury for the price of budget. But more on that in point 9. Imo, walking and taking the metro are the only forms of transport you really need.

#4. The Metro in Paris Is Awesome

paris metro
Photo credit: pixabay 

Speaking of the metro, I highly recommend that you use it when you're in Paris. It's super easy to use (even if your French is non-existent like mine), I actually think it's a much clearer system than the London Underground (and English is my mother tongue). A lot of the stops are also beautiful examples of French architecture. And a few of the lines run overground and give you a great view of the Eiffel Tower.

One thing I do recommend buying before you get to Paris is a Map of Paris. Paris isn't as crazy complicated to navigate as some cities (like Venice), but it's no straight-forward New York either. A map is a must that will save you a lot of angst.

#5. You Should Go to Paris for the Weekend

Lots of people say one weekend isn't enough time to fall in love with Paris. I disagree. One day is enough time to fall in love with Paris, and let's not kid ourselves, you're going to be coming back to Paris at some point, so if one weekend is the only amount of free time/all you can afford right now, DO.IT. Paris is waiting for you.

#6. You Don't Have to Fly Into Paris

should i take the bus to paris
Photo credit: pixabay

We've been to Paris many times, and have always taken the bus or the train. We've used the Megabus to get into Paris from Germany (Cologne) and from the UK (London). What Megabus lacks in comfort, it makes up with in cheap fares and fun rides - call me a loser, but I've always had a fun bus ride into Paris. It's probably something to do with the excitement of the destination.

#7. Eat All The Food!

where to eat in paris
Photo credit: pixabay

If Paris is the city of love and a way to a person's heart is through their stomach, then Paris is definitely also the city of eating. Which is backed up by the fact that the food is awesome. We recommend:
  • Hank Burger: Excellent vegan burgers and at 14 Euros for a burger, fries, drink and dessert, it's fair for all!
  • Cafe Ginger: cute French cafe. Poor service completely forgiven by the friendliness of the staff and excellent food.
  • Brassiere Lola: a French Brassiere, of course!

#8. Beware of the Vultures

There are a lot of annoying vender-type people in Paris, especially around the main tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower. If you're looking for cheap, crappy souvenirs these are the people for you, but if you're not they can be quite persistent, especially if you're polite and 'British' towards them. Just be firm with them. They see thousands of people everyday and are used to people telling them to piss off. It's a waste of their time if you humour them.

Like almost every capital city there are pickpockets in Paris too. I'm not saying go out with a bum-bag (fanny-pack) and your phone padlocked to your wrist (it's not that bad), I'm just saying be aware of your surroundings and where your valuables are. And, as always when you're travelling don't forget your travel insurance!

#9. Stay at a Nice Place

safe place to stay paris

In our opinion, staying at a nice place is imperative when you travel, but especially with Paris. It's such a lovely, romantic place that it would be a shame to go back to a substandard room when you're done with your sight-seeing. Plus, it's not a case of 'cheap but sweet' in Paris: when you stay at a substandard place, they mean substandard - rooms that don't lock, weird plumbing and bedbugs.

So what can you do? Luckily there are many, many wonderful Hotels in Paris, and if you book in advance you will almost definitely find a great deal. Personally, we stayed in an Airbnb Paris - click that link for a full Airbnb Paris review!

#10. Paris is Awesome!

paris travel blog

Finally, after I've bombarded you with Paris safety tips, need to know Paris facts and Paris recommendations, I want to end by saying something very important: Paris is awesome! We've always had an awesome time there and hope to return many times in the future!

Find out more here: ZigZag on Earth have written all about the best places to stay in Paris! Have you been to Paris? What did you wish you'd known beforehand? Feel free to drop a comment below :)

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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