5 Things To Know Before Traveling To Paris

things to know before traveling to paris

things to know before traveling to paris


These five important things to know before traveling to Paris could save you time and money while making your vacation stress free. 

Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, ranking at #3 by Forbes magazine.  The lights, culture, food, and designer clothing are everywhere.  It’s the perfect blend of old world romance with new world progress.  What to know about Paris before you go is that some things differ greatly compared to America. For my vacation, I took an escorted tour that allowed me to focus on being a tourist. While they gave me some good advice, no one told me the simple yet important things to know before traveling to Paris.  I’m sharing these five tips that I learned about the hard way.  Hopefully, they will make your time in France much more enjoyable.

1. Before traveling to Paris, bring a power converter with you (aka, travel adapter)

 Laptops, cell phones, iPods, blow dryers, curling irons all require the same thing.  Electricity.  The outlets in Europe don’t support 110v appliances.  France runs on 220 volts, so your American electronics will fry if you plug them in.  Thus, the need for a voltage converter. adapter for European vacations.things to know before traveling to paris

 They’re relatively small, easy to pack, and are a necessity if you plan on using anything that requires power.  They are less expensive if you buy them in the U.S.  They can a bit difficult to find on vacation and always cost more.

My blow dryer spit sparks and shot a small series of flames at me before it died on my first day in Paris.  I was left with partially wet hair in my hotel room with no idea of how to finish doing my hair.

Eventually, I found a tiny store that sold them to unprepared tourists such as myself for a copious amount.  I couldn’t let my vacation turn into one long bad hair day, so of course I bought it.

Tip: This is probably the most important of all the things to do before going to Paris. Before heading to the land of wine and cheese, purchase a converter.  Your hair will thank you.


2. Walking around Paris Travel tip

There are a million things to do in Paris at night.  The city comes alive at night and astounds you with its beauty.  Strolling through the city taking in the sights and sounds can be mesmerizing.  Walking around a foreign city late at night can be dangerous.

A cheap way to travel in Paris is to use the Metro (train).  You can print a free map, or download the app.  It’s cheap, convenient, and a fast way to travel.

It doesn’t run 24/7 like it does in the U.S.  The Metro closes at night. The Paris Metro hours of service are roughly between 5:30 a.m. and shuts down shortly after midnight.  Don’t get stuck at the station after closing hours.

The alternative is to take a cab.  Taxi’s always cost a bit more regardless of which city you’re in.  In Paris, the taxi rates have a daytime cost, then increase at night.

Here’s my only walking around Paris travel tip for you: Plan ahead of time to catch the Metro before it closes, or bring extra money for an evening cab.

Read my other article 6 Must Know Phrases for Tourists in Paris to prepare yourself to blend with the locals.


3. What is the legal drinking age in Paris?

Wine is to France what apple pie is to America.  The French drink wine to enjoy themselves, not to get drunk.  For that reason, having a regular glass of wine is normal, even for the very young. things to know before traveling to paris

What to know about Paris before you go is that the legal drinking age in France is 16 years old for beer and wine.  To purchase and drink liquor, you must be 18 years old.

If your teen makes some friends on your family vacation, don’t be surprised if they order a glass a wine or offer your daughter a beer.  This is commonplace for French teens, so don’t be offended.



4. Public restrooms are not always free 

Public restrooms are something that we take for granted.  They’re free and come equipped with the basics (paper, soap, hand dryers).  But in Europe, things are slightly different.  While there are some free public restrooms, I encountered a slew of them that were not.

On a vacation with my mother, she commented to our tour guide that French people must things to know before traveling to parisnever pee.  She couldn’t find one public restroom sign. That’s because they are called water closets, not restrooms.

So look for a sign that says “WC”.  Add this to your list of things to know before traveling to Paris.  French people do indeed use the restroom.

Bring money with you.  You’ll need to buy a restroom admission ticket.  I purchased my ticket at a gas station/diner/souvenir shop we stopped at.  It cost me about one American dollar.

It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  When I flushed, the toilet came alive!  They are automated to wash, rinse, and clean themselves after every use.  It was amazing to me.  I’d love to have one of those at home.


5. August in Paris is prime vacation time for Parisians

Parisians go on vacation, too.  August in Paris finds the city empty.  It’s great for tourists because it means shorter lines and less traffic.  It also means that a lot of businesses are closed.

Vacationing during August in Paris may limit your tourist activities.   If you’re planning on a low-key restful time to do a lot of nothing, this is the perfect time to go. things to know before traveling to paris

With fewer people in the city, you’ll be able to take some stunning photos.  This camera is easy to use and produces some brilliant pictures. It’s nothing too expensive, but I have one and I love my pictures.

There are certain things to know before traveling to Paris that can make your holiday so much fun.  Prepare to be exposed to a different way of life.  That includes food, transport, clothes, manners, lifestyles, everything!


It’s a magnificent city jam-packed with things to do for couples, families, and singles.  There is a plethora of things to do in Paris at night or during the day.  Grab your VISA, travel adapter, and go have fun.


Have you been to Paris and have some advice?  Post your comments below and share your experience!




6 Must Know French Phrases for Tourists in Paris

must know french phrases for tourists in paris

 must know french phrases for tourists in paris

Learn these six must-know French phrases for tourists in Paris to help you navigate the city and impress the locals.


You’re taking the plunge and visiting one of the most astounding cities in the world.  Culture. Beauty. Food. Shopping.  It’s all there.  And you’re in the center of it all.  But it’s all in a foreign language.  How do you get around in a foreign country without speaking the language? Learning a few must know French phrases for tourists in Paris can be a big help.

Don’t worry.  It’s not as hard as you think. Paris is a metropolis with multiple languages being spoken. French is the main language with English coming in second. Going to Paris without speaking French is common for most travelers.  Having a translator by your side would be ideal. But for those of us who brave the independent form of travel, we need to make a little extra effort.

Must Know French Phrases for Tourists in Paris

Among all the things to know when visiting Paris, the most important is how to interact with good manners.  I came up with six of the easiest but important French phrases to know in Paris that I used the most when I visited France a couple of years ago.  Learn these phrases, and impress the locals as well as your friends.


 Do I Need to Know French in Paris?

Yes.  And no.  Before I vacationed in France, I took about six months of lessons from a professor at the local college.  She’d been an exchange student and had lived in Paris.  She stressed that Americans in Paris need to conform to French customs. How do we do this? We show our manners. French culture is based on formality and respect of one another.

When you walk into a store or restaurant, the staff will greet you.  You return the greeting.  When you leave, they say goodbye.  You return the farewell.  And voila!  You’ve made a good impression. Saying hello, goodbye, and please are extremely important words to know when visiting Paris.

Going to Paris without speaking French fluently is completely acceptable. Just throw in a few well-timed polite phrases, and you’ll make a great impression.

Read my article  5 Things to Know Before Traveling to Paris for essential tips on how to avoid common mistakes during a European vacation.

Must know French phrases

How much French do You Need to Know in Paris?

That depends.  If you’re escorted by a tour guide, going to Paris without speaking French isn’t a big deal.  Your guide will hold your hand and translate everything.

If you plan on venturing off on your own, then you may want to practice a few key French phrases to know in Paris as you mingle with the locals.  Order a cafe and a croissant on your own, and enjoy being a Parisian for a while (or at least look like one).

While English is the second-most spoken language in most of Europe, it pays to have an idea of some key French phrases to know in Paris.   Many Europeans speak a bit of English.  But why let them have all the fun?  Learn a bit of the language to show you’re at least making an effort, and the locals will be more inclined to be nicer to you.

Must Know French Phrases for Tourists in Paris

Remember, these are the most basic phrases.  Using them on a regular basis will show that you did your homework and have prepared for your vacation.  You’re not assuming the locals will cater to you by speaking English.

Here are six easy but oh-so-important must-know French phrases for tourists in Paris.


English French Pronunciation
Hello, Ma’am/Sir Bonjour  Madame Monsieur boh-joor, Mah dam/ Moh zyur
Goodbye Au revoir aw reh vwah
Thank you Merci mayr see
Please S’il vous plait seal voo play
Help me Aidez moi ay day mwa
Do you speak English? Parlez-vous anglais? pah lay voo unglay


And there you have it.  If you’re planning on going to Paris without speaking French, these six phrases will help get you through.  Practice, and use them often.

Don’t worry about your American accent.  It’s the thought that counts.  The locals will be much more receptive to you if they see you’re making a genuine effort to use basic etiquette in their language.

If you want to learn more French phrases for tourists before you go….

If you have the time and feel passionately about increasing your vocabulary, there are lots of resources available.  Try www.duolingo.com for elementary level learning.  It’s a great study tool at home with games, quizzes, pictures, and French speakers saying the words.  I still use it at home and have the app on my phone.  I also have Instant Immersion DVDs that I still use. Levels 1, 2, 3 are included for one price.

Taking photos with your phone is convenient.  But camera pics usually look so much better.  Get a camera that’s inexpensive (here’s a great deal) and takes high definition photos.  I used my camera since I left my phone in my luggage (it doesn’t have an international plan) and brought my Asus Chromebook (similar to this one) to upload them.  It takes up less packing room, and it’s be easy to transport in a small bag or purse.

A good rule of thumb is to bring a French English dictionary with you.  I did, and it made a word of difference.  If you can’t pronounce the French word, you can always show it to the person to whom you’re talking.

Must Know French Phrases for Tourists in Paris

There is a lot to do and see in Paris.  You’ll be amazed at the fun things to do in Paris for couples, singles, and families.  It’s easy to learn how to get around Paris without speaking French. Don’t let the language barrier stop you from planning a trip to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Have you been to Paris?  How did you communicate with the local Parisians?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!