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.
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.
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?
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 never 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.
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!