Paris Do’s

  • Do say “Bonjour” when engaging with another person. This includes all salespeople, servers, front desk, etc. Bonus points for adding a “Monsieur” or “Madame”.
  • Do seek out locals, or at least try to talk to them at a picnic or in a bar. But try to drop a couple of words in French. It’s a good conversation starter.
  • Do learn how to use an “inside voice”. Parisians in general are a lot quieter in public places than we’re used to being in the US. You will notice this tout de suite in the Metro, restaurants, in line at the bakery, etc.
  • Do wear comfortable shoes (no stilettos) and clothes that can easily be layered. Pack a nice outfit for special occasions, but don’t go overboard here. You’re mostly going to be walking, and walking, and walking…
  • Do wear a scarf in the winter and fall. It might seem like a cliché, but it’ll keep you warm and Parisians wear them all the time. Wrap yourself up — you’ll fit right in.
  • Do spend at least an hour at a café terrace at some point during your trip sipping something. Bring the journal, notepad, book, or postcards, and have the whole experience.
  • Do refill your water bottle at any of the city’s outdoor water fountains. It’s the same delicious water Parisians drink daily. Eco-friendly! Free! Photo-op!
  • Do eat things that you have never tasted before. This is Paris and we like to eat.
  • Do order a carafe of wine at lunch to share… or for yourself.
  • Do book a hotel that’s as central as possible to avoid wasting time in transit. You might have to pay a few more euros per night, but you’ll save a lot of time and money.
  • Do go to Paris’s famous flea markets to find something totally unique to bring home. We promise you’ll find something more special than an Eiffel Tower snow globe.
  • Do visit all of the touristy sights that you’ve been eager to visit, even if there’s someone in your group moaning and groaning about it.
  • Do buy a travel guide. Much of the information listed is evergreen and will be useful.
  • Do read a few websites and travel blogs before visiting. Often websites have more offbeat and more recently updated information than guidebooks and magazines.
  • Do take a boat ride along the Seine. It’s breezy and romantic–well, unless you get stuck with a group of 100 teenagers who are literally going bonkers.

Paris Don’ts

  • Don’t worry about not speaking French beyond the basics. However, do learn a couple of words. Bonjour. Au revoir. Merci. Monsieur. Madame. Oui. Non. Voila — you’ve got it.
  • Don’t expect the French to be rude. They’re just humans.
  • Don’t come unprepared for the weather. Research the weather before you go and pack accordingly, when possible. Pack an umbrella and a light rain jacket.
  • Don’t buy bottled water in a restaurant unless you like or need bubbly water. Otherwise, stick to a “carafe d’eau”. It’s delicious–and free.
  • Don’t buy a baguette “ordinaire”. Stick to the “tradition”. Trust us on this one.
  • Don’t fuss over eating like you eat back home. This is not home, so breakfast options and coffee choices are not the same.
  • Don’t write off ethnic food in Paris. A lot of it is really good and unique. Just don’t fiddle with the American stuff. But the falafel? Winner!
  • Don’t touch those items in the minibar. Head to the nearest supermarket to pick up water, drinks, snacks, champagne, fruit, etc.
  • Don’t carry your passport and all of your credit cards with you. Leave your passport and some of your plastic in a safe back in the hotel.
  • Don’t take pictures of people in shops. They tend not to like it that much. It’s going to get awkward.
  • Don’t come with a padlock and leave it locked to one of our monuments. Please just don’t.