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35 ESSENTIAL Paris Travel Tips (Perfect for First Time Visitors in 2024!)

Traveling to Paris for the first time in 2024? Our 35 Essential Paris Travel Tips & Tricks and Paris Travel Guide will help you with everything you need to know before you go! Including the best time to visit, how to get around, staying safe & saving money! (And are approved by a local!)

Planning a trip to Paris for the first time can be both exciting and overwhelming. With so many things to see and do, it’s important to have a plan in place to make the most of your time in this beautiful city. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive guide of 35+ essential Paris travel tips and tricks that cover everything you need to know before you go.

From the best time to visit and how to get around the city to staying safe and saving money, our guide has been approved by a local to ensure that you have the most authentic and enjoyable experience possible.

So whether you’re a first-time traveler or a seasoned adventurer, our travel tips and tricks will help you make the most of your trip to the City of Light.

Paris Travel Tips (Perfect for First Time Visitors) cover photo of the view above the city of Paris taken from the Arc de Triomphe Disclaimer: Almost all posts on this site contain affiliate links, and this one featuring 35+ Essential Paris Travel Tips and Tricks is no different. This means that if you click on any of the links in this post (and make a purchase) I may receive a small commission at absolutely no cost to you. Each post is carefully crafted to (hopefully!) answer all your questions and recommendations are made where we believe they will improve your trip and help with your planning. As such we thank you in advance should you decide to click & buy. Read my full Disclosure here.       


Practical Paris Travel Tips (What to Know Before You Go)

The Best Time To Visit Paris is Shoulder Season

Latin Quarter Paris, looking at the Pantheon High Season in Paris goes from 1st April to 31st October plus other periods like Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Saint Valentine’s Day. This means higher prices and more crowds. If you are traveling on a budget, we suggest visiting Paris outside of these dates.
If your main priority is to have good weather, then come to Paris from mid-May to mid-November.

We always suggest that shoulder season – the end of October to mid-November – is a great time to visit Paris because the crowds are gone, the weather is still sunny and the autumn colors of the trees are gorgeous, especially in the parks.

We also recommend avoiding August where possible, as this is when the Parisians typically take a holiday – and so whilst all the touristy stuff will still be open, the small cafes, boulangeries, and patisseries will be closed meaning you could lose a bit of the local’s touch during your stay.

Learn some Basic French Words

Bonjour graphic Learning some basic French words when visiting Paris for the first time can greatly enhance your experience in the city. French is the official language of France, and while many Parisians do speak English, making an effort to speak some French can go a long way in terms of showing respect for the local culture and making a positive impression.

  • Yes – Oui
  • No – Non
  • Hello – Bonjour 
  • Good Evening – Bonsoir
  • Goodbye – Au revoir
  • Goodnight – Bonne nuit
  • Please – s’il vous plait
  • Thank You – Merci
  • Thank you very much – Merci Beaucoup
  • Excuse me – Excusez-moi
  • I’m Sorry –  Je suis désolé
  • One, Two, Three – Une, Deux, Trois
  • OK – D’accord
  • No Problem / It was nothing – De rien
  • I don’t understand – Je ne comprends pas

In addition, knowing some basic French words can also be incredibly useful in practical terms. For example, being able to order food and drinks in French can help you navigate menus and ensure that you get what you want.

Similarly, being able to ask for directions or basic information in French can help you communicate more effectively with locals and make your way around the city more easily. Take a peek at our full guide to 70 Basic French Words and Phrases for Travel for more.

Paris is split into ‘Arrondissements’

Paris map with major attractions and arrondisment boundaries Paris is divided into 20 districts called arrondissements, each with its own unique character and attractions. These arrondissements are arranged in a clockwise spiral, with the first arrondissement located in the center of the city, and the remaining arrondissements spiraling outward in a clockwise direction. Each arrondissement is further divided into smaller neighborhoods, known as quartiers.

– If you can afford to travel, you can afford – and should definitely buy – Travel Insurance
– For Car Rental (anywhere in the world!) we recommend Discover Cars 
– When it comes to packing we’ve reviewed the best Hardside Luggage & Backpacks for Women
Travel Essentials for Women,
Travel Essentials for Europe, Backpacking Essentials for Everyone, and Travel Gadgets to make life easier.

Choose Accommodation in a Central Location (With Hotel Recommendations)

Paris Hotel When choosing the best area to stay in Paris, it really depends on what you’re looking for in terms of location, atmosphere, and budget. Generally, the arrondissements considered the best areas to stay in are the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and western part of the 7th. which are considered the city center.

These areas are all located in or near the city center and have a lot of restaurants, cafes, shops, and tourist attractions. They are also well-connected to public transportation, making it easy to get around the city. However, keep in mind that accommodation in these areas tends to be more expensive than in other parts of the city.

Staying in the city center also means that you will have easy access to a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, and shops, as well as the vibrant nightlife that Paris is known for. This can be especially appealing if you’re interested in exploring the local culture and cuisine.

Another benefit of staying in the city center is that it can be safer, as there are usually more people around and it’s generally well-lit at night. This can be important for solo travelers or those who may feel uncomfortable walking alone in unfamiliar areas.

View out of an open window of a hotel in Paris Here are our hotel suggestions for luxury, mid-range, and budget accommodation in the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th arrondissements of Paris:

Luxury Hotels in the Center of Paris:

  • Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel (1st arrondissement): This luxury hotel is located near the Place de la Concorde and features elegant rooms and suites, a spa, and multiple restaurants and bars.
  • Hotel Dupond-Smith (4th arrondissement): This luxury boutique hotel is located in the heart of Le Marais, just a short walk from many of Paris’ top attractions. The hotel features elegantly decorated rooms and suites, a cozy lounge area, and a terrace with stunning views of the city.
  • Hotel La Lanterne (5th arrondissement): This elegant hotel is located near the Latin Quarter and features a spa, fitness center, and a rooftop terrace with a view of Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Mid-range Hotels in the Center of Paris:

  • Hotel Atmospheres (5th arrondissement): This modern hotel is located near the Panthéon and offers contemporary rooms and suites, as well as a fitness center and a lounge bar.
  • Hotel Duo (4th arrondissement): This trendy hotel is located in the Marais neighborhood and features colorful rooms and suites, a spa, and a bar.
  • Hotel Baume (6th arrondissement): This Art Deco-inspired hotel is located near the Luxembourg Gardens and features chic rooms and suites, as well as a bar and a fitness center.

Budget Hotels in the Center of Paris:

  • Hotel Odyssey by Elegancia (1st arrondissement): This stylish and modern hotel is located in the heart of the 1st arrondissement, and features comfortable rooms with unique decor and a range of amenities, including a fitness center and a bar. Prices are generally reasonable, making it a great option for budget-conscious travelers.
  • Hotel Marignan (5th arrondissement): This affordable hotel is located near the Sorbonne Metro and features basic rooms and a 24-hour front desk.
  • Hôtel des Arènes (5th arrondissement): This budget hotel is located in the Latin Quarter, just a few minutes walk from the Arènes de Lutèce and the Pantheon. It features simple but comfortable rooms, a 24-hour front desk, and a continental breakfast is available for an additional charge.

The Eiffel Tower is NOT the Centre of the City

Free Things To Do in Paris Following on from the above, if you haven’t looked at a map of Paris yet, you may not be aware that the Eiffel Tower is not at the center of the city.

The Eiffel Tower was built on the Champ de Mars, a large public park in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, which is located southwest of the city center. While it is a highly recognizable landmark and a major tourist attraction, it is not located at the exact center of Paris.

Purchase Skip-The-Line Tickets for Must Do Attractions

Arc de Triomphe Paris Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and as a result, many of the city’s top attractions (such as the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, or the Palace of Versailles, etc) can have long lines, particularly during peak tourist season. Purchasing skip the line tickets in advance means you can avoid these lines and save valuable time that can be better spent exploring the city.


Consider the Paris Museum Pass

Huge clock face in Musee d'Orsay If you are considering visiting 3 or more museums in Paris (and with over 140 museums in the city, it is an easy thing to do!) – it would be a great idea to purchase the Paris Museum Pass.

The Paris Museum pass grants access to over 50 museums and monuments in and around Paris, including popular attractions such as the Louvre Museum, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Musée d’Orsay, without the need to stand in line to purchase individual tickets.

One of the key advantages of the Paris Museum Pass is the convenience it offers. With the pass, you can bypass ticket lines and go straight to the entrance, saving you valuable time and allowing you to see more attractions in a shorter amount of time. This can be especially important if you are only in Paris for a short period of time and want to make the most of your visit.

Another advantage of the Paris Museum Pass is the cost savings it offers. The pass provides access to a large number of attractions for a fixed price, which can save you money compared to purchasing individual tickets for each attraction. This is especially true if you plan to visit multiple museums and monuments during your trip.

Finally, the Paris Museum Pass can also help you discover new and lesser-known attractions that you might not have otherwise visited. With access to over 50 museums and monuments, you can explore a wide range of cultural and historical sites, from art museums and historical monuments to lesser-known gems that you may not have discovered otherwise.

Visit the Louvre Museum

Learn about Parisian culture and customs, such as greeting people with a kiss on each cheek.

Learning about Parisian culture and customs is important when visiting the city because it can help you navigate social situations with more ease and avoid any potential misunderstandings or faux pas.

For example, in Parisian culture, it is common to greet people with a kiss (or air kiss!) on each cheek, known as “la bise,” with the number of air kisses varies depending on the relationship between the two people, and where in France they are from. This custom may seem unfamiliar to visitors from other countries, but it is an important part of social interactions in France. And if you feel uncomfortable, a handshake will suffice.

Other Parisian cultural norms to be aware of include:

  • Addressing people by their proper titles in a formal setting. (For example, using “Madame” or “Monsieur” instead of just “tu” for someone you have just met is considered more polite);
  • Being loud and boisterous in public spaces is generally considered impolite;
  • Dressing inappropriately is a major cultural faux pas – Paris is known for its fashion, and locals often dress quite stylishly. It’s important to dress appropriately for the occasion, whether that’s a casual lunch or a formal dinner, and for the most part, avoiding bright or neon colors. ( More below on how to dress)
  • Parisians do not order hot drinks after a certain time – usually between 3pm and 4pm (see below for more)
  • It is impolite to not say hello (bonjour) or goodbye (au revouir) when entering or leaving a store (see below)
  • We’ve got 30+ Interesting Facts About Paris if you’d like to dig a little deeper.

Free Wifi is Common

Eiffel Tower as seen through a smartphone screen Free WiFi is widely available in Paris, making it easy for tourists to stay connected during their visit. Many cafes, restaurants, and hotels offer free WiFi to their customers, and there are also several public WiFi networks available throughout the city.

One of the most convenient ways to access free WiFi in Paris is through the city’s official public WiFi network, Paris Wi-Fi. This network provides free WiFi access in over 300 public places, including parks, gardens, museums, and libraries. Users can connect to the network by selecting “Paris Wi-Fi” from their device’s WiFi settings and following the on-screen instructions.

In addition to Paris Wi-Fi, many public spaces in Paris also offer free WiFi, such as the metro stations and some public squares.

If you absolutely need to have internet access at all times, it may be a good idea to invest in an e-sim, so you are not reliant on your hotels’ wifi network or public wifi networks around the city.

Pack a Mini Umbrella (It rains more than you think!)

Woman with a red umbrella under a covered passageway at the Louvre Paris can have quite unpredictable weather, and sudden rain showers are not uncommon, even during the summer months. Having a mini umbrella on hand can help you stay dry and comfortable, and allow you to continue exploring the city without interruption.

Additionally, carrying a mini umbrella can be a practical and lightweight addition to your travel gear. Unlike a larger umbrella, a mini umbrella is compact and easy to carry around and can be easily stowed in a backpack or purse when not in use.

Moreover, many restaurants, cafes, and shops in Paris have outdoor seating areas, and having a mini umbrella can provide shade and protection from the sun during hot and sunny days.

RELATED: if you find yourself in a rain shower, Paris’ covered passages are a great place to explore until the rain subsides!

Should you expect to Tip in Paris?

There is not a strictly typical tipping culture in France, yet it is always appreciated by bar and restaurant staff, especially if the service is well deserved. A standard tip would be between 5-10%, depending on the level of service received, but is never expected or required.

Be aware that some restaurants may add an extra 10 or 15% service charge on top of the bill, particularly for large parties – or even for just sitting outside(!), so it is always important to check the bottom of the menu before sitting down and checking for any additional charges before you pay your bill and leave.

Cafe in Paris with outisde seating under a striped conopy

If you have a Student ID or are aged under 26 and from the EU – you may be eligible for discounts through the city.

Students and young people under the age of 26 from the European Union are eligible for discounts on certain attractions, museums, and transportation in Paris. These discounts can range from 10% to 50% off the regular price, depending on the venue and the specific discount policy.

To obtain these discounts, visitors usually need to show a valid EU ID card, Student ID or passport as proof of age and nationality. However, it is always a good idea to check with the specific attraction or transportation provider in advance to confirm their discount policies and requirements.


Top Paris Travel Tips & Tricks for When You Are There

How to Get to Paris from the Airport (Charles de Gaulle & Orly)

Train in Paris If you are arriving in Paris by plane into Charles de Gaulle (CDG), there are many ways to get from the airport to the city. The most popular one is the RER B (€11.45) which stops at several major stations in the city, including Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, and Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame. The train runs approximately every 10 to 15 minutes, and the journey to central Paris takes about 30 minutes. G7 Taxis run 24 hours a day and cost a flat fare of €55. The shuttle service (le bus direct) is no longer available.

If you are arriving into Paris-Orly, one option is to take the Orlybus shuttle (€11.20), which operates between the airport and the Denfert-Rochereau metro station in central Paris. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes, and the shuttle departs every 10 to 20 minutes throughout the day. From Denfert-Rochereau, you can easily connect to the Paris metro or other forms of public transportation to reach your final destination.

Another option is to take the RER B train from Antony station (mentioned above), which can be reached from Orly by taking the Orlyval shuttle (€28.50). This option is usually faster than the Orlybus, with a journey time of approximately 25 minutes to reach central Paris.

There are also private transfers (€75-80) from Paris-Orly to the city center, and G7 taxis cost a flat fare of €35.
Ride-sharing services such as Uber are also available at both CDG and Orly airports but can be more expensive than public transportation options.

Use Public Transport (Metro/Bus) To Get Around Paris

Paris Metro Sign Using the public transport network in Paris, including buses and the metro, is a great way to get around the city. The public transport system is reliable, efficient, and cost-effective, making it an ideal option for travelers on a budget. Additionally, driving and parking in Paris can be difficult and expensive, and walking long distances may not be practical for everyone.

To save money on public transport, visitors can purchase a “carnet” of 10 single-use tickets, which offers a discount compared to buying individual tickets (€16.90 for 10 v €2.10 per journey). Another option is to purchase a Paris Visite pass, which provides unlimited travel on the metro, buses, and RER trains within certain zones for a set number of days. The pass also offers discounts on certain attractions and museums.

Other things to note when using public transport in Paris, are to be aware of strike action and plan accordingly, and when entering the metro be sure that if you are using a paper metro ticket you validate it and keep hold of it until you have completed your journey. You may be subject to a fine if caught without your paper ticket either on the metro or when exiting.

Note: Paper tickets are being phased out and are expected to be completely removed by 2025.

You don’t need a Hire Car in Paris

Car rental in Paris is generally not necessary as the city has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, metros, and trains, that can get visitors to most destinations within the city.

In addition, Paris is known for its narrow streets and heavy traffic, which can make driving and parking challenging and stressful for visitors. Parking in Paris can also be expensive, with limited parking spaces available and high fees for parking in garages or on the street.

For these reasons, it’s often more convenient and cost-effective for visitors to use public transportation, walk, or bike around the city instead of renting a car.

Have Access to an Offline Map (Download or App)

Top Things to do in Paris Map

Click the map to open it in a new window and zoom in/get directions between tourist attractions!

If you’re exploring Paris on foot, you are likely to be doing a lot of walking, and while we have mentioned that public wifi in Paris is pretty good, there may be times when you can’t get online and are in need of directions.

This is where having an offline map available, either via an app or a download is a great idea. Google Maps for a particular region can be download to your phone for offline use, and my favorite (free!) maps app – Maps.Me also allows users to download city maps, and even allows you to pin/mark points of interest as well as showing epic photo spots that have been found by others.

Either option will help you plan your visit more effectively and can help you out if you’re feeling a little lost(!) or need to get from point A to point B in the most efficient, or direct manner (walking, public transport or taxi/rideshare, etc).

Wear Comfortable Shoes

Paris is best explored on foot (where you are able) and so having a comfortable pair of shoes is an absolute no-brainer.

Ditch the stiletto heels – those pretty cobblestone streets are hard enough at the best of times! But that doesn’t mean you have to buy specific walking sandals or trainers. Just make sure you have a pair of comfy, worn-in (not brand new!) shoes or boots (depending on the time of year) that you are happy to wear for hours on end and can happily walk around for up to a few kilometers without any drama – or blisters!

What to Wear to Dress Like a Parisian

Woman in long black skirt and white long sleeved shirt with dark red ribbon in hair in from od the Eiffel Tower When visiting Paris, it’s important to remember that the locals take their fashion seriously. To (try and) blend in and dress like a true Parisian (as much as possible, because we all know as a tourist we stand out a mile no matter how we try – and that’s ok!), it’s best to avoid bright or neon colored clothing and instead opt for neutral, classic pieces.

Think of timeless items such as a little black dress, a chic blazer, or a pair of well-fitted jeans. Parisians also love to layer, so consider bringing a lightweight scarf or jacket to add some dimension to your outfit. If you do this, it may look like you have lived in Paris for years!


Don’t Miss The Top 10 Things to do in Paris (But Know There is So Much More!)

Sacre Coeur Bascilica under a blue sky with white clouds We’ve actually got a much bigger post that features 35+ Unmissable Things to do in Paris, and a perfect 3-Day Paris Itinerary – but as a quick highlight list, here are our (and most of the tourists that visit!) Top 10.

  1. See the Eiffel Tower (from Champs du Mar, Trocadero, the Montparnasse Tower, etc)
  2. Take a River Cruise on the Seine
  3. Visit the Louvre (and not just to see the Mona Lisa or the Glass Pyramid!)
  4. Watch Sunset from the Steps of the Scare Coeur
  5. Window Shop or Wander along the Champs Elysee (or actually go shopping!)
  6. See a Cabaret Show (Moulin Rouge, Crazy Horse or Paradis Latin)
  7. Take a Paris Food Tour & Have a picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg
  8. Visit the Paris Catacombes
  9. Visit Notre Dame Cathedral
  10. See Paris from above (rooftop at Galeries Lafayette (one of our top free things to do in Paris), Arc de Triomphe, Montparnasse Tower (paid) etc.)
  11. Take a Day Trip from Paris to the Palace of Versailles or Disneyland Paris (depending on which castle or palace you prefer!)

Plan to Visit Popular Attractions Early in the Morning or Late at Night

Eiffel Tower at sunset, bathed in orange light One of our top Paris tips is to visit major attractions early in the morning or late in the evening because it can help you avoid crowds and long lines.

Many popular sites, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, can become extremely busy during peak hours in the middle of the day, making it difficult to fully appreciate the experience. By arriving early or staying late, you can have a more peaceful and enjoyable visit.

In addition, the lighting and ambiance at these attractions can be especially beautiful during these times, offering a unique perspective that you may not get during the day. And visiting major attractions during off-peak hours can make for a more relaxed and immersive experience.


Take a guided tour to learn more about the city’s history and culture.

Like most capital cities in Europe, Paris has a variety of Free Walking Tours available. The expert local guides are often volunteers with a passion for their city and only ask for donations/tips at the end of tour instead of you paying a fee. (But you absolutely DO need to tip. No tours are actually *free* anywhere in Europe).

You can choose to focus on one area, take a highlights tour, or even a nighttime tour, depending on your interests. Whatever guided tour you are looking for, please check if you need to book in advance or if it is possible to arrive at a meeting point and join in – these free walks can get super busy during peak tourist times!

See The City from a Different Perspective (Boat or Bike)

Boat on the River Seine cruising past the Eiffel Tower Exploring Paris from a different perspective can offer visitors a unique and unforgettable experience. Taking a boat tour along the Seine River or cycling through the city can give travelers a different view of the famous landmarks, allowing them to appreciate the beauty of Paris from a fresh perspective.

Boat tours provide a relaxing way to see the city’s landmarks, while cycling offers a more active and adventurous way to explore Paris. Visitors can discover hidden gems, explore local neighborhoods, and capture stunning photos that are not possible from a traditional walking tour. It is also a great way to avoid the crowds and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Be Prepared to Eat Late

Four tables full of people dining outside a restaurant in Paris at night, the table umbrellas lit by hanging lights Visitors to Paris should be prepared to eat late because it is part of the local culture, and make reservations in advance where possible. (Not all establishments, particularly smaller ones, allow reservations and operate on a first-come, first-served basis – so if there is somewhere you desperately want to eat but they don’t take restaurant reservations, make sure you check their opening times and get there early!)

Parisians usually have dinner at around 8 or 9 pm, and many restaurants do not open before 7:30 pm. This is because the French typically prioritize taking their time to enjoy their meals and savor their food, rather than rushing through it. Eating late also allows visitors to experience the city’s nightlife and ambiance.

In addition, many restaurants offer special deals for dinner, such as prix-fixe menus, plat de jour (plate of the day) specials, or happy hour deals.

Be sure to Greet Shopkeepers

In Paris, it is considered polite and respectful to greet shopkeepers when entering or leaving a shop. This is because the French culture values interpersonal relationships and social interactions. Failing to acknowledge the shopkeeper could be seen as rude or disrespectful.

Additionally, greeting the shopkeeper can also help establish a friendly relationship, which can lead to better service and a more pleasant shopping experience. So, it is important to say “bonjour” when entering a shop and “au revoir” when leaving to show respect and politeness.

Be Aware of Pickpockets

Mans hand taking a purse from a womans pink bag worn across her body and behind her back. She has blonde hair, a white shirt and a light blue skirt Like any other major European city, pickpocketing can be a major issue. Touristic spots and spaces such as buses and trains can be hotspots for pickpocketers. It is important always to keep your belongings and valuables out of sight and if possible locked away.

We recommend when picking a day pack or travel purse, that you look for one that goes across your body, has multiple zips – preferably with a flap over for extra protection, or has the zip compartment on the backside if it’s a backpack. And try not to carry anything in open pockets – whether it be your coat, jacket, or trousers. These are easy pickings for professional thieves.

Avoid these Common Travel Scams in Paris

  • Friendship Bracelets: This scam is common in France’s major cities and is found throughout the world. You will be approached and a ‘friendship bracelet’ will be tied and often gently forced around your wrist. Although you did not request the bracelet, the scammer will demand money for it. It is important to be firm and confident with them and refuse to be taken in.  
  • Sign the Petition Scam: This scam seems to be most prevalent around major tourist spots such as the Eiffel Tower. A scammer will approach you to sign a petition for some noble and helpful cause. Once you have signed, a demanded ‘donation’ will be requested aggressively. Avoid those who look obviously out of place, carrying clipboards and asking if you speak English is normally an obvious sign. Also, be aware of pickpockets targeting while you are signing.
  • The Gold Ring or Found Ring Scam: A scammer approaches you on the street and shows you a gold ring that they claim to have found. They offer to sell it to you at a discounted price. In reality, the ring is usually fake, and you’ll end up paying much more than it’s worth.
  • The Fake Charity Scam: A person asks for donations for a fake charity, often using a clipboard and official-looking documentation. They will pressure you to donate and may even ask for your credit card information.

To avoid these scams, it’s best to be aware of your surroundings and to keep your belongings close to you. Avoid engaging with people who approach you on the street, and if you do decide to donate to a charity, make sure it’s a reputable one.

Avoid eating in touristy areas and instead venture into neighborhoods for authentic cuisine.

Restaurant under an apartment complex next to a Tabac One of the best ways to avoid eating and drinking in touristy areas and to find authentic cuisine in Paris is to venture into neighborhoods away from the main tourist attractions. Now we know this is a tip lots of people give, but how exactly can you achieve it without just wandering aimlessly away from the main tourist areas? Some tips to find local foodie hotspots are:

  • Research beforehand: Use travel guides or online resources to identify neighborhoods known for their food scene.
  • Look for local food markets: Visit a food market such as Marché d’Aligre or Marché des Enfants Rouges to sample fresh produce and dishes.
  • Follow the locals (but not in a creepy way!): Look for restaurants where locals are dining, and follow their lead.
  • Avoid places with multi-language menus: Often, restaurants with menus in multiple languages cater to tourists rather than locals.

What to Eat in Paris

Window of a bakery in Paris with pastries and croissants on display No other nation’s culinary reputation preseeds it some much as France’s. The worldwide fame of French cooking and cuisine means that there is a long list of must-try dishes when in Paris, but here are a few of our top french foods to try:

  • Baguette, Croissant & Crepes: You can’t go wrong with these baked goods or breakfast foods (that are not restricted to just breakfast here!)
  • Macarons or Eclairs: Sweet treats to die for.
  • Onion Soup: Everyone should try this French classic, even if it’s just once for the non-onion lovers!
  • Steak Frites or Steak Tartare: Steak and Chips or if you are feeling brave, raw steak that you mix with egg (it’s delicious, honestly!)
  • Escargot (Snails): are a traditional French delicacy that are typically served as an appetizer and are usually cooked in garlic butter and served with a side of bread.

Stall with multiple different French cheeses displayed

  • Cheese: Cheese is an integral part of French cuisine, and Paris is no exception. The city is home to a vast variety of cheeses, ranging from mild and creamy to strong and pungent. Visitors to Paris should definitely try some of the city’s famous cheeses, such as Camembert, Brie, Roquefort, and Comté.
    These cheeses can be found at specialty cheese shops, open-air markets, and even some supermarkets. It’s important to note that each cheese has its own unique flavor, texture, and aroma, so it’s worth trying different types to find your favorite.  Many restaurants in Paris also offer cheese plates as a dessert option, so be sure to ask for recommendations.

Enjoy a picnic in one of Paris’s many parks or gardens.

Pinic laid out on a white sheet including cheese, dips, grapes, baguette and rose wine Picnicking in one of Paris’s many parks or gardens is a great way to experience the city like a local. To enjoy a picnic in Paris, start by picking up some fresh baguettes, cheese, charcuterie, and wine from a local market or fromagerie.

Bring a blanket and find a shady spot in one of Paris’s beautiful green spaces such as the Jardin des Tuileries, the Luxembourg Gardens, or the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Spread out your blanket and enjoy your picnic while taking in the scenery and people-watching.

Remember to clean up after yourself and dispose of any trash in the proper bins. If you want to take your picnic to the next level, consider bringing a portable Bluetooth speaker to play some music, or bring along some games like cards or a frisbee to play with friends or family.

Visit local markets to try fresh produce, cheese, and wine.

Artisan sausages in baskets at a market in France Even if you don’t plan on having a picnic during your time in Paris, local markets are a great place to experience the authentic flavors of the city. Here, visitors can find a wide variety of fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and locally-produced wines.

The markets provide an opportunity to try new foods and flavors that are often unique to the region. Not only are the products fresh and delicious, but they are also usually cheaper than what is found in restaurants or grocery stores.

But we warn you, when it comes to bread, not all baguettes are created equal and we recommend always buying direct from the boulangerie.

Buy Your Baguette at the Boulangerie – Not the Supermarket!

Inside a boulangerie with fresh basked goods for sale Firstly, a baguette from a boulangerie is guaranteed to be freshly baked on the premises. No establishment can be called a boulangerie if they do not make the dough and kneed the bread on-site)

In comparison, a supermarket baguette may have been transported from another location and could be several hours old, a little chewy or too crusty if left out for too long.

Secondly, the quality of the bread is typically much better at a boulangerie, as they often use traditional techniques and high-quality ingredients to create their bread.

Finally, buying from a local boulangerie supports small businesses in the community and helps to preserve traditional French culinary culture, and as they offer a wider variety of bread, pastries, and other baked goods that are not available in supermarkets, they allow visitors the chance to sample a range of delicious French treats (and stock up on delicious snacks!)

It’s a cultural faux pas to order coffee later in the afternoon

Man sitting outside a cafe under a sign that says breakfast In France, coffee is considered a morning drink, and it is not customary to order it later in the afternoon or evening. In fact, many French people believe that coffee after a meal can interfere with digestion.

Additionally, cafes in Paris tend to be busy during peak hours, and it is considered impolite to sit for a long time without ordering more drinks or food.

Therefore, ordering a coffee in the late afternoon or evening may be seen as taking up space and not following the traditional French coffee culture. Instead, many Parisians prefer to drink tea, hot chocolate, or other non-caffeinated beverages later in the day.

It may be cheaper to drink your coffee at the counter or bar

French cafe Bar with counter seating on bar stools In Paris, it is generally cheaper to drink your coffee at the counter or bar instead of sitting at a table. This is because cafes and restaurants have different prices for the same drinks depending on whether you are sitting at a table or standing/sitting at the counter.

Sitting at a table means you are paying for the service, the ambiance, and the use of the space, while standing or sitting at the counter is more of a quick, no-frills option. Therefore, if you want to save some money and enjoy a quick coffee, it is better to order it and consume it at the counter.

Take time to relax at a café and people-watch.

Groups of young people stat at tables and chairs outside a cafe in Paris Although, as an opposite to the above, a great way to relax in this busy city is to sit at a cafe and people-watch. In fact it is considered a quintessential Paris experience and a huge part of life in Paris.

Paris is famous for its café culture, and there are countless cafes throughout the city where visitors can sit back, sip on a café au lait or a glass of wine, and allow yourself time to watch the world go by. This activity is particularly enjoyable in the summer months when many cafes have outdoor seating areas where you can bask in the sun and soak up the atmosphere.

It’s a great way to take a break from sightseeing, mingle with the locals, and fully immerse yourself in the Parisian way of life.

Don’t smoke in enclosed public spaces…

In Paris, it is important to note that smoking is strictly forbidden in public enclosed spaces, including restaurants, bars, cafes, and other public areas. This ban was introduced in 2008 to protect public health and reduce the risks of passive smoking. The ban applies to all types of cigarettes, including electronic cigarettes, and violators can face significant fines.

Rooftop of Galleries Lafayette

…But You Can Smoke on Terraces

However, it is still possible to smoke in designated outdoor areas, such as terraces and balconies, as long as they are not fully enclosed.

Visitors should respect the ban and avoid smoking in prohibited areas to avoid any potential legal consequences. Additionally, it is always polite to ask for permission before smoking in outdoor areas near other people.

Free public bathrooms are rare

Free public bathrooms can be rare in Paris. While there are public bathrooms available, many of them require payment or are located in cafes or restaurants that require a purchase to use their facilities.

Additionally, some of the public bathrooms that are free to use may not be as clean or well-maintained as one would hope. Therefore, it is recommended to plan ahead and be prepared to pay for the use of a public bathroom, or to seek out free restrooms in places like museums or department stores.

It is also common to find restrooms in train or metro stations, but these may require payment or a valid ticket to access.


Quick Do’s & Don’ts in Paris

View from Montparnasse Tower over Paris


  • Do learn some basic French phrases.
  • Do wear comfortable shoes.
  • Do keep an eye on your belongings & be aware of pickpockets
  • Do dress appropriately when visiting religious sites.
  • Do take a river cruise or bike tour to see the city from a different perspective.
  • Do enjoy a picnic in one of Paris’s many parks or gardens.
  • Do visit local markets to try fresh produce, cheese, and wine.
  • Do take time to relax at a café and people-watch.
  • Do read a few Paris Quotes to get you inspired.


  • Don’t eat in touristy areas.
  • Don’t forget to validate your ticket before boarding public transportation.
  • Don’t ignore local customs such as greeting people with a kiss on each cheek.
  • Don’t smoke in enclosed public places (Bars, Transport, Shops etc)
  • Don’t assume everyone speaks English.
  • Don’t be loud or disruptive in public places.
  • Don’t take photos of locals without their permission.
  • Don’t forget to plan for potential public transport strikes.

Final Thoughts on Our Top Tips for Visiting Paris

We hope this Paris travel guide to 35 EssentialTravel Tips for Paris has been a huge help in planning your Paris trip, and if you know of anyone else who needs a little bit of inspiration or assistance in planning their Parisien getaway, please be sure to share on social media: Facebook, Flipboard, Twitter or grab the image from below for Pinterest. And remember – sharing is caring (and we thank you in advance!)

Paris Travel Tips to Know Before You Go Pin Image

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