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What do you wish someone had told you?

Oregon
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What do you wish someone had told you?

My husband and I are about to take our first trip to Paris in a few weeks. We currently live in the Netherlands and are fairly frequent travelers. I've been doing all my "homework" by researching and reading various posts here and in on other forums, but there are some things that can fall through the cracks. Plus I'm just plain curious and I find TA forumites to be some of the most generous and interesting folks around.

My question is this: for those of you who have already experienced Paris, what did you discover you wished someone had told you before your first trip? Did someone give you advice that you found particularly helpful or useful that you'd be willing to pass on? Anything from communicating, how to deal with scammers, public transport, public toilets, supermarket etiquette, restaurant behaviour, cultural "quirks" particular to Paris, how to generally not annoy the locals and be a good visitor etc. etc. etc.

My thanks to anyone who shares their thoughts on any of the above.

1,933 replies to this topic
631. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

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Removed on: 1:51 pm, January 09, 2013
 
Addison, Texas
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632. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

That Paris is to be absorbed, not consumed. That it is not a destination vacation; it is intended to be a repeat offense. (I have been 3 times and have my fourth planned...have been to 23 countries but France is my favorite, especially Paris).

The grocery stores are closed on Sunday. Avoid the museums on Sundays even though they are entry free on that day. Parisiens are proud, but very friendly, particularly if you attempt to speak some of their language. Wear sturdy flat walking boots. If possible, avoid eating any time of day on the Left Bank around Notre Dame...way over priced, crowded. It is cheaper to drink wine in a restaurant than a cup of coffee. Wine is about $1.25 (US dollars) more per glass if you drink it streetside instead of inside.

Take a cab from and to the airport; anything else is risking missing your flight. Cabs are $50 US dollars. Take more than one credit card because, depending on where you are, some will work and some will not....sometimes!! Rest rooms in most restaurants will ALWAYS be downstairs, due to the age of the buildings.

New Hampshire
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633. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

fitzmary - please refrain from posting inaccurate information. Opinions are one thing, but misinformation is another.

Not ALL grocery stores are closed on Sunday. Some are open until 1:30. And, there are always the convenience stores if you have to have something and don't mind paying a bit more (just like home).

What do you mean by "repeat offense". Very strange expression.

You do not need sturdy walking "boots". Any regular shoes are just fine, but many do much better with thick cushiony soles. Key is that they fit properly and do not rub, poke, etc., which creates blisters. In the warm weather, my favorite footwear is my sandals. Many people prefer sneakers. And, those are just fine most everywhere (except more formal restaurants).

Wine is more expensive (sometimes) on the sidewalk or terrace because owners pay taxes on each square foot.

Restrooms are often upstairs or downstairs, but not ALWAYS.

Anything else (to CDG) is not risking missing your flight. Obviously, one has to allow plenty of time for their chosen mode and heed the recommended amount of time to arrive in advance of departure time.

Taxi fare is actually around 55 Euros, not $50, and could be much higher depending on time of day/holiday/traffic.

Paris, France
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634. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

There is an avid expat blogging scene in Paris where you can get some fabulous insight into what's going on in the city... which I found more useful than travel guides, as was more up to date. Some of my favorites were http://www.davidlebovitz.com/ for foodie info, and http://www.petitebrigitte.com for activity ideas and nightlife. You can also find great stuff and all the links to particular blogs at http://www.theparisblog.com/. Useful insider info for a unique experience.

Southern california
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635. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

My first and only visit was over New Years weekend 2012. The crowds were overwhelming, it was like being in Disneyland pushing my way through the crowds and waiting in line for four solid days. (for example: 30 min. line to use the restroom in the Louvre, 3 hours to wait in line to walk up the Eiffel Tower, 40 minutes to get into Notre Dame, at least an hour to buy a Museum pass, but then we got right into the Musee de Orsay, and so on.) Paying the bill for meals was a similar experience, usually an outrageous price for a sub par meal. The best meals we had were at simple bistros eating a basic croque monsieur. Seeing the historical sites was interesting and impressive. I studies french for six years and had always wanted to see the things "Madame" had spoken about. Seeing them with my own eyes does give perspective on the history and vast human undertaking that creating Paris has been. For me, I wish I'd taken a bus tour and taken it all in and then stayed away from the tourist attractions and just roamed the parks and out of the way areas. By the time we left we were exhausted and all asking ourselves why people like it so much.

Surfers Paradise...
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636. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

Just come back and loved Paris to bits but here are my tips

Comfortable shoes

Expect lots of linig up

There are people asking you to sign for the deaf outside the Notre Dam - DON' T its a scam for money

The Metro pass is great as is the hop on and off Bus

The Paris Pass is a waste of Money

The Musuem Pass doesn't help with shortening the lines - everyone tries that

The food is amazing even for gluen free people

Picke Pockets are everywhere just be careful

Get an appartment and live like a local

Have Fun

Addison, Texas
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637. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

Viv H: Where were you successful with gluten free food (I am celiac)? I took a French translation explaining my condition and the ramifications, plus a request for menu recommendations based on a gluten free requirement. I got bemused looks from waiters. After about the fifth restaurant, I stopped using the paper translation and just started betting on the come. I only had one bad incident that side lined me for a night and a day...I purchased in a grocery store (a Carrefours in the 5th) what I thought was packaged prosciutto (my French is a bit bumbling), which I cooked with in a cream sauce, from scratch, in our apartment kitchen. Must have had some nasty sulfites! We were also quite disappointed by the health food store offerings quality wise (but that can also be a challenge here in Dallas, TX!) BTW for any traveler who is gluten intolerant, England is an amazingly wonderful trough of yummy gluten free offerings in grocery stores and in small shops.

Haworth, New Jersey
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638. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

I agree. Always bring a copy of your passport. and be ready for a serious case of the blues when you come home.

Edited: 8:02 am, January 18, 2013
California
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639. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

Another correction on post #632: Museums are not free on every Sunday, only the first Sunday of the month.

Athens, Greece
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640. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

hello tripadvisor friends. great and useful thread.

i have to say though, after reading at once all posts of this thread and having booked already tickets for paris i kind of got scared!!! i know that pickpockets, beggars and scammers are everywhere but in paris it seems they are the rule!i m staying at a hotel in montmartre that seems to be dreadful!

second, what seems to be difficult is the airport itself and i cant figure out how early i have to leave the hotel in order to catch my flight.

still, i just started research and its not fair to be pessimistic already. thanks everybody for the tips, advice and help!

greetings from greece!!!

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