A little preparation before visiting paris
Paris is a wonderful city to visit, to make the most of it, especially if it is your first time, there are a few things we recommend you should do.
There are plenty of resources online to assist you prior to arriving in France, hopefully our site will help and if used along with some preplanning, should help you get the most out of your visit.
Paris transport system - do a little extra research...
We suggest you familiarise yourself with Paris' public transport system before you leave home, by visiting the website of 'RATP' the city's transport operator. You can download a copy of the Paris Metro map on their site here, this will help you with the layout of the city and the location of its major attractions and districts and perhaps where to choose your Paris accommodation for your stay. Familiarising yourself with your nearest metro station to where you ultimately choose to stay,will also help when it comes to planning your itineraries after you arrive in the city.
You can download the very good RATP app here to help with your itinerary planning while in Paris.
Check out our page on how to ride the Paris metro system here
Check out how to get from the Airports,in advance...
After arriving in Paris on a long-haul flight tired and disoriented you will not want the stress of wondering how to get to your accommodation, do your research before you set off. We can help with this - check out our Airports to Paris page.
Choose your accommodation carefully...
Your choice of accommodation,your hotel or apartment, will have been booked in advance and be based on your own criteria which may be location or price. There is so much choice and each arrondissement (districts or neighbourhood) of Paris has something to offer. It may be you want to be close to restaurants, nightlife or shopping, or maybe you want a view of the Eiffel Tower - whatever your criteria, we can help with your choice - check out our Paris district page.
Bonjour, bonsoir, merci, s’il vous plaît - learn the important French words.
Hello / good day - Bonjour (bohn joohr)
Probably the most important word in the French language. You should say it as a general "hello" to everyone whenever you enter a shop, restaurant, public transport, whenever you start a conversation with a someone e.g. when asking for direction, asking for help, or when you simply meet someone for the first time.
Good Evening - Bonsoir (bon swah) but when does bonjour become bonsoir? Even after a dozen years living in France we are still not exactly sure! We are advised "when afternoon ends" but of course that is open to conjecture. We would suggest around 17h-18h is appropriate but don't quote us on it and be prepared to get it 'wrong'!
Bonne soirée (bon swahree) effectively ends the evening and stands in place of “goodbye”.
Good Bye - Au Revoir (oh-ruh-vwah)
Please - S’il vous plaît (see voo play)
Thank you - Merci (mer-sea)
May we have the bill please - l'addition s'il vous plait (laddition see voo play)
Katie Donnelly has a longer list here you will find useful.
Eating out in Paris...
Eating out in Paris opens up a world of potential experiences and everyone will find one to suit their tastes and pockets. Although French eating times outwith cities can be restricted, i.e. lunch noon until 2pm and dinner 7pm until 10pm in Paris and other cities you will find somewhere to eat at all times, though many stick to theses traditional hours, though perhaps not what your first choice may be.
If you are on a budget choose to eat your main meal at lunchtime from one of the many fixed priced menus on offer in many of the restaurants.
If you are celebrating something special or simply treating yourself to nice meal remember that for popular places, it is best to book ahead or get there before 8pm.
You will nearly always be offered water and when you are, don’t be embarrassed to order tap water (une carafe d’eau) instead of paying for the bottled stuff.
In Paris, the bill in bars and restaurants includes a service charge, so you do not have leave a tip but if you are happy with the service you can do so, 5% to 10% for a tip is acceptable.
Waiters and restaurant staff in France do not live off tips they are paid a salary .
You can find some cheap options for eating in the city one of which is something many visitors seek out - 'L’As du Fallafel' on Rue des Rosiers, a charming little street in the heart of Paris’s Marais neighborhood where you can get an amazing falafel sandwich for under €10 - try it,you won't be disappointed. There are also cafes where you can have a cheap plate of cheese and charcuterie to accompany your coffee.
Boulangeries are also a good resource whether for your breakfast croissant or pain au chocolat or for an inexpensive sandwich for lunch.
Opening times in Paris...shops
Normal shop opening hours in Paris are 9am until 7pm with some smaller shops choosing to close for lunch (12 noon- 2pm) and on a Monday. Public holidays and Sundays sees most shops closing with a few exceptions. The large department stores tend to have one late night opening normally until 9pm. Supermarkets are normally open everyday except Sunday (again with a few exceptions until midday) until 8/9pm.
Opening times in Paris...Museums
The museums of Paris and there are many (around 130) open either at 9am or 10am and close either at 5pm or 6pm. Some close on Monday and others on Tuesday - check on our individual pages before visiting.
Some of the major attractions open 7 days a week and have late openings.
Some museums have a late-night opening once a week until 9 or 10pm.
Opening times in Paris...public services
Post offices tend to open from 8am to 7pm, Monday to Friday and from 8am to midday on Saturday. They are closed on public holidays.
Banks generally open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday or from Tuesday to Saturday. Many close over lunchtime, between 12.30pm and 2pm. ATMs operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for cash withdrawals. Banks close on public holidays.