Are you going to the French capital? Here are the big mistakes to avoid while traveling in Paris plus all the Paris travel tips you need to know.
Are you traveling to Paris soon or you’re already there? How exciting is that!
Honestly, I am a little bit jealous that you’re exploring or planning to visit one of the beautiful cities of Europe and I am just behind my desk writing or tucked in my bed re-watching “Friends”.
Jokes aside, this is an exciting moment in your life, and knowing the mistakes to avoid while traveling in Paris will even make your trip better.
Paris is undeniably a beautiful city that tops almost every traveler’s bucket list.
With all its glitz and glamour, it’s not uncommon for visitors to find challenges, especially those visiting Paris for the first time.
So in this post, I will be sharing the best tips for traveling to Paris including all the travel mistakes to avoid while in the French capital.
Before You Go, Here Are Some Practical Tips to Plan Your Trip to Paris
– Book your accommodation in advance. For the best stay, I suggest staying at this Eiffel Tower view hotel (9.0/10) if you want to look at the Iron lady from your hotel room. The People – Paris Bercy (8.9/10) if you’re on a budget, Hôtel Eiffel Turenne (8.7/10) if you’re on a mid-range budget, or Maison Albar Hotels Le Pont-Neuf (9.0/10) for a luxurious stay. If you’d rather stay at an apartment, then this is the apartment rental I recommend.
– Don’t miss out on popular tours and activities in Paris. Some of my favorites are; this Louvre museum-guided tour (4.5/5), this Seine River cruise dinner (4.7/5), this Eiffel Tower guided Tour (4.3/5), this Versailles Palace guide tour (4.8/5), or this Montmartre walking tour (4.8/5).
– Don’t forget to take Travel Insurance. Request a free quote from my favorite insurance, World Nomads. (More on this at the end of the article.)
– Prepare your trip extensively with this Paris Travel guidebook. Don’t forget a universal travel adapter, a travel neck pouch, and comfortable walking shoes.
– Consider getting either the museum pass or the Paris city pass if you plan to visit a lot of attractions. The city pass comes with free transportation and access to the hop-on-hop-off bus. You can read my Paris museum pass review to see if it’s right for you.
Mistakes to avoid while traveling in Paris
Here is what not to do in Paris!
1. Spending a lot of time in queues At popular tourist attractions
There is no doubt Paris has some of the most popular tourist attractions in the world from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre museum.
This means that some of these attractions receive thousands of tourists on a daily basis which translates to long queues.
If you decide to queue, you’re likely to spend hours in the line which time could easily be used to explore some of the other Paris beautiful places!
How to avoid this mistake?
The best way to skip the long lines in Paris is to buy the skip the lines tickets in advance.
Buying these tickets online will save you hours of looking bored and pale to becoming anxious as you wait to enter that popular site.
You can buy this skip-the-line entry ticket to the Eiffel tower ( you’d want to buy this because the line can get crazy insane! After all, it’s one of the most visited landmarks in Paris!
If you plan on visiting the Louvre museum ( in which case you should, since it’s the largest and most visited art and antique museum in the world), then get yourself this skip-the-line entry ticket to the Louvre!
Other Paris skip-the-line entry tickets to buy include; the Versailles palace skip-the-line ticket, the Paris Catacombs ticket with an audio guide, this Arc de Triomphe rooftop ticket, and so many others.
You can use this link to purchase all the skip-the-line tickets of popular sites in Paris from GetYourGuide. Alternatively, you can check out this list of the Paris skip-the-line tickets for popular attractions
Related post: Tips for Visiting the Eiffel Tower
2. Not buying a Paris City Pass
The Paris city pass is quite important if you plan to visit a number of popular sites in this city of love.
It will help you save money and time. The Paris pass will also guarantee you “free” and hustle-free entry to the major tourist sites.
On top of gaining access to popular museums and monuments, this Paris city pass also includes unlimited access to public transportation from the Metro, bus, tram to RER within Paris.
It also includes the incredible Seine boat cruise for amazing views of the city and a 1-day hop-on-hop-off bus pass.
Now, this is a bargain you can’t afford to miss especially if it’s your first time in Paris.
To purchase the Paris City Pass, click on this link and then decide on the pass duration you want – whether one for 2,3, 4, or 6 days!
Some of the Paris attractions you can access using the Paris city pass include, the Louvre museum, Orsay museum – (basically all the museums in Paris), Palace of Versailles, Arc de Triomphe, Chateau de Fontainebleau which is one of the best castles in France and so many other attractions that total up to 80.
Please note that the Paris city pass is different from the Paris Museum Pass.
While you can access all the attractions and transportation discussed above with the Paris city pass, the Paris Museum pass only gives you access to Museums and monuments with the exception of free transportation.
But if you’d rather opt for a Paris Museum Pass, you can purchase it from here and decide on the Pass duration you want – whether 2, 4, or 6 days. You can read my detailed Paris museum pass review to see if it’s right for you.
Should you buy the Paris city pass?
Though it might be costly, it’s better to buy it, especially if you want to visit a number of attractions in Paris and don’t want the hustles of long queues.
If you also want the extras of free transportation, the seine cruise, and the hop-on-hop-off bus trip, purchasing the Paris city pass is a great deal.
However, if you’re traveling to Paris on a budget, plan to spend a good amount of time in Paris or you just won’t be visiting a number of popular Paris attractions, then the Paris city Pass may not be for you.
And in addition to that, travelers below the age of 25 years don’t need to purchase a Paris pass since it’s free for them to enter museums.
But all in all, one of the best tips for traveling to Paris is to purchase a Paris city pass.
Please note that the Paris pass doesn’t include the Eiffel tower, so you’ll have to buy the Eiffel tower entry ticket separately.
3. Dining near popular Parisian attractions
This is one of the big mistakes to avoid while traveling in Paris.
Restaurants or cafes near popular tourist attractions are quite expensive and by all means, don’t prepare the best meals in the city.
If you want to splurge, this might not be a challenge for you but if you want to explore Paris on the minimum budget possible, it’s better to stay away from dining at popular restaurants and cafes especially those near major tourist attractions.
4. Thinking that everything in Paris is expensive
I’m by no means saying that Paris is a cheap city! No, it’s actually one of the most expensive cities in Europe but it doesn’t mean that everything is incredibly expensive.
In fact, you can find a number of free things to do in Paris, like watching the illuminated Eiffel tower every after one hour at night, visiting various Parisian churches, strolling around the famous Champs Elysees street, and visiting some of the beautiful Paris parks like the Luxembourg gardens and so many others.
What to do then?
Other than just visiting the popular sites that will run your wallet dry, consider going to some of the free places mentioned above.
You can also look out for offers and discounts. For example, some of the popular Paris museums like the Louvre, Orsay, and Centre Pompidou are absolutely free every first Sunday of the month.
And also take advantage of the free Paris walking tours like these ones. Who knew you could visit these sites for free?
It’s not only dollar signs everywhere in Paris, you just need to know where and when to go!
Related post: Best ways to travel to Europe on a budget
5. Visiting only popular sites in Paris
Paris has a number of incredible and popular landmarks that should not be missed by all means.
I mean a trip to Paris is not complete if you don’t visit popular sites like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre museum, and so many others – but Paris goes beyond these popular sites!
There are a number of hidden gems in Paris that are often overlooked but are equally beautiful!
So instead of sticking to just the popular sites, add some hidden gems to your Paris itinerary!
Some of these places include the Paris Statue of Liberty – yes Paris also has its own version, Parc de la Villette – a 55-hectare urban cultural park or Buttes Chaumont if you’re looking for a short romantic getaway out of the city.
Related post: Big mistakes to avoid while traveling in Europe
6. Renting a car or using taxis in Paris
One of the best tips for visiting Paris is to not rent a car. Traffic in Paris is incredibly crazy and renting a car will just delay you by sitting in traffic for a good amount of time which you would instead use for exploring the city of lights
In regards to that, don’t take a taxi as well – the results will be the same as when you rent a car.
What to do instead?
Use the Paris metro. It is easy to use, very efficient and connects well to some of the popular Paris tourist attractions.
And if you buy the Paris city pass as I suggested earlier, you’ll have access to public transportation for free.
But if you really want to enjoy Paris to the dot, like the locals, the best way to do it is on foot.
You’ll get to see all the corners and pretty streets you’d rather have not seen while in a car or train.
If you plan to use the metro a number of times but didn’t buy the Paris City Pass, then opting for a “Carnet ” of 10 tickets is much better.
This will save you some bucks and time.
7. Packing too many activities in one trip
One of the other big mistakes to avoid while traveling in Paris is packing too many activities in one trip.
This might be inevitable, especially for first-time visitors who have had Paris on their bucket list for quite some time.
With hundreds of beautiful places to visit in Paris, it becomes quite impossible to see everything.
And there is no point in just running from one attraction to another without actually enjoying and spending some time there.
How to avoid this mistake?
Come up with a realistic Paris itinerary of the places you want to visit before your trip and allocate time depending on the number of days you have in the city.
It’s better to start with the major attractions that you’ve always wanted to see.
8. Missing the Seine River cruise
Cruising on the Seine is one of the must-do romantic things in Paris, so missing it shouldn’t even be an option.
This popular cruise helps you take in the breathtaking views of all the major Paris landmarks; from the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre museum to the Musse d’Orsay.
Though the cruise routes are almost the same for all the cruising companies, the activity differs in terms of the accompaniments on board – whether dinner is inclusive or not.
Though you can easily pay for your ticket at the time of boarding, it’s always better and sometimes cheaper to buy your seine cruise ticket online.
Related post: How to spend 1 day in Paris
9. Thinking that the Eiffel Tower gives the best views of the city
This is by far one of the commonest misconceptions when it comes to visiting Paris.
Other than admiring the architectural wonder of the tower, the other reason why people visit the Eiffel is to have amazing views of Paris.
There is no doubt the Eiffel tower gives spectacular views of the city but it’s not the place to get the absolute best.
Where to go instead?
To get the absolute best views of Paris, head to Arc de Triomphe.
From the top of the Arc de Triomphe, you’ll be able to see the Champs-Elysees, the Louvre, and spectacular views of the Eiffel tower.
There’s just something about looking down the Champs-Elysees to the Louvre, out to La Defense, and of course, having one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower.
The daytime views and amazing but the night views are simply incredible.
Other places where you’re guaranteed incredible views of the city of lights include the Pompidou center, Le Printemps, La Grande Arche de La Defense, and so many others.
To access the arc, you’ll need to purchase this Arc de Triomphe ticket in advance to avoid long lines.
Note* The Notre Dame cathedral was one of the best places to get incredible views of Paris but due to the fire that burned part of it on 15th April 2019, it is currently closed off to the public till further notice.
10. Falling for Popular Paris tourists traps and scams
Paris is generally a safe city to travel in but like any big tourist city, tourist scams also exist in this French capital.
Scammers always target tourists, so if your body language “screams” tourists, you’re most likely to be the next target.
On top of the scams, pickpockets are many in Paris which means that you should always be on the lookout for your belongings at all times.
Pickpockets are very common in crowded places like the metro and at popular tourist attractions.
Popular scams to look out for in Paris?
The petition scam at Popular attractions: With this scam, a woman (or women) will approach you with a supposedly important petition they want you to sign as a way of showing support to whatever cause they’re involved in.
Do not sign it because as soon as you do, they will demand money and in an aggressive way that you might end up feeling compelled to give them something just so they leave you alone.
The bracelet scam: No, those bracelets are not free and they’re not just being friendly by giving you “gifts”, they’re trying to scam you. So boldly say no and move on.
With this scam, someone will cunningly wrap a bracelet on your wrist, and start telling you how nice it looks on you. Don’t feel guilty about taking it off if you don’t want to buy it. However aggressive they might get, stand your ground and say NO.
Just like traveling anywhere in the world, something can go wrong and you lose your travel items – Paris is not an exception, unfortunately.
To make sure that you and your expensive travel items are covered while traveling in Paris, I recommend buying travel insurance. The best travel insurance I highly vouch for is WorldNomads.
Requesting a quote is pretty easy and the claiming process is not the never-ending rat race you might have heard of with other travel insurance.
So, request a free quote from WorldNomads from here.
11. Paying for water at A restaurant or anywhere in the city.
Tap water is perfectly safe to drink in Paris, so instead of spending money on bottled water at a restaurant, simply ask the waiting staff to refill your glass whenever you run out – just remember to ask politely.
In the same way, even when you’re just running about in the city, you can forego buying bottled water at supermarkets by taking advantage of the Fuente Wallace (Wallace fountains) spread around the city.
All you have to do is carry a collapsible travel water bottle to keep refiling as the need arises.
12. Over tipping at restaurants
While still on the subject of restaurants, it’s important to know that you don’t have to overtip after your meal while in Paris.
You actually don’t even have to tip at all since the Paris menu prices are already inclusive of the service fee of 10% – 15% which includes the tip.
But if you feel like appreciating the service, you can still tip but definitely no pressure at all.
If you want to dine at some of the coolest restaurants in Paris, check out this list of Parisian restaurants with Eiffel Tower views.
13. Not learning a few French words
Though almost the entire world seems to think that Fench people especially Parisian are rude (which btw I think is a bit of a misconception), learning a few Fench words can warm their hearts into opening up to you more.
You don’t even need to speak the French words perfectly well but your effort will be recognized as the locals will be more willing to help or even give you their time – just a few of them are ok.
French word to learn?
- Bonjour to mean Hello
- Merci to mean thank you
- S’il Vous plaît to mean Please
You can also carry a simple French phrasebook if you want to learn some other Fench words.
This is not to mean that if you don’t know any French words your trip will not go well.
On the contrary, since most of the people in the tourism service places can communicate well in English – but knowing a few words can go along way while exploring Paris.
14. Losing or trashing your metro ticket as soon you board
Wondering what not to do in Paris? Losing your metro ticket is one of them.
It might sound like a minor mistake but it is actually a big one that can get you fined a large unnecessary amount of money which can be anywhere around 30 Euros.
So make sure you keep your metro ticket unit you leave the metro in case someone does a random check of it.
This should actually be taken seriously as there is no way around it. You either have the ticket or you pay a fine.
And also, before you board the train, make sure that your ticket is valid, or else a huge fine will be coming your way pretty fast.
15. Wearing uncomfortable shoes
Paris is a city best explored on foot! This means that you’ll spend a share amount of time walking from one attraction to another.
As you explore the city of lights, don’t do a disservice to your feet by wearing uncomfortable shoes.
Instead, wear shoes that you can easily walk in; sneakers or running shoes are a perfect choice to take.
16. Not making restaurant reservations in advance
Some of the popular places in Paris easily get booked out, especially on special days or weekends.
To avoid waiting or bouncing back, make your table reservations a few hours or days in advance. Sometimes luxury restaurants may need to book a few months in advance.
However, some smaller eateries don’t require advance reservations.
17. Staying on the wrong side of the city
It can actually be tricky to find out the best side of the city to book your accommodation.
Some people opt to stay near popular sites which is a bit costly and others choose to stay away from the tourist attractions to get better deals.
There is always a trade-off in this scenario. You either spend more money at hotels in the city and reduce the costs of commute and time wasted or spend less on hotels by staying outside the city but spend extra on transportation.
Where should you stay then?
In my opinion, it would be better to stay within the city especially if you just have a few sightseeing days in Paris.
But if you’re staying for longer, a hotel just out of the city center won’t be a bad option as Paris’ public transportation is well connected.
If you’re still looking for where to stay in Paris, you can check out this post on the best hotels with Eiffel Tower views, Apartment rentals with the views of the Eiffel Tower, or these hotels in Montmartre if you want to stay is one of the cutest neighborhoods of Paris.
18. Forgetting your manners
Parisians and French people, in general, pay utmost attention to manners.
Saying Bonjour (hello) to waitstaff or a shopkeeper will earn you friendliness but failure to do so might bring out the “French rudeness” everyone seems to talk about.
This goes to show how the French people take manners seriously and not saying hi is considered extremely rude.
In the same way, try not to force your way into the metro when some people are still moving out.
Final Thoughts on What Not to do in Paris
Whoah! that was a lot to take in especially if you’re traveling to Paris for the first time.
I hope that these travel tips in Paris will help you have an amazing time in the city of lights with minimal to no mistakes.
Do you know of any other mistakes that people traveling to Paris should know about?
Share them below so that others can also know how to avoid them.
NEVER TRAVEL TO ANYWHERE WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE
One of the biggest mistakes you’ll ever make when planning a trip is to forego Travel Insurance!
You might think that it’s expensive, but when you think of how much it will save you when you lose your valuables or even get sick, then you’ll know that it’s NOT that expensive!
There are many Travel Insurance companies out there, but I love World Nomads! They cover almost every single thing you might face/do while traveling, it is easy to request a quote, and if you ever need to claim, the claiming process is not a rat race!
I’ve used World Nomads on all my trips, and I am confident and happy to recommend it to you!
No worries if you’re not yet ready to book your trip, you can request a free quote from World Nomads here and see if it suits your personal needs!
More posts to help you plan your Paris trip
- Things to do in Paris
- Hidden gems of Paris
- Easy day trips to take from Paris
- Tips for visiting Paris for the first time
- How to visit the Eiffel tower
- Romantic things to do in Paris
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