Most of the time you will be walking, walking, walking between and in all the museums / monuments – about 20-25 000 steps a day (2 000 is approx. 1 mile). Even with lunches, dinners and sitting in the gardens everyone comes home saying their feet hurt. Bring comfy shoes (white sneakers have even become a thing in Paris too) and a pedometer to keep track of how many chocolate eclairs you can justify.
Unless there is a Stop sign for cars they will not necessarily even slow down when you are crossing the road EVEN if the little green man is shining for you! Cross in packs, if the car driver sees a half-decent gap he will drive through. Do not for one moment think you have right of way just because you are legally crossing the road.
I have also lost count of the number of guests who were scammed at stations, particularly Gare du Nord, because they were confused about buying travel tickets at one of the machines – the person who ‘rescues’ you and buys your tickets with his credit card, letting you watch the entire process… is ABSOLUTELY going to scam you.
Rue de Clichy is only 800m / half mile long but there are 3 metro stations on it, and more importantly they actually go to places you want to see! Metro station Place de Clichy (lines 2 & 13) is at the top, Liège (line 13) in the middle and Trinité (line 12) is at the bottom. Were you ever to have an uninterrupted view in Paris you would be able to see your next metro, they are so close. A metro will arrive about every 3 minutes and count an average of only 90 seconds to travel between stations.
If you have wheelchairs / strollers / difficulty with steps, we are surrounded by bus routes which go everywhere a metro goes plus, plus. Also, the metro line 14, closest station is Saint Lazare (4 minute walk away), is the only wheelchair – friendly metro line with elevators at each station.
The best open-top hop-on hop-off bus tour is Open Top to-ot bus).
The easiest way of seeing the Museums and other Attractions is to purchase a museum pass. The best Pass is the Paris Museum Pass for 2, 4 or 6 consecutive days.
Yes, it’s still worth getting a Paris Museum Pass, the others are super expensive, because despite having to book your timed arrival so there is little in the way of major queuing now, you still get a price advantage if you pop into at least 1 attraction a day.
Ask me to purchase them for you before you arrive, buy them at the Tourist office which is part of the Town Hall (29, rue de Rivoli) or in the Gare du Nord – neither are open on Sundays -or at your first museum (a small one with not too much ‘traffic’) though this gets a bit complicated when you have to have pre-paid for your ticket…… Museum entrance is free for under 16s (under 26 if you are European).
Dealing with the French:
Not saying ‘Bonjour’ before talking to someone is considered very impolite. So before asking a question just say ‘Bonjour’ and if possible ‘Parlez-vous anglais ?’ In shops and restaurants almost everybody does speak some English but by making this small effort this will get you the positive response you are looking for.
Yes, you can drink the tap water. In restaurants you will be sold a bottle of water for about €5 but you can always ask for a carafe of water which is free.
Café prices may seem expensive but you are paying for both the coffee and ‘renting’ the table. Once you have ordered you can stay as long as you like, even work on your novel, the waiter will not bring you your bill unless you ask for it.
When you see ‘service compris 15%’ on the menu it means that a tip of 15% is pre-included in any bill. You don’t need to leave more than a few coins. Practically everywhere you eat will have this in very small writing.
The apocryphal rude French waiter doesn’t now exist almost anywhere, sorry, I only know 1 restaurant if you really need that!
Catch the waiter’s eye in order to point at the table you want to sit down at even in the most ordinary café. In restaurants always wait to be seated.
Even the expensive restaurants have a set menu – I nearly got caught out recently at the Petit Zinc in Saint Germain when the waiter produced the menu and explained that the speciality was seabass at only €112. There was a small chalk board 2 tables away with a set menu for €23!
Unless you are really brave, do not ever order Andouillette sausage AAAAA, the translation is Chitterling sausage but this anodyne name does not conjure up a description for the most revolting tripe (pork intenstine) sausage slathered in mustard sauce. Androuillette is NOT androuille sausage.
No the Police are not about to shoot someone, they always walk around carrying their big guns in their hands and they and the army are especially present in train stations / airports or anywhere that is crowded. Their intention is to look intimidating. There is almost nowhere you will go on the tourist trail where you should be worried. Some non-tourist areas are just poorer than others.
However, pickpockets are everywhere, invariably small groups of young girls who look for easy targets they think may be carrying lots of cash. Or they like the look of your sunglasses or camera. Be aware especially near the Eiffel Tower, inside the Louvre or anywhere particularly crowded including the metro. They can also distract you with a petition or the ‘dropped gold ring’ scam.