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8 Insider tips for when you visit Paris

Paris is amazing, there’s no other city quite like it! I have been to Paris more times than I can remember. The architecture is breath-taking, the food is world famous and the shopping is out of this world.

But things can quickly turn into a nightmare, if you don’t know what you are doing. A couple of common problems include transportation strikes and difficulty to find food at a decent price.

Since I 1st travelled to Paris as a kid, I have picked up a few tricks, that every visitor should know. This isn’t a travel guide for paris, but here are 8 insider tips.

Pre-book your attraction tickets online

This piece of advice isn’t unique to Paris, but it’s very important. Save yourself time and hassle – book your tickets to attractions online. The most popular sites like the Arc De Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower always have queues.

The 1st time I visited the Eiffel Tower with my wife, I waited in line for 1 hour to get a ticket. I watched like a lemon as the people with tickets walked right by. The 2nd time I went with my wife, I watched the lemons wait for tickets as we walked straight by. It was rather satisfying!

Walk to Sacre Cœur for a view of the city

The Eiffel Tower is amazing and well worth the entry money. Both the 1st level and the top level have a wonderful view of the city.

For another terrific Parisian view, I would also recommend a walk to Sacre Coeur. It’s a beautiful Church, located at the top of a hill. It stands at the top of butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. From the Louvre, it’s about 2 miles and the walk will take you around 45 minutes. It’s a very nice walk, and the view of the city is fantastic. I recommend to sit on the steps with a coffee, and watch the city pass you by!

Don’t stay near the arc de triomphe

The Arc De Triomphe is located at the end of the Champs Elysees, and is a must visit when you go to Paris. Walk around, enjoy the views and take some great photos. But when it comes time to go home, retire to somewhere else!

The term ‘tourist trap’ was invited for this area – it’s not a fun space to spend a lot of time. It is always jam packed with people, and food is overpriced and bad.

Do stay around La opera

The area around Paris Opera is just 2 miles away from the Arc De Triomphe and is a beautiful location to stay in. It houses some of the best Hotels in Paris, including the Park Hyatt, Intercontinental Paris and the Hilton Paris Opera. The area is also full of stunning architecture and high end shopping. You are just 10 minutes walk from the Louvre.

I have stayed at this location 3 times, and it’s my favourite part of Paris to stay in. What makes this area great is that there are lots of shops and restaurants that cater for all budgets. If you just want a €8 crepe for lunch, then you can do that. Bouillon Chartier is a Paris institution where you can get great French food for €15.

Eating on a budget? Plan ahead

No travel guide for paris is complete without fawning over the excellent food – but cheap it isn’t! Paris is a difficult city if you are on a budget – there is no way around that. You’ll need to plan ahead, if you want to eat well. In many parts of the city centre, the only budget options will be a Starbucks or baguettes.

This is one of the reasons why I like the area around Paris Opera. There is loads of variety at a great price.

In general, if you are ok with baguettes or Crepes for lunch, then you will normally be within walking distance of a decent place. If you’re looking for a more substantial meal on a budget, then you’ll have to spend 20 minutes on Google and see what options are available. Best to plan before you go out, otherwise you’ll end up spending €70, for a crappy meal for 2!

Arrive via train

If you’re coming from Europe, then the best option to get to Paris is normally by train. Northern European destinations like London, Brussels and Berlin all have excellent connections via train. Unlike airports, the train stations are normally in the city centres – saving time and hassle. Train is also a far more civilised way to travel.

Visitors to Europe from outside don’t realise this, but it’s often very easy to tag on another European destination when you come. The train from London to Paris is only 2.5 hours.

Buy metro tickets in packets of 10

The transport system in Paris is pretty good. In my view, it is better than New York, but not as good as London. I think the best value way is to buy a book of 10 tickets, which are valid for 1 journey on bus or train. This gives more flexibility than the daily passes. 

Travelling with kids? Plan for toilet breaks!

This isn’t something you’ll read in any travel guide for paris, but is something that you’ll notice when you visit. Put simply, the city doesn’t have enough toilets.

Nearly all public toilets are chargeable. I remember paying €5 for myself and my wife to use the toilets in a department store. Normally the only way to use the toilet for free, is if you are eating at a restaurant.

For this reason, public urination is a massive problem in the city. Alleys and subways often reek of piss. This can be problematic if you’re travelling with children. You just need to plan ahead, and make sure to use the potty when you can!

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