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Travel Guide: A Beginner’s Guide to Paris

As many others have the dream of going to Paris, I’ve had the same one since I was a young girl and finally, finally, at age 27, I made that dream a reality! To celebrate my boyfriend and I’s 5 year anniversary, we decided to take a trip to Paris! I’ve never been to Europe before but always knew there were traveler tips and tricks that I needed to remember (i.e. they run on a different voltage and I’d need a travel adapter because of the different outlets). Here is my take on a beginner’s guide after going! Some of these tips can obviously be applied to wherever you visit 🙂 Check out my blog later this week & next week for my day-to-day itinerary!

 

1. You’ll never visit everything in your first trip so don’t cram your schedule and enjoy the moment

I was told by many people who have visited Paris numerous times how they still haven’t seen everything Paris has to offer and not to feel so stressed and overwhelmed trying to get it all checked off my list in my first visit. For example: as someone who works for a museum, of course I had a huge list of museums to visit but the museums in Paris are far bigger than the ones in Toronto so I knew I could spend hours upon hours doing that task alone so I opted for ones that their collection appealed most to me (aka fashion-related ones!) We ended up going to La Galerie Dior, the Elsa Schiaparelli exhibition at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and the National Archives Museum. Surprisingly, I did check off everything I wanted to do in my first trip to Paris but there’s so much more that was added whilst walking down the streets!

2. Schedule your days according to the area you want to see + ask your friends for their recommendations!

This is an obvious but worth saying anyways! Plan out all the places you want to visit (I use Google Maps) and schedule your activities for the day based on that area. So if you’re going to be near the 8th arrondissement for most of the day, choose restaurants in that area as well (instead of a place that is across the Seine). As for the activities itself, ask your friends for their recommendations, especially ones who have similar tastes like you! For instance, my friend Deborah has fabulous food recommendations so she sent me her itinerary from her Paris trip and my friend Richelle is an avid vintage-fashion lover and museum go-er so I knew she’d have great recommendations for attractions to visit. You don’t HAVE to do the ‘Top 10 Paris Tourism Attractions’ if that’s not your thing!

3. Keep your electronics + devices safe!

I went a little extra and made a spreadsheet of all my electronics and devices prior to our trip so that I knew which ones just needed a travel adapter and which ones also needed a voltage converter. I’ve heard many horror stories of people’s hot tools getting fried because of things like this so I wanted to prepare myself! Thankfully, most of the items I had were dual voltage already so I only needed an adapter for the most part.

4. You don’t need to spend as much money as you think to use your phone

And of course, I have to mention a phone plan. I’ll be honest, my boyfriend and I were going to spend $15/day to use my regular phone plan internationally but one of our good friends Navina recommended Airalo which was SO much more affordable and we decided to go with that. Basically, if your phone is compatible with eSIM cards then this is the phone plan for you! Find more info about it through this TikTok that I watched ~ there are 190+ countries that use Airalo and you can use my referral code here for $3 off. Sometimes my boyfriend’s reception was better than mine and vice versa but it definitely gets the job done.

@27travels y’all gotta check our Airalo! #travelhacks #travelhack #esim #simcard #traveltips #traveladvice #27travelhacks ♬ Blue Blood – Heinz Kiessling & Various Artists

5. Keep track of your items on travel day

I’m sure it’s the same at other airports but specifically in Toronto, Pearson has been a MESS. I personally wanted to check in my luggage (also my luggage is larger than the carry-on dimensions anyways) knowing how chaotic it’s been but since I was travelling with my boyfriend, I decided to split things up so that the most valuable items were brought in my carry-on and personal item and things that can be replaced were in my checked luggage (i.e. as much as I love my clothes, at the end of the day, they’re replaceable vs. how expensive my camera equipment, laptop, and other electronic devices are!) To keep track of my checked luggage, I purchased AirTags (or you can get Tile for Androids) so that I knew where it was at all times. We were both lucky and our luggages made it safely to Paris and back home with no issues!

6. Transportation

A lot of people say how walkable Paris is and it’s totally true but there are still times you need to take transportation and for us, we’re avid TTC users so taking the Metro / RER was a no brainer for us. To us, Paris transit was just an advanced version of the TTC. We ended up getting the Navigo Weekly Pass (the 7 days is based off the week, versus 7 days from your purchase). Our trip was Tuesday July 19 to Wednesday July 27 ~ we ended up getting a weekly pass for the following week because if you do your research, you’ll notice it’s not that much more to get a weekly pass for all zones versus the other options that are available. It definitely was worth it and made it stress-free since we didn’t have a full itinerary planned and ended up going to areas we didn’t originally plan! If you end up buying tickets, you’ll have to insert it and it’ll come back out (don’t forget to take it because that’s your proof of payment if you run into a fare inspector). My friend Richelle has never run into one but I did when I was there so better safe than sorry. Another (and totally fun) option is to rent an electric scooter. You’ll have to download the app (there are 3 different brands they have!) and it’s so much fun. I would download the apps before your trip because one of them sent a verification code via SMS when signing up so if you don’t plan on using SMS, you’ll have all the options on your phone. I’m not a fan of how there’s no countdown for pedestrians when you’re walking nor do I know any Parisian road rules but it definitely is a fun experience and can be much quicker.

7. Washrooms

Something I am so glad I knew before going to Paris was when it came to public washrooms. I mainly stuck to using the restroom in restaurants and department stores but I was close to resorting to a public washroom and something my friend told me about was how there is a cleaning service so after someone uses it, make sure the door is closed and you let the cleaning service do it’s thing instead of immediately going after the person in front of you. Not every restaurant has a bathroom attendant but carry some Euros with you in case that happens.

8. Ordering water from a restaurant

If you prefer getting tap water at restaurants, order une carafe ~ it’s basically a decanter of tap water. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying for water.

9. Eiffel Tower Sparkle

I thought it was common knowledge but a lot of people don’t actually know that the Eiffel Tower only sparkles for 5 minutes on the hour. Before it started the first hour after the sun sets but with the city’s new energy savings plan, it’s changed! The lights in general illuminate starting at 11:45pm. You can read more about it in the Smithsonian Magazine’s article here.

10. Sundays

A lot of places are closed on Sundays so typical tourist attractions like museums are more crowded than normal. I’d avoid it if you can! A nice walk by the Seine River is the perfect way to relax.

That’s it for now! I hope these tips help you enjoy your trip to Paris 🙂

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