Last weekend I went away with my mum to Paris, almost exactly a year since I started by big three month trip there! Even five days, with a carefully planned itinerary, were not enough to see everything. So here’s my advice for planning a trip to Paris- although it would probably apply to any European city.
Believe me when I say it is worth every penny! You can get ones that allow entry to all the museums, the palace of Versailles, the Arc De Triomphe, unlimited metro and train journeys, a hop on and off bus pass and a river cruise.
My mums pass with museums and metro included was £150. It 100% saves you money and involves much less hassle.
Plus it comes in this cute little wallet!
I know that Amsterdam has a similar scheme.
2. Plan ahead
Really cannot stress this enough, make a list of what you would like to see, get out a map and a metro map and work out the best order to see things. Without looking ahead a figuring this stuff out – you will not see everything this was the mistake I made the first time I went there.
3. If you are under 25 and hold a European passport a lot of places are free
Places I went to for free are:
Arc De Triomphe
Palace of Versailles
Pantheon- including climbing up to the Dome.
There are more but these are the ones I can confirm because I went there.
4. Take the Eurostar
Take advantage of our train system in Europe, the Euro star is so much easier and quicker than going by ferry or plane. Having driven by coach to Paris last year, via the ferry, I know this took a fraction of the time. The security lines are not as long or annoying as an airport either.
5. Pay attention
It is very easy to get into the wrong queue and waste potentially hours of your time. Sometimes, even if the attraction is free, they will still insist that you get a ticket in a different queue before entering the queue to get in. (Although in most cases, the Paris pass counts as a ‘ticket’). In other cases (as I’m under 25) all I had to do was show my passport in the ticket line. Sometimes there are two different places you can enter such as the Louvre , which had an underground entrance through the mall connected to the metro and an overground entrance by the Pyramid. Or the Arc De Triomphe, which had an underground queue via the metro tunnels to get tickets (even with a under 25 passport), followed by an overground queue to get in. This is where prior research is very useful.
5. Download the app Out Of The Line,
it helps you ‘join a queue’ virtually and looks like it would save a lot of time. We decided not do the Norte dame towers in the end, so I didn’t get the chance to use it but if you google it and look at the trip advisor reviews, it looks very useful. It is also apparently designed to work in other European cities too.
6. Wear shoes that are good for walking in.
We did 60 something kilometres in four days.
7. Download the app Maps.me
You pre download the map of the area you will be traveling and then it can be used without 3G just using your gps signal. I have used this app on an island in Thailand so I can confirm its reliability. It also shows you where metro, trains, busses etc run from, it shows where there are atms, restaurants, attractions to see- with links to trip advisor reviews (which do require 3G however). You can pin locations with little stars, which you can change the colours of.
8. Learn some basic phrases.
Seems obvious but for first language English speakers, we tend to be a little lax about bothering with other languages, even when we are in another country. In my experience, Parisians are both very proud and also very sick of tourists loudly asking in English for things. However, most of them do speak English, they’re just not willing to straight off. Begin asking in French for what you need, they will hear your accent and usually switch to English, or speak in slower French. In cafes and restaurants servers do appreciate an attempt, even though most will kindly say in English “it’s okay, I speak English”.
9. Over budget for food
It is surprising how much it adds up. Depending on the quality of the food and your dietary requirements (my mum is vegan and this restricted our options quite a bit) budget between €30- 60 per day.