Paris — the city of love, art, history and great food. It is one city that I am sure we all must have had on our travel lists at one point in our lives. As cliché as it is, Eiffel Tower was the first thing that introduced me to this city. Since then, I heard, saw and read instances of this beautiful city through uncountable channels.
We travel a lot, and it has incorporated a habit of planning, researching and reading about places and their stories. Before our first Paris trip, excitement and nervousness were the first two things that hit simultaneously. Reasons – our first trip, a huge city with a lot to offer, didn't want to miss anything crucial, and so on.
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Now that we have been to Paris a couple of times, I can share my first timers’ guide with you guys. I hope this will help in planning your first ever trip to this beautiful city.
- Prepare your itinerary. I know many of you must belong to the free-bird category and like to make impromptu plans. But, sometimes, over excitement (that can be a before-effect of this city) can lead to disappointment and frustration. An itinerary can save you on time and also gives you a goal to keep going. PRO-TIP: Check the timings and ‘closed-on’ days for museums and other attractions. If you want to make the most out of your trip then I'd suggest clubbing few locations and going for a pre-planned tour by some tour agency. This way you do not have to go through the hassle of multiple hotels and train/flight bookings. My favorite tour packages for such times are by Tours4Fun. They give value packages that are all inclusive with the amazing quality of service, stay, travel, tours, etc. Definitely, check them out if traveling on a budget is your priority.
- Consider Sundays and public holidays. We skipped this one and then had to look for alternatives for the day. Luckily, many places remain open on Sundays now but it wasn't the case couple of years back. Most of the restaurants and shopping centers either remain closed or open for few hours only. Hence, it’s always better to check your itinerary and plan accordingly.
- Stay in the city center, if possible. This is something that varies from person to person on so many grounds such as budget, availability, personal preferences, etc. I’d suggest this, if possible, as it can totally make your time in the city a more memorable one. You can walk down to some of the most happening and prettiest places without having to bother about transport. Almost all the areas near the city center are easily accessible till late by public transport. Although, I would say be aware of the surroundings and the time of your travel. Don't blame me if you are walking in the middle of the night, alone, on a quiet lane, and someone robs you of your belongings, just saying, as tourist places have their share of nuisance. :/
- Pre-book city-tours (if any). If you are planning to explore certain attractions through organized tours, then pre-book. A lot of us like to reach our hotels and then check with them but per me, it’s way better to pre-book. It definitely makes a difference money-wise and helps us to stay on the plan.
- Buy Paris Passlib'. This pass comes in super handy on the first trip to the city. It gives unlimited transportation (bus, metro, tram and RER as you like from zones 1 to 3), free access to more than 6o attractions, 1 river cruise and 1 day acess to Hop-on Hop-off bus. You can select from variants of 2-, 3-, and 5- day passes as per your plan. This also includes Paris Museum Pass thorugh which you can explore more than 50 museums in Paris and the Paris region including the Louvre Museum, the Arc de Triomphe and many more. It has many more benefits that you can check here.
- Airport transfers. For first timers’, I’d definitely recommend reserving your arrival transfer; if not to-and-fro. By the end of your trip, you’d have understood the transport system better. It’ll be easy to manage your way back to the airport with the underground then.
- Understand public transport. Not a must-do, but it will definitely make your first trip a little less worrisome and a bit more relaxed. The underground is complex; if you do not commute much with the metro in your country.
- Skip the line at the Eiffel Tower. Taking the skip-the-line for Eiffel Tower really makes a lot of difference. It saves time that otherwise you'd waste in long queues. Also, reserve a table for 2 (or more, or less) if you plan on having a meal atop the tower.
- Keep an e-scanned copy of important documents on your mobile devices. This one applies to any trip, first timer or n-th timer. So many free and paid apps are available these days, get one. Keep a set of all your necessary documents, like tickets, insurance, visa, hotel address and telephone numbers, etc. at one place without the risk of losing the originals. ALSO: Grab a few hotel cards while on your way out from your hotel, it helps in case you hire a taxi and want to share the address with the driver. Or if you simply take help from someone at some restaurant or street.
- Do not stress too much. Before our first trip, we read so many articles stating pickpocketing and such stuff that after a while we literally got stressed. Things were not as bad as Internet made us believe. Of course, that doesn't mean you can be casual with your stuff. Try not to keep all your cash in one place, to save some in the case of a mishap. Be cautious and live your Paris vibe. Pickpocketing and mishaps happen, but as long as you are aware and alert this shouldn't be much of a problem. This is also one reason for following #10.
- Explore the beauty of this city on foot. I do not need to write much about this, it is a very self-explanatory tip. The city is full of beautiful surprises in the forms of churches, gardens, streets, cafes, bakeries, etc. that sometimes you come across only while walking.
- Carry less. Be it anything, phones, cameras, cash, bags, etc. Carry less so you can be relatively free and enjoy more without the extra baggage. 🙂
If you've been to Paris before, I'd love to hear your experiences and what all did you do? If you haven't, I hope you get to very soon. 🙂
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Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!