The following is a guest submission from Kendra Reeves.
Hello! I just got back to Canada and would like to focus my tips on Paris as it is where I spent the bulk of my vacation. The packing list about how to be a fashionista while you travel helped but there were some instances in Paris that made you stand out as a tourist.
As well here are some simple tips that would make your stay in Paris more enjoyable.
This was an INSTANT giveaway that you were a tourist. No Parisian man or woman would be caught dead in them. They wore leather shoes. I would recommend if you were only staying in Paris to bring a couple pairs of flats. Most Parisian women were wearing heels. Also, wearing shorts was another indicator that you were definitely a tourist. If you want to fit in try and bring different flowy skirts, nothing with a major print on it though.
2) If you are sweating you are a tourist.
I went at the end of June into the middle of July. The trains and buses are filled with men and women dressed in coats, scarves and long pants….in JUNE/JULY. Yes I was shocked as well and felt ridiculous wiping my brow as this stoic woman beside me read her daily newspaper. If you are wanting to fit in try and find a scarf that is light and breathable.
3) If you are going shopping bring a reusable bag.
If it has a zipper on the top that is even better. Parisian men and women buy fresh produce before they go home from work. If you have all these shopping bags it also is an easy thing for pick-pocketers to grab something out of.
4) Use French.
I can not emphasize that enough. Parisian men and women have a beautiful language and they can speak many different languages, too. If you are wanting the respect that you deserve- do not use English right off the bat. TRY to use French and they will be the most accommodating. Some individuals look like they are angry but they are actually concentrating so hard on what you are saying. Some are just a-holes and are angry but you can’t change them all!
5) You have to go to the toilet?
You are out of luck. If you are a parent this is VERY important when you are in Paris. There are very few public washrooms in the city. Yes there are some that you have to pay to get in but sometimes the lineups for one toilet are insane. Make sure wherever you go to eat you use their washroom. Remember your mothers voice in your head: “Why not try to go to the washroom.” I have never been so close to peeing my pants as a full grown woman. That being said bring wet wipes and a small bottle of hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE with you.
6) Say “No thank you”.
There are so many peddlers in Paris. It is annoying when you are enjoying the Eiffel Tower with your loved one and someone tries to shove a bottle of wine in your face requiring you to pay 30 euro. If you give them any inkling that you want it they will hassle you repeatedly. If you are going to buy a bottle of wine tell them 3 euro and make them open it. No I am not kidding. They will sell you them for 3 euro by around 11pm.
7) Always have a wine bottle opener on you.
When you buy one from a tourist shop or bring it from home, make sure it is a good one. There isn’t anything worse than wanting to have a nice evening in the park and not being able to open your bottle of wine…
8) Do not give anyone any money by the train station…
…unless they are behind the ticket glass. We were scammed our first day in Paris and the gentlemen gave us fake tickets. Needless to say I was so upset in losing a large chunk of money to a scammer. He did look professional but was outside the ticket booth so be aware!
9) Try all the food but remember water comes in a bottle!
If you don’t like sparkling water you need to say this as well. The baguettes, the cheese, even the escargot was delicious! I heavily recommend going outside your comfort zone and trying everything you can get your hands on! Although, one thing I did get sick of while I was in Paris was baguette sandwiches. You could easily make your own if you have the right ingredients; that would save you quite a bit of money. Also, I have been told by Parisians that you just pay your bill at the restaurant and carry on. The waiters/waitresses are paid well and don’t need to be tipped, but would like a euro or two.
10) The metro at first is confusing.
Make sure you understand what stops you need before you go on your trip. Also, pay attention to how long that took you to get from home to your destination because the metro does shut down and you would then have to take a taxi. This is not that big of a deal but if you want to save some euros I would recommend being prepared.
About the Author: Kendra Reeves – I am 23 years old and I just recently graduated from the University of Lethbridge. I am going back to school to become a teacher and I really enjoy rugby, travelling and food!