5 Things I Learned About Paris (After Visiting Paris)

By Elie - 12:30 PM

Ah Paris - a city where every mention of it brings people to imagine romance, strolls down the River Seine, and kisses by the Eiffel Tower. It probably doesn't help that the not-so-believable Netflix hit, "Emily in Paris" has become so popular, leading many people to really think Paris is all glitz and glamour. 

Don't get me wrong, Paris CAN be gorgeous at times...

But beyond all the beautifully curated visions of Paris in movies, dramas, and pictures, I thought I'd come by to talk about the 5 Things I Learned About Paris after having visited the city over Christmas last year. Sure, these blog posts are aplenty over the internet these days but hopefully you'd be able to take something out of my experience too. 

BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS

When we first mentioned that we were going to Paris to our friends and family, everyone - literally EVERYONE told us to be aware of pickpockets. From the many horror stories, vlogs, and insistent announcements on their Metro systems, you could definitely tell that Paris has issues with this little crime.

In fact, it's so bad, I wouldn't even leave my stuffed toy in the bag

As a result, my other half and I were way more careful with our belongings as we walked the streets of Paris. From shopping in the Disney store at Champs Elysees to looking at the teeny tiny Mona Lisa painting in the Louvre, our hands were often clamped over our phones and wallets that were in our pockets. We also recommend not using your phones in the trains or buses, as a common modus operandi is for thieves to snatch your phones just as the doors are closing then making a run for it. 

It's also a good idea to travel without a backpack if possible but if you simply have to, you should always keep your bag in front of you and not behind. I mostly had my backpack facing in front of me during my trip, only throwing it to the back for pictures but I'd also have my other half watch out for pickpockets even for that split second. Really, it can be that bad. 

HAVE CASH IN HAND

While most places does accept a debit or credit card as a form of payment, some establishments seem to impose a minimum expenditure before you can swipe or tap. As such, I'd recommend having some cash in hand before visiting Paris. You also wouldn't want to be seen taking money out from the ATM lest you become a target of being robbed as you walk away.

Thank God for cash in hand or I'd have never been able to try Machi Machi's bubble tea!


For us, it was when we visited the Christmas market along Tuileries that we realized most things were only purchasable on cash. I later also encountered needing cash to buy bubble tea, as we had to order a minimum of €10 before they were willing to let me use my card. Some public toilets also require a payment between 40 cents to €1, so having some coins in hand is also a good idea.

GET YOUR PUBLIC TRANSPORT TICKETS IN BULK

An issue we found with Paris was how a lot of places felt inaccessible unless you hop on a Metro or take really long walks that will inevitably drain your life away. Because of this, you'll likely have to purchase a Navigo Card and continuously top up on credits or you could buy single-use tickets from the stations. If you're opting for the latter, I highly recommend buying your tickets in stacks of 10s.

The reason for this is that you would save roughly €2.10 for every stack of 10 tickets you buy (Single tickets are €1.90 each, while buying in stacks costs €16.90 or roughly €1.69 each) and you wouldn't have to go through buying tickets all the time. Bear in mind this is great when you're at stations with high traffic, because you can skip queues at ticketing machines and you wouldn't have to pull out your wallet to pay again. 

One downside to buying your tickets in bulk, however, is that they come as loose pieces despite being called a "book" on the ticketing machine. You'd also have no way to tell a used ticket from a fresh one, so you'd have to keep them separately and remember which belongs to what category in your head. I recommend keeping them in separate pockets or consider getting in the habit of disposing your old tickets right after you've left the station.

AMERICANOS ARE NOT AMERICANOS

And similarly, lattes are not lattes that we're used to in Paris. Instead, most coffee related drinks come with the word "caffe" in front of them - turning them into a Caffe Americano or a Caffe Latte, and so forth. Why this is the case, we have no idea but we clearly learned it the difficult way when my other half tried ordering an Americano and was served a French cocktail at a restaurant. 

Needless to say, we were taken aback when the cocktail arrived with our creme brulee. This got us quite confused because we obviously didn't speak French and our waiter turned out to be this grumpiest man we'd met all trip long. We were thankful for a very kind couple on the next table who helped us sort it out and we still got our caffeine fix to deal with our day out in Paris, but it sure taught us a lesson on how to get coffee in the city. 

PARIS IS PRETTIER AT NIGHT 

The Louvre by day


Okay, so this probably doesn't feel like a tip of sorts but we found Paris to be way prettier at night than day. Unlike what we'd see in movies or pictures, we found the city to be gloomy and cramped in the day, and the tightly packed architecture doesn't help Paris' case. But as the sun goes down and the lights come on, there's just a different charm as to why anyone would fall in love with the city. 

The Louvre by night


Unfortunately, being out at night also means you'll have to be far more careful with your belongings because obviously the darker it gets, the better it is for pickpockets to slip away unnoticed. To that, I would say the tip is to just be EXTRA wary if you aren't already of your belongings. Keep your bags in front where you can see it and make sure you have a grip on your phone if it's in your pocket. Forget leaving things in your back pocket, because it'll be gone in a second if it's there.

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With all that said, I'm not saying Paris is a city you should avoid entirely. There's a certain charm to the city if you know where to go, what to see, or even when's the best time to visit, so it's best to do lots of homework before you book your stay. Our favourite was visiting the village of Montmartre which was just half an hour away from Champs Elysees but had already given us a whole new vibe on its own. I may come by with a different blog post about that, we'll see.

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