I have to say that I struggled to write this – Paris is an exceptional city and it’s hard to put a foot wrong there. However, like any place that is so popular with tourists there are traps to avoid and some lesser-known attractions which don’t occur to the everyday traveller. Here’s a helpful list of things not to be done in Paris:
© zhijie zhuang
1. Don’t be frightened of venturing out of the centre of Paris
Some of the best attractions in France are outside of the centre, away from the loveliness of the River Seine. Among them is the unmissable Palace of Versailles. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is huge and has many things to see and do including the spellbinding Hall of Mirrors. Experience the best of French opulence.
2. Avoid the Gare du Nord train station in Paris
The central and premier train station of Paris is so packed that it will make London rush hour look like a movie theatre showing a Mel Gibson film. The escalators here often malfunction meaning you have to carry heavy bags and there is always the threat of pickpockets. Don’t do it unless absolutely necessary.
3. Don’t believe the stereotype – not all French people in Paris are rude
Stereotypes do often have some basis in truth and it surely adds to the appeal of the French that they are perfectly happy in their own country without caring whether anyone visits. But I have also had some fantastic friendly service in both hotels and restaurants in France; so give them the benefit of the doubt.
4. Don’t waste time seeing the Mona Lisa painting in Paris
Everyone will tell you this – in real life the Mona Lisa is overrated and not really worth all the fuss. You have to queue for absolutely ages to see it and it is quite small which means that much of the visual effect is lost.
On the other hand, the Louvre museum is full of amazing artworks and the building itself is a masterpiece, so use your time wisely. If you want to beat the crowds try the Carrousel entrance to the Louvre which is off of the Rue de Rivoli as it is usually less busy than just standing in line in front of the main Pyramid.
© Lukas Gojda
5. The Moulin Rouge in Paris might not be the most savoury place to visit
The Moulin Rouge may be one of the iconic nightclubs in Paris and the world, but people who become entranced with movies may forget that it built up a reputation as a den of iniquity for a reason. Women on their own may want to avoid walking around here late at night – however it is no worse than comparable places in comparable cities.
6. Don’t miss the Christmas lights on the Champs Elysees
It is a magnificent sight, but unfortunately the sparkle gets shut off at 11pm on the dot. Therefore, you need to get there before enjoying your other evening plans.
© Sergey Borisov
7. Don’t leave Paris without experiencing the view from the Eiffel Tower
Yes, it is expensive and the lines are long, but the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower (especially at sunset) is one that you will remember forever. Many visitors to Paris believe that the experience at the Eiffel Tower is one of the highlights of their travels. Avoid the queues and save heaps of time by pre-purchasing your tickets online.
This guest post is by Ben from offtoeurope.com, a website that focuses on travel to Europe. Ben loves to travel and has visited over 200 destinations in 46 countries. Some of his favourite places to visit include Istanbul, Melbourne, Whistler, Dubai, San Sebastian, New York City, Rome, Tokyo, Mykonos, Niseko, Tallinn, Damascus, Boulder, Prague, Macau, Queenstown and Paris. You can follow offtoeurope.com on Twitter @offtoeurope or become a fan on Facebook.