If someone tells you Parisians are rude, nod at them and slowly walk away. Parisians are complex, but they’re some of the kindest hearted people if you know how to speak their language.
Part of that is being humble and apologetic that you don’t actually speak their language. The other part is not getting in their way when you’re trying to see the best things to do in Paris.
Want more tips? Si vous plait, keep reading below.
1. Get a Navigo Pass
Before we start on actual destinations, we have to give you the ultimate Paris hack. When you’re there, you’re going to use the famous metro that has those beautiful entrances.
And you should! there are around 20 lines that go all through the city. It makes a hot day much more bearable as you’re trying to get from point a to point b.
But don’t but a ton of those little rectangular metro tickets. If you’re going to be there longer than four days, invest in a Navigo pass. It’s the Parisian version of a bus pass – but for the metro.
To get one you’ll have to follow a few steps. First – go to one of the photo booths you see all through the metros. They only take cash, so have some euros on hand.
Once you have a sheet of pictures find a metro window manned by an actual person. They will speak English as long as you’re at a large metro stop (one with multiple lines).
Ask for a week-long Navigo pass. They’ll give you a little kit and it’ll all cost you just about thirty euros. That’s the equivalent cost of taking the metro fifteen times.
Now you can take it anywhere you want, any time, for a full week! As an added bonus, when you hold your card up to the metro turnstile and it beeps, you’ll look like a real Parisian.
2. Take a Guided Tour
Nothing is worse than walking around Paris looking like a tourist and just being completely overwhelmed by the beauty. The city is huge and literally hundreds of years old, there’s no way you can read all about it and take it all in yourself.
You need to work with a tour guide who can tell you what you’re really looking at.
For example, what is the Eiffel tower’s real story? Did you know that for the first twenty years the Parisians hated it? Like wanted it torn down.
And what about that big, grey, river that goes down the middle of the city? Instead of dividing the city into north or south or east/west, Parisians use the river to divide “left and right”.
The left bank (left side of the river, where the Eiffel tower is) is known for being artistic, educated, one could say hipster-y.
The right bank is more bougie or high-scale. But you’d never know this if you didn’t learn from someone that knew Paris. Need a recommendation for a tour guide? Click here.
3. Lunch in the Jardins
The French have famously long lunch hours. They usually get about an hour and a half off from work or school to eat lunch. And if they don’t feel like going to a restaurant (most save that for dinner) they go to a Jardin or a parc.
For food, they’ll stop by a little bakery along the way. They’ll grab a “demi” baguette or a half baguette and a cup of coffee. Maybe their friend will run into the closest store and get some cheese.
Then they take this little lunch to the park and camp out on the bench. It’s the Parisian tradition on nice days – and it’s cheaper than buying anything they sell on the park grounds.
4. Use the Secret Louvre Entrance
While you’ll want to take pictures outside the Louvre with the famous pyramids (which have a great story!), you don’t want to wait in that line.
Many people don’t know but there is a secret Louvre entrance accessible from a metro stop. The stop is called “carousel de louvre” and stops in an underground mall.
Follow signs for Louvre and you’ll find yourself at a line-free security entrance.
You’ll still have to wait in a line to buy a ticket, but it’ll be much faster than queuing up outside.
5. The Big Red Bus
If you don’t have much time in Paris and you want to see as much as possible on a short schedule, check out the tourist buses. Yes, they’re cheesy and yes, you’ll definitely be clocked as a tourist, but they go everywhere.
Our recommendation is to take the bus all the way around once, listening to the headphones. That way you’ll know what you want to stop at and see when you’re ready.
6. Get Scrubbed Down
One of the least well known Parisian treasures is “La Grande Mosquee” which translates to the big mosque. It’s nestled in a quiet neighborhood and it’s a testament to Arabic architecture.
If you’re a woman (sorry men, it’s a little different on your side) you need to spend half a day in the Hamman, or sauna. You’ll walk in and purchase a package from the front desk.
The one you want costs about 50 euros and it’s absolutely worth it. With your 50 euros, you’ll get a towel, a little bag of African soap and some tokens.
You’ll strip down and bake yourself in the sauna heat for about half an hour. Then, when you’re nice and soft, strong Arabic women will scrub your skin down, within an inch of your life. We’re talking about seeing ribbons of dead, grey skin.
It’s gross, satisfying, and will completely change your complexion. You’ll finish up with a quick orange oil massage and hot, Moroccan mint tea. It’s paradise.
And no – it doesn’t hurt. Just make sure you spend at least 1/2 an hour in the sauna first.
The Best Things to Do in Paris
Obviously, you’ll want to visit the Eiffel tower and the famous museums, but we thought we’d give you an insiders guide to the best things to do in Paris with this list. Remember to learn your pleases and thank yous in French before you go.
If you want extra credit, learn how to ask “can we speak English please”? You’ll be a lot better received because of it.
Want to learn about ten other awesome destinations? Click here.