The charms and flaws of the city of light are detailed by Ruth Murphy as gives you the dos and don’ts for the city of love
DO order wine with water in restaurants. Wine in Paris can be surprisingly cheap. Don’t be taken for a fool, though. Paris is used to its tourists and knows it can charge us more than the locals. If you order wine with a glass of water, as the locals do, you will be charged the non-tourist price.
DON’T bother suffering through queues. Yes, the view from the Eiffel Tower is beautiful and yes, some paintings in the Louvre are one of a kind, but is it really necessary waiting for over an hour to see a glimpse of an image? So, if queues aren’t really for you, having a picnic by the Seine is a nice queue-free way to spend your day.
DO purchase travel tickets in advance. You can talk to staff at a metro station about what tickets would suit you best and whether you should travel by bus, metro or train. When travelling on the bus you can do two journeys on the one ticket so long as you get on the second bus within 90 minutes of getting on the first.
DON’T purchase anything on the Champs Elysée or in Galleries Lafayette; unless you see a sale or ‘vente’ sign. Nevertheless, do explore these places. A good thing to do is pop into the shop Hermés. There are a few around Paris and it’s amusing to see just how much you may get charged for fashion.
DO eat breakfast out. Your hotel/hostel/hovel at the side of the road will probably offer breakfast at a fixed price. If you walk around you will find cafés selling breakfast, usually consisting of a croissant, a tartine and some orange juice or coffee, at a range of prices. Looking around could definitely save you a few bob. And hey, you may even get an extra piece of bread with your meal.
DON’T expect good toilets or even toilets for that matter. At best you may be lucky enough to find a clean toilet with some toilet paper, and at worst you will get a hole in the ground that you will smell before you see it. Availing of the toilets in a McDonald’s is the way to get around this minor issue. They are generally clean and should actually have toilets rather than holes that they seem to expect you to simply levitate above.
DO take advantage of student discounts. Many places will give discounts to students, those under 18 or sometimes those under 21 (with identification). Discounts are available in the Louvre, the Pantheon and many other wonders.
DON’T order minerals in restaurants or cafés. They are quite expensive whereas coffee and hot chocolate are relatively cheap. You could end up being charged as much as €8 for a glass of coke, while a coffee or hot chocolate usually goes for a standard price of about €2.50 in most establishments.
DO enjoy what’s free. It costs you nothing to stroll through Luxembourg Gardens or visit the bridge with locks hanging down its side or step inside the grounds of the Louvre and take a photo of yourself pretending to touch the tip of the glass pyramid. You are free to see the flowers that are still laid by the tunnel where Lady Diana died, or stare at the many faces that line the side of the Pont Neuf. You can listen to music play along the cobblestone streets and sunbathe on the sand by the Seine, which is only there in summer. The sand that is, the river is there all year round of course.
DON’T pack for warm weather. Paris really isn’t that much warmer than here and in winter it’s actually colder. So, bring clothes that will keep you snug and warm as you trail the streets of the beautiful city.