What not to do in Paris

Some advice on what you should avoid while you're in Paris

What not to do in Paris
There’s always a ton of advice about “what not to do” when you visit a foreign city (it basically happens every time you leave town) which normally falls under the realm of common sense. Don’t keep your money all in one place, so that thieves can’t steal your money all in one go; don’t wear extravagant jewelry out on the streets; keep your bags slung in front, and not on your back… these are all useful things that you should keep in mind. So, while keeping the basics in mind, let’s see what you should be aware of when you visit Paris:

1. Try to avoid eating in Italian restaurants: first of all, Italian food is very different outside of Italy, having been adjusted for foreign tastes where people think that pasta can go just fine with jelly, so you can imagine how that goes. You can survive for a few days without your amatriciana, and you’ll probably be better off because of it!

2. Be aware that Parisian coffee is different from Italian coffee, and especially British or American coffee. If you’re not feeling adventurous, you might want to stick to a morning tea instead, or just buy some Pocket Coffees to help with the cravings.

3. Don’t just enter the first restaurant you see, convinced that everything will be normal and that you’ll not spend an arm and a leg. Always make sure to read the menu that’s usually on the board outside before deciding where to go.

4. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, never take a taxi during the day; the service is very expensive, and you’ll most likely get caught in traffic. It’s much better to get on the metro, since it’s connected to all of Paris, and is almost never late.

5. Don’t fall into the trap of having your portrait done by the street artists in Place du Tertre in Montmartre. Just think of them as a sort of background element, since it’s quite unlikely you’ll find the new Lutrec there. You’ll just end up spending a lot of Euros for a simple sketching.

6. Don’t by one-way RER or Metro tickets: the daily passes are much better, and give you access to all forms of public transport. They also come in all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of destinations available, so pay attention to what you’re buying.


Do you want to buy an Eiffel Tower statuette? Here's where you shouldn't buy it!

What not to do in Paris
Photo by Rog01

7. The French (especially Parisians) are known to be quite haughty and formal, and even though it’s just a simple generalization, it’s best to be polite and courteous with the locals, lest they dismiss you as just another tourist.

8. If you go to the flea market (Saint Quen), don’t buy any iPhones or iPads; It’s likely a scam, and even if it isn’t, they’re likely stolen.

9. If you want to go to Châtelet-les Halles then keep in mind that Saturday is not the best day. There’s always a horde of people, and the shopping center wasn’t built for too many people. As always, keep an eye out for pickpockets.

10. Try to be prudent: don’t go jogging at night in Bois de Boulogne; don’t walk through Barbès-Rochechouart, in skimpy clothing; try not to get heartburn while eating kebabs in Pigalle; don’t count money in the open in the metro stations.

11. Try to avoid shopping around the Champs Elysées, unless you’re looking for a specific brand you know doesn’t exist in your country.

12. Don’t buy the classic miniature Eiffel tower souvenir under the tower itself, since you can find the exact same one for much cheaper practically anywhere else in Paris.

Obviously, you’ll pick up your own bits and pieces of good advice in your travels, built from common sense and a dash of humility. Just remember, even though you’re paying to be there doesn’t mean you own the place. You’re still a guest in their city, and you’ll learn soon enough what you can and cannot do.

Written by: Aldo Galvagno
Translation by: Daniel Yeatman

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