I just came back from a 5 day trip to Paris and I absolutely loved it. Apart from the crappy weather which kept fluctuating from sun to rain (mostly rain), the sights and food made up for it.
Today, I would like to share a few things I learnt in Paris with you guys if you ever get to visit this gorgeous city.
Although the most common airport is Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Ryanair only flies to Paris Beauvais Tille Airport. The bus into the city costs 17 euros / head and takes about 1h 15 mins, stopping at Porte Maillot. That wasn't a problem at all as I needed all the sleep I could get. The bus ride was comfy and safe too.
We found a nice quaint place right smack in the middle of the city with the nearest metro station, Châtelet, being 3 mins away. We found the place through airbnb and paid about £81/night excl. service fee (always annoying). But the place was extremely central, with pubs and shops located right below our house (including an AWESOME crepe place). The place was a storey house, with the bed being on the upper floor. It was small but it sufficed.
I do advise people booking through airbnb to liaise with your host on several occasions. E.g. where to meet and get the keys, directions to the place. I've encountered an incident where my host never got back to me on when/where I could collect my keys 2 weeks before my arrival. Thankfully, I was able to have a full refund.
Metro signs are located with an 'M' or the world 'Metropolitan' which are easy to find and are almost everywhere.
These are metro stubs that can be bought in booklets of 10 for 13.70 euros. Technically speaking, you can buy the reduced fare (under 10 years old) for a slightly cheaper price without anyone noticing as nobody really patrols the metro to check your stubs. As we walked a lot and were quite central, we only bought the booklets twice.
Now, the most important part - The metro itself. This was taken around 10am so there wasn't much of a crowd, but it gets extremely packed during peak hours (around 4-6pm). I have heard stories of people being pickpocketed in such places but thankfully, I never encountered that myself. I did however see two gypsies (they are normally dressed in flowly clothes with a head dresses and come in pairs of 2 or more) entering the metro and sticking really close to both my boyfriend and I, even when there was space around us.
Me, being extra kiasu, padlocked my bag so that noone could open it without my knowing. It definitely worked, and although it might have been a bit tedious, it paid off. And luckily, they got off 2 stops after (I think they realised we weren't their ideal targets :p)
The metro itself will also have maps indicating where which stations are. I took the RER once (however I don't know if you can use the same ticket, it did work for mine) but mostly used the metro.
Several attractions like the Effiel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Montmarte are key areas for pickpockets and gypsies to try to rip you of your money/steal. There were several times I encountered perusian women coming up to us with a petition board and asking us to sign a petition. They would walk towards you asking if you speak English and usually leave if you say no. They travel in groups too.
There was one incident below the Montmarte where there were a bunch of dark skinned men blocking both exits of the main entrance up/down and would stop you, saying they want to put a 'bracelet' around your hand and repeatedly mentioning they aren't bad people. Even when my boyfriend said no, he grabbed his shoulder forcing him to stop. My boyfriend got so pissed he shoved him away. I'm not saying all men like these are bad, but if your gut tells you something is wrong, there probably is.
My friend experienced one of them putting it on her wrist (especially if you're a girl) and cornered her, forcing her to pay an exorbitant amount before they left her alone.
My one advice to girls who wish to travel alone - Have a guy along with you. Paris isn't the best place to travel alone.
We have all heard that the French are snobbish people who turn their noses up when they see you don't speak their language. While not all are like that, it is mostly true.
It's important to know basic French. I made an extra effort to learn how to speak the basics. I used this app called Duolingo which teaches you the abc's of French. Trust me when I say this app helped me A LOT. Although I did use other resources, if you keep up with this app you're sure to learn French within 2 weeks. You get to match the words to the French words, speak French to see if you're fluent and learn through pictures! Best of all? It's FREEEEEEEEEEEE.
I noticed if you start off with a simple 'Bonjour', many become much friendlier to you. If you can't speak in complete sentences like I, ask a simple 'parlez-vous anglais?' and most would say yes and help you out with a friendlier tone. I believe France is one of the countries where if you're willing to learn, they're willing to help.
So this is all I have to offer you guys! My foodie post during my time in Paris will be up within the week (obviously we need food yes?) so keep a lookout for that:)
Stay beautiful, x.