Everyone knows that Paris is the “City of Light“, full of romantics and foodies, but do you know all of the city’s little quirks?
Lots of locals leave for vacation, especially during August. I thought it still looked fairly busy but taxi drivers told me that it was a ghost town compared to usual. Because of this, many places will be closed. Also sometimes there are different opening times for popular tourist attractions in the summer so be sure to check.
- Traffic and Driving
If you haven’t driven in Europe before, it may come as a shock how aggressive cars can be. I’ve found this to be most true in mainland Europe, where they drive on the right hand side (as opposed to the left side in Ireland and the UK). Give yourself extra time to get where you need to go, especially in Paris since it’s very touristy.
This is kind of random but the buildings in Paris have some of the most beautiful ceilings I’ve ever seen. It’s strange to go into some of the most famous museums in the world and be more entranced by the ceilings than the actual displays.
Wine can be cheaper than a meal in Paris, it’s AWESOME. I’m normally more of a white wine fan but the rose was unbelievably good and I ordered it 75% of the time.
- The City
Conjuring up images of Paris is sure to come with little cafes, insane architecture, glowing city lights, and a moonlit Seine. That’s the image, complete with wine, cheese, and bread. Those who travel a lot know that your expectation will never be the same as reality, but I can say that Paris was very close. Maybe that’s why people love Paris so much, because I don’t think you could ever be disappointed when visiting such a remarkable city.
That being said, you can’t only go for two or three days to Paris, you’d only be able to see a quarter of what the city has to offer!
- Car Horns
You’ll usually only hear them for pedestrians, not cars. I think that all drivers are just used to being cut off by other cars and cutting off people themselves, so they don’t honk at other cars. However, you’ll definitely hear them laying it on for when a pedestrian is in their way or taking too long.
- Broken Glass
(Above, part of the Seine near Notre Dame. Many people come here at night to eat and drink while watching the lights)
The French love eating out and eating by the river, however lots of times this means that broken glass is left behind. This is actually a huge problem, seriously be careful because glass is really everywhere. Take extra caution when you’re by the Seine and never walk barefoot.
- The First Floor is 0
This is pretty self explanatory, the first floor is the ground floor and it is zero, the second floor is the first floor and it is 1. Thought it was worth a mention.
Time seems to run two hours behind what it normally does. I noticed this in Ireland as well, the streets are pretty much deserted until around 7:30-8 am and things stay open crazy late.
- Moving Around
If you’re in someone’s way, they’ll have no problem hitting you to move you or running their suitcase over your feet. If you go to a tourist attraction, you’ll have a hard time finding a taxi because of the demand and you’ll likely be waiting in line for things such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame (even if you purchase a front of the line ticket like me).
Food is great and is always served with bread first. I’m a picky eater but I tried all sorts of things in Paris, including mussels (surprisingly not fishy), peppers (love them), oil and vinegar dipping (just ok), and salami (just ok). Food is delicious but can be pricy, that’s why you drink more wine to forget about the price. Also BREAD IS LIFE.
You’ll likely be warned about this before you visit many countries in Europe but you have to be especially careful in Paris. Pickpockets in Paris are especially clever and know the exact places to get you, for instance, while viewing the Mona Lisa in the Louvre or staring down at the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Always zip up your bags and put important documents in at least two zippers. When in a crowd, always be wary and carry your bag in front of you.
BO can be bad, especially in big crowds. Part of that is tourists, but you’ll notice it at cafes too.
Lots of people smoke in France and sitting outside at a cafe or restaurant such as this is basically an invitation to have it blown in your face.
- Public Transportation
I took a train and the subway when I was in Paris. It was with a day-long tour group so we had a guide and someone bought the ticket for us, but I have the suspicion that if I tried to do it alone I would be very very lost. Looking up where you’re going beforehand, especially in French, will benefit you greatly.
Paris is very much a city to be seen on foot. The Champs Elysees walk is a great one and can get you views of the Arch de Triumph, high end shops, cute cafes, and the Luxor Obelisk. Going further you can reach the Louvre and even Notre Dame (they’re all roughly in a straight line). If you start from the Eiffel Tower like I did, the walk will take a long time, especially in flip flops in 90+ degree heat. Plan little breaks along the way if you can.
Now this is just in my experience and I feel bad saying it, but the stereotype is true, most French people I encountered seemed rather rude.
I will say that I was in Paris the whole time, which is not the only representation of France and the French people as a whole. Also, Paris has lots of tourists, which is bound to make people irritated to a certain degree. Plus there’s a language barrier and customs, etc… but you tend to get a general sense of people when you travel a lot, and at least in my opinion I think that many people were rude. That doesn’t mean that I think that they’re always like that or that I hate the French, it’s just what I encountered, but you may find this to be completely untrue on your visit!
(I also visited during a huge heatwave, which mayyyy have had something to do with it)