Tips to Visit France for First Timers
A guide to visting France for newbies
Bonjour! Comment-allez vous? Has France piqued your interest as of late and you are itching to get on the next flight to one of the most romantic places in the world? Before you get your head lost in the clouds and dream about devouring that vanilla crème éclair, there are some essential tips you should know so you can have a terrific time in the city of love. C’est parti!
Greetings and Manners
Wishing the waiter or bread connoisseur “Bonjour!” goes a long way. While you may be tempted to speak English right off the bat, it is best that you check with the fellow Monsieur or Madame you are talking to. A little “Parlez-vous Anglais?” is a nice and polite way to test the waters before engaging in a full-on English conversation.
If you are travelling from the Paris CDG airport with a huge heavy luggage bag, it would be best to take the Flixbus. You can download the app on your smartphone or your laptop; it is not only cheap, but you will find it pleasantly comfortable. The alternative, which is taking either a taxi or metro to the Paris Gare, is not exactly the best of ideas. Trust me, you will have a challenging time getting around the train, and you may not be as lucky to have someone to help you lift your luggage bag. You are welcome-De Rien!
Let’s face it, it is unlikely that you will be able to learn the French language in its entirety in 2 weeks, let alone for the sake of a one-off travel destination. If you are still clueless about the Francophone world, then I must stress that the French are proud of their language and speaking even tiny bits of French would help you navigate. However, fret not- the French are kind enough to try to speak to you in English. So, you don’t need to worry!
Do not attempt to buy a SIM card from one of those kiosk machines. Some of them are not only over-priced, but the phone coverage itself does have some connectivity issues. Instead, opt for the nearest phone coverage shop like Free or Orange- their mobile plans can get you a good amount of data, calls, and text messages for only €10.
Un Café S’il Vous Plait
Parisian cafés are romantic, and you cannot help but live your best Parisian life, you know with macaroons, croissants, and all. Use your GoPro to capture the bustling Parisian streets. Though you must be wary, cafés in Paris have exorbitant prices. So, budget accordingly if you still want to pick up those last-minute Paris Saint-Germain jerseys as they do not come cheap.
If you are thinking of grocery shopping and you should if you want to keep your wallet intact- get used to bringing a tote bag. Not only is it environment friendly but paying for plastic bags is simply not the way to go. While it only costs 10 cents, it can add up significantly overtime.
Que Portez-vous?--What to wear?
While your first intuition is to wear a beret and dawn the latest haute couture that Chanel has to offer, but less is more. No doubt the top fashion designers like Yves-Saint Laurent, Balmain, Louis-Vuitton, and Karl Lagerfeld will always be the hallmark of French fashion- not everyone can afford it!
Here is a tip if you want to blend in with the locals, keep it simple and classy. Try wearing a black turtleneck with a navy jacket and some sleek pants. Try browsing Pinterest or fashion blogs for ideas. For the ladies, you can pair it up with some rouge lipstick. No surprises if you feel Nicole Kidman from Moulin Rouge!
If you want one of those Parisian French trench coats but cannot afford the exorbitant price tags, then you can do thrift shopping. Try the KiloShop at 125 Boulevard Saint-Germain or Kiliwatch at 64 Rue Tiquetonne to get some good steals-you may even score vintage Chanel.
Museums and Crous Cafés
Present your student card in France to get into museums for free! France has great privileges reserved for students both foreign and local. Also, if you are a student on a strict budget and need a cheap place to eat, then try the Crous Café. You can get an appetizer, an entrée, and dessert for a whopping €3.
There you have it folks, we have arrived at the end. Hopefully, you will bump into some hidden café tucked into the corner of some rue in Paris. Always be cautious in public spaces and, most of all, have fun! Bon Voyage! Au Revoir!