I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved Paris. I’m infatuated by it, I think about it every day and I’m finding myself being a Francophile! There’s so much I want to continue exploring there and we only touched the surface on our trip. We definitely scratched off the major tourist locations, which although touristy, are still not to be missed! You could spend weeks at the Louvre, days at the O’rsay and many nights under the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t even get to go shopping! GASP! But I wanted to recap our trip, with a few helpful tips and tricks I suggest for you to help prepare for your tip to Paris, plus tips for further on in your trip!
Download these apps, you’ll thank me later:
1. Ulmon: it’s a life saver! It has a GPS map that works offline, so if you’re lost or need to find your way, it will automatically find you in the city and help you navigate your way. I was highly impressed with the accuracy of this app and if we did not have this, I don’t know what we would have done! It really helped us feel relaxed and comfortable navigating our way on our own. You can pin helpful places that you want to visit as well as the major attractions to the map. It’s available for most major cities, including upcoming ones I’ll touch base on, Venice and Rome!
2. Louvre Audio Guide: This was a great app for us to use to get a rough view of what the Louvre had to offer. We did the “Masterpiece Tour” and it helped you navigate the never-ending museum and take you to THE major pieces that a tourist would be most interested in. Don’t get me wrong, I want to go back and explore more, but the museum really IS exhausting and huge! You could spend weeks there, not just an afternoon, so the app allowed you to take in what you would really want to see in an afternoon or day. It was worth the small investment just to be able to navigate the museum because it’s confusing!
3. TripLingo: This is a great app to review proper protocol in terms of manners, local culture and phrases (from slang to proper). We brushed up on phrases like how to ask for a table for two and getting the check at the end of the meal. (If you can speak both of those phrases in French, your servers will be highly impressed! Also, if you don’t ASK for the check they won’t automatically give it to you like in the US – “l’addition s’il vous plait”.) Overall, this is a great app for phrases and culture tips.
In terms of packing, we were about to travel for just over two and half weeks and I knew how important it was to only pack a carry-on and boy am I glad I did! Example A, our flat in Paris was 4 flights up an old building, carrying a suitcase.. I mean, it was a no brain-er! And don’t get me started on the trains and the cars in Europe. They are much smaller than what we are used to! Our host family was even happy we only packed a carry on.
Here is almost an exact graphic of everything I packed for our trip! I bought a Samsung 4 wheel carry-on (similar to this) before we left, which was very helpful. You’d be surprised at how handy 4 wheels are over two wheels! You must roll everything and make it tight to have plenty of room and it really does work wonders. I packed all the below in a carry on (minus my hat). You can use shoes to stuff undies and socks into and if you bring a jacket that’s bulky just wear it on the plane. Pretty much my wardrobe consisted of things from Old Navy because they don’t wrinkle bad, I can have many pieces for a low price and if they get messed up I won’t be too sad! Black t-shirt dress, black tank dress, two skirts, tanks, tees, and the ever classic in Europe, the denim jacket! Scarves, hats and shoes changed up the outfits from day to day.
Black t-shirt dress – you can dress up with sandals and a necklace, dress down with sneakers, wear with a denim jacket or chambray shirt and change up with scarves, perfect!!
Chambray Shirt – again, wear it over the black shirt, with a skirt or even skinny jeans!
Longer black dress – same as the above dress, so many ways to change it up but still have another option in your arsenal!
Patterned or Solid Button Down – good with skirts, over dresses, and of course with jeans!
Silk Top – a little dressier for things like dinner. Great with a black sweater over jeans or with a skirt, even paired with a denim jacket. Versatile is what I love!
Long Skirt – perfect for the Vatican tour in Rome since you have to have your knees covered, and perfect for a warmer day with a tank, or cooler day with a jacket or sweater.
Short skirt – can dress up with the silk blouse, dress down with a tee and sneakers!
Scarves – pack a few to change things up!
If you have any more questions about packing, Stacy Reeves put together this amazing article as well! Packing is a HUGE part of your trip, so don’t underestimate how valuable planning this element of your trip is. I felt like all summer I stocked up on things that would be helpful to pack and finding a comfy pair of flats! I purchased the Cole Haan with Nike air for the trip and they worked quite well. But make sure to buy the BandAid friction blocker stick, it works WONDERS!!
Eating and Getting Around:
If you’re a foodie like us, I highly recommend that you do some research for restaurants you might be interested in visiting. I like resources like Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, etc. Many restaurants require advance reservations to get a table, so head the warning in advance! Also, take into account that in Paris there are awards for best baguette and croissant. I wish I had known more ahead of time to have been able to scope these locations out, because I have yet to have anything in America that compares.. Here are the restaurants that we ate at on our trip to Paris:
Paris also has many forms of travel. It really is a walkable city depending on where you’re staying. In the 7th, we were incredibly close to the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Musee Rodin, Musee d’Orsay and le Seine, so we walked many places and were rewarded with gorgeous glimpses of the real Paris. There is also the metro, Bato Bus, and things such as Uber and LeCab. My biggest advice is just figuring out how you’re going to get to the airport to the city. I recommend a cab or Uber so you can get your barrings and not deal with public transportation. I may be comfortable with it in New York City but I was not comfortable with it in France upon my first time being in Europe!
If you’re continuing on to another location either before or after Paris, make sure to check out this site, Rome 2 Rio, for assistance in finding the best route to and from your location! One of the most difficult situations for me was figuring out how to get from Paris to Venice.
Hope these little tips and tricks help you plan your trip. I LOVE to plan a trip so if there’s anything I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to ask!