Even a glorious trip to Paris can be full of faux pas if you don't watch your step. Some of these include not having enough money, packing too much or unnecessary stuff, or putting your foot in your mouth with bad etiquette. A few simple tips can help insure your trip is tres bien.
Before you even book your flight, start thinking about how much money you want to put aside -- and how much the American dollar is worth compared to the Euro. Your airfare and perhaps even the lodging may be paid in advance, but be sure to have enough to cover other expenditures. Just to give you some examples, a typical breakfast runs about 5 euros; entrance to the Louvre is 9 euros; and a trek on the Eiffel Tower can run up to 14 euros; and a delectable dinner will run anywhere from 25 to 50 euros. You can cut down on costs by grocery shopping rather than dining out and seeking free walking tours or other low-cost activities. See an exchange rate calculator in Resources below.
Do bring your walking shoes -- and only shoes that were made for walking. Even if you're planning to stay in the city proper, uneven cobblestones and other tough terrain will be at your feet. You will also want rain gear, or at least a small umbrella, and appropriate clothing for the weather. Don't go nuts with any outdoor equipment or large items as you will be able to find bicycles and other equipment for rent easier than you will be able to haul it on a trans-Atlantic flight. Don't forget a European plug adapter for any camera, computer, video and other electronic devices you may be taking.
Even if you're nowhere near fluent in French, learning a few key words and phrases will go a long way. The number one rule is to never, ever call anyone by the familiar phrase "tu" rather than the formal "vous." That is equivalent to slap in the face unless you know the person very well. Always say "bonjour madame (or monsieur)" and "au revoir" when entering or exiting a shop or other establishment. The French view their businesses in the same manner as their homes and would find it rude if you did not greet them and then bid them farewell. Also refrain from digging through piles of merchandise or handling items for the same reason. Ask for help.
Article Written By Ryn Gargulinski
Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.