Bonjour! Looking to tackle the city of love for the first time or looking for new tips and suggestions for your next trip? My name is Dee Greene, I’m a partner here at Lake Nona Social, and I recently took m first trip to Paris and loved it! It was everything my now fiancée (I also proposed in Paris) and myself thought it would be plus more. We contribute our successful trip to our awesome Airbnb host and friends that have either lived in or visited Paris before. We know you may not have these same connections, so we wanted to write a blog post to ensure you have an amazing first trip as well!
Getting Cheap Flights
It’s crazy how expensive people think it is to travel internationally. Often times it can actually be cheaper than traveling domestically. If you know what you’re doing you can find some really good deals. Our flights were about $1,000 total and I booked them only about 1–2 months out! If you need help finding cheap flights to Paris, our traveling company VANTIIJ can help you out. There are typically good deals out of Orlando, but we flew out of Fort Lauderdale and ended up saving a few hundred dollars. However, the drive on the way back was not fun lol
Making Sure You Have Service
I made the mistake of assuming my cell phone carrier (Cricket) had an International Plan. I looked on the website briefly and saw that my plan did include international service, however, I didn’t look far enough into it to realize that they don’t provide coverage in Europe. Our recommendation would be to actually call your carrier to see what options are available for you during your stay in Europe. If you will not have service during your trip, you may want to get a mobile hotspot or a pay-as-you-go alternative phone.
Finding a Place To Stay
Our favorite way to stay when we travel is with Airbnb. In Paris, there are plenty of great places to stay. For this trip, our goal was to just get to Paris as inexpensive as possible. The place we chose wasn’t flashy at all, but it was very cozy and located near tons of good restaurants and shops. Plus, like I said earlier, our host Lilou gave us great recommendations on where to eat and how to get around (book their place). Next time we go to Paris, we will likely choose something more upscale, but for our first visit, this did the trick perfectly! Check it out below…
Getting Around the City
It took us a little while to figure out how to get around. Living in Orlando, we don’t have much public transportation. You pretty much have to have a car or you won’t really be able to get around. Paris is just the opposite. If you’re really looking to explore the city, the metro will probably become your best friend.
If you’re only in Paris for a few days you can purchase individual tickets at the ticketing machines. If you are there for multiple days (5 or more), you may want to look into getting a Navigo pass. The pass is ~27€ (including the cost to purchase the actual card), and you need to actually talk to a real person to get one instead of using the ticketing machines. Having the Navigo pass allowed us to take the Metro as many times as we liked. The only downside is you have to wait 8 minutes in between swipes, so if you go the wrong way and have to double-back you may have to wait a little bit before you can swipe again, or ask an attendant for help.
Exchanging USD to Euro
We’ve been told numerous times that the Airport is not the best place to get good rates for exchanging USD into Euros and vis versa. We ended up getting around 25€, so we would have some just iin casewe needed some (occasionally you’ll run into a place that takes only cash). Other than that, we used our credit cards.
**Beware to call your bank before your trip to let them know you are traveling so they don’t mark your transactions as fraud and shut off your card. Also note that certain cards may have a 3% international transaction fee.
To be honest, we never really mastered the art of exchanging USD to Euros. If you have any suggestions, please respond to this post or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you need to learn French?
French is the dominating language in Paris. However, it not uncommon for people to speak English as well. However, you should get familar with basic French terms before your trip. We spent about a month or so on Duolingo and had no problems getting around. Obviously the more you know the better though!
Where to Eat
If you talk to anyone that has been to Paris before, they are bound to bring up how good the food is. However, with such a big city, it can be overwhelming on where to go (especially if you don’t speak French).
A few things we noticed when it came to the food in Paris:
- it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you may think
- water isn’t always free and wine may be the cheapest option (check the menu first before assuming)
- the coffee is a lot smaller than it is in America
- everyone loves to enjoy their meal outside and people watch
- you don’t have to tip (in fact there isn’t even a place for it on the receipts)
- servers will leave you alone to enjoy your meal rather than “working for a tip” like they do in America
Depending on your budget, there are all kinds of options. Most places have their menus placed outside of the restaurant, so you can see if you find anything you like without having to first go in. We never really had a bad meal. However, if you’re looking for that over the top meal, you will likely have to pay a pretty penny for it. Yelpcan be your best friend, or you can just try places that are local to where you are staying.
Some of the restaurants that stuck out to us were:
- Elachi: Organic vegan indian street food (~8€ per person)
- Le petit Cambodge: Great bobuns (~10€ per person)
- Café du Trocadéro: Fancy and good view of the Eiffel Tower (~15€ per person)
- Café Kléber: The duck was good, also close to Eiffel Tower (~15€ per person)
- Berthillon: The line was too long for us to go, but supposedly has the best ice cream in Paris!
- Baranaan: Amazing hidden speak easy (you will spend some money but everything is great!!!) — this was our favorite spot by far!!!
Sightseeing in Paris
As you can imagine, there is plenty of sightseeing to be done in Paris. This city is filled with rich history. You will not be let down! If you want a sure way of getting a good overview of the city, we would recommend the Big Bus Paris Deluxe Ticket(45€ per person). You will ride on a two story bus (including prerecorded commentatry)that allows you to hop on-off at various landmarks. You also have access to the 1 hour river cruise which is nice as well. The pass is valid for 2 days which was great because we were able to split the bus tour and river cruise into separate days.
**Once you purchase your tickets, download their app for stop locations and additional information.
We didn’t want to spend a majority of our first trip to Paris in a bunch of lines, so we mostly hopped off at Big Bus spots were interested in and took pictures. We didn’t actually purchase any tickets to any museums outside of Château de Versailles.The Musée du Louvreis huge tourist attraction, and houses the Mona Lisa, but you can visit the outside and take pictures of the amazing pyramids for free which is cool.
It’s all about personal preference, but we wanted a majority of our first Paris trip to be a general overview of the city, exploring, and tasting good food rather than spending hours upon hours in musems. The next time we go we will pick certain locations we are interested in and go more in-depth. For us, this was a strategy that worked out great.
Now…one spot that you are going to definetly want to check out on your first visit is Château de Versailles. This place is INCREDIBLE! To avoid the likely 2–3 hour line, we reccomend getting the Passport with Timed Entryticket which is 27€ per person. There’s so much we could say about Versailles, but it’s one of those things that you have to see for yourself. Google and Youtube it. This place seriously never ended. You could probably spend a full week here and barely make a dent on seeing all there is to see.
Ready for Paris???
Think you’re ready to tackle this amazing city? We can help you out. Head to our website and become a member for cheap flight alerts to Paris as well as our list of Airbnb recommendations. If you book a trip, make sure to let us know!