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France is the most visited country in the world, and Paris is home to some of the planet’s most iconic sites as well as tens of millions of tourists who visit each year. Connecting with the real Paris can be difficult, especially if you stick to mostly the tourist sites. That’s why we’ve partnered with Visa using their contactless cards to explore the city hassle-free with no leftover foreign currency at the end of our trip.
We’re giving you guys twenty tips to know before you go to Paris. We’re matching each tip with one of Paris’s twenty neighbourhoods known as “arrondissements.” In this video we’ll show you how to save money, where to eat, what to see and a whole lot more. Let’s get started.
Let’s start things off in the 1st arrondissement, the heart of Paris, with one of the more typical French experiences possible, a picnic. Bring some friends, some food, some good wine, and sit down to the view of all the city on an island in the heart of the Seine, and remember it’s a picnic, not a party.
So be respectful. The 2nd arrondissement is in the heart of Paris, but you don’t need to stay here to enjoy the city. It’s super easy to get around by foot, metro, or bicycle. Save money by buying ten Metro tickets at once. Save time by renting an electric bike or scooter, and find your way using apps like City Mapper or Google Maps.
Or you could keep it old-school and use a Paris “pour arrondissement” guide, which lists every address in the city. The 3rd arrondissement is the Marais, which means” swamp” in French because a long time ago this used to be a swamp. It’s actually the last remaining medieval part of Paris.
This is what the city would have been like before the streets were replaced with the big broad boulevards like the Champs- Elysees. It’s a great place to wander. So keep your eyes peeled for castle- like chalets, wooden houses, and a hotel with a cannon ball lodged in the side of the wall. The medieval Marais continues into the 4th, which is the historic home of Paris’s Jewish community and supposedly has the world’s best falafel.
Whether that’s true or not is up to debate. But there’s a couple of places behind me on the Rue des Rosiers. Be warned: the Sabbath begins Friday night. So a lot of these places start closing around 3:30 on Friday afternoon. They’re closed all of Saturday and don’t reopen till Sunday.
If you want to try the world’s best falafel, plan around it. Oh, man. Spicy. Ah, la vie boheme, a cafe au lait on a street side terrace, a warm croissant. There are few things more Parisian than such a delicacy. But in the 5th, in the Latin Quarter, named the Latin Quarter because the students here used to speak Latin, you’re probably on a little bit tighter of a budget.
So order your coffee at the bar. It’s cheaper than outside on the terrace. Just down the street near the Boulevard Saint Germain is the 6th, or the Left Bank, which has been a gathering place for writers and intellectuals since the Enlightenment at coffee shops and cafes like Le Procope. Founded in 1686 Le Procope is believed to be the oldest cafe in Paris, if not the world.
It’s hosted everyone from Voltaire to Rousseau, Ben Franklin, to Napoleon who seems to have left his hat here. When in Paris, eating at a bistro is a must, but it’s not as expensive as you might think because writers have been using the Menu Prix Fix since back in the day to save money on lunch.
It means you get a multi-course meal, in this case French onion soup and coq au vin, for between 15 and 30 Euros, which saves a little bit more money for a lunchtime wine. No trip to Paris is complete without a mandatory photo of the Eiffel Tower. Or you can skip the long lines, the pricey ticket, and the crowds on the Champs de Mars and find a creative angle for the photo in places such as the Rue de l’Universite` Or here Or here If you come to Paris to shop, then you can’t beat the world-famous Champs-Elysees.
But be warned: this is France, and the stores are closed on Sundays. However, they do have tourists shopping zones where the stores are open seven days a week. The 9th has always been the district where Parisians go to blow off steam.. these days with shopping and nightlife at cocktail bars like Lulu White’s where the menu is a cast of characters and the cocktails are excellent.
I highly recommend the Absinthe Frappe` or the Tony Jackson. Sante`. “Bienvenue a la dixième arrondissement,” the 10th. This is a really cool, young, vibrant arrondissement, and if you’re in the mood for good dining, bistros, coffee shops, etc., this is the arrondissement for you. The French are famous for their wine, and the best place to sample French wine is at a natural wine bar like this place Au Passage in the 11th.
It’s the neo Bistro, which means that the food like the wine is organic, natural, and delicious. Sante` Paris is the world’s capital of fashion, and many visitors worry about what to wear. The key to style in Paris is keeping it balanced and minimal… think classy but casual. Guys, no flip-flops.
Girls, no short- shorts. Instead wear neutral colors for a classic two-tone look, and don’t forget the most important ingredient: confidence. What about getting to and from Paris? If you’re flying into the airport, definitely take a bus or a train to get into the city center. A taxi is going to be a lot more expensive.
If you’re leaving from Paris to another European city, considered taking a high-speed train. It leaves right from the city center, and it connects you to many other European capitals. Plus, it’s better for the environment, and it’s stress-free. All aboard. One of my personal favorite things to do in all of Paris is in the 14th.
It’s Sunday dinners at Jim Gaines’s house. Jim is an American expat who’s been living in Paris since the 60s and throwing weekly Sunday dinner parties at his house rain or shine since the 70s. He’s kind of a legend.. an author, a gatherer of people from all around the world. These parties are a great place to meet locals, expats, and travelers alike.
Come donate what you can for the food and the wine; have a great time and bring some friends or meet some new ones. Let’s go. Here’s a tip that applies no matter which arrondissement you’re in: learn a little bit of French. A lot of people think that Parisians are rude, and this usually comes down to two cultural misunderstandings: Number one: here in France it is considered rude if you walk into a store and don’t greet the owner.
And two: if you start off your conversation in English or another language that is not French, it’s kind of starting off things on the wrong foot. So it does help to learn at least a couple of basic words. Here we go. “Excuse me, sir. I’m sorry.” “No problem. Have a good day.
” “Good Bye.” What about when to visit? Well, summer is obviously the best time of year to be in Paris, but it’s also really, really crowded. Expect the prices of accommodation to surge up to three times that of other cities. Winter is beautiful, but it’s cold and rainy. So we recommend the shoulder seasons- basically fall and spring when there’re not too many tourists, the weather is still quite nice, and prices are a lot lower.
Let’s talk about safety. Paris is an incredibly safe city, but like all cities crime does exist. Pickpockets and scammers are focused on tourists. So keep your wits about you. Keep your belongings secure, especially on the metro and at night. And trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, move away.
A great way to eat well at a decent price is to shop in one of Paris’s many outdoor markets. This is the President Wilson market in the 16th. It happens every Saturday. These markets happen all over the city every day of the week. You can find them all online. It’s a great way to support your local economy and eat really well.
Be warned: finding quality and affordable accommodation can be a challenge unless you book way in advance. Consider staying outside the city center. You’re going to save money; you’re still connected to the city center via public transport and the super-fast RER commuter train, and hey, you may even have a more authentic Parisian experience.
Montmartre, without a doubt, one of the most charming corners of Paris. It was a bohemian haunt and home to painters such as Renoir and Picasso. But today as charming as it is, it’s also crowded with tourists and only one half of the amazing arrondissement of the 18th. Instead, come down the street to Little Africa where tailor shops like Sape and Company can introduce you to the culture of the Sape, African dandy style from Brazzaville, Congo.
When you think of Paris you probably do not imagine canals, but there are many. Most people when they get on the water in this city tend to do a large cruise down the Seine. Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you want something a little more mellow, come to the 19th, rent an electric boat, and you can have a nice little cruise along the canal.
Very mellow. Highly recommended. And last but not least, the 20th, a neighborhood that includes Belleville, a multi-ethnic community of North Africans and Vietnamese. It’s a great place to get a Bahn Mi sandwich, which brings together Vietnamese meat and a French baguette. It’s kind of like the city as a whole.
.. a bunch of different influences all rolled up into one awesome, delicious, and beautiful thing. Here’s to that. Those were our tips to know before you go to Paris. Hopefully, that was helpful. If you’ve been to Paris and you have your own tips, please add them below in the comment section, and if not, let us know which of our tips were most useful to you.
Tell me, Alex, which of the arrondissements was your favorite? Ah, I hate this part. Picking favorites is always super hard, but I really love watching the sunset on the Seine. It’s a beautiful way to end a day in Paris, and there’s just really a great vibe there. But apart from that, I really enjoyed the 5th arrondissement, the Latin Quarter.
I hadn’t really explored that before, and I don’t know, it just kind of feels like a small village there. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the big city, and I really like just kind of the tighter narrower more intimate feeling of the 5th arrondissement. What about you? I really like the Marais.
I think both the 3rd and the 4th are really cool, super historic.. all the old buildings. They really make the nerd in me smile. There’s also really great food there and a lot of style. It’s a really cool neighborhood. I also like Montmartre. I think it’s got a lot tourism. There’s a lot of people up there taking photos of Sacre Coeur, but it does still have that village feel that it had in the 1800s.
There’s a vineyard there, which is cool just for itself, and I think we both enjoyed the 10th and the 11th as well. It’s just too hard to pick favorites. There’s twenty arrondissements. There’re infinite things that you could do and infinite ways to spend your time. So hopefully this video was helpful.
Big thank you to Visa for making this video possible. So easy.. contactless payment. No leftover change, no hassle. Just honestly the way of travel in the future. Totally. If you guys like this video, you know what to do: please give it a big thumbs- up, share it with your travel buddies, and subscribe to Vagabrothers for more travel tips from all around the world.
And as we always say: stay curious, keep exploring, and we’ll see you on the road.