What Not To Do In Paris As A Tourist

what not to do in paris

Come and unwind in Paris and experience the city’s attractions. Paris is known to have the best lifestyle and great attractions. But, there are some important things you should make sure that you don’t do, such as skip the smaller museums, spend all your time at the Eiffel Tower, and take taxis late at night. You should also avoid only shopping in souvenir shops and make sure you do not limit yourself at the Grand Magasins, among other top tips. We have done the key research and made a list of what not to do in Paris, so scroll down and take notes!

1. Don't spend all your time at the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysées

Eiffel Tower sunset, Paris July 2013
Source: Photo by user Joe deSousa used under CC BY 2.0

Come and unwind in Paris and enjoy the beautiful scenery. You’ll be sure to leave with great memories and gifts. Paris is not only famous for the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees, but also for its other attractions and events. Do not spend all your time at the Eiffel Tower, as there are other fun attractions you can visit. The Eiffel Tower is sometimes not that fun because of its long queues to purchase tickets and also on the stairs because of the many people visiting. Most of the time it’s crowded, so save some time for the Luxembourg Gardens, Trocadéro Square, the Arc de Triomphe, and Montmartre.

2. Never skip the smaller museums

Musée des Arts et Métiers 13, Paris
Source: Photo by user Rilba used under CC BY-SA 3.0

As all lovers of Paris know, it’s not just the major monuments that make this city the world’s most compelling city. The real Paris lies behind its doors and in the hidden gardens of the city’s smaller museums, found in the city’s mansions and the houses of the extraordinary people who exemplified what life in Paris is all about.

An example of a small museum not to skip is the Musée des Arts et Métiers, where kids who love Lego or general tinkering should be happy to explore the thousands of examples of ingenious design and technology - from penny-farthings to a model of Foucault’s pendulum. The building itself was turned into a prison during the French Revolution. Most small museums in Paris are attractions which are worth visiting with great scenery.

3. Never book a tour without vetting the company first

Posted by Ultimate Paris Guide on Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Explore the scenery of Paris and see the best tourist attractions with the best tour companies. It is advisable to never book a tour without vetting the company first because some companies are not genuine. Before booking a tour, make sure the company is licensed, has a certificate of registration, a copy of their insurance, professional certificates in ticketing, and any relevant safety certificates. Make sure you have the contacts of the company to ensure your security.

4. Don't rely on taxis late at night

Taxi sign Paris France
Source: Photo by user Riggwelter used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Paris is, generally speaking, a quiet, safe city. You can wander around almost every corner with no risk of mugging. However, some areas are safer than others and it’s always dangerous to take an unmarked or unofficial taxi. Always take a taxi that is marked on top of the car as a ‘Taxi Parisien’ and that the cab number is clearly visible. Official taxis have meter gauges and you pay them according to the distance covered. It is difficult to find a taxi in the late night hours. Most taxis operate up to 8 pm and this makes it hard for people to rely on them at night. Always get the contacts of an official taxi person, so you can call them if you need them at night.

5. Don't just shop in souvenir shops

Tourist shop, rue de Rivoli Paris, France 2011
Source: Photo by user Bob Hall used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Nobody should visit Paris and return home empty-handed without souvenirs or gifts. Paris is famous for its shopping and it has plenty of souvenirs on offer. Indeed, tourists are spoilt for choice when shopping and you can bring home anything from berets, marionettes, macarons, wine, champagne, sausage, cheese, or foie gras. Apart from the souvenir shops, there are other places you can shop for souvenirs, so try to choose something unique.

6. Avoid buying tickets for attractions and shows on the day of the event

sncf ticket machines at Roissy Terminal 3
Source: Photo by user Evan Bench used under CC BY 2.0

Experience the best attractions in Paris, but avoid buying tickets for attractions and shows on the day of the event. Buying tickets earlier means you won’t have to queue and it will give you direct entry inside the venue. You also will be sure not to miss out, in case the event sells out.

7. Don’t limit yourself to the Grands Magasins

Grands magasins eclairage de Noel
Source: Photo by user CaptainHaddock used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Explore Parisian life and leave with the best memories of your life. Paris is famous for its Grands Magasins, which are the icons of Parisian luxury shopping and essential stops when visiting the city, as they have something for everything. Paris is the world capital of fashion and the great Parisian department stores are flagships you must see. But don’t just limit yourself to the Grands Magasins, as there are other places you can visit. People come from all around the world to discover everything that encompasses French chic and Parisian life. We have scoured the market and picked the most famous and affordable places to shop. Make sure to check out the Boulevard Haussmann, Galleries Lafayette, and Printemps.

8. Never take the stairs at Paris’ Abbesses Métro Station

Abbesses metro station, Paris 30 May 2015
Source: Photo by user Georges De Valkeneer used under CC BY 2.0

Come and have fun in Paris and enjoy the best of the city’s attractions, like the Abbesses Metro station and others. The metro is not for people who struggle with stairs. The metro not only has lots of stairs, but transfers sometimes involve long walks underground. Abbesses and a few others have elevators that people can use instead of climbing the stairs. As well, the bus system kneels and people with disabilities can claim seats that go everywhere. You can get a bus map booklet to make planning your travel by bus easier.

9. Avoid eating in touristy areas

Le Zimmer, restaurant in Paris
Source: Photo by user David Carayol used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Paris is well known for its amazing food, whether in local bistros, quick snack stops, or tourist areas. Tourists can spend a lot of time searching for somewhere to eat. However, it is not advisable to eat in a touristy area because these restaurants will be overpriced and the food not that great. It may be premade and heated up and the meals will likely be not authentic. There could also be long queues, which will waste your time.

10. Do not take any offence to the cheek-kissing tradition

Cheek kissing
Source: Photo by user

While some countries prefer to welcome people by shaking their hands or delving into a straight hug. But, France has the unique custom of cheek-kissing. Not only are the social codes surrounding it fairly complex to master, but they also change according to religion. Parisian people love kisses, so the ‘bises’ is a very common greeting between friends, family, and sometimes strangers. In Paris, you will give two kisses with the right cheek first and then the left.

11. Don't be casual about your safety

It’s a rule of thumb to be mindful of your surroundings wherever you travel to. Paris is not a highly dangerous city but pickpocketing is a frequent crime. Note that many pickpockets operate at night and during rush hours in the busiest parts of the city.

Avoid letting your valuables out of your sight and touch when in the metro as many pickpocketers tend to execute a modus and leave you without any cash or mobile phone to call for help. Best be vigilant and trust your instincts when alone at night in a completely foreign place, your safety is never something to be careless or casual about.

Numerous activities (not) to do in Paris

Paris has various indoor and outdoor activities to indulge in while on holiday. You’ll also find great restaurants, shopping centers, museums, and recreational facilities available around the city. Hopefully our list will make you more aware of the culture of the City of Love, to enjoy this exotic destination to the hilt.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Nduku Mulwa is an experienced online freelancer who has traveled in different countries such as Canada, South Africa, Ghana, and Japan. She moves around in search of magnificent views, culture,...Read more

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