Paris Travel Tips
GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS
Copy the first page of your passport. Keep it with you somewhere other than with your passport. This would help if you need to replace it. Once in Paris, carry the copy and keep your passport in a safe place.
Get a Paris map/metro map. If you don't speak French, get a French phrase book (Try to ask questions in French as much as possible.)
Typically, French students wear a little dressier clothes than Americans. Business casual for classes should be good. Take at least one set of nice clothes. You'll want it for the farewell dinner, for sure. Women wear scarves a lot in Paris, so you’ll fit right in anytime you wear a scarf.
In Paris, you will be walking a lot. Everyone does. Take sensible shoes! For field trips, the school may not let you go if you are wearing very high heels or open-toed shoes.
Print out the name and address of the hotel and carry that with you at all times.
Paris is considered a safe city, but you should always use common sense. Walk with others. The thing you will be warned about most often is pickpockets. In particular, be careful about groups of children who may surround you and distract you for pickpocketing.
They will be small, with people sitting very close to you.
French don't speak as loudly as Americans. It's suggested that you speak quietly in the restaurants.
• Fixed price menus are typical.
• Entrée in France is literally the starter--it's an appetizer.
• Expect that service will be slower than in U.S. For dinner, they expect you to relax and enjoy the entire evening at the restaurant. They won't be pushing you move on so other diners can come in.
Your phrase book will help you in the restaurant -- you may want to mark that page for yourself.
Check with your bank. Let them know you will be traveling to Paris. Ask whether there are extra fees to use ATMs.
By and large, it's easiest to use credit cards for purchases, but you'll want to check with your credit card to find out about foreign currency transaction fees. The credit card companies also recommended that we write down our credit card numbers and carry them separate from the cards. We also let them know that we’d be traveling in France.
You can change money in many places, but check BOTH for the exchange rate and any commissions. ATMs are best, and they are usually pretty easy to find.
Taxis/buses won't take credit cards.
BEST EVER MONEY TIP:
At DeGaulle Airport, NEAR GATE 30 in Terminal 1, there is an ATM machine where you can use your credit card/ATM card to get Euros. It's near where you would get the Roissy Bus. This would help you with taxi or bus fare.
Cash has a better exchange rate than travelers checks, but travelers checks are more secure.
Exchange rates at Lafayette banks aren't particularly good.
You'll need to get from the airport to the hotel on your own. All of the information below is about TERMINAL 1 at the DeGaulle Airport. Most, but not all, international flights arrive at terminal 1. Here's some help:
At DeGaulle, you'll go through immigration and then to baggage claims. That's pretty straight-forward, but before
you follow the remaining instructions, make sure you have EXITED from baggage claims. The baggage claims stations have numbers, too. These are NOT the same as the exit numbers you see below.
The airport terminal is a circle, so you can't really make a mistake.
Once you get your bags, you'll come out and see 2 exits -- 2 and 32. Take either one. They both get you to the same place.
If you want to take a taxi, go to the taxi stand. (You can't wave for a cab) This could cost up to 50 Euros. Do NOT take a taxi that is not at the Taxi stand. You risk being charged much more than the normal rate. Best to ask before you get in the taxi what you will be charged. Some taxis charge for extra passengers, some for extra baggage.
If you want to save money, you could take a Roissy Bus to the opera.
The cost of the bus is about eight euros, and it’s pretty easy. To get it, go to Gate 30 and there will be a ticket counter. You'll walk out the door and the bus will be there.
Put your ticket into the machine on the bus that validates and be sure to get your ticket back. Someone may check for your ticket while you are traveling.
At the opera, you can either take a short taxi ride to the hotel or use the Metro.
You won't get your Metro pass for the program until Sunday night, and it will be valid beginning on Monday. For now, you could buy single pass or buy 10 passes if you're there for awhile before the program begins. Be careful. Last year, some students bought a three-day pass on Friday thinking that it would get them through until Monday. Once they got it, they realized that it didn’t start until Monday.
The Metro in Paris is wonderful. You will want to get a map because you'll be using it all the time. These are available at all Metro stops. When you get your pass, a small map will be included.