1. Use the public toilets
The public toilets in Paris are horrible. Even if you are desperate to go to the loo and feel like if you don’t go soon you may pee on your own shoes DON’T use the public toilets. The toilets smell awful, the one time I used them I physically had to hold my breath just to stand going inside. They are actually ‘cleaned’ after every usage but although it ensures the toilet isn’t dirty, it does nothing for the smell. Homeless people also use the toilets to sleep in, somehow managing to block the doors so the toilet doesn’t register that someone is inside for more than 20 minutes. This adds to the unpleasant smell.
My advice: It would be a much more pleasant experience to go into a cafe or restaurant, buy an espresso for around €1.20, run to the loo while they are making it and after feeling very relieved you can enjoy your miniature coffee in peace.
2. Buy fruit in the metro.
The fruit stands look fine, right? The fruit looks fresh and well-kept. Nothing too odd about that. FAUX. The fruit stands contain fruit that is very old, has not been kept in the correct conditions and has never been refrigerated. I once bought some grapes from a metro seller. Two days after they were full of bugs and mould and had to be thrown away. The fruit is basically on its last legs when you purchase it. It might be cheap but there is a reason why.
My advice: wait until you can find the nearest supermarket.
3. Go for a stroll on the Champs Elysees.
The Champs Elysees might seem idyllic when you’re a tourist. You have seen pictures of this beautiful avenue all lit up, trees lining each side, shops as high as the sky…it seems magical. The reality is that the Champs Elysees is full of tourists, too many people and pickpockets. The shops and restaurants are far more expensive than the same chains in other areas of the city so wherever you go you are overspending. The people are the most well-trained pushers and shovers in all of Paris so you will find yourself basically being swept along in a tide of people all ready to kill to get to their destination. Pickpockets are rife because they know tourists are always on this avenue so phones, purses and even shopping bags aren’t safe. There are so many more beautiful places to see in Paris, try somewhere else!
My advice: head to one of the many shopping centres or Rue de Rivoli!
4. Have lunch at Place du Tertre.
It may look beautiful and you may fall under the spell of the square when you walk across its cobbled streets, but try to keep your wits about you. Place Tertre is designed this way, it mesmerizes you into thinking that in a place so beautiful there couldn’t possibly be any downsides. Sadly this is not the case. Picasso may have lived there at one point in his life but I haven’t once had a decent meal there. And I’m not alone. Other friends have also mentioned that “You must visit Place du Tertre, it’s so pretty! Just avoid the restaurants.” It is a stunning place to visit and on a Sunday when the painters are out in the square it’s verging on magical, being one of the only places to preserve a very Art based French feel. However the food is touristy, of poor quality, overpriced and quite disgusting.
My advice: Walk ten minutes down the hill and find Le Basilic, a great traditional French restaurant with very reasonable prices!
Le Basilic 33 , Rue Lepic, 75018 Paris, France
5. Eat on the metro.
Whether you’re a Parisian or a tourist, never do this. When I first moved to Paris I believed the attitude towards people eating on the metro was ridiculously over the top. Why couldn’t people eat without getting death stares? We live in a free country after all, right? Something important to note is that I had never lived in a city with an underground before, so I was a bit naive. I soon began to realise why not eating on the metro was an unsaid rule. Food normally smells nice, generally, but transport food into the metro and it becomes clammy and stale. Mcdonalds is the worst. It already smells processed and unnatural so take it in the metro and mix it with other ‘regular metro smells’ such as BO, a dirty metro tram/station and the odd homeless person you have created an aroma that makes you want to throw up.
My advice: be considerate, don’t take your food onto public transportation.
6. Make no effort to speak French.
This goes for both people living in, working in or just visting this beautiful city. If you make absolutely zero effort to speak the French language you will definitely leave the city believing the stereotype that ‘all French people are rude.’ Did it never occur to you that if a Russian person came to your nearest city and started speaking Russian at 100 miles per hour that you might be rude too? You might think “Wow, he really expected me to speak his language to make his life easier! How presumptuous of him!” YES a huge amount of the French do speak English but you should never just presume they do, it’s rude and honestly, arrogant. You will see that if you make the effort to speak, even if your French is far from perfect, they will treat you in an entirely different way and you will enjoy your time here.