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51+ Things to Do in Paris

Paris is a huge city with a tonne of opportunity, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Below I’ve come up with a list of 51+ things to do while in the French capital in an easy-to-read post.

Places to See

Museums

Activities

Neighbourhoods

Paris is absolutely huge and divided into 20 arrondissements (precincts), but here’s a breakdown of areas that I highly recommend:

Ile de la Cité is the small island where Notre-Dame is. It is actually here that medieval Paris was centred and Paris branched off of this little island, so I’d highly recommend looking around and seeing this quaint island in all its glory.

The Latin Quarter is the area that surrounds the Ile de la Cité to the north and south, and you can tell because several of the buildings look more Romanesque and are much closer together. The intersection of Rue de Rivoli and Rue de Pont Neuf dates back to Roman times and is two thousand years old! Even though Paris is beautiful all over, there’s something so charming and timeless about the Latin Quarter that is so lovable.

Montmartre is famous for being the arts district, but this hilly area with cobblestone streets is very charming and has some of the best and most affordable patisseries I’ve been to. Just beware that this area is probably the sketchiest at night.

If you have time…

The 16th arrondissement is not popular with tourists but I personally loved strolling around and seeing all the art nouveau buildings the area has. If you have some extra time, the 16th (also said to be the richest local arrondissement) is worth a walk around.

The 13th arrondissement is also not popular with tourists but it has a lot of more modern buildings, including the Bibliothèque Nationale. If you have time or are studying abroad, I recommend this area to see a different side of Paris that’s not Haussmann.

Some Things to Know

I wrote another article on the logistics of visiting France, so please take a read.

Please know that Paris is filled with pickpockets, so always keep a close eye on your belongings.

They also have several train stations so if taking a train, be sure to check for the right station! Also know that their metro system is fantastic and can get you wherever you need to go.

Have you ever been to Paris? What’s your favourite thing to do there?

Posted on Friday, August 17, 2018 in Destinations
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Day Trip to the Swiss Rhine

I love Swiss and German style architecture so when I went to Switzerland, I knew I had to spend some time near the German border to see the Rhine river and the towns that lived next to it. For that, I chose to go to Stein am Rhine and ended up seeing two towns instead.

Schaffhausen

I had to go through the town of Schaffhausen to get to my destination, so I decided to make a trip out of it when I got there, and I’m so glad I did. It’s a moderately-sized town with not much tourist traffic but it’s filled with beautifully-painted buildings that date back to the Renaissance era. There wasn’t a lot to do there but there were a lot of different restaurants and places to eat, and strolling down the streets was a great way to pass the time and see this very unique architecture.

You don’t need to spend much time here but if you happen to be in the area, it’s a super charming town that’s well worth seeing.

Stein am Rhine

After Schaffhausen, it was time to go to the place I’d been wanting to see a lot: Stein am Rhein. The city centre is a bit of a walk from the train station but once you get to the city centre, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Every renaissance building is painted beautifully and fully, and the windows and projecting architectural elements just make the whole thing stunning. When the clock chimes, it truly is like living in the 1500s.

At the end of the day, Switzerland is filled with tonnes of historic and charming towns, so I’m really here to let you know about two. The Rhine isn’t the most stunning natural feature and the even though the towns are absolutely beautiful and beyond comparison, there honestly wasn’t too much to do there, if anything. If you’re in the area and want to have a leisurely day out, I definitely think these two towns should be kept in mind.

Have you ever been to Schaffhausen and/or Stein am Rhine? What did you think?

Posted on Friday, August 10, 2018 in Destinations
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A Practical Guide to Visiting France

France is one of the hottest tourist destinations in Europe and with good reason. The capital city of Paris is one of the most famous cities in the world, and the country boasts of magnificent and diverse architecture, history and of course, food. You may know where you’re going to go and what you’re going to see, but there’s a lot more to visiting a foreign country than may be anticipated. Here’s a practical guide to visiting France.

Paris

Especially if you’re going to France for the first time, Paris is probably the start of your trip. This unique city has a lot going on, so here’s a breakdown of practical things to know:

Public Transit: Public transit in Paris is amazing, especially as someone coming from the USA. With a Paris Visite travel pass, you’re able to visit the entire city and even its suburbs for a low price. And yes, the pass actually does provide unlimited travel within the dates specified.

For your reference, zone 1 is Paris city. Versailles is in zone 4, Disneyland and CDG airport are in zone 5. There are a tonne of different places to visit within zones 2-5 if you have more time in Paris.
You can take buses and the metro within the city and its immediate suburbs. The travel pass also allows for transport on regional trains in your specified zones, and the RER – which is another train system that goes around Paris and its suburbs.
NOTE: I’m mentioning the RER because it is an effective way to get around, but it’s also known for having thieves and, in my friends’ experience, flashers. Be alert when using this service.

CDG to Paris: You can purchase one of the aforementioned travel passes at CDG, which will allow you to take the RER or the Roissy Bus from CDG to Paris city centre. If you skip on the travel pass, it will cost about 10 or 12€ per person by taking the bus or RER. The RER and bus run frequently so definitely hitch a ride on one of those rather than spending on a taxi.

When you get to the city, use the metro to get to the stop closest to your hotel. It’s very easy to use and much cheaper than hiring a taxi.

Beware of Scams and Stealing: This is not limited to Paris but is very common. Make sure to keep an eye on your valuables at all times and don’t fall for anyone trying to put a bracelet or a ring on you.

France

France tends to be very uniform across all regions when it comes to culture, which makes travelling all the easier. Here are some general tips and tricks to know before seeing this beautiful country.

Language: Especially in touristy areas, many people speak English. Believe it or not, I’ve met more than 5 people who moved to France to learn English – isn’t that crazy? Some people are scared of the language barrier but even if you encounter someone who can’t speak English, you’ll find that it’s still relatively easy to work with each other to get your messages across.

Food: Gastronomy is a huge part of French culture. Restaurants are where you sit down to have a meal, which usually takes a few hours as is part of French culture. You’re expected to get several plates such as an appetizer, a main course and a dessert, and you’re expected to eat all of it. A menu is called a “carte” in French because a “menu” in French is a fixed-price dining experience. You’ll see several restaurants have a “menu.” Cafés are more relaxed settings where you can get one dish (which can be small) or just a drink. People usually still stay for a few hours. Just a few tips:
1.) The French are serious about their culinary arts so you may be refused service if you go to a restaurant and don’t order enough, or try to change your meal to your liking (e.g. asking for ketchup on your steak, butter on your fish, etc.). Please be respectful of this culture. For smaller meals, go to a café.
2.) If you’re like me and have a small stomach, look for places that do carryout (“à emporter”) and eat back at your accommodation. It’s rude to get a to-go box so this will avoid that problem, and you can even split a large meal over an entire day.
3.) France is not very vegetarian-friendly: I repeat, FRANCE IS NOT VERY VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY. I have a guide (coming soon) on maintaining a vegetarian diet abroad that will come in handy when visiting France.

Tipping: Tipping is not mandatory in France but people sometimes leave 1€ or 2 for good service.

Opening Hours: Several businesses close in the afternoon, especially restaurants, so be sure to plan your mealtimes carefully. Many places are also closed on Sunday and some are closed on Wednesday.

Currency: France uses the Euro and cash is the preferred method of payment. A lot of places do take credit cards with a minimum but they may also have an upcharge for cards. Cash is preferred and even more, exact change is preferred. Also beware that many French businesses do not take American Express.

Getting Around: Again, France has a fantastic public transit system. I usually use Trainline and Flixbus to book my travel. Things to be aware of:
1.) You can also book trains at the station but note that the kiosks only take cards with the chip.
2.) Read the conditions of tickets because some tickets must be purchased with a French banking card only – no foreign cards.
3.) There are several transportation strikes, called Strike SNCF, to take into account when booking.

Being Female: Unfortunately, France is a first-world country that has equal opportunities for women but some of the worst cat-calling and stalking I’ve ever experienced, and I’m not alone. In Lyon, I got catcalled 7 times an hour (yes, there was a point where I’d count). Exercise caution when out in public, especially when alone, and be prepared for some unwelcome remarks.

History: The history of France and its places is rich and fascinating. Too many people visit France without knowing much about what’s gone on there, and it’s a shame because much of what happened in the past has made an imprint on the present. Definitely take the time to research the places you’re visiting because it’ll make your experience so much more fulfilling.

There’s a lot of information and tips on visiting France, so I hope I’ve been able to consolidate that info successfully and have helped you prepare for your trip. Bon voyage!

Posted on Monday, August 6, 2018 in Destinations
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