Travelling to Paris has become so easy, it feels almost like a sister city. Transportation options include the Eurostar, ferry and travel by air. All are comparable in costs, but air travel is by far, the most convenient and comfortable. You will also arrive faster at your destination. Since it’s conceivable to fly to Paris and return to London within a day, it’s a practical destination for a weekend holiday, as well as the beginning point for an extended European vacation. This is a sister who speaks a foreign language however, and has a distinct and separate culture. Your holiday in Paris will be more enjoyable and tempt your return if you understand a little about what makes Parisians different as well as what makes the two cities similar.
London leads the world scene for the fashionable statement that is edgy and increasingly progressive. The eclectic tastes run from diverse definitions of casual wear to radical interpretations of the informally and formally dressed. Paris fashion is interpreted along more classical lines. Many of its establishments require slightly more formal attire than you might find at similar public places in London. You may feel the atmosphere is even a bit pretentious. Dress for both style and comfort and you will blend in, which will help you feel less like a tourist and more like regular visitor to Paris.
Paris has four seasons with temperatures very similar to London, but nearly always a least a few degrees warmer. Prepare your wardrobe accordingly. In the summer, prepare for very sticky heat. In the winter, pack all your normal winter gear, including hats, gloves, boots and coats. Always prepare for rain. It doesn’t rain for extended periods, as it does in London, but Paris expects an average of eleven days of rain out of each month. Most of the rain comes suddenly, is delivered in torrents, than leaves quickly.
Most urban dwellers are used to a clock-driven world, with scheduled appointments, prompt service and deadlines for projects a part of our normal expectancies. Parisians tend to take the break-neck stride more calmly and do not seem to find waiting for services stressful.
Waiting for services is something you must accustom yourself to quickly. Parisians value their thirty-five hour work week as a statement of their values. They state they work to live not the other way around. You’ll find them completely unperturbed while waiting for buses, food service or even for official business, which are all slow. The bureaucracy in Paris is famous for its slow pace, so factor in extra waiting time for all official procedures.
Parisians enjoy dawdling over their food. They also prefer their food is made from scratch. A luncheon with a Parisian may take a full hour before you are even finished with the appetisers. This slow unwinding throughout the day may be the reason you don’t find many Parisians at the pubs. Most of Paris nightlife is tourist oriented, with Parisians frequently only some of the liveliest clubs, and finding most of their entertainment in theatres, cinema and private settings.
The costs of all public transportation lines are comparable with those in London, although the trains tend to be somewhat cheaper. The transit lines are very efficient, allowing you to explore any part of Paris easily, as well as access outlaying towns and villages. Marseilles is accessible through the Paris transit lines.
Most of the French are able to speak fluent English, and this is especially so in Paris. However, if you’ve learned to speak French, or know a few words, don’t hesitate to practice the language. Even if you spoke the words incorrectly, the Parisian will at least appreciate your efforts. There is a general opinion that only the French can speak perfect French, so they will expect you to make mistakes.
Overall, Paris has somewhat a somewhat lower cost for living expenses. This includes foods, internet services, alcoholic beverages, cosmetics and cinema tickets, but the differences will not be noticed within the tourist areas. Hotels will be cheaper in the suburbs than in Central Paris, and parking spaces easier to find. Finding a parking space in Central Paris can be very difficult. You’ll save both time and money by buying Metro tickets, and leaving your car parked at your hotel while you visit the attractions.
A two-day Paris Visite Transport Pass plus Paris Museum pass, at 56.65 euros (2014 prices) is cheaper than a Paris Pass, although the Paris Pass option includes other attractions, such as a sight-seeing bus, and is advantageous if you wish to see as much of Paris as possible in a very short time. Another option is the “Cityrama”, a two-day hop on, hop off open tour that covers four different routes for 36 £. There is also the “Batobus”, which is a river bus that will take you up and down the Seine, from the Eiffel Tower to the the quai de Montebello. The price is 18 £ per adult and has eight stops.
Be careful of web sites offering Paris tour passes as many of them will charge much more than if you wait until you arrive in Paris and purchase your passes directly from the source. Many of the Paris attractions have free entrance, including Norte Dame, the Louvre, and various other museums. There are also free concerts, especially in summer, so keep a good eye on Paris events.
Make your mid-day meal your largest meal of the day. While you can find many restaurants that offer meals for an average of twelve Euros, evening meals are more expensive, and may not be as generous in proportions.
If you would visit the local pubs, your drinks will be cheaper if you stand up at the bar than they will be if you order them from a table.
There are many ways to save money on your Paris holiday. By choosing a hotel in the suburbs and using public transportation for travelling into the Central, you’ll cut your costs considerably. There are also a number of hostels for those on a strict budget, which appeal to students and veteran travellers. If you’re hardy and enjoy the great outdoors, you can even go camping in Paris.
Paris is camper-friendly. Campsites are available at International de Maisons Laffitte, on an island on the Seine, at the Huttopia Versaille, located in the forest, just five minutes from Versailles, and on the outskirts of Paris.
Average costs range from 18- 20 £ for a tent site and 150 £ for a mobile home. Cabins are also available for around the same price as mobile home accommodations. Amenities usually include nearby shopping centres and restaurants, game rooms, play areas, Internet access and laundry facilities. Campgrounds are close to the Metro lines, making transportation easy, and the service providers are friendly. Campgrounds are not open year round, so research your targeted area well before bringing along your tent.