10 Mistakes Travelers Make When Planning For Paris

You're going to Paris! Yippee! In our many years of travel to the City of Light we've heard again and again about the most common mistakes first time travelers make. We've collected some of them here for you, so you can avoid them.

There was Margaret, who packed her own iron and blowdryer in case she couldn't find one in Paris. Or Lynn and Denis, who thought they would save Euros by buying food at a grocery store and eating on their hotel bed. Sad, but true. Let's not let it happen to you…


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1. Not Enough Planning

Not Enough Planning

Paris offers so much — so many appealing museums, activities, quartiers, restaurant, and events that unless you pinpoint your top things to do you will get overwhelmed. Besides, you don't want to waste your precious time in Paris figuring out what to do.

Plan in advance, buy tickets online, join small-group tours, avoid waiting in lineups, get a Paris Insiders Pass.

2. Trying to Do Too Much

Trying to Do Too Much

One of our readers wanted to visit Versailles, the Louvre, do a gourmet food tour, and take a day trip to London during her 3-day visit to Paris!

That's too much travel in a 72-hour span. For example, you should allow a full day to really experience and appreciate Versailles. After a day like that you'll want to kick back and relax in Paris. Leave time for walking, sitting in sidewalk cafes, and enjoying city life.

3. Misplaced Self-Reliance

Misplaced Self-Reliance

Independence is great, use it to explore Paris on your own. But refusing to join any tourist activity like a hop-on bus, or Seine River cruise, or skip-the-line museum tour is just plain wrong thinking.

These organized activities are great ways to get an overview of the city, to see a lot in a short time, to learn more, and the skip the ticket lines. You're a tourist, there's no shame in that!

4. Food Fetishes. Food Fads. Diets & Eating Habits.

Food Fetishes

Paris is a food capital (we think it's the food capital), so don't try to re-create your low-fat, vegan, paleo, low-carb diet here. Ditch the diet. You're in Paris for a short time — experience the glories of French cuisine!

Also, only tourists eat at 7:00 pm in Paris. If you want to experience true Parisien dining make reservations for 8:30 or 9:00 pm. Go deeper into Paris food culture.


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5. Wasting Time

Wasting Time

We've seen too many visitors try to get to Versailles or Monet's gardens at Giverny on their own. Sure, it can be done, but why do it the hard way? And why waste an entire day on trains, buses, and ticket line-ups?

Save yourself a load of time and have way more fun by signing up for private or small-group day trips. Let someone else to all the planning, driving, and ticket buying. You're in Paris to have fun, not to become a travel planner.

6. Euro Pinching

Euro Pinching

Look, we're in favour of saving money. But, how often are you going to be in Paris? Don't you want to have the best experience?

Don't stay in the cheapest hotel you can find somewhere in the outskirts of Paris. Shop wisely for a hotel, but stay where the action is. Likewise, don't try to save few Euros by eating at a gyro place in a tourist area, or eating at cheap Chinese restaurants, or (for heaven's sake!), eating in the hotel room.

Save on plane fare during a seat sale. Save by booking your hotel at the cheapest online source. But don't try to save so much that you don't get to enjoy the wonders of Paris.

7. Packing Too Much

Packing Too Much

Here's a secret, Insiders tip… you can shop in Paris! Okay, we know it's not a secret, but travelers sometimes forget that and end up packing way too much.

It's especially true with toiletries — they pack too many. Full-size shampoos and conditioners, styling products, tons of makeup (and jewelry), and even hair dryers! (Your hair dryer won't work in France, so don't bother. Every hotel and apartment has one anyway.)

Put together a travel-size toiletries collection. If you run out, stock up on enticing French brands from the local pharamacie.

8. Missing Out on Classical Music

Missing Out on Classical Music

Another visitor mistake is not attending a classical music concert at a historic Paris church. Truly, there's nothing like hearing some of the best music ever composed in a stunning Gothic church or cathedral. Paris is home to many of the most beautiful examples of medieval churches and also boasts some of the best classically-trained musicians in Europe. It's a perfect combination.

We also recommend that you consider attending a performance of ballet or opera at the magnificent Belle Epôque wonder, Palais Garnier.


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Best of Versailles. Skip the Line, with Hotel Pick-up & Lunch
This day trip from Paris gets you inside the royal estate without waiting in the long lines. Included is a 3-course traditional lunch by the Grand Canal.
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9. Just Showing Up

Louvre Lineup

In the vein of Not Enough Planning some visitors will simply show up at the Louvre — along with the other 10 millions visitors that year! Paris is very popular, the museums and monuments are very popular. That means long lineups. Of course you want to see the Louvre, but there are smarter ways to do it than just showing up.

We always recommend to our readers that they sign up for a skip-the-line Louvre guided tour, where your guide walks you right past the ticket lines. The other great option is to buy a Paris Insiders Pass before you leave home — this gets you free entrance into all the major museums (60 of them!) and also unlimited rides on the Metro.

10. Here's a Better Plan – Create the Best Memories

Create the Best Memories

Create good memories — that's what all visitors want to do. The best Paris memories are made by doing a little advance work.

Being escorted onto the Seine river boat ahead of the crowd… splurging on an expensive meal at La Grande Cascade… hearing Vivaldi's The Four Seasons at La Sainte Chapelle… sipping wine at a French wine tasting. These are the things that will make your trip to Paris sparkle even brighter.

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