Complete guide for surviving in Paris

  • 19 décembre 2019
  • Paris sous tous les angles
  • Jocelyn Wensjoe

This goes without saying but, Paris is not your usual city. It is composed of beautiful architecture, fashion, delicious food, museums that contain the rarest of artwork…and brassy waiters, jam-packed metro lines, and unpredictable weather! Paris overall has its ups and downs. The good news is that there are a couple of tips you can follow to help you survive Paris whether you’re visiting or moving to the big city. Follow this guide and in no time, you’ll feel like a true Parisian, we guarantee you will no longer feel lost in the world of cheese and bread.


Compare prices with uber and Kapten

Getting around Paris is quite easy, transportation is accessible in every corner. There are metros, buses, and RERs and the prices are affordable. One metro ticket is only €1.90! Though transportation is great, it’s not always convenient. There are times when metro lines and buses are going to be super full especially at peak hours, sometimes they can get so full that there will not be enough space for you to go inside and you’ll have to go in the next one. This is when on-demand car services such as Uber come in handy. Depending on where you want to go the prices in Uber vary, and ride-sharing can be beneficial. In the states everyone knows Uber’s biggest competition is Lyft, well here in Paris Uber’s biggest competition is an on-demand car service called Kapten. When comparing prices Kapten is usually inexpensive, 21% cheaper than Uber and it frequently offers discounts on rides. So, when you arrive in Paris don’t hesitate on downloading the application on your phone.


Citymapper and RATP are your friend’s

Google maps can get you to so many places when looking for an address, but did you know that it cannot detect when there are delays or when one of the metro lines is not in service? If you are looking to get around the city, we suggest downloading two applications, Citymapper and RATP. These applications are lifesavers, especially during the strike season in Paris. RATP is directly connected to the RATP metro line meaning it is constantly updated with new information like delays and such. Citymapper also makes sure that all transit information is up to date and provides you with alternative routes that are not demonstrated on Google.


There are theatre plays 100% in English

Not a lot of people know this and believe all theatre plays in Paris are in English, but we’ve got news for you. Not all shows are in French! Shocking right? Paris is quite an international city meaning there a lot of tourists and foreign individuals from all over the world that fall in love with the city and decide to stay. For the past couple of years, Paris has adjusted its culture and made it more inviting to overseas visitors. Theatre plays are very popular in Paris, some playhouses go back as far as 288 years old. In some of these stunning playhouses are various shows entirely in English running all year long. There is even a French play by the famous playwriter Marivaux called L’heaureux Stratagéme (Successful Strategies), which can be viewed in different languages through a pair of smart glasses. There is no need to worry about language barriers when it comes to theatre plays in Paris! So, don’t stress and enjoy a show.


Tipping isn’t necessary

It may be customary to tip in other countries after a meal and good service, but it is not mandatory here. It is seen as a pleasant gesture to leave a tip in a Parisian restaurant, and only if you have received good service because not all waiters in the city have a good reputation for providing exceptional attention to detail. That is unless you go to a five-star restaurant. The reason tipping is not necessary for Paris is due to the fact that tips are already included within the bill. Tips are not heavily relied on as they are in the states.

closed sign

Restaurants close early and open late

It may be unusual to some, but most restaurants are open during lunchtime and dinner, and Parisians tend to eat dinner quite late. Don’t expect all the restaurants to be open at 3 in the afternoon. Lunch is normally served from 12- 2 pm and then restaurants close down from 2 pm until 7 at night. Yeah, it can be a bit bothersome to wait for a restaurant to open up again at 7 pm. Good news is that there are some cafes and bars who are open all day, and if you’re in the very center of the city there’s a high possibility that you will find some restaurants open. Good luck.

metro ticket

Keep your metro ticket until your final exit

This is very important to know! If you are visiting Paris or you are local using metro tickets, never throw your metro ticket away until you have completely ended your journey from one place to another. Why? Because metro ticket enforcements are randomly popping up in different stations asking for proof of purchased ticket, if you do not have a ticket you may be fined up to €40. The same goes for Navigo cards, if you purchase a Navigo card, never forget to stick a small passport photo on it if not you will get fined.


Wear comfortable shoes

Not that you don’t already know this, but we must emphasize that Paris is a big city and transportation is handy, but you still have to walk a lot. Walking and biking are big in Paris and recently electric scooters have been trending as well. This being said, if you want to get around Paris and explore its ins and outs the right way, then wearing comfortable shoes is highly recommended. You will not get judged for not wearing nice shoes, yes Paris is the city of fashion, but sneakers are always going to be favorable when getting from point A to point B.


Emergency contact numbers

Whether visiting France or staying for a long time it’s best to know all emergency contact numbers in case of an emergency. Selectra is a great website that contains all the emergency contacts needed for any mishaps that may randomly occur. The website also contains a translation from French to English in order to effectively communicate with the operator if he or she does not know English.


Be careful with pickpocketing

Be warned that pickpocketing is very usual in Paris, especially inside the metros. Metro stations are always informing people to please keep an eye on their belongings and be on the lookout for pickpocketing swindlers. No matter where you are though, always be super careful with your possessions, with slick strategies you won’t realize if someone has stolen your phone or wallet from your pocket or bag. Over the year, many thieves have been caught stealing a lot of money from tourists and locals. Don’t be their next victim.

comedy shows

Language Basics, try your hardest or learn from the best

ça va, coucou, merci, s’il vous plait, bonsoir, recognize any of these words? If not, then we recommend you visit the best French teachers in Paris who will conveniently also make you laugh! If you are learning French to stay here or just to get by you need to take some French courses and there are an abundant amount of places that offer French classes, for example, L’atelier 9, Sorbonne University, and French Alliance Paris. It may take a few months to learn French, but if you want a few pointers on how to really survive the city and the language there are three particular shows by hilarious standup comedians that will let you know all the secrets about Paris, How to Become a Parisian in One Hour, Oh My God She’s Parisian, and The French Language explained by an American.

All comedy shows that teach you Parisian ways


Unpredictable weather

Parisian weather can be described in one word, erratic. You can never be too sure whether it will be cold enough to wear a hat and gloves, raining enough for you to carry around an umbrella with you all day, or warm but not too warm so you have to wear a light jacket. It is super important to check the weather in the morning to know what expect the whole day. Don’t leave your place unprepared!


Drink responsibly!

In some parts of Paris, it is frowned upon to walk around the streets drunk, which is why it is better to drink responsibly. You may see a couple of Parisians or foreigners around the streets who have noticeably had more than 2 drinks, but if you want to go inside a bar or a club while being drunk you can forget about it. Bars are allowed to deny you entrance if they believe you have had too much to drink. P.S. it is only legal to drink in some districts in the city of Paris so be very careful.


Notre Dame isn’t the only impressive church in the city

Notre Dame is a beauty, the center of attention of all touristic sites next to the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triumph but unfortunately, since it was set on fire in early 2019, entrance to the captivating chapel has been closed down until further notice. This is unfortunate news, but on the other hand, this gives you more time to visit other mesmerizing Churches in Paris. Notre Dame isn’t the only known landmark in the city! There are plenty of famous chapels in Paris, Some recognized for their old yet alluring stained glass windows like the Sainte Chapel, Saint Sulpice known to be the filming site for the famed movie The Da Vinci Code, Saint-Étienne du Mont church known to hold the last remaining rood screen in all of France, and Saint Germain des Prés Church one of the oldest churches in France and the first building to ever be built in gothic style. Best of all, these chapels exhibit a bewitching classic live music concert every other day. Be sure to check out the dates!

Check out the classical music concerts inside the chapels