What Should Americans Know Before Going To Paris?

Before you pack your bags and embark on your trip to the City of Light, it’s important to be aware of a few key things to make your experience in Paris even more enjoyable. From understanding the cultural norms and etiquette to navigating the city’s public transportation system, knowing these tips and tricks will ensure a smooth and unforgettable adventure in one of the most iconic cities in the world. So, let’s dive into what you need to know before heading to Paris! What Should Americans Know Before Going To Paris?

So, you’re heading to Paris, the City of Light! How exciting! Before you jet off to this iconic destination, there are a few things you should know as an American traveler. From cultural norms to transportation tips, this article will guide you through what you need to know before embarking on your Parisian adventure.

Cultural Etiquette and Norms

When visiting Paris, it’s important to be aware of the cultural norms and etiquette to ensure a pleasant experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Greetings and Politeness

In French culture, greetings are very important. When meeting someone for the first time, it’s customary to shake hands and use “vous” (formal) instead of “tu” (informal). Remember to say “bonjour” (good morning) when entering a shop or restaurant and “au revoir” (goodbye) when leaving. Politeness goes a long way in France!

Dress Code

Parisians are known for their impeccable style, so make sure to dress appropriately when visiting. Avoid wearing athletic shoes, shorts, or sweatpants, as these are typically seen as too casual. Opt for smart casual attire, such as stylish jeans, dresses, and blouses.

Dining Etiquette

When dining in France, it’s important to observe proper table manners. Keep your hands on the table, avoid resting your elbows on the table, and wait for everyone to be served before starting your meal. Remember to say “s’il vous plaît” (please) and “merci” (thank you) to show your appreciation to the waitstaff.

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While many Parisians speak English, it’s always appreciated when visitors make an effort to speak French. Learn a few basic phrases such as “bonjour” (hello), “merci” (thank you), and “excusez-moi” (excuse me) to show respect for the local language.

Transportation Tips

Navigating the transportation system in Paris can seem daunting at first, but with a little know-how, you’ll be zipping around the city like a pro. Here are some transportation tips to help you get around:


The Paris Metro is one of the most efficient and convenient ways to travel around the city. With 16 lines and over 300 stations, you can easily reach almost any destination in Paris. Purchase a “carnet” (booklet) of 10 tickets to save money on multiple journeys.


If you prefer to see the city from above ground, the Paris bus network is a great option. With over 300 bus lines crisscrossing the city, you can explore Paris at a more leisurely pace. Be sure to validate your ticket when boarding the bus.


Taxis in Paris are readily available, but they can be expensive compared to public transportation. If you need to take a taxi, look for official taxi stands or use a reputable ride-sharing service to avoid scams. Tipping is not required but rounding up the fare is appreciated.


For a more eco-friendly way to explore Paris, consider renting a bike. The city has a growing network of bike lanes and bike-sharing services, making it easy to pedal your way around the city. Just be sure to follow traffic rules and watch out for pedestrians.

Currency and Payment

Before you head to Paris, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the local currency and payment methods. Here are some things to keep in mind:


The official currency of France is the Euro (€). Make sure to exchange some cash before your trip or withdraw money from ATMs once you arrive in Paris. While many establishments accept credit cards, it’s always handy to have some cash on hand for smaller purchases.

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Tipping in Paris is not as common as it is in the United States. A service charge is usually included in the bill at restaurants, so tipping is not necessary. However, it’s customary to round up the bill or leave a small tip as a gesture of appreciation for good service.

Credit Cards

Most major credit cards are widely accepted in Paris, especially in tourist areas and larger establishments. Be sure to inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid your card being blocked for suspicious activity. Keep an eye out for any foreign transaction fees that may apply.

Safety and Security

While Paris is known for its beauty and charm, it’s essential to stay vigilant and ensure your safety during your visit. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:


Pickpocketing is a common issue in touristy areas of Paris, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. Keep your belongings close to you, be wary of distractions, and consider using an anti-theft bag or wallet to protect your valuables. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

Emergency Numbers

In case of an emergency, dial 112 for general emergencies or 17 for police assistance in France. Make a note of the address of your accommodation and carry a copy of your passport and travel insurance information with you at all times.

Neighborhood Safety

While Paris is generally safe for tourists, some neighborhoods may have higher crime rates. Avoid walking alone at night in unfamiliar areas and be cautious of your surroundings, especially in crowded places like public transportation hubs and markets.

Must-See Attractions

No trip to Paris would be complete without visiting its iconic landmarks and attractions. Here are some must-see sights to add to your itinerary:

Eiffel Tower

A visit to the Eiffel Tower is a must when in Paris. Take an elevator ride to the top for panoramic views of the city or enjoy a picnic in the Champ de Mars park at the base of the tower. Be sure to snap a few photos for the perfect Parisian souvenir.

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Louvre Museum

Home to the famous Mona Lisa and countless other masterpieces, the Louvre Museum is a treasure trove of art and history. Spend a day exploring the museum’s vast collections, including ancient artifacts, sculptures, and paintings from around the world.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Although currently under reconstruction after the devastating fire in 2019, Notre-Dame Cathedral remains a symbol of Parisian architecture and history. Admire the intricate Gothic details of the facade and learn about the cathedral’s storied past.


Step back in time and explore the bohemian neighborhood of Montmartre. Climb the steps to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica for breathtaking views of the city or wander through the charming streets filled with artists, cafes, and boutiques.

Local Cuisine

Paris is a culinary paradise, known for its delicious pastries, cheeses, and wines. Be sure to indulge in the local cuisine and savor the flavors of French gastronomy. Here are some must-try dishes and treats:


Start your day like a true Parisian with a freshly baked croissant from a local bakery. Pair it with a cup of espresso for the perfect breakfast on the go.

Coq au Vin

This classic French dish features tender chicken simmered in red wine with bacon, mushrooms, and onions. Enjoy this hearty meal with a side of crusty baguette to soak up the sauce.


Treat yourself to a box of colorful macarons from Ladurée or Pierre Hermé, two acclaimed pastry shops in Paris. These delicate almond meringue cookies come in a variety of flavors, such as raspberry, pistachio, and salted caramel.

Steak Frites

Satisfy your carnivorous cravings with a plate of steak frites, a simple yet delicious dish of grilled steak served with French fries and a side of green salad. Don’t forget to pair it with a glass of red wine for the full French experience.


As you prepare for your journey to Paris, keep these tips and insights in mind to make the most of your experience in the City of Light. From cultural etiquette to transportation tips, currency and payment, safety and security, must-see attractions, and local cuisine, knowing what to expect before you go will help you navigate this enchanting city with ease. Bon voyage!