1. Paris, the city of lights, home to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre and romantic memories for millions of couples spanning centuries. Just the phrase “honeymoon in Paris” evokes all sorts of imagery (usually black and white) of strolling hand-in-hand along the Seine with accordion music playing somewhere in the distance. There’s a lot to know before you recreate that imagery on your own honeymoon, though, so here are our tips to help you stay in the right place, go at the right time and do the right things.
2. The weather in France is temperate year-round, but April through June and September through November are good time ranges to shoot for because of the milder spring and fall weather. July and August are usually swamped with tourists, because those are prime vacation months in Europe.
3. Paris is actually broken down into 20 Arrondissements, or neighborhoods, each with its own personality. The 12th Arrondissement is great for travelers because it’s affordable, safe, and near the Metro lines. Remember that the closer you get to the major landmarks, the more money you’ll be paying to stay there. The first four Arrondissements are postcard perfect, but you’ll pay a pretty penny to stay there, even for a night. Some Arrondissements are more dangerous than others — the Ninth and 20th have some nice scenery, but also have high crime rates.
4. Most people speak English in Paris, but it’s considered polite to initiation conversation with someone in French. It shows that you took the time and consideration before coming to their country. Some key phrases are the obvious “bonjour” for hello, “je voudrais” for “I would like” and “ou est le/la ___” for “where is the ___.” If you really want to impress people, try the Duolingo app for learning some more in-depth French. It’s free on Apple and Android.
5. Beware of scams. This is a given no matter where you go, but there are some specific to Paris. Beware of anyone asking you to sign a petition (they’ll pickpocket you while you sign) or anyone with a red string (they’ll tie you to them and make you pay to cut it). This isn’t to make you paranoid about the city, but it’s good to be alert.
6. Paris is a renowned literary city. The place du jour of many ex-patriot American writers during the 20th century, Paris hosted literary juggernauts like Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Be on the lookout for literary landmarks that inspired them, such as The Shakespeare and Company bookshop. (More on that in See & Do.)
7. Paris is also a highly artistic city. Chances are you’ll be stopped in Montmartre for an impromptu sketch of you and your partner. If you want a drawing, negotiate prices in advance, so you can make sure you know what you’re getting. They may try to upcharge you for pairs, color and other frills.
8. Pick up a Pariscope magazine from a newsstand. They cost just 40 cents and are published every Wednesday. The publication gives an in-depth review of everything that’s going on in Paris for the week ahead. It might be in French, but it’ll still give you an idea of what’s going on in the city.
9. The Paris Metro system is incredibly efficient. It’s also incredibly complex, with several zones. Fortunately, maps are free at stations and online, and for a more complete look at the transit system, parisinfo.com has a comprehensive guide. Another thing to be warned about: the Metro is the most popular way to travel so the trains will be crowded. Many of the stations also don’t have handicap facilities, such as elevators.
10. If you plan on taking public transportation a lot during the day, consider investing in a Metro pass. Available for purchase online through Conciergerie.com or museumpass.com, these passes give you unlimited access to the Parisian Metro system. They not only include the city of Paris, but encompass the transport that leads to smaller communities outside the city. It’ll also get you to the airport. The passes must be purchased in advance.
11. Speaking of useful passes, if you plan on looking into some of Paris’s iconic museums (which you definitely should), consider purchasing a museum entrance pass. Available through the same sites as the public transit pass, the museum version allows for unlimited entry to many of the most popular museums in Paris, including the Louvre. The best part, however, is that you get to skip the ticket line if you have a pass.
12. Be prepared to pay to use the restroom. Public restrooms are not free to use and most of the time an attendant will be waiting by the door to take a small fare from you. So if you’re out in the city, keep some small change on hand in case you need to go. Some restaurants and coffee shops will have a bathroom, but they’re almost always for customers only. Some restaurants will have a code to get into the bathroom, which will be printed on your receipt.