If you’re planning a summer trip to Paris, the following tips may come in very handy.
Plan for the Heat
Paris is in northern Europe, and that means its weather can be unpredictable in July and August. But unless you’re very unlucky, you’re likely to get lots of warm days. But it also pays to remember that when it’s hot in Paris, it can be very hot! Make sure you’re ready for it and pack appropriately.
Make Allowances for August
Although it’s arguably the world’s most popular tourist destination, Parisians are absolutely addicted to their August holiday by the sea. They flock out of the city and surrounding areas by the droves during those four weeks.
This means that the city is quieter and arguably easier to get around, as tourists might end up outnumbering the locals! However, it can also sometimes mean that the service might not be what it is at other times of the year, as many shops and businesses will be short-staffed. Again, take that into consideration and make allowances.
Be an Early Riser
There is no doubt that in July and August Paris will be busy with tourists. The city is big and beautiful enough for that to not be too much of a problem, but the exceptions can be the major tourist attractions, such as the Louvre, where lengthy queues can build up at peak times. You can beat many of those queues by getting to your chosen destination just shortly before or after it opens for business.
If you’re on a budget and would prefer a rather more authentic lunchtime experience, buy a baguette sandwich and pastry from a boulangerie and eat it on a park bench at one of the many open spaces. If the weather won’t permit that, explore down the small old arcades (in places like Montmartre) for tiny family-run restaurants. The food will be homely, typically very good and reasonably priced. Remember that big ‘traditional’ restaurants on the main squares and boulevards can be very expensive, and some may also be rather more ‘international’ than French in cuisine style.
Choose Small Hotels
Some of the traditional French 19th century apartment-style hotels are very atmospheric in summer and it’s a great time to stay in one of the smaller, independent ones if you want a taste of days gone by at a reasonable cost. A word of warning though: the lifts/elevators in many smaller private hotels are notoriously unreliable and seemingly take forever to get repaired. If you have impaired mobility, make sure you’re promised a ground-floor room.
Like many tourist cities in the world, Paris has its fair share of pickpockets. Many of these in fact aren’t French and belong to gangs who travel around Europe following the summer tourist season. They’re a particular problem on the Metro – so be cautious and adopt good common sense protocols.
In France, the concept of the ‘sell everything’ convenience shop on every corner never really caught on. So it can be surprisingly difficult to find a shop selling just cold drinks or water. Unless you want to stop in a bar, buy some water in a supermarket when you can and carry it around with you.
There are regular flights from all over the world to Paris. Transfers from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris are fast and easy, and getting in to the city is usually a fairly straightforward process. As always, it might be advisable to book your transfer in advance from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris if you’re travelling at peak times in the summer season. The city is also well serviced by train links from all over Europe.