I just came back from Paris, and to say that I’m in love would be an understatement. The food, the wine, the cheese, the sights…it’ a beautiful city, and I already miss it. I may or may not have shed a tear when it was time to head to the airport for my return flight.
While I had a great time overall, it was my very first trip to Paris – and Tom and I like to call our pioneer trip to a new city our “scouting trip.” We know the trip isn’t going to be perfect, and we’ll reflect on our mistakes to make the most out of our trip for the next time.
What are some things I plan on changing for my next Paris trip? What are the Paris tourist traps we’ll avoid?
Paris Tourist Traps: Choosing a Low-Cost Airline
It was a dream come true: I saw a $300 flight to Paris pop up on my Facebook feed. Immediately, without hesitation, I begged my boyfriend to come with me – and he agreed. The airline? It was WOW! Air. I knew going into the booking that it was a “budget” airline, but I didn’t care: I had to snag this ticket.
Now that I’ve landed, I can safely say that I never want to travel WOW! Air again. That $300 ticket soon shot up to $575 in overall costs. You need to pay for both carry on and checked bags, they don’t feed you at all on the flight for free (there isn’t even complimentary water on the flight, and we flew about 11 hours total), and there was a delay both ways at the Iceland connection airport. Not to mention, their customer service is abysmal – I had an issue with my booking, and I tried to call their customer service number, and I conveniently got a busy signal each time I attempted to contact them. I then emailed, Facebook messaged and DM’d them on Twitter – hours went by, no response. They finally got back to me…after I got on my flight. And called me Alice. Nope.
What I’ll Do Next Time: If you’re flying out of the DC area, it is possible to score an American flight for around $600 (if you see this rate, jump on it!) With American, you’ll get a complimentary carry-on and checked bag and a full meal on the flight. WOW! Air might seem like a bargain, but trust me: you get what you pay for.
Paris Tourist Traps: Not Researching the Recommendations I Got
Since I’m a blogger, and I have thousands of folks following me, everyone and their mother wanted to DM me their recommendations for the trip. While I appreciated all of the tips I got (and I asked for a few before leaving), while I was in Paris, I kept getting more and more recs – even after we had planned out our itinerary. Sometimes we would have a break in our day and I’d go to a recommendation I received without really researching it first…and I’d be a little disappointed with the experience.
What I’ll Do Next Time: The problem with this? Not everyone vacations in the same style. And this is ok. Tom and I love to mainly eat while traveling (hello, he’s a food photographer, and eating is just my favorite hobby.) We also love modern art and street art. I don’t mind going to museums and learning the history of a new destination, but a day jam-packed with museums and uber-touristy spots just isn’t our thing. We have a better idea of what we want to do next time, and the pace we’re looking for!
Paris Tourist Traps: Champs-Élysées
I’m not gonna lie: this was a disappointment for me. I grew up studying French, and I dreamed of the day I could do designer shopping on the Champs-Élysées. And it ended up being an underwhelming tourist trap of sorts.
Most of the shops that lined the streets were places I could shop at in D.C. I saw Zara, Gap, H&M, etc…literally all places that I can Uber to from my apartment in the U.S. I enjoyed popping in the Louis Vuitton flagship, but overall I wasn’t super impressed. The street was also lined with chain restaurants, and it was insanely crowded. I left after wandering for only an hour.
What I’ll Do Next Time: I plan on shopping in the Le Marais district the next time I’m in the city. I tried to get there during my visit, but unfortunately, I ran out of time on Sunday (some of the boutiques closes super early!). We passed by it while we were on a driving tour of the city, and all of the boutiques in this area looked super cute. We did see a few big box stores, but all of the smaller French boutiques looked incredible.
Paris Tourist Traps: Not Setting Aside Enough Free Time
We were a little too ambitious regarding planning out our itinerary for this trip. Some days, I was a little tired and wanted to sleep in, but we really didn’t allow ourselves to do that. I hate feeling super rushed during vacation, and it became evident pretty quickly that we weren’t going to be able to hit everything on our wish list.
What I’ll Do Next Time: Next time, I’m going to only plan to do 1-2 major activities in one day and set aside more free days during our trip. I loved the district we stayed in (11 Arr), and I honestly wish we could have explored our neighborhood more. It wasn’t super touristy, but it had some of the best restaurants and shopping I’ve seen in a while. That’s the beauty of Paris: it’s amazing just to walk around the city and explore.
Paris Tourist Traps: Relying Too Much on Uber
In my defense, I’m still recovering from a major knee injury, and getting around was a little difficult for me. While we walked and took the Metro as much as possible, sometimes my knee just wasn’t having it. While it is super easy to get an Uber in Paris (and safe!), holy moly it is not cheap. It seemed always to be surging, and rates would rise quickly during rush hour as well (if you don’t book an Uber in 2 minutes, your rate could jump by 5-10 Euro in minutes!)
What I’ll Do Next Time: Listen: Paris is a walking city. Even though I had a knee injury, I’m not planning on going back until my knee is 110% better and I can utilize the Metro more often. All that money I could have saved on Ubers? I plan on spending it on a super nice meal instead!