Non-tourist tips for living in Paris

Au Pairing in Paris, Europe

I spent 8 months in France’s capital city –  the most visited city in Europe. Seeing the City of Light as a ‘local’ instead of a tourist is an important part of settling in and enjoying a new city. Here are some of my tips for when you arrive in Paris; my favourite spots to visit (& drink and dance lol), best steps to take in your first few days and where to avoid like the French plague… I’ve added cickable links to most points to make life a million times easier for you. wooo

Go to at least 3 picnics. They’re awkward at first and organisers can seem totally creepy but I would’ve had ZERO friends if I hadn’t of forced myself to a fair few in my first weeks. Check out Youth Events in Paris for organised picnics, take a thick scarf or blanket, go to Carrefour for screw top wine and snacks. Add people on Facebook afterwards; if you really want to be the glue that holds the group together take photos and tag everyone.

Don’t be surprised if you’re joined by a few rats if you go to Champ de Mars.

Avoid Cafe Oz (internationals galore) and head to Le Perchoir. It’s pricey but pre drink and then share one glass of wine between four of you; super savin’.

visit The Local for english news, jobs and advice from Europe

Go to a metro party if you’re not claustrophobic and don’t mind a few runs from the police

Get a local sim and not just an English sim with the ability to make calls from France. Makes life easier for everyone else

Try out the bars in Bastille but don’t end up here every weekend. Theres more to Paris than Bastille!

Get to know some dance songs as that’s what you’ll be dancing along to in the cheesy europop bars. The French love their electro; I made a short soundcloud playlist to get you started. 

Go to 1979 on a Saturday if you like hip hop and RnB, the DJs are fab

Check out Shakespeare and Company for English books

Grab a few metro maps and download the RATP app. Learn your line and the lines your friends live on, work out how far it is to walk to certain places. Find out what time the first and last trains to where you live are to avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the night. Learn the night bus route and don’t be afraid to just get it! I avoided countless pricey taxis because I just faced up to the ‘night bus fear’ straight away.

Buy at least one jar of Speculoos and thank me later.

Like the Seventy Fifth Facebook page and follow the blog to keep up to date with the cool shizz happening about town (it’s for english speakers, yay)

Accept the price and inconvience of location and visit the Foundation Louis Vuitton

Head to Couchsurfing parties for pool, beer pong and sumo fights

Wander round a flea market on a Sunday but don’t expect to find anything too exciting. They’re a bit overrated in my opinion but theres a nice atmosphere if you’re into that

Go for a walk down canal St Martin in the day and return in the evening

Square du Vert-Galante by Pont Neuf for picnics

Download Tinder to meet some weirdos. Dating in the ‘city of love’ is as actually about as unromantic as it gets so you might as well admit defeat and get some free meals & bizarre conversations out of it.

Go to Place de Republique on a Sunday and join a demonstration if you want to express your opinion

Go to the Kilo Store in Le Marais, don’t expect any bargains but have a browse

Marks and Spencer’s is pretty much cheap here so cheer yourself up with Percy pigs

Visit Galeries La Fayette to appreciate the ceiling and then head to the roof for a pretty cool view

Buy your homeware from Tati and feel like you’re floating in a Poundland-crossed-with-Wilkinson-cheapo heaven

Don’t upset any homeless people. You might not live to tell the tale (I have huge amounts of compassion for homeless people and their living situations but remember wine is cheaper than water in Paris. Be careful gals)

Get to know when your local post office is and expect to spend a long time in there as everyone is so slow!

Bear in mind that McDonalds have different stuff on the menu. The chips are never salty enough.

If you need anything for a Sunday either be prepared and get it on Saturday, go early Sunday morning or head to the Jewish area.

Go for a run, walk or picnic in Parc Buttes Chaumont, it’s real pretty.

Vending machines aren’t all that reliable.

Stand up on the metro if it’s busy and you’re on a foldable seat.

Go to Le Comptoir General; it’s an amazing place the bar tenders know how to make the strongest drinks.

If you’re stuck in an uncompromising situation there are 31 street condom vending machines in Paris. You’re welcome.

AAAAAAnd that’s all. There’s no reason to ever be bored in Paris; the gender based harassment and general cringe-ness of the lovey dovey couples walking too slowly down the street might get you down but there’s definitely worse places to live in.

Oh and drink all the peach wine.

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Mary x

Pros to Traveling Solo

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This is a bit of a different post today; I’m going to be writing about my experiences traveling or living oversees alone. Part 1!

Cape Town 2014, Sea Point

Cape Town 2014, Sea Point

My first ‘travel experience’ (not family holidays or trips around the UK) was to Namibia and I was partnered up with a complete stranger, Fran, by charity Project Trust. Luckily for us we got on so well and I could not imagine a better travel buddy and friend for our year in Otjikondo. In Cape Town I knew Callum, some people at Penthouse and no one else and I pretty much didn’t know anyone when I arrived in Paris a week and a half ago.

 There’s a million reasons why it’s great to go traveling or live abroad with a buddy or a few friends but it’s not always possible and I’m sure I can convince you that going it alone can be just as fantastic.

Pros to traveling alone

Freedom! – to do what you want, when you want. Fancy getting pizza at 3am in your pyjamas? Go for it!

Money issues – there’s never the awkward moment of really wanting to do an activity or go to an event but your travel partner doesn’t have the funds. Go alone and have a wicked time without the guilt.

Accommodation – you’re more likely to find 1 bed available in a hostel thats nearly fully booked than 2. 

Safety in numbers – believe it or not, thousands have done it before you, thousands are doing it now. Probably in the places you want to go. You’re not alone; get out and meet people in the same position as you and swap stories and memories. 

Get out of your comfort zone – do things that scare you; whether that’s forcing yourself to meet people or going to something alone.

Go on a date with a hot local – if you fall in love then stay a bit longer than planned, why not?

Embarrassment free – there’s no one to remind you of that time you (insert horrendous drunken story here)… Once you humiliate yourself enough in front of one group of travellers, move on to the next bunch.

Spontaneity – Pick a place, go. No waiting around, no arguments over where to go. Don’t like a place? Move on. Fall in love with a city? Stay.

‘Find yourself’ – LOL

You’ll come out of it a thousand times more confident, open minded and eager to explore. Plus you’ll have probably made more friends than if you’d gone with someone you knew.  

If you’re at all worried about taking that first step to travelling alone, talk to people who’ve done it and take their advice. Be safe. Enjoy it 😀

Mary x