Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but with the opportunity to live here come many unexpected obstacles or delights that you wish you knew before came to here.
Here's what you need to know before making the move to the City of Light.
1. Coffee culture – It’s always important to find out where to get good coffee when moving to a new city. Lucky for us, Paris has seen its coffee culture boom over the past 5 years with specialty coffee shops opening up all over the city. A few of our favourites include, Fondation, 10 belles (pictured below), Café Kitsune and many many more. If you’re more into a quick espresso at the bar, you can still find these in your local bistro for only one or two euros.
Photo: Ten Belles/Facebook
2. Location – As you may already know, Paris is made up of 20 arrondissements. Most people only know the first 8 due to where the monuments and famous museums are located. Please be sure to explore everywhere when you arrive. The 10th, 11th and 19th arrondissements are home to many great restaurants, bars and concept stores. Do not miss out on the rest of Paris.
3. Tipping – The tipping policy in France works differently to what you may be used to. You don’t need to leave 20 percent like in the US, but service is not exactly included as “service compris” suggests. Waiters are paid a living wage in France, so they do not work for tips as in the US, but tipping is still customary. We would recommend leaving around €5 for a meal at a corner bistrot, up to 10 percent for good service in a decent restaurant, and up to 15 percent for fine dining (though that is still a high tip.)
4. Navigo – If you are going to live in Paris you should get your Navigo (Metro pass) as soon as you arrive. Transport is cheap here, but it’s a lot cheaper with a monthly pass.
5. Dress to impress – You may have dressed a certain way where you were living before, but in Paris it’s all about dressing to impress. That colourful and patterned outfit you whip out each summer doesn’t fly the same way in Paris. By all means dress how you choose to, but be prepared for looks of judgement or just pure confusion at why you would choose such an outfit. Prevent this from happening by dressing Parisian Chic, which isn’t so bad after all.
6. Drinking in public – One of the joys of living in Paris is drinking wine. Drinking wine in bars, along the Seine River, in a park, by the canal, or simply on a bench in one of the many beautiful squares in the city. If you forget your bottle opener, there’s always someone nearby who can help you out.
7. Best view in Paris – This is not from the Eiffel Tower as many people may believe. Surely the view is better when you have the Eiffel Tower in it, right? One of our personal favourites is 43 Up on the Roof for an authentic rooftop view of the city (pictured below). Others include the Montparnasse tower, Printemps rooftop, or Le Perchoir.
Photo: 43 Up on the Roof
8. Metro stops – Changing Metro lines at Chatelet is sure to add an extra 15 minutes to your journey due to sheer distances that you have to walk to reach your other line. Most of the time you end up getting lost because of the confusing directions. We strongly advise to avoid passing through the bigger Metro stops where possible, to save yourself time and stress. Paris is a very walkable city so don’t be afraid to jump off a stop earlier to avoid the extra 15 minute commute time.
9. August – August is the most peaceful month of the year to be in Paris. The locals all head to the south for their vacances. Restaurants, shops, and bars all close for the month and all of a sudden the city falls quiet. We love it and can assure you that you will, too. Just make sure you do everything that needs to be done before August arrives.
10. Apartment search – Searching for an apartment in Paris can be quite a struggle. Either it’s not big enough to fit your family of five, the price isn’t within your budget, or you don’t have a guarantor living in France. The struggle is real, so we suggest you start the search early and set up as many apartment visits as possible to increase your chance of finding something soon after you arrive. Also, if the apartment you find is on a busy street, be sure to confirm that the windows are double-glazed (double vitrage).
11. Dogs in Paris – As dog lovers, we have found out all we can about how to entertain our dogs in the city. Unlike other cities, there are no dog parks in Paris. There are, however, playgroups scattered around the city that meet at designated places away from any traffic. The most central one is at Jardin des Tuileries and from there you can find out about others located around the city from your dog owner friends.