So let's get real. For a while, France (heck the world!) has been struck hard by the Queen (reference here) and tourism and the travel industry have greatly suffered. However, with Europe opening up this summer to tourists from certain regions, under strict measures, there is still a way to do something beautiful and romantic things this summer (if you are based in Europe, or maybe South Korea!), if you choose to do so. And if you are wanting to go, then you will want to experience the city to its fullest.
While you may not be the kind of person who likes to travel someplace and do the obvious, tourist-y things, the obvious, tourist-y things in Paris are genuinely some of the best things about the city, and you’ll be missing out if you decline them, particularly if you have seen images of Paris lately….empty! Not only are there no American tourists, but many Parisians have left the city for their own vacations. This time is also the perfect opportunity to travel with your honey for a trip to the city of romance.
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Here are some tips before you head out. And if you are reading this while stuck at home in America (like I am) or somewhere else, I am offering some alternatives for getting a Paris experience from home.
First tip: Learn some romantic français…
Yes, it’s true that you can get by in France without learning any French. You’ll do fine at most hotels and restaurants, and a lot of the cities that are really heavy on tourists, like Paris, shouldn’t present you with much trouble, either. But the fact is that France isn’t a great place in which to be ignorant of the native tongue. Some of you may have experience traveling to a few places in Europe. Maybe you’ve been to Germany or Denmark. In such places, it’s easy to get the impression that most Europeans are pretty proficient when it comes to English; it’s really easy to get by in these places without knowing a single word of their language (although they’d certainly prefer it if you gave it a try).
But in reality, France only has a moderate average proficiency in the English language. If you want to fully experience the magic of Paris, then it’s better to have a little bit of French under your belt. At the very least, if you read my guide on Paris for the first time, you should know when and how to use the most important code word of all in France!
Not able to travel yet? Learn French online and prepare for your next trip!
Get on the Seine, but wear your mask!
When people imagine Paris in the context of romance, they’re usually imagining couples on the Eiffel Tower, taking in the view. But if you were planning on going to Paris, especially a romantic trip, without walking along the Seine or getting on a boat, then you may need to seek help. The beautiful waterways of Paris deserve to be seen and experienced from the comfort of a Bateaux-Mouche. These boats are beautiful whenever you want to ride, though a lot of people underestimate the thrill of a night ride. If you are fearful of the confined space during this time of the Queen, you can remain outdoors the entire trip in the fresh air, If you choose to remain indoors or take a dinner cruise, just remember to have your mask, it is a requirement for any indoor public space in France.
Not able to travel yet? Take a virtual Bateaux-Mouche trip with Travel France's video!
Experience the food!
There’s an exclamation point at the end of that sub-heading, and for very good reason. You know me. This is my favorite part! It’s difficult to exaggerate just how good the food in Paris is – in much of France, in fact – and going out of your way to ensure that you try the best food you can is definitely worth it. France houses many of the world’s finest cooks, and its food is known worldwide for its quality. French food is a large category and there are many regional dishes to experience. Luckily Paris is where all roads meet in France and that means you can try the seafood of Brittany, the duck of the South, the pastries from Alsace all in one locale!
If you are dining out (here is my guide on the etiquette), consider the terraces for safety or visit a Brasserie that is open all day, rather than a smaller restaurant that is only open certain hours, therefore, people are forced to be together in a confined space all at the same time. Or instead, grab take out (or pick up a meal at a farmer's market, here is my guide) and enjoy many of Paris's outdoor spaces and parks – safety first while still getting all that good food!
Not able to travel yet? Two options: Take a virtual cooking class from (my favorite) La Cuisine Paris OR grab takeout from your local French restaurant!
See amazing art
Paris has a plethora of museums and they have all opened up – including the Louvre and the Orsay with restricted numbers, but open nonetheless! If you are still a little uncertain about going inside, then consider some of the museums with beautiful outdoor areas like the Rodin Museum or the Fondation Louis Vuitton. My individual arrondissement guides provide you with museums to consider if you want to stay within a certain district. And you don't have to go inside to experience the art, check out the 13th arrondissement which has over 80 outdoor murals!
Not able to travel yet? Take a virtual tour of many of the museums and sites, here is a great list of them.
Off the beaten path
Of course, there are loads of great things to do in Paris that are difficult to find in any tourist guidebook. This is why you should take the time to get to grips with a little French (the language, not a small French person). When you know some of the native tongue, it’s easier to ask the locals for suggestions and directions to restaurants, museums, bars, and amenities with which they’re more familiar. These places have plenty to offer, and they also tend to be much cheaper – as well as not so filled with fellow tourists! Again my Paris Profile guides featuring local picks in many of Paris's most popular neighborhoods will shed light on some of these “unknown” spots.
Not able to travel yet? Take a virtual tour of many of the arrondissements with Wanderlust Videos, like this one for the 4th.
What are the best things to take with you when you go?
This might be my second favorite topic. I have written extensively on how to pack for Paris in fall, winter, spring, and summer and also the 5 things you should always pack for Paris, but at this time, you actually need your own little survival kit! You know exactly what you need to take on holiday but this time around it may be a little different. During the Age of the Queen, you may need a few extras, including hand sanitizers, masks, and some additional medications. Being set is important. Some of the most common travel things to take with you as an emergency pack are:
- Wallet (remember, I also recommend a coin purse) and passport holder
- Phone charger and adapter
- Reusable water bottle
- Hand sanitizer (my all-time favorite remains E &O)
- Skincare products
- Travel journal and pen
- Walking shoes (you know I favor Jambu)
- Small scissors
- Antiseptic wipes
Of course, too, you need to think practically. Get a hat. If it’s very warm which will shield your head from the sun. Get a great pair of sunglasses, check out https://www.eyeglasses.com where you can find glasses to suit your style, face shape, and tone. Protecting your eyes in all ways is so important. Even when it isn't obviously sunny, a lesson I learned living in Arizona where the UV is terrible.
You will want to ensure that you have some extra things on you too, such as wet wipes and standard painkillers just in case you get sick on the road. You might want to consider a thermometer as well. Also, be sure to check your travel insurance and make sure that you are covered once you are in France. They will be happy to see you but it’s always good to be aware of the rules and regulations to ensure you don’t get fined. Other than that, be safe and Bon voyage!
How about you? Are you living in Europe and able to travel to Paris? Would you add anything to my list? Do share! If you can't travel yet, are you planning your next trip yet? Do tell!
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