UPDATE: Paris Travel Guide|UPDATE: Kleiner Reiseführer für Paris

Update: Granted, it took me ages. However, the Google Map I initially promised was created today. Hope it will help some of you guys! See you in Paris!

My first few travel experiences to France haven't been too positive, however, they gradually became more enjoyable. There are a number of ways to increase your chances of having a pleasant stay in the country (even if you happen to be German like me). This little travel guide is my way of sharing my experiences with you, to help you finding your way around Paris and enjoying the trip a bit more.

Getting to and fro Charles de Gaulle airport

Fortunately, it's rather easy to find your way from the Charles de Gaulle airport to the city center. Simply head for the “RER” signs as these will lead you to the express trains that head towards the city center. The ticket for a journey to the city center is around 9,- €. The easiest and sometimes ONLY way to pay (if you want to avoid standing in line for hours) is via credit card, so have one handy when you reach the train station inside the airport.

Most of the times I've travelled to Paris, I had to change at “Paris Nord”. Keep in mind that this station will be listed as “Gare Du Nord” on some train maps, so don't go crazy if you can't find “Paris Nord” on them.

Once you're in “Gare Du Nord”, you'll most likely have to switch to a subway line. Every line has its own color and number, so simply follow the signs to make your way to the correct track. Never put your train ticket away! Most of the times you have to switch from train to subway or even from one subway line to another, you'll need your train ticket to make your way to the new track.

Interacting with the French:

The French are extremely fond of their language, culture and cuisine. If you approach a French citizen and start a conversation in another language, they'll sometimes feel “insulted” as you're poisoning their ears with your foreign bullshit. The easiest way to avoid this trap is starting every conversation in French.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you have to speak 3 sentences in French before switching to English, but a simple “Bonjour” can already work wonders. Look very sorry for not being able to express more of your thoughts in French and continue with basic English. Keep your sentences short and precise (I'm rather miserable when it comes to that). Last but not least: Be nice and keep in mind that you're a guest in their country (I recommend always doing this when you're on holiday in another country). This is a winning combo that will get you quite far in Paris.

Let me share my favorite “dealing with the French” story with you: A friend of mine went to a bakery in the morning and tried to order a baguette with what he remembered of his French classes back from his days in school. He came up with some form of a “Good morning” and tried to start the conversation by being nice and asking how the clerk was doing. The woman couldn't quite make out what he was saying and even when he tried to say: “I want to buy a baguette“, she seemed rather clueless.

At the same time, a French guy came in. He didn't greet the woman, he didn't smile, he pointed to a baguette, simply said the word, he was handed it over, paid and disappeared without saying another word.

Don't always try too hard. It can work against you.

soul's Pro advice:

  • I highly recommend the “MetrO” app that is available for iPhones (and maybe Android phones, but I don't own one, so do your own research please). The app can show you the fastest way around Paris and also works in flight mode (simply download the city map before making your trip). Therefore, you won't have to pay the ridiculous roaming costs and still have access to all the train connections at your fingertips.

  • Book. Your. Flights. Now.

    It's not a huge deal to make your way from Charles de Gaulle airport to ANY place in the city center. Don't wait for Konami to announce the exact details of the location, you can always book your hotel later.

  • When trying to find your way with the help of technology, keep in mind that there's another train station with “Charles De Gaulle” in the name. It should be “Charles de Gaulle-Etoile” or something like that. This is NOWHERE NEAR “A√ɬ©roport Charles de Gaulle”, so make sure you're looking up the correct connection.

  • Print out the tube map and mark the most important spots (airport (upper right corner), location of your hotel, event venue and train stations where you'll need to switch between lines). Even if your phone breaks down, you won't be lost completely.

  • If you're the type, check out the city. There's quite a lot to see for people who are into “touri-stuff” (I personally despise it and don't care for seeing sights like the Eiffel tower, etc. – I'll do so when I turn 40. Or 50. Or 80.)

Alright, that's it already. I hope this guide will be of some use to you and we'll see each other at the YCS Paris. Be sure to stop by, say hi and let me know what you thought about this guide.

P.S.: I'll also create a Google Map with all the important information in it once the location has been announced, so be sure to check back to the site.

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