On my four country two-week trek across part of Europe, France was last. I didn't explore all of France, but just Paris. While it was a beautiful city, and you can read more about it here, there were a few things I was unaware of or I think is important to reiterate.
If you're an American, they hate you. I'm not sure why, but just be prepared. Not all parisians are mean, but about 90 percent are. Or they ignore you, try to steal your money, the works. I find this important to know ahead of time so it doesn't completely ruin the trip like it near did mine. I personally believe the people make the place.
Paris is not a cheap city nor is everything always open. There are constant boycotts over something in France, so don't expect everything to go as planned. Tyler and I were meant to meet up with our good friend, Paryn, but it was unattainable since the trains were not working because of a strike. We had also planned to explore the catacombs, but again, no workers. Thank goodness we didn't purchase tickets online, otherwise we would have been out a good amount of money. That being said, I advise against buying anything online unless you know they are open and operating.
For stay, we found an air b and b someplace within the city. We next to always go with Air b and B's because they are significantly cheaper, easier, and...cheaper. However, the Tennant was a nightmare, she was pretty rude, we had to go through her bedroom to get to the bath, and she had beyond OCD. She threatened to kick us out because the inside of her sink was a little wet. Worst host I had ever had. The place was so tiny as well. Tyler booked it, and he isn't allowed to book places without me giving the OK anymore. Air B and B is still the cheaper option compared to a hotel, but don't knock the hotel experience. There may be deals and if you're not balling on a budget, it may be better in the long run. In all, the two nights was about $100 total.
Traveling from London to Paris was long and miserable. We took a bus for 35 euros. It was one of those charter buses. But it was THE WORST. I don't know how we got so lucky to have the bus with broken/no AC, no working outlets, and full capacity. The driver was rude, and we got into a bit of a tiff.
We had made a stop at the border for everyone to get their passports checked as we left the UK and entered France. There was a stop for the restrooms and food. I had on jeans this entire time and I was dying. It was significantly warmer than expected (low 80's) and on a full bus with no AC it felt at least 90. So I decided to change into shorts while in the bathroom. I asked the driver prior how long we had and he said until everyone was back on the bus. Tyler went ahead and decided to change as well. Apparently, for the first time ever, the mens restroom was backed up. Everyone else besides Tyler was on the bus and the driver was trying to leave. Of course, I wasn't going to let him leave Tyler behind and said no, Tyler wasn't back. "Well we need to leave." I said "We are not leaving until he is back on the bus!" and thankfully fellow French people agreed with me, so we waited just a few more minutes until Tyler came back. It was more tense- but thus- this guy sucked.
It's hot when we make it to Paris, but we are just happy to be off of the bus. Also, it's true when they say the French don't use deodorant. Do with that what you will.
When you're traveling from city to city, I highly suggest packing light. Having only a back pack was a great idea, because if I had anymore than that, the trip would have been a little more impossible. We used Castiel soap from REI to wash our clothes in, wash our bodies, and Tyler used it for his hair. This limited the amount of soap and clothes we needed to bring, because we could wash them by hand and hang to dry. I made sure I brought clothes that I could mix and match, and that were cute but comfy. Leggings usually did the trick. Ladies, I know we wish to look cute, but think of comfort too. Wear gym shoes. Unless you are staying there for ample time and have a car, walking around in uncomfortable shoes is not the move.
For travel, they have excellent public transportation. The ideal purchase if you're staying at least 3 days is Paris Visite travel pass. This gives unlimited amount of public transportation if you're planning to hop on and off the transits. We had no particular plans, so this was ideal for our spontaneous ways. It is about 12 euros for zones 1-3 (Paris), so it doesn't break the bank and brings an ease of mind when needing to travel. If we found ourselves needing to go to one or two things that were outside of immediate Paris, then we would use one day to stay and explore that area and pay the 2 euros for the bus ride.
Amongst the traveling are known scammers. These are important to avoid. Pick pocketers also exist, especially amongst the trains and buses. Keep locks on all outer bags and zippers. I personally kept everything in my bra, but Tyler had a fanny like pack with a small TSA lock. There are also scammers around the Eiffel tower. These people will ask if you speak English, then ask for you to sign a petition. While you sign, their partner will come and steal your belongings, purse, bags, whatever. Obviously the petition is fake. The best way to get out of this situation is to say no when asked if you speak English. They look and target tourists. I had the most fun with these people, as I spoke French and most didn't know what I was saying. Or even speaking gibberish like you're crazy wards them off.
Another classic was the "I found a gold ring. you can have it, but give me money for coffee" scam. A lady tried really hard to get me with this one. She asked for a couple euros for a le café after dropping a ring and picking it back up-then claiming to have "found" it. I actually threw it back at her in a slight chucked to her face kind of way. Oh well.
I would also be aware that people like to jump in front of trains. This leads to missed flights and delays, as it happened to us. We left 3 hours before our flight, but I suggest leaving even sooner and having a back up plan. Also, if you find yourself choosing between a train and Uber, pay for the Uber. It's cheaper than buying a new plane ticket.