Whether you’re looking for a romantic vacation, a culinary and wine getaway, or a trip for your favorite fashionista, Paris is a must. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Paris for business and pleasure various times; however, I wanted to enlist the travel tips of a Paris expert and peer travel writer, Charlotte Spence.

Enjoy Charlotte’s take on Things You Should Know Before Visiting Paris!

Paris is a beautiful city, full of culture, history, and amazing food. However, if you’ve never visited the city before, it can be quite intimidating, and you might get stuck as to how to get around, the people and places to avoid, and, well, everything else. Luckily, there are a few ways to learn this knowledge; One is just to go and hope for the best, but the other (and arguably the most sensible) is to read this advice before you go.

Beware Of Pickpockets And Scammers

Everyone tells you to watch your purse, bag, and wallet while you’re out and about, as there will be people that will steal from you given half the chance. Most of the time you’ll nod, smile, and respond with a simple “I’ll be fine.” You need to listen to this warning and take it seriously, as thefts are a big issue in Paris, especially on the Metro. Another big issue is scammers. These can come in many forms, but they’re all out to get as much money from you as possible. When I encountered a scammer in Paris, they asked me for a signature and a small donation to a “charity”. I gave them the signature they asked for, and when I took my purse out to get a few euros, they stated that their minimum donation was fifty euros (they saw this was all the money I had in my purse). While I didn’t give them the full amount, I still ended up losing out on twenty euros, which I highly doubt went towards the cause they were “collecting for”. Despite this, I do count myself to be lucky compared to my friend, who gave them forty euros instead.

The Metro Is Great

During my stay in Paris, the Metro was an absolute godsend. I’m not going to lie, before I went I was a little intimidated, as the all of the coloured lines on the map looked incredibly confusing, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to get your head around it. To make your life a little easier, it’s better to be prepared before you go. Choose the main sights that you want to see, and mark them out on the map, highlighting the metro route that you should take and the stops that you should get off at. Then take a picture of the map on your phone, so that you can look at it whenever you need to, without sticking out like a sore thumb. More often than not, there will be a metro stop right outside where you want to go, if not incredibly close. The metro isn’t just incredibly convenient though; It’s also really safe, and often has some form of security on at least one of the carriages. To make your life even easier, not to mention cheaper, you should get a travel pass to use during your stay, rather than buying individual tickets.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive

It is possible to visit Paris on a tight budget (I’ve done it myself), but to do this you need to plan things properly, and know where to avoid. As already mentioned, a travel pass is a great way to save money, as are passes that allow you entrance to a selection of tourist attractions for a fraction of the price. It also makes sense to skip the hotel, and instead get a room or apartment on Airbnb. This way, you’ll save on the price of your accommodation, but will also be able to cook your own meals, rather than eat out. If you do choose to eat out a couple of days, which is something that no one would hold against you, then avoid restaurants and cafes near the main tourist attractions. The food will likely taste the same, but the prices are sure to be higher. You should also avoid buying too many clothes or souvenirs while you’re away. Paris is known for its fashion, but if you’re looking to stock up on maxi sundresses, I’d order them offline, instead of visiting expensive Parisian boutiques.

Paris is a great place to experience magnificent sights, a shed load of history and culture, and amazing food and wine. The people are great too, so you shouldn’t listen to all of the horror stories about everyone being rude to you. Hopefully, this will make your life a little easier when you go away and will ensure that you stay safe and have as much fun as possible.

**Post contributed by Charlotte Spence a travel writer from the U.K. but with a love for Paris.**