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Solo trip to Paris at the Musee d'Orsay

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Ahhh, Paris, the City of Light, the most romantic city in the world, the fashion capital, and…a fantastic solo travel destination. Okay, I made up that last one, but it’s still true!

If you’re going on a solo trip to Paris, you may be asking yourself lots of questions like how safe is it, what can I expect, how much is this going to cost (since you aren’t splitting expenses)? All great questions!

I recently traveled solo to Paris and as a woman I came back with lots of tips that I’m happy to pass on for your solo trip to Paris, so let’s dive in, get those questions answered, and get you prepped for (dare I say) a life changing trip!

If you're on a solo trip in Paris, these travel tips will help you know what to expect in terms of safety as a solo female traveler, how to navigate the transportation, how to have the best experiences, and how to keep your Paris solo trip budget friendly!
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How to stay safe as a solo female traveler in Paris

I think all women can agree that the biggest deterrent for solo traveling is always the question of safety. Well, you may have heard that Paris is a dangerous city (I know I sure heard that a lot before my trip).

With these safety tips specific for Paris, I really think it can be much safer than you may think!

@periodicadventures

Replying to @nikiwritesabook Overall probably 9/10! I do recommend doing some research on best areas to stay in Paris. My hotel had round the clock security which helped me feel safe as a solo female traveler too ❤️ #paristraveltips #paristhingstodo #solotravelwomen i hope these solo travel tips for your solo female travel europe trip to Paris will help you feel safe! #solotraveleurope #solotraveltips #solotraveldestinations #solofemaletravel #solofemaletravelsafety #solofemaletraveleurope #solofemaletraveldestinations

♬ French music style, accordion, waltz – arachang

1. Prepare for pickpockets

Yes, pickpocketing is a very real thing that happens in Paris. It’s definitely one of the most common causes for concern when it comes to safety in Paris.

The most common areas to be on high alert are Metro stations (particularly big ones like Châtelet) and touristy areas, like Trocadéro Square near the Eiffel Tower.

To avoid pickpocketing, invest in a PacSafe bag. These are designed to combat pickpocketing. The material is reinforced with a mesh steel making it cut-proof and all zippers/fasteners lock in some way so they can’t just be opened easily.

I truly felt so much more secure with my PacSafe bag and it was easily the best thing I bought in advance of my solo trip.

PacSafe convertible bag that is brown in color on a low pillar in Paris
Notice the locking mechanisms on the zippers!

2. Have background character energy

You know when you’re walking in a busy place and people just stop in the middle of the walkway out of nowhere. I hate that! But when traveling, it can actually be a bit dangerous because it can call attention to you pretty quickly and easily…kind of like a big neon sign that’s pointing to you screaming “she’s a lost tourist, easy pickpocket target”.

So, try be aware of when you’ll be needing to navigate a new place. Instead of being the main character where everyone steers around you, it helps a lot to have background character energy instead. Pull to the side against a wall, pause for a moment to look around, and get your bearings.

You don’t need to rush, get lost, and flustered. It draws attention to you as a tourist and makes you more of a target.

So when in doubt, if you’re in a new place and you aren’t sure where to go, just pull yourself over against a wall and reassess.

crowded Louvre hallway with arched ceiling with sky lights
Even in crowded museums, pull to the side to figure out where you’re going.

3. Hide your phone, hide your valuables

Finally, to avoid pickpocketing, keep your belongings close and valuables out of sight.

Meaning don’t hold your phone or large DSLR camera in your hands in sight. Put your phone away in your PacSafe bag.

Avoid putting it in your pants pocket because they don’t keep phones there in France. Not only does it identify you as a target, but it also makes it WAY easier to swipe the phone.

mirror selfie with DSLR camera of woman in pink dress
Don’t be walking around like this in the Metro is all I’m saying.

4. Book a night tour

One of my favorite experiences as a solo traveler was a night tour. I don’t know about you but no matter how safe I feel in the day, at night, a destination can take on a whole new creepy persona.

Especially as a solo woman in Paris (aka the City of Lights), I definitely wanted to find a way to see said lights without the nighttime creep.

The solution is a guided night tour!

Louvre pyramid lit up at night with no crowds
And the best part of visiting at night is…no crowds!

I did mine through Airbnb with a local man named Hand who was wonderful. He made me feel incredibly safe and guarded since he was over 6 feet tall! We visited the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Place Vendôme.

Anyway, I highly recommend booking this tour or something similar so you can experience the city at night with some comfort.

I will say that after I did this tour, I felt reassured that it was safer than I thought so I went back out alone to the Eiffel Tower and Moulin Rouge, no problem!

Moulin Rouge lit up during sunset with blue sky and small pink clouds
So glad I returned at night to see the Moulin Rouge lit up!

5. Scams to avoid

While you’re exploring Paris, you may come across some scams so here are popular ones to avoid.

  • Inflated prices for jewelry – If you see someone selling jewelry in touristy areas especially, they are likely cheap, fake pieces that are being upsold for a ridiculous price. If you want jewelry head to Galleries Lafayette department store or to one of the shopping districts Rue de la Paix.
  • It’s not really free – If someone tries to hand you a “free” item (necklace, art, anything really) say “no” and walk away. What they do is hand it to you then try to charge you for it once you have it.
  • Art prints on the ground – This one is a little more uncommon but watch where you step. Fake artists will display their artwork on the ground in high traffic areas so if you step on it, they make a fuss and force you to pay.
  • Pictures with characters – I was actually surprised to see this one, but there were people in characters costumes (like Mickey Mouse) taking photos with families then trying to charge for them.
Art prints in Montmartre Paris
If you want to purchase art prints, be sure to look for art on stands instead.

6. Have backup documents

This isn’t specific to Paris, but given the concern for pickpocketing, it’s even more important! You want to have backup documents (passport, vaccine certificate, ID, etc.).

I like to have virtual copies and paper copies and I’ll even send them to a family member back home in case something goes really wrong.

7. General solo travel safety tips

While these are not specific to Paris, they are applicable for every solo trip as a woman.

  • Wear a fake engagement ring to stave off unwanted men.
  • Lie, lie, lie – Are you here alone? No, my partner’s just in the hotel working today. What hotel are you staying in? *say a completely different one* If the question reveals sensitive info and that you’re alone, lie!
woman's hand extended with a sapphire engagement ring with other sapphire jewelry in a case behind her hand
Just looking for an upgrade to my fake engagement ring from the French crown jewels 😂
  • Bring a door alarm – Either the kind you put at the foot of the door or those you put in the lock. It will help you sleep soundly.
  • Notify someone of your plans – Whether your partner, mom, dad, sibling, best friend, whoever…tell someone your plans. I love the app TripIt that compiles your itinerary and makes it easily sharable.

Related read → 41 extremely helpful travel apps

Transportation tips for your solo Paris trip

This was one of the most anxiety-inducing areas for me before I arrived, especially first getting to my hotel from the airport. Luckily, after a couple days of exclusively using the Metro I felt pretty confident in navigating the city.

If you’re worried, these travel tips will teach you what to expect and how to have a good experience.

8. Keep your Metro ticket on you

Did you know that law enforcement in Paris may wait at the exit of Metro stations and check for tickets?

If you don’t have your ticket, they can fine you!

So, no matter where you’re going, keep that ticket on you until you completely exit the Metro station.

RER B metro ticket in Paris
Metro tickets look like this! This is the one for RER B from the airport.

9. Separate your Metro ticket and phone

You know how you can demagnetize hotel room keys with your phone? Well, you can do the same thing with your Metro ticket.

I learned this the hard way so learn from my mistakes!

If this happens to you, you can ask for a replacement from the human at the ticket window (although not all Metro stations have those so be warned). The language barrier may make it tough, but “ça marche pas” (pronounced like sah-marsh-pah), which means “it isn’t working” can help communicate the problem.

10. Watch and learn – doors edition

You’d think the hardest part of the Metro is the actual navigation, but I think it’s the doors. As someone who grew up in Los Angeles, with a serious lack of public transportation (seriously, I didn’t ride the bus until I was 24), some of the contraptions on the Metro doors were a serious “watch and learn” situation for me.

If you aren’t sure how to open the doors, definitely let others go first, sit near the door so you can watch others use it, and try to keep your hands free so you can do it yourself.

I know this tip sounds rudimentary, but I thought it best you know what to expect!

Paris metro door contraption to open
Yeah this contraption was confusing for me…you have to push that piece up to open the door.

11. Know your stop AND your direction

If you’re new to public transportation, when you’re finding the right platform and navigating the station in general, the signs will show the stop you’re currently at and where to go for trains going various directions.

Because of this, you want to make sure you know your direction before you start walking toward platforms.

For example, the most popular line for travelers is Number 1. The two directions are Château de Vincennes and La Défense, which are the last stops on either direction of the line, where some of the stops include Champs Élysées and Musée du Louvre.

In order to find your platform, you’ll want to figure out which direction you’re going, then once aboard, wait for your stop.

Another thing to note is that sometimes there are two directions to a platform so you’ll have to watch the screen to see which direction the next approaching train is going.

sign showing two different directions of paris subway train
Here’s an example where the two directions are Ivry and Villejuif where the next train coming is on the Villejuif direction (indicated by the lit up triangle and less time until arrival)

12. Screenshot your Metro directions

Spoiler alert, the Metro is underground sometimes. That means you may lose service and possibly access to your directions.

While you can download Google Maps offline, if it can’t connect to service, it can’t provide Metro directions offline.

I recommend screenshotting your directions beforehand so you can refer to them while navigating. For me it helped my peace of mind and made navigation less stressful if I forgot Metro stop names or what have you.

screenshot of Metro directions
Notice the direction is circled in red and the stop is circled in blue.

13. Learn the zones

Metro tickets can be a bit confusing to buy because they’ve split Paris up into Zones so you need the right ticket for the right zone.

I found that my Paris itinerary (and most people’s) is limited to zones 1-3.

I purchased a 5 day pass that I could use in these zones freely.

If you are visiting Disneyland Paris, Versailles, or some other attraction farther out from the center of Paris, be sure to check a detailed zone map so you know which tickets you’ll need.

Graphic with Paris Metro zones.
This graphic can help you decide which zones you’ll be visiting. Photo from Paris Metro.

14. Tips for train travel

I don’t want to detract from the Paris content too much so if you are planning a day trip from Paris elsewhere, then check out this video with my tips for taking trains in France. It has tips on validating your ticket, finding your platform, and more.

@periodicadventures

Replying to @user84795951 heres a general rundown of how to ride the trains in France. I recommend getting tickets ahead of time online so you don’t have to deal with the validation. Let me know if you want some tips for the Metro ❤️ #francetraveltips #francetravel #francetravelguide #francetravel2022 #traveltofrance #traveltofrance🇨🇵 #travelfrance🇨🇵 #travelfrance #traintravelguide #traintravelling

♬ This Is Why – Paramore

The one train you’ll likely have to take is the RER B, which connects the airport, Charles de Gaulle, to Paris proper. There are a TON of signs in the airport leading you to RER B so follow those.

You can buy tickets before reaching the platform at many kiosks, and it costs ~ 11 €, because you’ll be traveling from a farther zone (peep the graphic above). Again, locating those kiosks is fairly obvious so just look around intently.

Finally, your RER B ticket includes transfers if you don’t exit the Metro station so you can get off at Châtelet and transfer with the same ticket to a new line.

What to expect culturally in Paris

I’m sure you’ve heard lots of stereotypes about France, Paris, and the people. As always, I urge you to leave your expectations at the door.

Traveling gives us the opportunity to see for ourselves.

That said, there are some tips to share that can help you know what to expect.

15. Learn some French

You’ve probably heard that people in Paris are rude. Well guess what, if that’s true, than Americans are ruder. I’d like to think that those reading this blog want to travel with intention, respecting people and cultures, and learning along the way.

Unfortunately, many travelers are not that way. Because Paris is one of the top travel destinations in the world, it follows that many travelers come in without respect and naturally, that can make Parisians a bit weary.

But you can do something to show that you’re the first type of traveler. You can learn some basic French.

Not only will this help you while exploring Paris, but it can really make a HUGE difference with locals.

And don’t take my word for it. I got to talking with my local tour guides and they both said the exact same thing – that travelers can be so disrespectful and that learning some French makes a world of difference because even if you pronounce things wrong, you’re trying. And that matters.

View of Eiffel Tower and Paris from Galleries Lafayette department store in Paris, France

So here are some phrases (and pronunciations to learn):

  • bonjour (bown-zhoor) – good morning, good day, hello during the day
  • bonsoir (bown-swahr) – good evening, hello at night
  • s’il vous plaît (seel-voo-play) – please, can also be abbreviated on signs as SVP
  • merci (mehr-see) – thank you
  • pardon (pahr-dohn) – sorry, excuse me

I have taken 8 years of French, even studying abroad at a language institute in France, so while traveling in Paris solo, I also found these super helpful:

  • sortie (sor-tee) – exit (look for these signs in Metro stations for the exit)
  • sac (sack) – bag (spoken to you when security wants to search your bag upon entry)
  • l’addition (lah-dis-see-ohn) – the check/bill at a restaurant or café (ask with inflection to your server to have them bring you the check so you can leave)
  • À l’interieur or à l’exterieur (ah-lahn-tehr-ee-uhr or ah-lex-tehr-ee-uhr) – inside or outside (sometimes you’ll be asked which you prefer when checking in at a restaurant)
  • billet (bee-ay) – ticket (like for the Metro)
  • billeterie (bee-eht-ir-ee) – ticket sales (also seen in Metro stations)
  • voie (vwah) – train platform
  • appuyez pour ouvrir – isn’t usually spoken but it’s on signs and means “push to open” (seen on the Metro)
  • Parlez-vous anglais? (par-lay voo-z ahn-glay) – Do you speak English?
  • Je parle pas français (juh par-l pah frahn-say) – I don’t speak French
study abroad in France, Vichy, castle in Europe, how to travel as a college student
Way back in 2015 when I studied abroad in Vichy!

16. Prepare for closures on Sundays and in August

Restaurants, shops, and some attractions can be closed on Sundays. It’s a cultural thing so just make sure you have some back up plans that day.

Some good options are walking along the Seine and having a picnic with food you buy the day before.

Similarly, August is the vacation month in France so many people are on holiday. That means many places are closed as the owners/staff are traveling.

It also means that Paris is very crowded because people from around the country take their vacation in Paris.

Eiffel tower at night lit up yellow

17. How to participate in café and coffee culture

You have probably seen photos of French cafés with lots of tables outside, but how do you get a table.

The culture here is very different than in the US. You can go up to an empty table you want and sit down. However, I find that it’s helpful to time it when a waiter is also outside so you can catch their attention to get a semblance of permission.

It helps to walk over, catch their eye, and motion/point to the table while kind of sitting down. It’s a bit like a dance, but works!

I do encourage you to engage in the café culture. Slow your pace, bring a book (or your best people watching eyes), and enjoy it!

We don’t often get to slow down so it’s such a privilege to be able to especially in such a big city.

Paris cafe with red walls and wicker chairs, tables, and stools
Cafe culture is huge in Paris so try it out sooner rather than later so you can partake more often!

18. Tipping is still appreciated

On that note, you’ve probably heard that the tipping situation is different. That’s true! You don’t need to tip as much because wait staff is actually compensated for their work and they don’t rely on tips as they do in the States.

However, tipping is still very much appreciated. You don’t need to tip 15-20%, but a few euros is perfect!

I always kept a bit of change in my bag so I could tip.

array of afternoon tea items including hot chocolate, two-tiered tea tray full of pastries and mini sandwiches in Paris at Angelina
No matter what meal you’re having (even afternoon tea), tipping is always appreciated.

19. Shopping etiquette

Another cultural difference is that when you enter a shop, you always want to say hello (bonjour/bonsoir).

It’s a bit intimidating because it feels like that will open the door to conversation and sometimes it does, but it really is considered rude if you don’t say hello.

If you find them asking you something, they’re likely asking if you’re looking for something in particular or if they can help you find anything. You can typically say “non merci” (no mehr-see) and they’ll leave you be.

circular department store in Paris with hundreds of shops on multiple floors called Galleries Lafayette with domed stained glass ceiling
Shopping is certainly an experience in Paris. This is a department store!

Tips for your travel activities and experiences

There’s lots to do in Paris, so with these tips, you’ll get an idea of what to expect, what types of things to do, and how to have an amazing AF time flying solo!

20. Book local tours and experiences

Paris is a huge city and it can be tempting to just do the highlights, but if you can, I highly recommend booking a local experience.

EatWith is a great option where you can cook and eat a meal with a local chef.

Airbnb experiences also has some fun activities all led by locals (like the night tour and Le Marais food tour I took).

21. Avoid crowds to prevent them from detracting from your experience

I traveled in peak season and as an introvert, I found that sometimes the crowds really detracted from my experience.

For example, in the Louvre it was so crowded that I bailed kind of early because in some areas I was legitimately pushing through crowds to move to the next room. I don’t regret leaving early, but it certainly made me glad I had other museums on my itinerary.

So, to avoid crowds, I recommend that you:

  • travel during off season (winter) or shoulder seasons (spring and fall)
  • schedule popular attractions for first thing in the morning or an hour before closing
  • venture a little farther away from tourist areas for less crowded (and often more tasty) restaurants – even 2-3 blocks can help!
crowds in the Louvre in Mona Lisa room
I visited in late morning and it was already getting very crowded at the Louvre.

22. Make dinner reservations

On that last note, I definitely wish I had known how necessary dinner reservations are. I even got turned away once for not having a reservation (don’t worry I made one for the next day).

To make dinner reservations, the app The Fork (La Fourchette in French) is commonly used in Paris. You can find last minute reservations pretty easily with a map view or list view.

Of course, you can always take your chances, but even if you could wait in line to be seated, why wait?

French restaurant exterior in Paris with a line queue out front called Bouillon Pigale
Spot that line in the back for Bouillon Pigale. With a reservation, I walked right in!

23. Wear comfortable shoes

Paris is a great walkable city, but the streets range from asphalt to cobblestone and the parks can have grass, dirt, gravel, you name it.

So not only do you need to wear comfortable shoes for the potentially 20,000+ steps you’ll be taking in a day (seriously, I hit 21,000 one day!), they need to be supportive!

I brought what I thought were good walking shoes but I had never walked that much in them and soon they were destroying my feet (eek). I ended up buying Adidas – a European staple – to replace them!

As a bonus tip, if you want to blend in and look more European, Adidas Stan Smiths or even Superstars are common.

woman in France sitting on a short column
These shoes betrayed me so be sure yours are good for lots of walking.

24. Try food beyond French cuisine

I know you came to France for pastries, cheese, crepes, wine, and everything in between. But, Paris is truly one of the top foodie cities in the world and has a diverse population leading to a wonderful melting pot of cultures and naturally, food!

In Le Marais (3ième arroindissement), there is a vibrant Jewish community so you’ll find delish challah and falafel, for example.

I sought out Jah Jah, an Afro-vegan spot, in the 10ième arroindissement that may have been the best food I had in Paris! All this to say, allow yourself to try some foods beyond French food.

Fallafel on a fork being held up by a hand from the left with L'as du fallafel restaurant in the background
Jewish quarter in Paris means falafel and latkes!
vegan food in Paris where one of the restaurants is Jah Jah shown here with Caribbean vibes and Afro inspired food
Afro-vegan cuisine in Paris? Yes! And so good!!

25. Do the romantic things

I’ve seen a few lists of things to do in Paris if you’re solo and it’s always the least romantic spots (like the CatacombsI mean to each their own). But I say, solo traveling is romantic! It’s that main character energy!

Consider this a self-date and do the romantic things.

Take that Seine River sunset cruise, see the Eiffel Tower sparkle, have a picnic…whatever it is, this might be your only opportunity, so don’t let the stereotypes drag you down.

26. Get acquainted with walking tours

One of the best ways to discover a place is always a walking tour, so I highly recommend doing one your first day in Paris.

I like Free Tours by Foot with local guides where you can pay at the end what you feel the tour was worth. This is great for those on a budget or if you’re skeptical that the tour price matches the quality of the tour. I’ve done them a few times in New Orleans and loved them!

I also love a walking tour with food. There are tons of choices, but I’d narrow it down by area – here are some options for Le Marais, Montmartre, and Saint Germain des Près.

Tips to reduce costs in Paris

It’s no secret that one of the challenges of solo traveling is that you can’t split the major expenses with others like your hotels or even meals. Boo.

Still, there are a couple ways to save in Paris.

27. Save with the ParisPASS

If you plan on hitting lots of the major attractions, consider a ParisPASS. There are 2, 3, 4, and 6 day options ranging from 89 – 229 € per adult and can include admission for over 80 attractions in Paris.

Be sure to assess which admissions you would actually use and calculate if the price of the pass outweighs the price of the individual admissions.

Musee d'Orsay in Paris
One of the best museums is the d’Orsay across from the Louvre!

28. Art-lovers consider a Cultivist Membership (or get it for free)

I feel like this was my secret weapon in Paris. With a Capital One Venture X card, you get free Cultivist membership for 6 months. Umm, so what is that exactly?

Cultivist is a private club for artists and art-lovers. What’s great about it for travelers is that they partner with a couple hundred art museums around the world so with your membership you get free admission.

Check their full list of museum partners to see which you can request tickets for.

The process is super easy, you can just email the contact you receive when creating your account and they will email you PDF tickets (for free!).

I did this and got free tickets to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay saving ~ $35.

Louvre famous painting of crowning of queen and king

29. Use an International Student ID Card

I love squeezing every benefit out of my student ID card when traveling for discounted rates. Unfortunately in Europe, you can’t just show your American student ID card.

However, you can use your US ID card to apply for an International Student ID card (ISIC), which only costs $20.

Now, you can present the ISIC to get the student prices everywhere! Hooray! They even have an app that locates where you can use your discount and not just for admissions, but at restaurants and stores too!

screenshot of ISIC app for student discounts internationally
Look at all those student discounts in Paris alone!

Related read → How to travel as a college student

30. Opt for a deconstructed meal

One of my favorite ways to save in Paris was by having a deconstructed meal made up of a baguette, cheeses, and meat.

I could get everything from the grocery store for ~ 8€ or less! Even better if there was a boulangerie for fresh baguettes and dessert.

Some markets to look for are:

  • Carrefour
  • Monoprix
  • Franprix
  • Intermarché
French grocery items including a baguette, meat, cheeses, and macrons.
This was MY FAVORITE way to save money and still have a delish meal!

31. Travel during off season

It’s no secret that traveling during the off season can save money. This is because hotels are not as in demand so prices are lowered to accommodate that.

For Paris the off season is winter and the shoulder seasons (those opposite of peak and off seasons) are spring and fall.

To lower your costs, it helps to travel then!

single room with gold and maroon colors and fleur-de-lis on the wall and carpet
In off seasons, single rooms like this are even cheaper in Paris!

Still in the planning phase? These posts will help:


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These travel tips for your solo trip to Paris cover how to save on the trip, how to stay safe, what to expect for the Metro, and the best things to do as a solo female traveler in Paris.
If you're on a solo trip in Paris, these travel tips will help you know what to expect in terms of safety as a solo female traveler, how to navigate the transportation, how to have the best experiences, and how to keep your Paris solo trip budget friendly!
These Paris solo travel tips cover all the most important information including safety tips for women, transportation expectations, and more!
These 30+ tips for your solo trip to Paris are sure to help you figure out what to expect when it comes to transportation, experiences, safety and scams, and costs.

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Recent PhD graduate and hyper-planner of Periodic Adventures, my goal is to share travel inspiration, budget tips, detailed guides, and fun travel stories!

Comments:

  • This is such a great extensive guide and it’s going to come in very useful as I’ll be living in Paris for a month this year as part of my husbands job. Thanks for spending the time in building this list.

    reply...
  • Super helpful guide! Especially love the idea of taking a night tour in a city. What a great way to see the lights and not have to as on guard. Thanks for sharing!

    reply...
  • I’m visiting Paris soon, so this is super helpful.
    Is it possible for anyone to do an Air bnb experience? I don’t tend to use them for accommodation.

    reply...
  • Love this post, I have visited Paris many times solo, for business trips and I always take some time to explore the city. I love the “do the romantic things” – yes, why not!? Great tips and I am saving them to read again for my next visit.

    reply...
  • Lina

    These are some really useful tips! I will definitely save this for my first time in Paris 🙂

    reply...
  • I remember buying the paris pass/ travel pass as soon as I got down from the bus in Paris. It actually helped me save a lot of money.

    reply...
  • Helpful guide! I’ve been to Paris several times, but always with my husband. There’s so much to see and do.

    reply...

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