A few places you should try to get to that aren't written up that much:
Paristoric (now known as Paristory also) - A multi-screen
slide show on the history of Paris. In several languages - you use
earphones and switch to the language of your choice.
11 bis rue Scribe (around the corner from Opera Garnier).
Shows on the hour 9-9 (til 6 weekdays October-April).
Admission: about $8 , Children and Students about $5, Children under 6 Free .
Memorial de la Shoah - A must see - Memorial de la Shoah. A Memorial to the 76,000 French Jews including 11,000 children killed during the Holacaust. To enter you must ring the bell. It's free and unbelievibly beautiful, moving. You can spend hours there. 17 Rue Geoffroy l'Asnier 75004 Paris, France Metro: Pont Marie
Musee Marmottan - beautiful museum in old restored house with many original Monets. Head downstairs to see them - if you like Monet you'll love this place. 2 rue Louis-Boilly - Metro: La Muette
Musee Carnavelet - One of the best museums in Parios. A museum on the history of Paris and really wonderful. 29, rue Sevigne by Francois Bourgeois. Metro: Chemin Vert/St Paul
Rodin Museum - especially for the gardens and the sculpture "The Kiss". 77 rue Varenne - Metro: Varenne
Musee de Vin - A super terrific wine museum built in the cave (wine cellar) of an old monastery. Wax figures from the Musee Gravin really make it come alive, with all the wine making instruments. rue des Eaux in Square Charles Dickens - Metro- Passy Tel: 01-45-25-63-26 Closed Monday
Musee Jacquemart-Andre - An old, restored private house with great art, but even the house and furnishings are wonderful to see. 158, Blvd Haussmann Tel: 01-45-62-39-94 - open 10 AM-6 PM
Check out the Hotel de Ville - on rue de Rivoli by Place de Hotel de Ville - Metro Hotel de Ville. They have exhibits, art shows, other stuff - and free.
Chateau de Vincennes - only remaining chateau in Paris and well worth seeing. Metro: Chateau de Vincenne
Special interest groups:
Like pet birds?
Bird Market - Place Louis Lepine on Ile de la Cite - by Metro Cite - or from the front of Notre Dame walk straight ahead through the square to the next block (Pont de la Cite) - turn right - on left - Sunday 9AM-7PM
Stamp Market - Avenue Matignon near Champs Elsees - Metro Franklin Roosevelt - walk north-east from the circle up Avenue Matignon - Thursday, Saturday, Sunday 9AM-7PM
Flower Market - Place Louis Lepine on Ile de la Cite - Metro Cite - every day except Sunday 8AM-7PM (same place as bird market).
Take a ride on a "Bateau Mouche" (bahtoh moosh) - beautiful boat ride on the Seine. Good for late in the afternoon when you're pooped and want to sit awhile - many have slept. Pick them up on the right bank side of the Pont de L'Alma (Pont is bridge as in Pont Neuf, Pont Marie) Metro: Marceau. For other boats click on "Boat - Seine cruises" under "Paris A-Z."
Want a thrill? - Walk on to the walking bridge Pont des Arts or Pont Neuf at night after dark and look up river. You'll see the buildings all lit up on the banks of the Seine, the boats coming down river with their lights illuminating the shore, and in the background the Eiffel Tower all lit up.
The Gypsy problem- mainly in the summer. They're not dangerous but those little kids with their wide eyes will swarm all over you and while begging and patting you with their little hands they'll be removing your wallet, money, emptying your purse, taking everything but your underwear. Come to think of it, there was this guy a couple of years ago.......Don't be nice. Grab your stuff and push, kick, whatever.
Pickpockets - they're here, they're there, they're everywhere. Beware!! Especially in crowds, like a crowded metro car with people being jostled. Not to scare you, but there has been an increase in pickpockets and purse snatchers, so keep your valuables in an inside pouch, don't use a backpack, keep your purse well guarded. No serious crimes, but it's a pain to lose your money, passport, etc. Remember, you don't have to keep your passport with you. Make a copy and keep that with you, and leave your passport in your hotel.
Doors on many of the metro cars don't open automatically. You have to push the button on the door or raise the handle. NOTE: They're starting to put in cars with doors that open automatically - newest train cars should have them.
Most restaurants are open for lunch - very often the same menu but cheaper. In fact, if you want to sample a Michelin starred restaurant without the very high price, lunch is a good way to do it although it's still quite expensive. Otherwise, there are cafes all over, the brasseries are good, you can pick up food at a market and picnic, you can buy sandwiches all around the city and walk and eat. Sandwiches are a long baguette, usually with jambon (ham), fromage (cheese), jambon and fromage, or other combinations with tuna, chicken, egg, tomato. Many of the department stores Galeries Lafayette, Samaritaine, Printemps, others) have cafeteria style restaurants good for lunch.
For great French atmosphere, try this-
The Brasserie de Isle St Louis on Ile St Louis - it's right at the walking bridge connecting Ile St Louis to Ile de la Cite, at the intersection of rue St Louis en L'Ille and rue Jean-du-Bellay. Have the cassoulet with a Bordeaux or choucroute with Riesling. Lots of other dishes also. You can get a bottle of wine but only pay for the amount you drink (by quarters). If it's nice out, sit at an outdoor table. Look for the name - there are 2 brasseries at that corner. Closed all day Wednesday and Thursday lunch.
77, rue Ile St Louis on Ile St Louis
For truly great crepes, also quiches, other food. Galettes are incredible with ham, cheese, fried egg, mushrooms.
1 biz, rue Jean Mermoz
Just off the Champs Elysees by Rond Point. Busy, busy. A bit crowded but very enjoyable.
Au Lys D'Argent
90, rue St Louis en l'Ile
Tel: 01 46 33 56 13
If you don't want a big lunch but want to sit at a cafe, look for one offering salads (most do). French salads are great and your mother will be happy. They also have terrific omelettes.
Also good for lunch on a nice day: Walk in the Tuileries and eat at
outdoor restaurant amongst the flowers, the trees....and the
If you're going to many museums, it's a good idea to purchase a museum pass. They're for 2, 4, or 6 days. For information go to www.parismuseumpass.com. The biggest advantage in having the pass is that you don't stand on line. You walk right to the ticket taker at the entrance, show your pass, and walk in. These are for consecutive days. The first day you're going to use it, write the date on the pass and then it's good for the next consecutive number of days depending on the pass. You can purchase the pass at any of the museums it covers (about 65). Also many hotels sell them. You may be able to buy them at satellite tourist offices opening around Paris.
NOTE: When crossing a bridge over the Seine to get from one bank to the other, remember that if it's a bridge that also connects to one of the two islands (Cite or Ile St. Louis), you must cross the bridge, then the island, then the bridge again. People think they're on the other bank when they're really on the island. Check your map.
Visit St Chapelle, a beautiful chapel on Ile de la Cite, with magnificent stained glass windows. Go on a sunny day for the full effect. Several times a week they have concerts, early evening and a bit later. You can get a schedule in the states by going online to: http://www.ampconcerts.com For information and tickets in Paris go to the box office adjacent to Ste. Chapelle. 2 Blvd du Palais on Ile de la Cite or more conveniently, the ticket counter at Galeries Lafayette, FNAC, Virgin Megastore. Costs a couple of dollars more but no long lines to stand on get them.
You might not think of visiting a cemetery when you're on vacation but there's a very unusual one in Paris - Pere Lachaise Cemetery. It's more like a small village with narrow,winding roads and enormous monuments and crypts for such notables as Edith Piaf, Balzac, Jim Morrison (note all the arrows directing you "to Jim"). Metro: Pere Lachaise. NOTE: It's possible Jim has been moved. Nobody seems to know for sure.
When buying a present for someone, even if it's just a perfumed bar of soap, say to the salesperson "un cadeaux" (an cad-oh). They'll wrap it beautifully or put it a pretty bag with a ribbon or seal.
Weather and dress:
The keyword for Paris weather is CHANGEABLE, and is it ever! You have to be prepared for anything and everything. If you're going in the Spring, forget the song "April in Paris". It can be very cold and nasty in the Spring. Of course, you can have a heat wave also. Same for Fall. Summer tends to be hot - hopefully your hotel is air-conditioned (they're not all). Open windows and a noisy city are not great for sleeping. The trick is to have layers to put on or peel off. There's lots of drizzle. You should bring a couple of the smallest fold-up umbrellas you can find - a size that will fit in a jacket pocket or handbag. Totes, Eddie Bauer, others make umbrellas that fold up really small. Now they make ultralites that weigh nothing - throw them into a handbag or jacket pocket - you won't even know it's there. It's a good idea for each of you to have one. It can be sunny and warm in the morning, get cold and rainy at noon, warm later, etc. In general, I would say in Spring and Fall dress for cool weather and have an extra turtleneck and sweater in case it gets real cold. You can always wear just shirtsleeves if it gets warm. Remenber, when it's real cool you don't perspire so your clothes stay clean and you don't need as many changes. You can always have your hotel clean something and, like in the old days, you can always wash out underwear in your room. But be prepared!! You never know what the weather will be at any given time. The trick is to have layers to put on or take off. Remember, if you have it and don't need it, no loss. But if you need it and don't have it, you won't be happy.
"Each and every person should have their own little fold up umbrella and NEVER go out without it."
You can take a city tour with Paris Visions and Cityrama. Brochures should be at your hotel or stop in any of the larger hotels and look on the counter. There are two bus tours called L'Open Tour and Les Cars Rouges which allow you to get off, visit the site, then board the next one that comes along to continue the tour. You buy a 2 day (consecutive) pass when you first get on the open-topped bus. It is then validated and put in a plastic card holder. The buses run every 20-25 min. with the L'Open Tour making more stops than the other. There's a commentary in French and English. and the total route takes about 2 hours plus the time you're off it. It makes a circular route hitting Pont Neuf, Ill de cite and Notre Dame, Luxembourg, Musee d' Orsay, Place de la Concorde,Arch de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Invalides, Tulileries, Opera,etc. Costs about $25. Look for the L'Open Bus and Les Cars Rouges signs by the sites - you can't miss the buses - they're huge.
Bathrooms and toilets:
Looking for a toilet? Ask "Ou sont les toilettes?" (Oo sohn lay twahlet)? That's plural, but in France it's proper to use the plural even if there's only one. Most restaurants have modern toilets. However, some older ones, especially some of the Brasseries, have toilets which are basically a porcelain fixture consisting of a hole in the ground and rests for your feet on either side. If you object to using these (understandably), you'll have to find another restaurant. If you do use them, stand back when you flush or you may get soaked shoes and feet. Most ladies rooms now have conventional toilets. Often the men's room will have the old ones but the lady's room will have a conventional toilet, so you guys may want to sneak into the ladies toilet. You can use the toilet in any brasserie, cafe, or department store but always have a bunch of coins to put in the lock on the door or to pay the matron of the toilets. Generally you have to head downstairs. Hey, you're getting a secure, clean restroom, and no "customers only" sign. It's certainly worth a quarter, although I'm seeing less and less of the pay toilets all the time. There are also public toilets on the street at various locations - you put some coins in the lock on the door and you get 15 minutes or so of time in the locked facility. The toilet is completely and automatically cleaned between uses. It's always a good idea to carry a pack of tissues "mouchoir papier" (mooshwah pap-yay) with you at all times as there is not always toilet paper available. Often you'll enter a bathroom, push the light switch, and a minute or so later the light goes off. Just push it again - they're on timers. It really gets interesting if you forget where the switch is and the room is pitch black.
Most telephones in Paris now require the use of a "Telecarte" - it's a plastic card, like a credit card, which you inset into a slot to use the phone. Deductions for the call are made electronically from the card. They can be purchased in various amounts, from about 50 credits up, at a Tabac, Post Office, various other places. Without one you may have trouble finding a phone as very few accept coins.
To use the Telecarte:
Message reads "Decrochez" - Pick up the receiver
Insert the card into the slot and close the sliding door if there is one.
Message reads "Patient svp" - wait
Message changes - Dial the number you want
After your call is completed hang up the receiver - the door will open -
REMOVE YOUR CARD!!
Your best bet for a coin phone is a brasserie or other older
restaurant or older street phone Otherwise you can phone from
your hotel but beware - some hotels lay on a very large charge
- check at the desk before you call. The easiest way to call long
distance is to go through AT&T. You have to insert a card
or deposit 2 francs before dialing:
Wait a few seconds for dial tone or click or nothing
Dial 0011 and an English speaking operator will answer and connect your
Or you can just dial 0800 99 00 11 without a coin or phone card.
Cheapest way to call home is with a phone card from Costco, Sam's and other stores like that. Be sure to have the France access number. If the phone you're using is a pulse tone, once connected just hold on until eventually an operator picks up. With a touch tone phone you can you can use the keys.
To call places in Paris from within Paris or France, dial 01 then the 8 digit number.
Need information while in France? Call toll free from anywhere in France for information in English: 01-05-20-12-02 (weekdays 9-5)
Lose your passport?
Contact: U.S. Consulate
2 rue St. Florentin
You should travel with extra passport photos and a copy of your passport, kept separate from your passport. There are also consulates in Lyon, Marseilles, and Strasbourg.
While in Paris, need more information about available accomodations, shopping, sights, museum times, etc.? Call 44-29-12-12 for English speaking operators to help you. This is run by the Office de Tourisme.
NOTE: This from the French Embassy: Your passport expiration date has to be three months beyond your last day in France.
Emergency Numbers --
Medical Help in English for Europe
International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers has a directory of English-speaking doctors overseas. Call for a list for where you'll be going.
SOS HELP crisis line - 47-23-80-80 3:00 PM-11:00 PM
For medical emergencies 24 hours a day 01-47-07-77-77 - you must have someone who speaks French.
Suddenly need money? - Friends or relatives can send money directly to you in Paris with a phone call through Western Union. All they do is call 800-325-6000 or 800- 325-4276. Your money will arrive in Paris within an hour. You then call 01-43-54-46-12 in Paris to pick a location to go to in order to receive it.
LOST AND FOUND: There is a "Lost and Found" service
- run by the French Police Dept.
36, rue des Morillons
75015 Paris - Metro Convention
If you're getting back the VAT (Detaxe), leave plenty of time at the airport - I would say a minimum of 45 minutes just for the Detaxe in season. The lines can be long and it pays to be safe. You have to be carrying the items and have the forms from the store.
Day trips out of Paris:
There are several interesting areas out of Paris but close enough for a same-day excursion.
You can do them on your own by taking trains. There are several "Gares" (Gahr) in the city, large train stations like Grand Central. You take a train from the individual Gare depending on which area you're going to. Or you can take a local tour like Paris Visions - your hotel should have the information. If you go on your own, check to make sure what days they are closed. Stop by the Gare you'll be leaving from and pick up a train schedule "Un Horaire" (ah-norare). Read it carefully - check the numbers at the top and the corresponding notes below.
When buying a ticket for a trip out of Paris, ask for "allez-retour" (ah-lay ruh-tour) - that's a round trip ticket.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When using a train to go out of Paris from the Gares, be sure to punch your ticket in the machine at the entrance to the gate before boarding or you may be charged for another fare.
1) Probably the easiest and most popular is Versailles (you know, where Louis Hayward, Douglas Fairbanks, and all those guys went to see the King). Take the RER Line C - Direction Versailles Rive Gauche. This will let you off close to the Chateau, just a few minutes walk. Trains also run to Versailles from Gare St. Lazare (Metro St. Lazare) every 15 minutes. It's about a 30 minute ride and costs $5 round trip. It lets you off in town - you have a much longer walk but get to see the town. Try to avoid Sundays - tremendous crowds, unless you want to see the fountains. Then it has to be Sunday. Closed Monday. Admission about $9
2) Another not far is Chartres - a pretty town with a magnificent cathedral. Take the train from Gare Montparnasse . A British gentlemen by the name of Malcolm Miller gives gives tours twice a day - at 12:00 and 3:00 (check for time changes) when he is there - he sometimes travels. He charges a modest amount for each person in the group. Morning and afternoon tours are different - studying different stained glass windows, for example. Bring small binoculars. Then walk to the square, buy a baguette, cheese, ham, and have lunch outside. Or take them for a picnic on the train back to Paris. About $28 round trip. About 1 hour trip.
3) A little longer trip is Claude Monet's house and gardens (not a museum). You have to take a train from Gare St. Lazare to the town of Vernon ($26 round trip), then take a cab ($12) or bus to his house. The train trip takes anywhere from 50 minutes to 1 hr 35 minutes depending on the train. Paris Visions has a tour - costs about $61 and takes about 4 1/2 hours. The gardens are unbelieveable and you get to see all those water lilies he painted and his house and famous kitchen. Open April-Oct. Closed on Mondays. Well worth going. Tel:011-33-2-32-51-28-21. Also plan to visit the Impressionist Museum across the road and to the left a bit.
4) Fontainebleau (where Louis, Doug, and the rest dueled when not relaxing at Versailles). Take the train from Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau-Avon- about $18 round trip. Then a taxi or bus (Line A - about $2 - buy ticket from driver). Admission about $6 - closed Tues.
5) Vaux-le-Vicomte - The chateau made famous by "The Man in the Iron Mask" and a terrific place to see. A chateau you can be comfortable living in with great dioramas and the moral: don't build a better chateau than the king has. Open daily 10 am to 6 pm (closed 1 to 2 pm Monday-Friday). Cost about $10. Take the train from Gare de Lyon and get off at Melun, then a taxi to the chateau. Tel: 01-64-14-41-90. Open March to the middle of November. Call for exact date.
6) Others are the Normandy Day Beaches (awesome, thrilling, poignant) - a full day tour given by Paris Visions and others; Chantilly (a beautiful chateau, gardens, and the famous racetrack); and the Loire Valley with it's chateaus.
Travel By Auto out of Paris:
Once you're traveling out of Paris, a car "une voiture" (oon vwahtour) is the way to go. There are so many tiny towns to visit, you really can't do it by train. If you are renting one to go to other parts of France, whether you're driving out of Paris or flying or taking a train to another part of France and picking up a car there, this should be arranged before you leave the states - much cheaper. Most cars are stick shift. There are more and more automatics but many people have ordered them and ended up with stick shift anyhow. If you cannot drive stick, better make absoluely sure through your travel agent that you're getting automatic (and then be prepared to be given a stick shift - maybe take a lesson or two from a friend or from a driving school). It's tough for your travel agent or clerk at the car rental agency here in the states to know exactly what will be available over there where most cars are stick, especially if you're picking it up at a small local office in a small town where there aren't many cars available.
Picking up a car in Paris and driving out isn't too bad. The car rental place can give you fairly easy directions to get out of the city. They'll put you on a main street, you head straight out to the Peripherique which is a beltway around the city. Take it East or West until you reach an exit for the highway you want and head out. You'll want to get on an Autoroute, which is a high speed highway, to get away from the city. Many are pay roads "Peage" (pay-ahge) - credit cards accepted. The autoroutes are the fastest way to go but you don't see as much and you pay. You don't have to bothering fumbling with money - just hand the toll collector your credit card and he'll hand you back the card and a receipt - you don't even sign anything. Just use a manned booth on the right. Once you get to the area you want, get off and start exploring.
Driving into Paris can be a nightmare. The streets run in all directions, there are dead-ends, one-way streets that always seem to run the wrong way. If you must drive, good luck. And if you really want an experience to remember, drive down the Champs Elysees or Grand Army and go around the Arc de Triumph - you won't believe it. Twelve large streets intersect on the circle - cars and trucks are going right to left, left to right, across, at angles, straight. You'll laugh and cry at the same time. It's rumored that a guy from Walla Walla Washington has been driving around that circle trying to get out since March, 1997. A good time to enter the city would be about 12:30 - lots of people, taxis, trucks, are at lunch and traffic is much lighter. Even better would be early Saturday or Sunday morning. It would also be a good idea to ask the hotel you'll be staying at to write down explicit directions for you to follow.
Contrary to what you might have heard, there are speed limits and the police are cracking down on speeders. On the autoroutes it's pretty much wide open, but on the smaller roads that go through towns be careful.
Mileages and speed are in kilometers. To convert to miles, divide by two and add 1/4 of that figure. (24 km = 12 + 3 = 15 miles).
As in this country, the rule is "keep right except to pass". Unlike this country they follow the rule. If you don't want an angry Frenchman one foot behind your car blasting his horn and lights, get back to the right after passing. Of course, signal your intentions.
NOTE: If you'll be driving on Sunday, fill up on Saturday - can be tough to find an open station on Sunday on the smaller roads. There are lots of service stations around. DON'T use Gasoil or Gazole unless you have a diesel engine. Spending the day having your gas tank pumped out is no way to spend your vacation.. For a regular engine, you'll want to use Essence - probably "Super 98 Sans Plumb" (super 98 sahn plum) - without lead. You should check when you rent the car. Want to fill 'er up? Say "le plein" (luh plan).
You absolutely should get Michelin Maps for the area you're going to be driving in. The regular road maps do not show the myriad of tiny roads and towns that you should go to see, and it's very easy to get lost in some areas. You can get them at the French Bookstore by Rockefeller Center (or call them at 212-581-8810, tell them the area you want, put it on your credit card, and they will mail them to you) or at book and magazine shops in France. Buy the 200 series - they cover a larger area than the others so you carry less. And bring a compass - they're worth their weight out in the country. Easiest way to get around is with a Michelin Map and a compass. Easiest way to get lost is relying on the regular France road map of the country.
The towns in France pretty much close up between 12 noon and 2:00 . The stores are closed, there's no shopping. Most stores are also closed 1/2 day Monday, until about 2:00. Try to plan your schedule so that at that time you'll be eating or driving. In many small towns it may be impossible to buy lunch after 2:00 or even close to 2:00 - the restaurants close until dinner time. In a pinch, watch for a sign to a Super-U, Super Marche, InterMarche, or L. Leclerc. These are super markets where you can buy bread, cheese, ham, etc and make your own lunch.
When you pull into a town, follow the signs to "Centre Ville" (downtown) or "Vielle Ville" (the old section). To leave a town, follow signs to your destination, a town that's in the same direction as your destination, or "Toutes Directions" (all directions), or "Autres Directions" (other directions). The really small towns are no problem but the bigger ones can be frustrating to get out of sometimes. Keep following "Autres Directions" until you see something familiar. Check your compass and keep heading in the direction you want to go. Be careful following the signs - it's a little hard to explain but they are often set at an angle. You think it says turn right or left but actually it says continue straight. You'll know it when you see it.
Parking in towns:
There's usually street parking available but watch for a sign
that says "Payant" either on a post or written on the
pavement. This means you must pay to park. There are no meters.
If it says "Payant", immediately after parking look
for a little machine on a wall of a building or on a post somewhere
on the street. It's called a "Horodacteur" or
You put some some coins in, depending on the length of time you
want, push the green button, wait a few seconds, and out will
come a receipt with the time of day you're paid up until (always
travel with a bunch of small coins - for parking and for bathrooms).
You put this on the dashboard of your car where it can be seen
through the windshield. Note: If you're in a town between 12:00
and 2:00, you don't pay for parking for that amount of time. If
you park at 12:00 and are leaving by 2:00, don't bother paying.
If you take one hour's worth of parking at 11:30 the receipt will
read 2:30 as your limit. Between 12:00 and 2:00 you don't pay
because the town is closed. It used to be that way in all towns but now
some are charging for parking all the time. If you receive a parking
you will receive a charge on your credit card from the rental agency.
Also, it would be a very good idea to write down the exact location
of the car - draw a map, note the stores or streets - it's easy
to lose it in a strange town with winding streets.
Many towns now have parking lots and garages, all automatic. You take a ticket to get in. KEEP THE TICKET WITH YOU. When you return, at the entrance before you go to your car there will be an automatic cashier machine - put in your ticket and it will tell you how much you owe. Put in the necessary amount and it will stamp the ticket. As you drive out you insert the ticket into a machine and the gate will open to allow you to get out.
Note: All information is as of 10/00.
Hints and Tips:
Here are some hints and tips - nothing very important, but little things to make your visit more enjoyable.
The French never point with their index finger outstretched. They use their whole hand, fingers together and extended. If you're asked for directions, make some points by pointing properly.
Number "one" is the thumb, not the index finger. Make a fist, stick up the thumb, that's "one". To indicate you want two of something, make a fist and stretch out the thumb and index finger. And so on.
It's considered good manners to keep both hands in view while eating. If you want to look French, keep a utensil in each hand, rest your wrists on the edge of the table. Don't put one hand in your lap (you may have a dagger hidden there).
Always, but always, say hello and goodbye when entering or leaving a store, restaurant, etc. Hello is "Bonjour" (bone-zhoor); goodbye is "Au revoir" (oh- ruhvwah). And always, always add sir "monsieur" (miss-yer), or madame (mahdahm) , or for a young woman, "madmoiselle" (mad-mwah-zelle). So when you enter a store and there's a woman behind the counter, say "Bonjour Madame" and when leaving "Au revoir Madame."
Learn to say please "s'il vous plait" (seal-voo-play) and thank you "merci" (mare-see) and use them constantly.
Be familiar with official time. All schedules are in official time (buses, trains, etc) and many restaurants, museums, and other places. 1h00 is 1:00 AM, 12h00 is noon, 13h00 is 1:00 PM, 18h15 is 6:15 PM, 20h30 is 8:30 PM.
This may sound far out, but if you rent a car it would not be a bad idea to stop at a service area and buy a can of pressurized tire sealer and inflator. In the event of a flat, it will save you hours of aggravation. Shake it up, tighten it on the valve, and press to inflate and seal the tire.
Trains stop running about 12:30 AM depending on how far you are from the end of the line. If you're traveling by metro, be sure you're back in time to catch a train. They finish their runs to arrive at the end station about 1:00 AM.
If you take an RER train, you must have your ticket to exit the station (you put it in a machine like entering the station). If you don't have it, it will cost you another ticket to get out or you will have to jump the turnstile or slide under it - neither of these are advised. If you're caught it's big trouble. And remember, even in the regular metro, keep your cancelled ticket with you until you leave the station completely.
And for the utmost enjoyment, forget you're American, become
French, and throw yourself into the spirit of the city.