What should I never do in Paris?
Don’t block the poles in the metro by leaning on them.
Don’t let any stranger approach you. You probably look like a tourist in Paris: no one comes up to you to ask directions. Don’t be afraid to look mean and intimidating if you smell a scam. This includes children.
Don’t be afraid of the French, and if you are, don’t let it show. No Frenchman will be rude to you if you are courteous and polite and respectful of boundaries. On the other hand, if you think they are being unreasonable, they won’t find it surprising if you put on a little weight. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground.
Don’t go to a restaurant that has a staff member at the door trying to lure you in. Do your homework and find the right websites with restaurant recommendations. It took me 7 years of crap in Paris to find the right ones.
Don’t go to rue de la Huchette.
Don’t shop at the Gap (I can’t believe that fashion lovers only go to Paris to shop at Zara and Gap).
Don’t go see the Mona Lisa. It’s not a pleasant experience in tourist season.
Don’t spend your time here waiting in line. I can’t think of anything in Paris that people wait in line for that couldn’t really be replaced by something better nearby. Go to Notre-Dame ? stroll by the Seine and the Ile Saint-Louis. Go to the Eiffel Tower? Go get the view of the Arc de Triomphe instead (spectacular).
Don’t buy the metro tourist ticket. The best deal is to buy books of metro tickets: they cost a little over 1 euro each when you buy a book.
Don’t underestimate the complexity of the big metro stations. Try to avoid them: the signage is often frustrating.
Don “t underestimate Paris in general; to get the most out of it, you have to do your homework: research food blogs for your meals, figure out how to take the bus (I have friends who have been here for years and are still intimidated by the bus, but trust me, taking the bus is worth it. Take the bus).
Don “t think that fame/popularity = quality. Ladurée doesn’t make the best macaroons. Louis Vuitton does not make the best bags. A lot of things about Paris are only popular with tourists, and to me, they are not Paris.
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Never look people in the eye. It can irritate the person and induce strong reactions.
When you walk in Paris, try to “follow the flow”. Don’t walk too slowly, as this could block the people behind you.
Be careful when someone asks you if they can go with you to a metro or RER station. The person could pickpocket you as you pass. If you refuse, the person may be violent, so be on your guard.
Avoid looking like a tourist, this will avoid being a prey, in the metro or in the street, to pickpockets. Given the diversity of people in Paris, it is relatively easy to blend in with Parisians.
Some people like to be greeted in French, but you can speak English, I don’t care.
Don’t let yourself be impressed by the sometimes cold atmosphere, or by the often distant Parisians, they are lost in their thoughts, stress of work, etc… They will gladly help you and are approachable.
A minimum of respect towards history, culture and French, how many times have I seen foreigners urinating on monuments, throwing their bottles in the metro or parking lot exits, openly insulting the French thinking they are not understood etc.
To limit oneself to the ugly Eiffel Tower and other places too touristy and too often overrated…Rue mouffetard, palais du Luxembourg, Tour Montparnasse for the most beautiful panoramic of Paris, etc etc. Paris is full of beautiful and unusual places (catacombs), one week is not enough to discover the most beautiful.