Everyone has questions about Paris, whether you are visiting it for the first time or the fiftieth. This blog will look at some of the practical aspects of traveling to France, money, credit cards and phones.
What about money? Should I bring Euros with me?
You should bring enough money for your first day of travel and transportation from the airport (see the discussion above). After that use the ATM machines that are everywhere in Paris. Your US debit card will work there (but you may wish to let your bank know before you go). While you will be charged a transaction fee but it still works out better than changing dollars to Euros in the US or at the airport. And since it is a fee per transaction, you can save a little by withdrawing money less frequently in large amounts. As with any big city pay attention when withdrawing money and don’t let the Parisian’s crowd you when you are using an ATM. They often will.
Can I use my credit card when in Paris?
Mostly yes and a little but important no. First find out whether your credit card has a chip on the front (most don’t and ask your bank if in doubt). Then find out whether your bank charges you a foreign transaction fee (this again is per transaction and can add up fast). At writing Capital One does not charge this fee on several of their cards, the key is to find out in advance. Let your bank know you are traveling in Europe; they are likely to freeze your card if you don’t.
Back to your card. If you have a chip you can use the credit card anywhere. If you don’t, it will in most places (and you will get some pushback but it will) except automatic machines. This is important because you often need a credit card to by metro or RER tickets. So if you are planning a train ride have chip card or cash
What about phones?
Unless you are moving on a short-term trip contact your carrier and get an international plan. For example, ATT has both voice and data plans. It is not cheap but in the end run you have your phone, your phone number and it works. If you are in France for more than a month then you should look into getting a phone through a local carrier or getting a replacement SIM card. Either way, using your phone is expensive in Europe. If you need to get data, use the free WIFI at the Yellow Flat.
Do I tip?
It depends. In taxis tips are not expected but if service is good then round it up.
What about restaurants? In France your tip (a service charge) is included in your bill, good service or not. If service is good then round-up your bill by a few euros. That will be fine.
Do you have other questions? Either email them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 510.524.4446.
Safe journeys always.