Mistake #9: Overspending on local transport
Paris is more walkable than many tourists realize: When we stay in Montmartre, it takes us only about 40 minutes to reach the Seine on foot, despite having to walk nearly halfway across the city from north to south.
In the heart of Paris, distances are even shorter. For example, the entire length of the Champs-Élysées is only 1.9 km or 1.2 miles, and the distance between two of the city's top tourist attractions--Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre Museum--is considerably less than that. The trek from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower is longer (about 2.5 km, or 1.6 miles), but it's an easy stroll along the Seine unless you have mobility problems or the weather is awful.
Métro trains run everywhere (no place in Paris is more than 500m from a station), but there's no logical order to the lines. Getting from Point A to Point B often requires a train change, even if you're going a relatively short distance. Unless you're traveling a long way or making a simple journey (along Line 1, for example, which mostly parallels the Seine), it may be faster and easier to walk.
RER trains are quick, and the RER network map is easy to figure out. However, trains run less frequently than Métro trains do, and connections between RER and Métro lines sometimes require long, time-consuming walks underground.
Public buses crisscross the city, but unless you know your landmarks, it can be difficult to know when to get off--especially if the bus is crowded and you have a poor view of your surroundings.
Another transportation option is the . Two companies, L'Opentour and Big Bus Tours, operate these double-deck buses, with slightly different routes. Fares aren't cheap, but if you're traveling mostly between popular tourist spots and don't like walking, a one- or two-day sightseeing-bus pass will be less expensive than hiring taxis.
Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.
After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for About.com, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors (including Paris for Visitors) in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.
Top photo copyright © Paris Tourist Office.
Photographer: Amélie Dupont.