You’ll blend better in Paris if you use the RATP Metro app and leave the sensible shoes at home
The reputation Paris has for being fashionable (and snooty) can be intimidating to travelers. If you’re coming here, there are so many ways that you can blend in. And trust me, you want to. Because even if you try to blend in, you will stand out, but if you don’t even try, you’ll look like a neon target, screaming, “Take advantage of me, snub me, scoff at me, for I am tourist, hear me roar!”
Wear neutral and darkish colors. Lose the flashy jewelry. Leave the sneakers at home. Stand closer to your traveling companions so that you don’t feel you have to shout. Learn to say bonjour and merci. Lose your sense of entitlement and expectation of rapid service with a smile, for you have crossed the waters into a land where the customer is not always right.
Oh, and download the Paris Metro RATP app.
If you are healthy and have two working legs, there is no reason why your Paris transportation should be limited to taxis and tourist buses. Sure, you can see the monuments from a cheesy double-decker, or take a cab home in the wee hours after clubbing on the Champs-Elysées (if you’re even lucky enough to be let into one of those clubs), but doing either of these just once will likely cost you more than an entire week’s worth of metro tickets. Save your cash for the shopping and relaxing in cafés and take the metro. There’s now free wifi in a number of major metro stations (but not in the trains themselves), and almost all of the parks in Paris have free wi-fi too.
The app is ugly, and has a few quirks (like not being intuitive if you misspell or forget an accent in a word), but it’ll keep you from wandering around with a map open, as you will be able to discreetly follow your transportation route on your phone. (And do be discreet. Phones get snatched in the metro.)
You can choose the fastest route from point A to point B, combining buses and the subway, but personally I prefer choosing “rail only” as an option, as I find it easier to identify my stop in the subway than on the bus.
If you know what station you are headed for, you can choose that as a destination, or you can decide to choose the address of where you are going as your final destination. The latter option picks the closest station to your destination.
Honestly, if you want to save your cash, and dignity, this app (combined with a little fashion sense) is really all you need to get started in the right direction.