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8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going To France

If you are planning on visiting the Eiffel Tower, eating croissants and sipping wine, and just living your best life any time soon— you have to read this.

1.) The Food Is Amazing

Everyone tells you the food in France will be good. But I didn’t know how good until I actually arrived in France last April; I was not ready for the delicious pasta, bread, cheese, chocolate, and other delicacies that the French do best. However, if you have allergies or food sensitivities like me, look out for some of the classic french delicacies, such as macarons, which contain nuts. Ham and cheese sandwiches (which are phenomenal in France) became my best friend for a week. 

2.) Learn Some French

I took French in order to go on my school’s trip to France, but I still arrived knowing little to no actual French. Going to France without knowing French put me at a disadvantage and made me look like a dumb American tourist, which I was, but still. In order to get around and immerse yourself in French culture, learn some basic French before you go. I still had the time of my life, but I know I missed out on a lot.

3.) Everybody Drinks!

I went to France when I was 16, which is the legal drinking age for wine and beer there (hallelujah), and it was very different. People drink more casually there, which I did not expect, and it is normal to have a glass of wine at dinner when you’re 16. Be prepared for a different atmosphere!

4.) The Eiffel Tower Sparkles

This is one of the more fun surprises that I hate to spoil about visiting Paris— the Eiffel Tower sparkles, and it is a holy experience. I did not expect this one— have your camera ready when you visit late at night! Your Instagram does not want to miss this. 


Something I genuinely did not expect was the heavy prevalence of pickpockets in France. Many people in Paris will try to get money from you.People will fake charities, homelessness—anything to see where you keep your wallet, and swindle you later. Be on the lookout for suspicious characters and people asking you for money. 

6.) The Louvre––Not What You Expect

The Mona Lisa honestly isn’t that cool in person. Sorry. It’s really small and in a hot and crowded room. However, the rest of the Louvre is awesome. Set a day aside to explore the entirety of the amazing museum and don’t be upset if you miss the Mona Lisa. 

7.) The Shopping Is Amazing

If you go to Paris, or anywhere in the South of France, you will find plenty of things to buy. There is no shortage of places to shop in Paris.Check out the Galerie Vivienne, one of the nicest malls I went to if you are looking. Be sure to change your dollars into euros before you head onto the plane!

8.) It Will Change Your Life

Going to France changed the rest of my life. I will always long to go back there; the culture, the art, the food— it is one of the most amazing places to experience as a tourist, and there is a lot to be learned from going to France. I will forever be thankful for Paris, and I can’t wait to go back!


Zoe Rivera

Emerson '23

Hi! I'm a freshman contributor at Emerson College
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