How to Catch a Tourist


A view of the Eiffel Tower from the park

Tourist Traps in Paris and How to Avoid Them

Tourist season is starting to dwindle down now in Paris. Most of its inhabitants are gone somewhere else in France, taking advantage of their vacation. Meanwhile there are less and less tourists visible in the streets. And with this observation I've noticed a change in the business of tourism. And I realized, all these things are designed to attract tourists, make them spend money, and in a sense, catch them. 

Everywhere near the main sites of Paris you can find cafés, brasseries, and restaurants with menus other than French. I mean most of us like to know what we're eating, so naturally we'd flock to something that we can understand. This is where they make their money. They know that since the tourists are coming to understand the food they're eating, they take this as the opportunity to over charge them. Restaurants go so far to give Asians a different menu at an even higher price because they believe that they are least likely to catch the trap. So in the sake of money, it might be best to be left guessing your next meal.

Another way restaurants catch tourists is by advertising food that they already know. They try to sell you hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches, all things that you can get back home. But in a time of desperation, with the constant heat or rain and some cranky kids, people choose something that they know they are going to like. So once again they trap you. But instead know of a few French meals that can substitute the American ones and the extra cost. A Croque Monsieur or Madame is like a grilled cheese sandwich. A saucisse frites is like a hot dog and fries. That way you can eat French but still stay in your comfort zone without falling for the traps.

The Trocadero, a great view of the Eiffel Tower
But food isn't the only way tourist get caught in the web of traps. Many people offer private guided tours of locations or museums. This can be seen more in Rome than in Paris. Usually it is a student that might not know as much but is looking to make some extra cash. But they know that tourists always love to learn more about something. Instead look into a tour with a reputable company. That way you know you are getting fact. Or look into audio guides for an even lower price and a go at your own pace. 

But some of these traps are in order to preserve the Parisian life. Many people don't want to be bothered by the tourists, so they don't advertise their church or their important monuments to keep the tourists in the Champs Élysées. But if you want to see more of Parisian life and less if the tourists, head away from the sites and into the streets. Go shopping in the 15th arrondissement or check out student life in the 5th. Try to go to a market where you can buy fresh goods.

So in some ways tourist traps are good for Paris. It earns revenue and preserves some of Paris. But they are not good for tourists as it drives up the budget. In order to avoid tourist traps, try to go outside your comfort zone and don't worry about getting lost. You'll always find your way back home, except this time with a story to tell and a fuller wallet. 

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