What do I need to do to prepare for a trip to Paris, besides the obvious like buying plane and train tickets and booking lodging and planning our itinerary?
Hi Emery, now that's a difficult question to answer... What does your family usually need? Paris is an international city and you'll find everything you need there. We travel a lot and I've found that making a "not to forget" list is excellent. On top of this list is medecine, and I also always have a list of the International non-proprietary name (INN) of important drugs with us, because the name of medecine changes in different countries. Another tip..Make a scan of all your passports and keep them handy, easy to find like in your mailbox or cloud. I live in France and stay once a year in Canada and USA, so I suggest bringing an adaptor plug set with you. You can find them at the airport. I also have a small mini folding travel hairdryer which works on 110 or 220V. I hope this has helped! Have a great stay in Paris, it's beautiful!
When you get there, buy large water bottles. Re-use them as often as you can. Don't get bottled water in a restaurant, just ask for tap water. Be prepared to speak French.
For a first time in Paris, the Paris Pass (see Lauren Folkmann's answer) Is a good option for all those classic things to see.
Good walking shoes are essential ! Forget the girly, cutesy shoes, everybody in Paris walk. Yes, you'll see a lot of local very well dressed people with high and pointy shoes but you'll need to last all day walking on uneven sidewalks or great museums and other attractions.
If you are planning to go to The Louvre I would definitely buy your tickets online in advance and get there right when they open as it gets overwhelmingly busy, especially in the summer months. This also goes for other main tourist attractions like Notre-Dame de Paris-if you want to go up to the tower make sure to arrive first thing in the morning to avoid long lines. If you're going to be going to a lot of museums and using public transit, you could look into The Paris Pass (http://www.parispass.com) and see if that might be a money saver for you.
A light, water-proof jacket might not be a bad idea in case of rain and make sure everyone has comfortable shoes-you'll inevitably be doing a lot of walking!
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you can buy EVERYTHING in Paris. So my advice is: bring as little as you can, you'll only have to carry it.
Just don't worry about it and enjoy your trip!
If you are planning on using any US appliances or chargers, don't forget to bring along an adapter/converter. I would also recommend that you pack basic medications such as antibiotic cream, antacids, allergy meds, etc. Most medical products can only be purchased in a pharmacy. There is no such thing as popping in to the supermarket to grab something! And if you don't speak French, a small phrase book or dictionary could come in quite handy. Many Parisians do speak English, but it's always nice to try to use the local language.
Have a great trip!
Good shoes, umbrella in case ! And plan your visits according to subway lines to avoid numerous changes on line !