Image courtesy of LP2 Studio via Shutterstock.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a city with more travel advice and dedicated tourism services than Paris, France. Along with other cosmopolitan world cities like London, New York and Tokyo, there is a library’s worth of Paris guidebooks on the market. But much advice for visitors is generic, leading you to tourist hotspots and obvious landmarks rather than unique experiences and destinations. Not so for these apps: streamlined and perfect for accessing on your phone while traveling, the following programs will help you navigate the City of Lights like a local, and enjoy the best Paris has to offer.
1. Paris M&M
Paris is one of the finest museum cities in the world. Short for Paris Museums and Monuments, the splendid Paris M&M app will help you discover the rich and wonderful world of Parisian art galleries, cultural institutions and private collections. With practical information on individual museums and a calendar for temporary exhibitions, this little app will make sure you don’t miss any cultural highlights while in Paris.
2. My Little Paris, aka My Little App
My Little Paris has long been a beloved insiders’ blog for culture, fashion, food and adventure in the French capital. With gorgeous design and sweet illustrations, the site and app are a great way to find little-known shops, cafes, restaurants and events in Paris that you wouldn’t hear about otherwise. Every day, the app will send you a little French secret, special or discount coupon. While perfect for travelers, My Little App is so good, it’s used by Parisians and expats, too.
It’s a haven for pickpockets and creepy guys who interpret eye contact as direct flirtation. Its staff members love to go on strike. If you stand near a grate or a vent, it may not smell very lovely, either. But the Paris metro is one of the most iconic, comprehensive, affordable and efficient train systems in the world. You’ll rarely be waiting more than a couple of minutes for a train, but the network is complex, and a phone map is indispensable. The RATP app gives you all the info you need to travel the metro (as well as the bus and RER long-distance train systems) in style, if not completely in peace.
4. Keys to the Fleas
Is there a better shopping city in all the world than Paris? Unlikely. From haute couture houses like Dior and Chanel to Parisian street chic boutiques like Sandro and Maje, Paris shopping is truly to die for. But one of the most unique experiences in the capital is a visit to the vintage wonderland of the flea markets, or puces. Designed like a charming old carnival brochure, the whimsical app Keys to the Fleas will show the best places to shop vintage and antique in Paris.
5. Le Bonbon
When searching for Paris dining and nightlife advice, it’s best to do what the Parisians themselves do: refer to cult website Le Bonbon, whose restaurant, cafe and bar recommendations are always spot-on. No tourist traps or chain restaurants here; you can trust this app’s recommendations to find the perfect spot for a meal, snack or apéritif, anywhere in the city, on any budget.
6. SpeakEasy French
Those clichés about Parisians who’ll look down their nose at you for not speaking fluent French are mostly myths (though the odd frazzled waiter may bring the stereotype to life). You do not need to be afraid to communicate in Paris if you don’t speak French; most people speak some English and will try to help you. But it is respectful, and fun, to learn at least a few basic phrases. Along with DuoLingo, SpeakEasy French is one of the most intuitive French language-learning apps out there, and well worth the tiny investment.
Runner-up: Paris Offline Map. There isn’t much need for paper maps anymore, but when traveling, you can’t always rely on having an internet connection. This free map works offline on your phone to save you from getting lost when you’re far away from wifi.
By Gemma King
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