A lot of the smaller metro stations don't have lifts, and some don't even have escalators, only stairs. So you might want to bear that in mind re: buggy and bring something as light as possible, or use a sling.
Try to avoid the metro between 7.30am and 10am, and between 5.30 and 7.30pm on weekdays. These are the peak hours, and it will be rammed.
When will you be coming? That would affect what you need to bring and also what activities I would recommend. Which area will you be staying in?
Customer service in restaurants/shops is not always great. Employees can be very brusque, rarely apologise for any inconvenience or mistakes, and have never heard of the phrase "the customer is always right". Don't be offended or take it personally if you have any misunderstandings and someone makes you feel bad, it's just the way things are here. Of course in some places the service is great and the people lovely. I'm just talking generally.
You don't really need to tip, unless you really want to or you've had exceptional service.
In terms of vocabulary, most people in restaurants, museums etc will speak English, to varying degrees of fluency. Some key vocab anyway:
- Bonjour / Bonsoir / S'il vous plait / Merci / Au revoir - am guessing you know these ones already. If you at least make an effort to use this basic French vocab, even if you need to revert to English for more complicated stuff, it will be appreciated. - "C'est combien?" (how much does it cost?) - "Une table pour deux personnes s'il vous plait" (A table for two please). You may then be asked "c'est pour manger?" (do you want to eat? as opposed to just have a drink?) and you can reply "oui, on va manger" (yes, we want to eat) ou "non, c'est juste pour boire" (no, we just want to have drinks) - "Avez vous une chaise de bébé?" (Do you have a high chair?)
Looking back my post is quite negative - but there are lots of wonderful things about Paris too! If you give some more information about when you are coming and where you are staying I will be happy to recommend some of these Lovely Things.
We're coming in early December. I haven't booked accommodation yet I think we'll rent an apartment around one of the stations in central Paris that's on the same line as CDG airport, which should hopefully minimise our public transport useage, particularly when we've got loads of bags.
I should have said - my basic French is rusty but still there (although, for some reason we spent hours learning to buy and sell ice cream, which is of limited use now!). Any help about baby related phrases that I'm going to need would be really helpful. Before, when we'd gone on holiday, we had a big list of words and phrases that we knew would come in handy and learned then, and for most things that was fine. But that was pre-DS, and I think our communication needs will have changed a bit. Or I hope so, unless he's going to spend the trip necking wine!