My tip to those aspiring to travel there is to do your best to start every conversation in (even the most basic) French. I quickly learned to respect the native tongue and ask in French whether the person dealing with me spoke English before continuing in English.
Acting as if you expect everyone to speak English and speaking it straight up does not seem to get you far. While on the topic, I will admit that my knowledge of the French language improved significantly over the year but nowhere near as much as it could have. I did not make the language my top priority – my grades and lifestyle were – and honestly I regret not attending every free (yes free) French lesson provided by the partner school.
Overall I must say that to me Paris was everything I imagined. I loved its history and felt it gave the city depth. I am sure I am biased, but I think the beauty of that city cannot be matched. There were endless things to do, and over time my favourites were the less-touristy pastimes (lazing around at the smaller parks in summer, frequenting tiny wine bars, studying in lesser-known cafes, or shopping at the markets and sharing the local delicacies with some friends).
The wining and dining there was superb. Rural France was very different to Paris but no less unique and charming. My personal favourites outside of Paris were the Loire Valley, the Burgundy region, the Champagne region and Villefranche-sur-mer, which just happened to be the most perfect little town in the south of France.