Flight Centre consultant and regular guest blogger, Eva Martin, proves that you can see Paris in a day. She visited all the big sights, sampled the local cuisine and got proposed to before the sun had set!
Just before Xmas, I graciously accepted the challenge of seeing the highlights of Paris in a day. It’s a place that I love and with such good connections on the Eurostar now, it seemed a shame to be put off by the high cost of staying a night. Whilst you can still pick up reasonably priced hotels in Paris, the drinks and evening meal that goes with it can put a strain if you’re on a budget. So I didn’t need much convincing to accept the challenge!
The key to fitting everything in and still having fun, was planning. As a reformed spontaneous, go with the flow traveller, I am forever telling my friends and customers that you need to plan your time away to make the most of it. How many of us have looked forward to seeing an exotic location or city full of culture but spent the first 2 days trying to get our bearings or getting over jet-lag? As a rule, I will always try and book a city tour for the day I land anywhere now. It gets me orientated and I hit the ground running ready to make the most of wherever my imagination and budget has taken me this time.
I took the first Eurostar of the day from Ashford and whilst on-board, bought a carnet of 10 metro tickets for €14. You can get them slightly cheaper when you get in to Gare Du Nord (they’re €12.50) but whilst I was stuck on a train, it made sense to not waste any time when I arrived. I was travelling with my boyfriend who had only been to Paris once before so I wanted to show him the parts I loved the most. We arrived at 1030 and the first stop was the Louvre Museum.
We jumped on the metro towards Porte D’orleans and changed at Chatelet to get to the Louvre. We walked through the gardens, desperately seeking the first sight of the Pyramid so we could reassure ourselves that we weren’t lost already! The best thing about doing the Louvre first, was that we had avoided the queues and nipped straight in. It’s easy to spend a week in this museum taking in everything from the paintings and sculptures to the rooms themselves. I wanted to see a sculpture that I had loved from previous visits that was a marble piece of Hermes and Aphrodite. I headed to the Greco section on the Ground Floor, taking in various other sections along the way. We stumbled across the Venus de Milo by chance and stopped to have a pose. We couldn’t find the sculpture that had been in my mind for so long so instead spent another hour walking along the meandering corridors. The rooms are simply huge and it was strange to imagine that this building was once home to the French Royal family. What could they have done with all of these rooms? Or how long would it take if you had forgotten something in a room in another wing? We walked from one end to another which is sacrilege to not take in all of these masterpieces, but it’s not every day that you have so much to fit in! We stopped at a few and I had Jon pose imitating some of the paintings before we arrived at the Mona Lisa. Standing on tip toes and peeking over people’s heads took away from the fact that this was the most famous masterpiece in the museum. Of course it is a “must-see” but there are lots of paintings that are more intriguing.
We left the museum and posed with the pyramid before walking across the bridge to Saint Germain and Notre-Dame. The bridge gave us a great view of the Seine. We wandered along some of the back streets where there were some beautiful places to eat but as time was of the essence, we kept it authentic with a ham and cheese baguette and ate on the go. We made our way across to Notre-dame, home to Quasimodo and marvelled at the enormous Christmas tree that was outside. Paris in December is great for shopping, there are less queues and with the nights drawing in, you get to see “La Ville Lumière” (City of Light) in all its glory.
From Notre-Dame, we headed back on to the Metro towards Gare du Nord and changed lines to get to Anvers for Sacre-Couer. We climbed the steep hill towards the Cathedral that looks out over the whole of Paris. We then had to climb the stairs to get to the top.
We walked down through the cobbled streets of Montmartre and along to the Moulin Rouge for a quick photo-stop. By this time, it was 1.30pm. We got on the metro at Blanche and headed down to Charles de Gaule Etoile. From here we walked past the Arc de Triomphe (tick) along the Champs-Elysees (tick) and noticed that there was a huge queue of people. We thought it must have been for a new, exclusive shop but as we got closer, we realised it was for the Marks and Spencers food court! All the romance and quaintness of “Paree” and the French were hankering for an English pudding. There were various queues along the Champs-Elysees for what at first we thought were museums but were in fact fashion houses of all the top-end brands.
After a bit of window shopping, we headed across to the last stop on our tour, The Eiffel Tower. Another moment of panic where we thought we might be lost and couldn’t see the tower, we turned a corner and got our first sighting. The queues for the Eiffel Tower are notoriously long in the summer, but luckily, we only had to wait 15 minutes before we were in the lift up to the second floor. The temptation from here is to head straight to the top but generally it is a lot quieter so we stopped for a moment to take in the view. We joined the queue for the top lift and got right to the top. Jon lead me around to the champagne bar where I quickly scampered inside; the wind was bitter and blowing a gale! After a few photos, we headed back down to the second floor where Jon got down on one knee and proposed! Of course I said yes and as with everything French and chic, there was no cheesy round of applause from passer-bys-formidable!
After all of our excitement, we picked up a taxi from outside and took it to Gare Du Nord. It cost around €25 but was simple and gave us another experience of Paris; their driving! It also gave us chance to see Paris by night with all of its beautiful illuminations. We got to the station in good time and went straight to check-in. We arrived back in to Ashford International by 8pm with a camera full of photos and a check-list full of ticks. Although it would have been lovely to spend a night there, we didn’t feel at any point that we were rushed or had to make a compromise. I would recommend Paris in a day to anyone who is on a budget or limited for time and still searching for that bit of joie de vivre!
Click here for details of Eva’s wedding in Vegas
Click here for Eva’s post on the US roadtrip she took for her honeymoon.