Europe, France

Day trip to Paris 2014

This Easter weekend, my boyfriend and I hopped on the Eurostar for (what should have been) a day trip to Paris. Eurostar cancellation elongated our trip to two days in Paris – so here is what we got up to in Beautiful Paris.

April 17th 2014

We left the house at 3:30am, to catch our train from London St Pancras at 5:40am.

Tip: For those who may also be driving to London for the Eurostar, St Pancras charged £36 for 12 – 24 hours parking. However, a short 15 minute walk away from the station is an NCP car park on Woburn Place, which charges £19.40 for 24 hours parking – secure car park and well worth the savings.

Getting through security and passport control at St Pancras was a breeze and our train left dead on time. We were making good progress until we reached Lille in France, where we stopped for about 10 – 15 minutes. A fatality had happened on the track, so we had to come off the high-speed Eurostar rail and take the normal rail line, which in total delayed us by just over an hour.

We arrived at Gare du Nord, Paris at 10:40am, instead of 9:26am and our first stop was Notre Dame. We each bought a Ticket Mobilis metro ticket for €6,80 each, which covered us for zones 1 – 2 (central Paris) all day. We bought them from the self-serve machines which was so easy to use and we caught the RER B line to Notre Dame.

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The general admission queue was absolutely huge and we had hoped to join the queue round the side of the cathedral to go up the towers. However, the queue for that was also substantial, so we gave it a miss, but enjoyed a wander and an explore around the area.

From here we walked to the Louvre, which I have to say is one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen! I love history and learning about the culture of a city, but one of the things I don’t feel anything from is art. So unfortunately we didn’t go inside, but the sight of the building itself was enough for me. We caught the metro from the Louvre to about half way up the Champs-Elysees, grabbed some ice cream from a little cafe and continued walking up towards the Arc de Triomphe.

We queued up for about 5 minutes or so and made our way to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, which had one of the most incredible and interesting views I’ve ever seen, from Sacre-Coeur to the Eiffel Tower. The views of each of the avenues and the Champs-Elysees is also amazing and I found it so easy to look down and people watch for ages.

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10153102_10151975287827003_2602458970052875730_nFrom here, we caught the M6 line down to Passy and took a walk towards the Eiffel Tower. Getting off the station, we accidentally came across the bridge from Inception, which a great surprise for myself and Oli as we’re big fans of the film. From here there is also the most amazing view of the tower across the river.

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It was about 2pm by the time we got to the foot of the tower and we joined the queue to ascend the steps as the line for the lift didn’t even seem to be moving. We queued up for about 30 mins, bought our tickets (which were only €5 each) and started the agonising climb up the tower – but it was very well worth it!

The steps allowed us viewing points from the first two stages, but unfortunately not the top. You can catch the lift from the second floor up to the top, but the line for that was about 1 hour and we decided it probably wasn’t worth it. When we visited New York we stopped at each of the viewing decks at the Empire State building, but actually found the views on the lower levels better than right at the top.

After this we made our way down and sat about in the sun over by the Trocadero for about half an hour or so.

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It’s a lovely atmosphere, with everyone sat out in the sun, chatting and taking in the views. My only comment will be to be extra aware of people trying to make a quick buck at the foot of the tower, when heading towards the bridge. There were groups of street sellers, with huge rings full of cheap (tacky) plastic Eiffel Towers plus guys actively stopping people and grabbing their wrists to tie a “braid” round their wrist then charge them for it (they were pretty sorry looking braids too!)

Our next stop was to catch the metro over to Montmartre, where we headed up the hill towards the Sacre-Coeur and took in the amazing views over the city.

10268534_10151975293067003_5460691751121994605_nWe enjoyed having a relax up the hill and by 6pm decided we’d find somewhere to eat. Both myself and Oli are quite fussy eaters (not particularly adventurous) but we came across a small restaurant, down a side street, which specialised in homemade pizza’s. Our waitress was lovely and very attentive. She didn’t speak a word of English and we know minimal French, but between us (and with lots of menu pointing) we figured it all out and we had an amazing dinner!

The sun was still shining, so we sat outside and shared a bottle of wine. Oli ordered a spicy sausage pizza and I ordered a four-cheese pizza; both were absolutely delicious! For dessert we both ordered Lemon Meringue, which was amazing! Feeling full and very sad to be leaving Paris, we headed back to Gare du Nord at 7:30pm, ready for our 9pm train home.

However, upon arriving at the station, we learnt there had been some serious delays during the day and Eurostar couldn’t recover from the amount of time lost and cancelled all trains going to London. Whilst waiting for an update, I bumped into two other British ladies, one of which had been waiting around for 5 hours.

We received a letter from a Eurostar member of staff apologising for the cancellations and detailing the additional costs Eurostar would cover, one of which was a hotel up to £150 for the night. We had no luck finding hotels near the station and headed back to the Latin Quarter for somewhere to stay. We eventually came across Hôtel Europe Saint Séverin who had two rooms left!

The hotel was absolutely lovely. We had a double on the top floor, right in the corner of the roof and a beautiful big bath for us a to soak our aching feet in after a day of walking around.

We woke up the next morning refreshed and called Eurostar at 9am (London time), where we got our tickets exchanged. The next available train wasn’t until 4:20pm, meaning we had a bonus of another free day in the city!

We headed straight for Notre Dame to try our luck at queueing for the towers again. We joined the queue and for the first 15 minutes the queue was moving well, however, the next 15 minutes there was no movement at all. We decided we had one last day in the city and we wanted to enjoy it, not spend it queueing, so we walked from Notre Dame back to the Eiffel Tower.

On our first day we had planned to catch a one hour boat ride down the River Seine, however, due to our hour delay it meant we had to give this up. So we arrived at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and bought two Bateaux Parisiens tickets for the 1:30pm cruise.

The cruise was lovely and was a great way to see the city from the comfort of a seat and rest our feet which were screaming at us from all the constant walking. We arrived back at 2:30pm and then caught the RER lines back to Gare du Nord ready for our train home at 4:20pm.

Overall Paris is a beautiful city and I enjoyed it far more than I ever thought I would. Our trip was a perfect opportunity to see the city for a cheap getaway, but I was very thankful for the extra day time in the city. Eurostar were also very good at handling the situation, paying for our hotel stay and offering expenses for the extra food we’d have to eat, plus the additional car parking costs racking up back at NCP in London.

A day trip to Paris can be done – but I would say two days was definitely just about right. I absolutely love this city and would recommend to anyone to go.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to let me know in the comments section below. Thanks very much!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Jan April 22, 2014 at 2:42 am

    Thankyou for bothering to put this record of your day up! We arrived in Paris yesterday and as this is our third time we have seen many of the things you mentioned but I did like the hint about the day pass on the train and also the boat trip. We were wondering which group to go with!!
    Thanks

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