Paris, the city of love! If you’re in Europe then Paris is easily accessible and a weekend in Paris is often top of a lot of people’s bucket list. It is so easy to fit a lot in to a short space of time when in Paris so I wanted to share some things to do if you’re visiting for the first time. From the UK, it’s extremely easy to get to Paris by jumping on the Eurostar from London or Ashford and you’re there in just over 2 hours.
The Eurostar was such a seamless process; I would recommend it to anyone. We stayed up in London the night before then it was a short walk across the road in the morning to check in and half an hour later we were on the train!
We arrived in central Paris just a couple of hours later and after a few Franglais confused conversations (with some Spanish thrown in for good measure) we jumped on the Metro to get over to Pigalle where we were staying – the home of the Moulin Rouge. After dumping our bags at our boutique hotel we ventured out to make the most of our first day in the Romantic capital.
Over the next 2 days we walked around the main sites of Paris, and got lost among the back streets and cobbled hillsides lined with cafes and quirky boutiques. There is so much to see in this cosmopolitan city so it can be daunting to make sure you cram as much into a few days in the French capital.
A Weekend In Paris
The Trocadéro, site of the Palais de Chaillot, It was absolutely freezing as we arrived as it’s an open site at the top of a hill, despite visiting Paris in the spring. There are some great photo opportunities here though as it has a fantastic view of the Eifel Tower from across the river.
The tree lined wide streets of the Avenue Champs Elysees is home to hundreds of divine shops to tempt the purse strings and eateries to sit and people watch from (I was hoping to spot the Beckham’s, as David was over playing for PSG, but it wasn’t to be unfortunately!) from here you can see the Arc de Triomphe which has to be marvelled at close up, the intricate details crafted by hand in the 1800’s.
You can climb up inside it for views over Paris and a walk around the museum inside; it’s often said that it’s actually better than a trip up the Eiffel Tower. Even if you don’t choose to climb it, go there just to wonder at the 8 lane roundabout where each car appears to have no right of way over the next and hundreds of cars per minute weave their way around this chaotic motoring masterpiece!
Next, take a trip to the Louvre, home to the world famous Mona Lisa and hundreds of other iconic art works. It is huge and there are guided tours to help you around different sections of the museum.
Then, onto Notre Dame Cathedral which is absolutely incredible with architecture dating back to the 12th century and a great position on the Ile de la Cite (right next to the beautiful Ile Saint-Louis). Entry is free, although there are paid tours which you can take. The detailed Gargoyles, workmanship of the ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows are amazing to see, especially knowing they are over 800 years old!! Tragically the fire last year ripped apart a lot of the cathedral but plans to restore it to it’s former glory are in action.
After a flying visit to the Luxor Obelisk, walk to the Rue de Rivoli to find the famous Angelina’s tearooms; a former favourite of Coco Chanel. This came highly recommended and I have to say we were not disappointed! The queue, as anticipated, was a hundred people long so we opted for a take away signature hot chocolate. I was warned beforehand not to attempt a cake and a hot chocolate, which I thought was a cautious statement especially for a pregnant lady, but in fact we could have actually shared one cup between us! It was pure liquid chocolate, absolutely divine but hugely sickly!!
Have a think about taking a river tour down the Seine, which will give some good views of all the sites from a different angle and perfect for anyone who just has a day or 2 to explore Paris.
One more must see to mention is the Sacre Coeur, in Montemartre. The highest spot in Paris which boasts fantastic views (including the Eifel Tower) We visited on the last day as it was right by our hotel. By then I barely had enough energy to walk to the local boulangerie without stopping to catch a breath, let alone up to the dome of the Basillica but it was fantastic all the same from the bottom of the hill; make sure you go via one of the many chocolate shops along the way!
The Metro will take you everywhere you want to go and gave us (well, me) some good respite in between all the walking. It is really easy to navigate, even without speaking the language.
Being 34 weeks pregnant and exhausted by 7pm, we spent our evenings around the local area which had a plethora of bars and restaurants. In fact there was so much character in these little paved streets and the non-assuming restaurant fronts that half the fun of going out in the evenings was to choose which of the many tiny, non-commercial restaurants to go with. We dined on traditional French food and Stu tasted some of the local wines while I indulged in litres of San Pellegrino – my staple pregnancy drink! The walk home afterwards not only helped with digestion but also offered more opportunities to people watch and enjoy the many interesting sites of the area around the Moulin Rouge.
We had a fantastic time and I hope this helps anyone thinking of popping over to the city of love. If you have slightly longer I would definitely recommend having a look at this 7 day Paris itinerary for even more things to do in Paris.
Thinking of visiting Bruges? Have a look at this post on a weekend break in Bruges, especially brilliant at Christmas.