Monday, July 20, 2015

One day in Paris

So, what do you do when you have only one day to see Paris?

First up, let me say that, in all honesty, you can’t see Paris in a day.  You need at very least a weekend to sample the delights that Paris has to offer.  But sometimes a day is all you have, and you have a burning desire to see Paris…. So what do you do?  You go!  You definitely go!  

Rather see a teeny smidgen of Paris than nothing at all!  Such was the situation when we did a day-trip to Paris while on a trip to Europe in 2012.  Our family had been to Paris a couple of times before, but Paula’s boyfriend hadn’t ever been, we had a day free, so we decided to do a quick day-trip to Paris from London, so that he could have a taste of this magnificent city.  What follows is our itinerary for the day.

Note that I pre-purchased Paris Visite cards (travel cards that are valid on the metro and buses in Paris) as well as Batobus (ferry) tickets before we left home – when time is of the essence you do NOT want to be faffing with queueing and buying tickets.  We also had the map of our travels loaded into Grant’s smartphone – no time for getting lost on this very short trip.  I pre-planned every single detail of this trip - our time was very, very short and I knew that we could not afford to waste a minute, there was no time for indecision or debate!

We caught the Eurostar from St Pancras station in London, leaving at 7:00 and getting to Paris at 10:15.  We arrived at Gare du Nord train station and immediately caught the metro to the Trocadero stop. My reasoning here was that when you see the Eiffel tower for the first time, you want a stunning view of it – something that will make your jaw drop and that will stick in your mind forever – and in my opinion there is no better place for that view than the Trocadero.  (A sunny day would obviously have been infinitely better, but it wasn't to be. Oh well.)

Eiffel tower

From the Trocadero there is a path that leads through the gardens to the Pont d’Iena bridge which leads directly to the Eiffel Tower.   

Eiffel Tower
View of the Eiffel tower from the Pont d’Iena bridge
Time was too short to go up the Eiffel Tower, so we satisfied ourselves with a good look at it and loads of photos and we then made our way down to the nearby dock to catch a Batobus.  The Batobus is a water-taxi that runs on a circular route with 9 stops. 


Notice the panoramic windows, offering lovely views

I felt that travelling by Batobus was the best possible option with time being so short, as we got to enjoy panoramic views of the River Seine and surrounding buildings while being transported to the next point on our itinerary: Notre Dame. 

Notre Dame

Pont de l'Archeveche bridge
Lovers locks on the Pont de l'Archeveche bridge

We spent some time exploring the outside of Notre Dame (no time for a visit inside on this whirlwind itinerary) as well as the lovers’ locks on the Pont de l'Archeveche bridge before wandering down a little alley to find an authentic French lunch.  Croque Monsieur and French Onion soup were just the thing.

After lunch we made our way back to the Batobus and caught it as far as the Louvre.  We got out and walked over to the Louvre, where we took some photos – we decided against a visit inside.  (This is a toss up - if art is your thing, then it would probably be worth forgoing something to make time for a visit to the inside of the Louvre - it's a matter of priorities when your visit is short.)

The Louvre

We then wandered through the Tuilleries Gardens as far as the obelisk.  

We saw some cute little tuk-tuk vehicles and decided that we just HAD to catch one to the Arc de Triomphe.  It was so much fun haring up the Champs Elysee in a funny little tuk-tuk. (You see, as much as I like to plan our trips in detail, I'm all for a good dose of spontaneity too!)

Arc de Triomphe

We got out at the Arc, had a look around, marvelled at the crazy traffic circling the arch and then wandered a little way back down the Champs Elysee, ogling the fancy shops...and sports cars. 

We popped into a restaurant for a Berthillon ice-cream - something I'd wanted to try for years

Next we hopped on the metro to Blanche station in Montmartre.  I love Montmartre and personally feel that no trip to Paris – no matter how short – is complete without a visit. 

On exiting the metro, we walked over to the Moulin Rouge for a photo and then caught the “Little Train of Montmartre” to the Place du Teatre, where we wandered around, soaking in the decidedly French atmosphere.  

Moulin Rouge

Basilica of Sacre-Coeur

We took some photos of the view over Paris and the beautiful Basilica of Sacre-Coeur before catching the furnicular down to the Abessess area, where we had a fun dinner in a small restaurant, opting for a Plat du Jour - the menu of the day, with a choice of starter, main and dessert - it was lovely.  Finally we made our way to the "I love you" wall - a wall with the words "I love you" written in every conceivable language including Zulu and Afrikaans by the way :)

I love you wall

On that note, it was time to catch the metro back to Gare du Nord and the Eurostar back to London. 

We were exhausted, but very satisfied with our whirlwind visit to Paris.

As I said before, a day-trip to Paris is certainly not ideal, but the itinerary I have detailed here does pretty much tick all the boxes as regards “must-see” places and it definitely whets the appetite for a more detailed exploration.

Next time I will post our itinerary for a week-end trip to Paris.

1 comment:

Geoff Maritz said...

Zulu and Afrikaans nogal, how surprising. When I visited London a few years ago I had a similar experience, one day in the city trying to visit all the amazing museums but no time to enjoy them. Most of our time was spent getting from one place to the other with a walk along the Themes river past the "Eye of London." I too took stacks of photographs as is my usual practice, some of which I posted on my blog. I do wish I had more time to roam about like a tourist but, alas it wasn't to be.
You at least crossed the channel. I, on the other hand, headed across to Ireland. Spent a week there and so enjoyed my stay and the people that I fell in love with the place. Where are you off to next?
Blessings and love from South Africa, Geoff.
P.S. I went to Britain in December, it was freezing.

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