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Day Trip to Paris from London - Our Experience

Day Trip to Paris from London - Our Experience

Old May 14th, 2004, 06:10 AM
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Day Trip to Paris from London - Our Experience

We have gotten so much help from this forum that I?d like to share our experience of spending a day in Paris by taking the Eurostar from London. In a word: amazing. I, too, like a lot of people, was very hesitant to do it but what made me finally decide was when I read in one of the responses that if you were not sure when you would be going back to this part of the world, then do it. That did it for me. I was also encouraged that my London guidebook, Rick Steves 2004 London, had a whole chapter devoted to a day trip to Paris from London. We decided to follow the itinerary set out in the book.

I bought my Eurostar tickets online (www.eurostar.com) a week before our scheduled trip and I was still able to get three round trip tickets at $94 each but this fare was limited. If you book a lot earlier, more times are available at this fare. We went on a Thursday, leaving London at about 5:30 a.m. and returning at around 8:30 p.m. We walked to the Waterloo Station from our hotel (Waldorf) and got there at 4:45 a.m. and were met by a crowd. We took in fabulous views from the Waterloo Bridge. It was really beautiful during this time of the day. We picked up our tickets at the station. Walking was perfectly safe, and I probably felt safer since there were three of us.

The ride was uneventful and in less than three hours, we were in Paris (time change ? an hour ahead). I asked the station security for the location of an ATM which was just a block outside the station. There was also an exchange bureau but I went with the ATM. We then headed back to the station to grab a cab. It was impossible to get an available cab where we were. We chose to take cabs all day since there were three of us and we only had a day. Doing so also allowed us to see more of the city and it was very easy to hail cabs.

We took a cab to Notre Dame Cathedral, bought the museum pass for €18 for each adult and our son was free (under 18). We knew we would spend more than €18 for the places we had planned to visit. Having the museum pass also allowed us to bypass a lot of the crowds (except on the steps of Notre Dame; they only have one line). The Cathedral visit was free but we had to pay to climb the 422 steps to get to the top (covered by museum pass). The views at the top were awesome, and the climb to the bell tower was interesting. Looking up close at the gargoyles was fascinating.

A couple of blocks from Notre Dame is Ste. Chapelle, a beautiful church with about 1,300 scenes on stained glass. What an incredible sight. Again, this was covered by the museum pass and we bypassed the lines.

We then took a cab to Arc de Triomphe and had gorgeous views of the city (covered by pass). It was neat to watch so many boulevards converged at this point. We also spent some time in their museum. We did have to get a free pass for our son but there was no line. This was the only place where we had to do so; at the other places, we simply waved our museum passes.

We walked on Champs Elysees to the Louvre, and this was quite a long walk but well worth it. Cafes, bakeries, shops, ATMs abound. We enjoyed some excellent pastries and snacks.

We used the museum pass for the Louvre (different entry, so no lines again) and spent a wonderful three hours in this glorious museum and ate at their food court (not bad; we ate wherever we were when we got hungry). Since we got there after 3 p.m., the crowds were manageable. We had fun checking out the paintings mentioned in the Da Vinci Code.

We then took a cab to the Eiffel Tower and bought tickets to go all the way to the top (you can choose from three levels and this is not covered by the museum pass). I managed to get to the second level (you have to change elevators at this point) and then I chickened out. The rest of the group went all the way up and experienced marvelous views.

Back to the Station we went to catch our 8:30 p.m. train. We got to the station at around 7:30 p.m., in plenty of time in spite of the traffic. There is a pleasant waiting area for Eurostar passengers with stores and food concessions (mostly snacks).

For all our cab rides, we spent about €40 in total. We were stuck in traffic going back to the station.

It was definitely exhausting but we are so glad we did it. I did have a neck pouch for our money and bank cards, and I did feel safer having it (side note: someone we know was in Paris a few days later and her wallet was stolen; didn?t know until she opened her pocketbook and it was gone!). Rick Steves? itinerary was a huge help. Somehow, everything was just timed perfectly. Paris is a beautiful city with its own charm and completely different from London (we also loved London). None of us speak French but we managed. We slept in the next morning (until 10 a.m.) but still had a full but easy day in London.
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Old May 14th, 2004, 06:34 AM
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Thanks for your wonderful report. Sounds like you had a great time. Ste-Chappelle is one of my favorite sights in Paris and I recommend it to everyone for their first time trip.

You did the smart thing by taking cabs and minimizing travel time to the sights. Are you already planning your next Paris fling?
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Old May 14th, 2004, 06:55 AM
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I wish. But it's my husband's turn to plan our next big vacation - it'll probably be in a national park (he loves the outdoors)! I would go back to Paris in a heartbeat. What a lovely city.
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Old May 14th, 2004, 10:29 AM
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Hi Nena,

Glad you had such a good time.

>it's my husband's turn to plan our next big vacation - it'll probably be in a national park (he loves the outdoors)!<

Go back to Paris and deposit him and his camping gear at the Bois de Boulogne.
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Old May 14th, 2004, 11:08 AM
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Good idea, Ira

I actually considered this campground for my upcoming trip to Paris, but decided against it. It would be a great base, though, for exploration of the Paris environs.

http://www.abccamping.com/boulogneuk.htm
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Old May 14th, 2004, 11:21 AM
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Ira,

Thanks for the tip. I'll certainly look into this; this might be a great compromise.
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Old May 14th, 2004, 02:33 PM
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Sounds like a nice trip. I was interested to hear that you needed the museum pass to get into Notre-Dame cathedral; I wonder when they started charging for admission?
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Old May 14th, 2004, 06:07 PM
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Entrance to the Cathedral itself was free. They charge if you walk up the 422 steps - well worth it since the views were incredible! This is where we also purchased the museum pass.
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Old May 14th, 2004, 06:25 PM
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Nena - you mentioned not being able to skip the lines to climb the steps at Notre Dame even with the museum pass. Anyone know if this is a new thing? Whenever I've been there my museum pass has allowed me to enter before the non-pass holders. Although come to think of it, I don't recall there ever being a separate line. I'd just go to steps entrance and the attendant would wave me in upon viewing my pass. Wonder if that's still the case?
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Old May 14th, 2004, 06:27 PM
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Forgot to add -- Nena, sounds you made the most of your one day in Paris. Glad to hear you had such a great visit!
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Old May 17th, 2004, 10:49 AM
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I'm thrilled to read your report. I was tempted, but our trip to London was just too short. I also have Rick Steve's book, and was prepared for Paris "just in case." We'll do it on our next trip, when we have more time, but I'd like to spend at least one night as there are a few more sights I'd like to see: Sacre Couer (foregive my spelling) + Monmartre, San Sulpice, and a few more. Plus, I like leisurely strolling and enjoying the ambience at night. I'd settle for one night, two days.

I must 'fess up that at the National Gallery in London I made a beeline to the painting there mentioned in the Da Vinci Code--The Virgin and the Rocks, or something like that! However, that's not why I wish to walk by San Sulpice. Last time I was in Paris I walked by that church to get to my hotel, and it was so lovely lit up at night. That made it even more fun to read about it in the book, as I imagine few of the readers have seen it!
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Old May 17th, 2004, 05:05 PM
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Jv827,
We had to line up for the steps on Notre Dame because this was our very first stop and this is where we bought our museum passes. If we had them beforehand, we probably did not have to fall in line.
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Old May 17th, 2004, 05:18 PM
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Nina, so glad you made the trip to Paris! Thanks for sharing your experience, I know there have been many "is it worth it" and "should I do it" questions regarding Paris as a day trip and you really spelled out how it can be done with time for cafes & sightseeing! Good for you!
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