Last weekend I made a short trip to Paris to catch the Dior exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs before it ended on the Sunday. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen some of the exhibition on my stories, which you can still view on my highlighted stories. It was totally worth it, the exhibition was beautiful and Danny and I had a great trip. Paris is really easy to get to from London and I have visited a few times – although each trip always feels too short.
I’ve decided to put together a quick guide to Paris, with some of my favourite places and restaurants as well as tips I’ve picked up to help you plan a trip to the French capital.
HOW TO GET THERE
If you are going from London, Paris is only a two-hour train ride on the Eurostar. I have actually never flown to Paris as I really love taking the Eurostar. Everything is so easy and as I live near St Pancras it’s so accessible to get to the station, no worrying about bags or liquids like you would with flying and not to mention no long check-in times. You only have to be there 30 minutes before your journey, but I’d recommend giving at least an hour for delays at security and not to feel rushed. The train goes from St Pancras to Gare du Nord in Paris. The station is central and easy to get everywhere by metro, bus or taxi.
Eurostar always have some great offers on, we managed to grab their £29 ticket offer, which made it just under £60 for a return per person. I’ve even spent a day trip in Paris taking the Eurostar as you can take an early train and a late one back.
HOW TO GET ABOUT
Paris has a metro which makes it quite similar to London and really easy to get around quickly. We recently stayed at Hotel De Banville which was a little further out in the West of Paris than where I stayed on my previous visit at Grand Hotel de Palais Royal which was in the 1st Arrondissement area. However this time we were only a short metro ride to the Arc De Triomphe and only about 20 minutes to where the Palais Royal and the Louvre are. It was a very quiet neighbourhood, it felt more like where people in Paris live and there was also the large shopping centre So Ouest close by.
The metro is quick and lets you visit all over Paris. We bought a book of tickets, I think we had ten tickets for about 14€, which gives you a single journey each trip. I’m sure there are other ticket options and also an Oyster style travel card, but for a weekend trip this worked easily for us. The tickets also give you access to the buses and RER, which is the double-decker style trains if you’ve ever seen them before and these go from the city centre to a little further out in the suburbs. The lines are numbered and coloured, so I just use Google Maps to help me work out which way to go and what line to get on.
WHAT TO SEE
Where to begin? There is a lot to see in Paris, but if it’s your first visit here are my main tourist hot spots and some personal favourites.
Museums are a great one to visit when it rains in Paris, which when I visit seems to be all the time. The Louvre plays host to the Mona Lisa and at Musée D’Orsay the Van Gogh famous self-portrait. The Louvre has the famous pyramid building, which at sunset is worth grabbing a photo of, as the pyramid lights up and looks pretty magical. Musee D’Orsay is a personal favourite, I love the layout of the museum and all the Impressionist paintings, as well as the giant clock that looks out onto the River Seine.
If it’s a sunny day then a walk through Tuileries Gardens. Located between the Louvre and the Place de Concorde it is a perfect place to stop and have an outdoor lunch or just take pictures.
Of course the Eiffel Tower is a must in Paris. You can buy tickets to go up the tower, there are three different levels, so depends how daring you are. You can also eat in the tower at one of the restaurants. Or simply admire the tower from afar. The tower lights up at night and also sparkles too, which will make you scream with joy, or maybe that is just me. For a great view over Paris and of the Eiffel Tower, I’d recommend visiting the Montparnasse Tower before the sun sets, for an amazing 360 degree view over Paris and some fantastic photo opportunities. Plus you can drink champagne at the top!
Make time for the Notre-Dame Cathedral. This beautiful building is free to visit and a great example of French Gothic architecture which dates back to 1160. There are places to eat and visit nearby, this was actually where the padlock bridge (which is no more) was located.
WHERE TO EAT
Again there is so much choice in Paris, whether you like the traditional French cuisine, more of a Michelin star experience or cheap eats, there is plenty to choose from. Personal favourites include; Angelina the best hot chocolate in the world? Angelina is a tearoom open all-day for breakfast lunch and dinner. We visited on our most recent trip for breakfast. I recommend opting for the breakfast option for 20€, rather than an individual items, as it works out better value for money. It’s not cheap but it is certainly delicious. The hot chocolate I had heard people rave about for ages and they definitely aren’t wrong.
In the Les Halles area The Beef Club has become a quick favourite, if you like steak and burgers you’ll be in the right place. They also have a cocktail bar downstairs which is open till the early hours. If beef isn’t your thing they also have the Fish Club right next door. For a quick tasty burger, check out Le Ruisseau Burger Joint, a burger, side and drink for 13€. For something a little fancier or for a special occasion Le Lulli is your go to. Of course these are only a small handful so I’d love to hear your favourites.
WHERE TO SHOP
Shopping one of my favourite things to do, although in Paris it really isn’t cheap. A lot of brands such as Le Labo (American) and British names are much more expensive in Paris, so one thing to note when getting a little excited out shopping in the beautiful Paris stores. However if you fall over in Dior ala Carrie Bradshaw and have to buy the whole shop, well you might find its possibly slightly cheaper being a French brand, but I noticed more recently the pricing was similar if not more expensive than it was on my previous trips to Paris. That aside, there are some great places to shop, including Printemps and Galleries Lafayette which are department stores and not only do they have a vast selection but the interiors are always so beautiful.
If you are looking for designer shopping head up Rue Saint Honouré, this is where you will find Christian Louboutin, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and all the usual designer shops. Even if you’re not buying it’s nice to look at the amazing windows and storefronts. It’s a bit like Bond Street in London. If you want more high-street shops like Sephora, Zara and H&M then you’ll find these on the Champs Élysées.