A Last Minute weekend in…. Paris
It’s Friday. You’ve got the whole weekend ahead of you, with nothing planned until Monday morning. What do you do?
For hopeless romantics, culture vultures and Francophiles, there is only one city to head for a weekend away. Especially in the spring. And that is, of course, Paris.
If you’re thinking about taking off on a last minute European city break, don’t forget that our Last Minute travel insurance policies are designed for people like you. With no cancellation cover costs included in the price it’ll work out cheaper than most standard policies – leaving you with more to spend on tapas!
GETTING TO PARIS
Getting to Paris is easy, especially if you live in the south of England. The Eurostar will get you into Gare Du Nord from St Pancras International in a little over 3 hours. With two trains an hour from 7am (the earliest trains leave at 0540) until 2030 there are plenty of trains to choose from. Prices start at just £69 for an adult return.
If you live a little further away then all is not lost! As Paris is a major European flight hub serving most of the known world, you are more than likely to be able to get a flight from a local airport. All major airlines and most of the budgets fly to Paris from all over the UK. A swift bit of googling will reveal all. A train from Paris Charles De Gaulle airport will then take you to the heart of Paris, with stops at the Gare Du Nord (where you’ll see your friends from the Eurostar) and the ‘super hub’ railway station at Châtelet Les Halles. This station is the biggest underground station in the world and hosts up to around 750,000 travellers each day. It connects with 5 Metro lines and lots of other regional network lines. More than likely you’ll end up here at some point so if it sounds daunting, you're going to have to just dive in!
Paris by night Taxi Tour
Paris by night is a wonderful experience, if you don’t mind the crazy driving. A route through the centre of Paris and along the Seine will show you Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower (lit up beautifully), The Louvre and the Arc du Triumph. You’ll get to experience the thrill of driving down the Champs Elysees and around the terrifying Place D’Etoile and will see the best of the city from the best seat in the house. Paying for a taxi might not be cheapest but at least it means you can stop, take a picture and get in again. In short, you set your own agenda. Well worthwhile for an hour before bed time.
The Pompidou Centre
As an icon for modernism, the Pompidou centre has been around for a while now. But that doesn’t belittle its presence as a cultural hub and centre of all things artistic. It houses the public library, cinemas and the museum of modern art (the biggest in Europe). Major art exhibitions come here regularly. See www.centrepompidou.fr/en for more. Outside the centre in the Place Georges Pompidou you can hang out watching street performers, artists, mimes and all kinds of carnival type entertainment and people pretending to be statues. In spring it is especially busy but worth it all the same.
Jump on the Bateaux-Mouches or walk or cycle
Boat tours of Paris on the Seine are pretty standard. But at just around 10 Euros they are an easy way to see it all without making too much effort. You just jump on at The Eiffel Tower and then let the water take you on a round trip of an hour. Then again, why not just walk along the banks of the river? There are wide walkways where you can stroll along and take it all in at your own pace. Heck, you could even push the metaphorical boat out and hire a bike from http://www.parisbiketour.net. They can even bring it to your hotel. Paris has over 200 km of cycle tracks so there’s plenty to see.
OK. So you might need a bit more than a weekend to see the Louvre in its entirety but it’s worth going just for the spectacle. And it’s handy for the Eiffel Tower too. With over 35,000 artworks and the world’s most famous painting, The Mona Lisa, it is an experience you shouldn’t miss. You don’t have to queue for the Mona Lisa (yes it is really that small) but you can explore galleries and fabulousness at your own pace. If you like art, don’t go home without paying homage to one of the world’s largest museums. More at www.louvre.fr/en
Going down! The Catacombs
Paris has miles and miles of tunnels, quarries and catacombs stretching out underneath it. A lot of it has become the stuff of legend, with artists hosting parties and performances illegally under Paris’ streets. But there is another part of it that it is possible to visit – if you have the stomach. There are believed to be 6 million buried underneath the city and on the Catacombs Tour you can see many of them, stacked high in walls, arranged neatly into patterns. It’s a fascinating tour but what’s most mysterious is what lies beyond what they allow you to see! Tour numbers are limited so get there early and wrap up warm. For more see www.catacombes.paris.fr/en
Going up! The Eiffel Tower
We have to end it here, with the landmark that says ‘Paris!’ more than any other. It’d be a travesty to visit and not go up it, or at least walk underneath it and enjoy the atmosphere. It’s a good idea to book as it gets busy, but do go as it is wonderful, especially if you have romance on your mind. It may also be less busy if you opt to walk up. Many do but take your time – there are 704 steps. Once at the top you can marvel at the views, of course, but there are other options, including a glass of champagne to celebrate the event or lunch in one of the three restaurants. Choose your style, from pic-nic to Parisian chic. More at www.tour-eiffel.fr
There’s more about visiting France in our Quick Guide to France HERE.
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