As someone who loves to travel at any opportunity and a great lover of a bargain at the same time I was quick to book some cheap Eurostar tickets to Paris several years ago (almost exactly five years ago to be precise). With the return journey being less than £50 per person I would have been a fool not to, especially as Paris was on my travel bucket list.
So I quickly got to planning what I could fit into an eight hour trip to the French Capital, booking in a “hop-on-hop-off” to ensure that I ticked off as much as possible.
First port of call was the Eiffel Tower – the most recognisable landmark in the city. Exiting the Metro, the tower looming above, I headed straight to the line for tickets to see the view from the top. What a better way to start the day than having bubbles at the top, taking in the 360 degree views across the city.
So after taking in the views and a few glasses of champagne I jumped on board the sightseeing bus to the next stop on my list – Notre Damme cathedral.
The medieval Catholic cathedral is widely known to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and one of the most iconic church buildings in the world. It simply did not disappoint. The exterior is simply impressive, the interior equally so with beautiful architecture and stained glass windows.
If you have a little time to spare I would thoroughly recommend spending a few Euros to climb the spiral staircase to the roof top of the cathedral. Although it could be a tough ascent to the top – the views are extremely rewarding, with views across the River Seine with the Eiffel Tower standing as a proud backdrop.
Next stop on the whirlwind day trip was the Louvre – the world’s largest art museum and the central landmark within the city. Famous for housing many pieces that would please many art fanatics, including Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, here you could easily spend hours upon hours roaming the beautiful building taking on all the collections the museum has to offer.
Personally, as someone who is not that big on the arts, I found the actual building of the Louvre and it’s history, more impressive than what it housed. For many years I wanted to see the Mona Lisa believing in my head that it would be this massive masterpiece. I was rather disappointed to see it in the flesh. You know you have found the piece as visitors gravitate towards it. In reality, I found myself feeling deflated. Though I am not denying it is a impressive painting, it was rather smaller than I had expected.
Though the time at the Louvre was well spent wandering numerous rooms, I do feel that the hours I spent here were rather wasted for such a short trip. It would have been better planned to visit several other sights that were on my list and save the vast collections of the Louvre for a longer trip.
After an early dinner and wandering up the Champs-élysées, night was starting to fall and my time in one of the most romantic cities in the world was coming to a fast end.
It was only fitting that the final sight I would fit into the itinerary would be the Arc de Triomphe. Another amazing monument, which honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.
Here, if you take the lift into the attic you can learn about its history in the small museum. If you take the 46 steps onto the roof you will be able to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
By the time I reached the roof of this magnificent building, the city was dark but lit up spectacularly. The Eiffel Tower, the start of my Parisian adventure, was twinkling in the distance. It was rather fitting that my trip started and ended with the tower in sight.
After lingering and taking in the views, it was time to head back to Gare du Nord station, ready for my return trip to London.
What a whirlwind day, attempting to fit in as many of the iconic landmarks as possible.
As with most European city day trips, there is never enough time to take it all in. I fully intend to return to the French capital in the future, perhaps extending my adventures to the outskirts of the city itself.