We teamed up with Eurostar this month to do a little travel experiment; can you do Paris in a day?
Why travel to Paris with Eurostar?
Eurostar seemed like an obvious choice to do a day trip to Paris from London. First off, the Eurostar timetable is frequent and the journey times are reasonable when you consider that you can check in is 30 minutes before and you’ll be hurtling along at 186mph. For you eco-warriors out there is also the green aspect to consider. We discovered that you use an 11th of the CO2 emissions per passenger travelling on a return journey by Eurostar than you would if you flew to Paris. The best thing in my opinion is the location, at either ends. London St Pancras and Gare du Nord are both Zone 1 of their respective cities. At 6ft2 comfort on transport is always been my issue but I had no problem on Eurostar. The staff were also very quick to help us when we needed it so hats off to the Customer Service.
Extra Eurostar benefits
There are additional benefits to travelling with Eurostar in the form of Eurostar Plus.
Eurostar Plus Culture is a unique partnership between Eurostar and some of Europe’s most popular museums and galleries in Paris, Lille and Brussels. Travellers simply present their Eurostar ticket to take advantage of 2-for-1 entry into paying exhibitions. Paris galleries include: Musée d’Orsayles Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Le musée du quai Branly, la Cité de la musique, le Jeu de Paume, le Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Eurostar Plus Shopping gives passengers a 10% discount at the Galeries Lafayette Paris and Lille stores. At the Galeries Lafayette flagship store on Paris’ chic boulevard Haussman passengers can also receive an invitation to a private fashion show.
Getting Around Paris by Metro
Paris is very easy to navigate by Metro and you’ve got several ticket options.
Single tickets are €1.70 or you can buy a Carnet of ten single tickets €12.70.
Mobilis tickets allow unlimited travel within a given zone. You can get a one day pass for Zone 1-2 for €6.40.
Paris Visite is a card that not only allows travel but also comes with partner benefits. A Zone 1-3 pass will cost you € 9.75 for the day. You can see the list of benefits here.
You’ll have to balance up your own needs. With Eurostar Plus you get discounts so you might not need a Paris Visite card and a Mobilis ticket would be more cost effective.
Paris Tourist Attractions and Nearest Metro Stops
Arc de Triomphe – Charles de Gaulle Etoile, Line 2.
Champs Elysees – Champs Elysees, Line 1 or 13.
Eiffel Tower – Bir-Hakeim, Line 6.
Galeries Lafayette – Chaussee d’Antin La Fayette, Line 7.
Louvre Museum – Palais Royal, Line 7.
Notre Dame – Cité, Line 4.
Paris Opera – Opera, Line 7.
SacrÃ© Coeur – Anvers, Line 2.
Paris Day Trip Route
If you’re going to do a day trip to Paris, you have to be selective about what you plan to see. It’s also best to plan it out beforehand so that you don’t waste time going back and forth on the metro.
We planned a route around Paris to take in the major sites that was also a loop on the Metro.
This route also takes in some of the city’s iconic landmarks. To find the best locations for snaps, check out this Paris Photography Guide.
We started off at Gare du Nord and took a short 10 minute train (Line 4 and then Line 2) to Anvers. Head out of the station and follow the line of souvenir shops up the hill and viola; Sacré Coeur! Great views of Paris from the top and a magnificent building inside and out.
Jump back on Line 2 in the same direction and 13 minutes and 9 stops later you’ll be at Charles de Gaulle Etoile. Pop out from underground and you’ll be right by the Arc de Triomphe. Careful with the roads here, it get’s a bit crazy. Want the perfect shot of the Arc? It’s more sensible than it sounds but stand in the middle of the road! Cross the road and stand by the traffic lights in the middle. You’ll get something that looks like this:
Now from here you have two options. If you’re really short on time or the weather isn’t great then you can grab Line 6 down to Bir Hakeim for the Eiffel Towel. Alternatively, walk down the Champs Elysees. It’s a picturesque spot for lunch however it’s certainly not a budget place to eat. If you want to mind the budget I would suggest heading down one of the roads leading off Champs Elysees to find a slightly cheaper restaurant.
You can walk all the way down the Champs Elysees to the Concorde or alternatively cut off and head south towards the river which is what we did. It’s a very manageable walk and walking down the river towards the Eiffel Tower is something everyone should do.
Cross over the bridge and walk under and through the Eiffel Tower. There’s a lot of green on the other side and we did spend a fair amount of time tanning on the grass. Once the sun got too much we did the short walk to Ecole Militaire. Grab Line 8 followed by Line 7 to Palais Royal for the Musée du Louvre.
Here we watched tourists taking all sorts of bizarre pictures of themselves trying to hold the tip of the pyramid or making it look like they were leaning on it. Then I got bullied by some pigeons but still loved being here all the same.
From here it takes 10 minutes to get to Cité via Line 7 and 4 to Notre Dame.
We had ended up with some spare time so we ended up buying ice cream, sitting on a wall and watched the shadows on Notre Dame change as the sun started to set.
When we were ready to move on we jumped on Line 4 back to Gare du Nord which took all of 10 minutes. It had been a long day but it was a stress free whip through border control and we were on the train and fast asleep.
The whole day I kept commenting on how I didn’t feel like I was in Paris because it was so easy to get there by train. I normally associate going to another country with the hassle of a flight but this just felt too easy. So can Paris be done in a day? Of course not. Like any city it would take an age to see and do everything but if you wanted to see the highlights in a day it’s perfectly achievable by Eurostar. My advice would be to plan what you want to see carefully before you go.
Want to do your own day trip to Paris?
Well you’re in luck. Eurostar currently have a September sale on until the 15th September 2012 in which tickets can be used between 18th September and 19th December 2012. The sale includes thousands of seats from £59 return to either Paris or Brussels. Maybe you want an impromptu trip now while the weather is good (was 27 degrees yesterday while I was there) or perhaps a winter break to look forward to? Head to Eurostar now to pick up a bargain!
Thank you to Eurostar for providing Gap Year Escape with tickets to see what we could do with a day in Paris!