It had been many years since I was last in Paris, so much so I couldn’t remember anything about it (I was a child and was camping and visiting Disneyland with family). But, it was basically on my doorstep living in London and I wanted to also experience the Eurostar. I’ve loved trains all my life and I think it’s the best way to go from place to place.
My girlfriend and I met after work at Kings Cross station in London, had a quick coffee and croissant (to get us in the mood) and off we went. The trains are spacious and clean and I was loving the start to our trip. I must say, I hadn’t factored for the prolonged time spent underground, looking emptily out of the window waiting for my first site of the French countryside. It didn’t take long though, after 20 minutes or so I was rewarded with gloriously lush greenery. The sun was coming down to the West of me too, which made for a lovely entrance to Paris.
We arrived in the early evening to the Gare du Nord station in Paris and decided to walk to our Airbnb in the Montmartre district. It took longer than we thought, but it’s a much better way to get your bearings of a new place. We got to our flat and it was perfect; much cheaper than the hotels that were on offer too.
During our time in Paris we walked everywhere, clocking up over 20,000 steps each day (this did catch up with me on the final day). We visited the main tourist hotspots and ate and drank in lovely little Parisian restaurants. Here are my top picks if you’re having a long weekend away in the French Capital.
Visit the Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre
I’d not really looked at where we were in comparison to the ‘sights’ of Paris when i’d booked my Airbnb, I just new it was within walking distance to the centre of Paris on Google Maps. However, I tend to get quite lucky with these things and that day was no different. We were right on the doorstep of The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica completed in 1914. The Romano-Byzantine architecture on display in this Basilica is beautiful to look at. It stands on top of a hill overlooking Montmartre and the rest of Paris. It’s free to go inside the Basilica and if you want to go to the top there is a €5 charge.
Take a walk along the river to Cathédrale Notre-Dame
Sticking with our love of walking, we decided to walk from our accommodation to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. We walked down to the Jardin des Tuileries and along the Seine until we reached our destination. The walk in itself was spectacular with plenty of places to stop for lunch, sit down and admire the view or just to rest. Notre Dame itself sits on a little island in the Seine. We crossed the bridge and got to what was another spectacular architectural feat. The Cathedral, built in 1260 is a fine example of French Gothic Architecture. Entry to the Cathedral is free, but to go to the tower you will need to buy ticket which costs €8.50 and to visit the Crypt is €6.
Visit the Louvre Museum
The Louvre is a must see and quite cheap too. At €15 per person you can spend the entire day wondering around the different exhibitions they showcase. The Louvre is the world’s largest art gallery and home to the famous Mona Lisa (which is a lot smaller than you expect when you see it). The museum, both inside and out, was a sight to behold and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough; It has something for everyone. The only negative to it, which indeed shows how big it is, is that it’s pretty difficult to navigate around due to the sheer number of items they exhibit.
Go for a drink in the busy Montmartre district
We cooked in our flat a lot of the time during our trip, but we would always go out for drinks or coffee in the evening. Montmartre is a brilliant place to do this. There are so many cafes and bakeries, wine cellars and cosy restaurants, to choose from that you could be left deliberating for hours. It’s also home to the famous Moulin Rouge, which we didn’t have the time to go to, but is on our list for next time! We ended our trip on top of the Montmartre hill watching the sunset over both Paris and what was a glorious weekend.
I couldn’t recommend Paris enough. It’s a massive city, but very much accessible on foot if you’re up for the challenge. We had a brilliant time and even missed out one of the main attractions being the Eiffel Tower (we did walk around it but decided the queue was too big if we were to get the rest of our itinerary checked off). Whilst you can definitely squeeze in a lot of the city in a few days, giving yourself 5 days would probably be an optimum length of time for a short break. We can’t wait to visit again!