What to do if you have one day in Paris

A Day in Paris

If you are visiting London for a few days, it would seem to be a waste not to take a side trip to Paris. But, if you only have one day to spare, what can you fit in? Here is an idea of how you can best spend one day in Paris.

For a reason that will become clear later, try to make your trip on a Wednesday or Friday. The best way to get there is to book on the Eurostar, which will take you from St. Pancras in London to the Gard du Nord in Paris in around 2¼ hours and with the first train departing shortly after 5.30 am you will get plenty of time in Paris. If you prefer to wait until the streets are aired a little before getting up, you might want to wait for the train leaving around 7.00 am. With the last return train leaving Paris around 9.15 pm, there is plenty of time to take in the main sights of Paris.

Take your breakfast with your or buy some on the train so that when you arrive at the Gard du Nord you are well-fed and ready to take a cab to the Cathedral de Notre Dame, the magnificent cathedral made famous by Victor Hugo in his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Dating from the 12th century, Notre Dame features superb architecture and some intimidating gargoyles.

From Notre Dame, save time by taking a cab to Les Invalides. Here you will find museums dedicated to French military history, the tombs of renowned French soldiers, including the most famous of them all, Napolean Boneparte. You could spend hours at Les Invalides but you really need to move on.

A walk down the Rue de Grenelle or the Rue St. Dominique will take you to the Champs de Mars and that icon of Paris, the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889 for the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower stands 1063 feet tall. You can walk or take the elevator to the first and second floors, where you will find good views and restaurants, but only the elevator goes to the top and from there the views over Paris are simply spectacular.

From the Eiffel Tower, walk over the River Seine on the Pont d’Lena to the Jardins du Trocadero, go past the Palais de Chaillot and the Musee National des Monuments Francais towards the Trocadreo. Here, there are several quite good and reasonably priced restaurants where you might want to take a break for lunch. Instead of a sweet dessert, try a cheese platter – the cheeses will blow you away.

Refreshed, continue you walk along the Av. Kleber to that other icon of Paris, the Arc de Triomphe. Standing in the center of the Place de Charles de Gaulle, the Arc de Triomphe was designed in 1806 and built to honor those who died for France during the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic Wars. It is the perfect place to begin your stroll along the Av. des Champs Elysees with its high-class shops and cafes without which no trip to Paris is complete.

If you can drag yourself away, take a cab to the Musee du Louvre. Once the home of French kings, the Louvre is now the third largest museum in the world. It would take days to view all its exhibits but you will at least have time to take in some of the world’s finest artworks and sculptures, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. There is also a fine collection of Egyptian antiques (Napoleon was captivated by Egypt). The Louvre is open till 10.00 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays (hence the suggestion to visit Paris on either of these two days) so you should have time to get a good feel of what it has to offer.

Make sure you leave the Louvre early enough to get back to the Gard du Nord in time for your train. Cabs can be hard to get, but there is a bus that goes to the railway station from outside the museum. Once you are back on the train, you can relax and have a snack and a drink and reflect on your flying visit to Paris. And, maybe, you will want to start planning your next trip - only next time you will probably want to spend a lot more time there.