When you think of the places you can travel to by train within 2 hours, the options don’t seem all that interesting. One destination however definitely stands out from the rest and that is Paris, “La Ville Lumière”. When I first realised how quickly you could find yourself in the French capital, I was amazed at the lack of people who have visited the iconic city. The idea of aimlessly roaming the grey English streets at midday and somehow ending up losing yourself in the intricate gardens of Versailles by 3pm almost seems too good to be true, but can be achieved at ease by a quick hop on the Eurostar. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, catching a relatively quick ferry from Dover to Calais is also popular (particularly with a car), although the extra 3 hours of driving would have to be taken into account.
Even if the time and effort of the journey were to be multiplied, you can’t put a price tag on the sheer magnificence of the city. Every corner gives way to a new charm, from the lofty landmarks which tower into the sky to the chilling catacombs located deep underground; even if you’re only there for a day, the city gives scope for plenty of exploration.
9:00 am- The Eiffel Tower
Begin your day with none other than the most famous structure in the world; it wouldn’t be a Paris trip without it. Scale the 3 floors in less than two minutes and behold the intricacies of the city which can only be seen from above. If the queues and prices don’t take your fancy, a simple stroll around the base of the tower is a view within itself, with the iron laced structures and magnificent height allowing for ample photo opportunities.
11:00am- The Louvre
After a stroll around the tower, head down to the Louvre Museum- another essential attraction for any Paris visit, long or short. The historic architecture of the building as well as the impressive glass pyramid are captivating within their selves, and this is before you find yourself in the presence of works such as the Mona Lisa and the iconic “Venus de Milo” statue.
1:00pm- The Latin Quarter
When you imagine Paris, you are most likely to conjure up something which closely resembles the Latin Quarter. With its winding streets and bustling markets, the whole area is crammed with dusty bookshops and vintage record stores, offering a step into the past. The Latin Quarter is the perfect location to linger around with a bite to eat and a cup of coffee, with plenty of small novelties to keep you entertained. If you feel like escaping the chaos and taking a breath of fresh air, the Jardin du Luxembourg and botanical Jardin des Plantes both offer plenty of space to sit back and take in your surroundings.
3:00pm- Galaries Lafayette
Whether you’re a fan of shopping or not, the “Galaries Lafayette” department store offers a lot more than just stands and products. Built in 1894, the store is famous for its stunning stained-glass dome ceiling, known as the “art nouveau cupola”, and is the second most visited attraction in Paris after the Eiffel Tower. If the impressive ceiling alone doesn’t satisfy you, the store also has a rooftop area dedicated to viewing the city- a cheaper option if the Eiffel Tower or various other viewpoints appear a bit too pricy.
5:00pm- Centre Pompidou
If the historical art work found in galleries such as the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay isn’t for you, the Centre Pompidou offers the complete opposite. Designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the centre has been described as “a 20th century architectural marvel”, and can be recognized immediately from its exterior escalators and enormous coloured tubing. It is the largest museum of modern art in Europe, and chronologically displays the works of artists such as Matisse, Picasso and Warhol along each floor. Just 20 minutes away from the Galaries Lafayette, this attraction would tie in well with the rest of the visit.
7:00pm onwards- Notre Dame
This prominent landmark is always a great feature to round off the day, especially when lit up at night. As an alternative to eating out, why not take away some food and sit in the grandeur of what many call one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture in history. What’s more, the cathedral is only a short distance from the Gare du Nord station, allowing for a quick and flexible journey back to the Eurostar. If you decide to stay the night, there are multiple hotels scattered around the city, varying from elaborate suits to cheap but cosy accommodation. A good tip is to book a hotel on the day on one of the many websites that offer last minute savings.
As you can see from the list above, there is plenty to achieve in the city in 12 hours. If the thought of going away on a lengthy trip seems impossible to you, settling for a day trip is a great alternative. So why not make your destination Paris, the city of enlightenment – just setting foot in it will leave you with a story to tell.