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Paris in 24 hours Travel itinerary for a round-trip on the Eurostar from London

We've lived in London for over four years, and as a travel blogging pair who document local experiences, it seems remiss that we had not yet travelled on the Eurostar.

With a spare weekend up our sleeves and a touch more than itchy feet after spending time in Ireland for TBEX, a fare to Paris from London was bought on impulse, and on a chilly November morning we boarded the train with Europe in our sights.

Outdoor cafes in Paris' Latin Quarter

Our trip would be a whirlwind 24 hours from start to finish, and in the interest of saving time, we pre-planned an itinerary.

London to paris

The Eurostar leaves from London St Pancras in Kings Cross, and you're best to check-in about an hour before departure, to leave time for security, passport checks and perhaps a quick coffee en-route.

Two hours and twenty minutes later, the Eurostar pulls up at Paris Gare du Nord station.

For convenience, we chose to stay in the area around Gare de l'Est (or east) station because it's an easy walk from where you arrive on the Eurostar.

Tip: Google Maps on your phone is a handy app for finding the exact location of your accommodation.

The M4 metro line from Gare de l'Est station takes you directly to Saint-Michel station for the Latin Quarter and Notre-Dame Cathedral, and Gare Montparnasse for the best views of the city, but more on that later...

La cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Romantic Paris

See the city in a day

After securely dropping-off our extra items at our overnight accommodation, we took only what we needed, and headed for the train station, Gare de l'Est.

Getting around on public transport

Purchase a Mobilis day (24 hour) pass for €7.50 - it will take you wherever you want to go in central zones one and two, on the trains, bus, trams and more.

You can also ask about the Paris visite ticket which costs a little more but offers the benefit of entry into various attractions around the city.

Keep your pass safe and away from your phone and wallet as it can become demagnetised.

Autumn in Paris

The metro ride from Gare de l'Est to Saint-Michel is around 15 minutes on the M4 line.

We have always liked this part of town, brimming with quaint streets to explore, lots of food (fondue, kebabs, Italian and French restaurants) and bars.

Known as the Latin Quarter or student quarter, it's right on the doorstep of the Seine and a stone's throw from one of my very favourite structures in the world, Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Take a little time in the area to fuel up with food, explore Notre-Dame and of course, snap some photos.

Cathedral tip: at certain times of the day you can line up outside and be allowed entry to the top. There's a lot of stairs to walk up and down, but it's a really excellent experience to be on top of the cathedral with the gargoyles and overlooking the city.

Practical help: bathrooms can be hard to come by in Paris, even if you're in a cafe! There is a clean facility outside the entrance to Notre-Dame, but you'll need €1 to enter.

Seine experience

We have never seen the city from the water.

As we've already been to Paris previously and have taken in the main attractions, we figured why not embark on a different kind of adventure?

I explored options for dining (lunch or dinner) while floating along the river, and while this looks amazing, it's pricey.

For €17 though, I discovered you can enjoy 24 hours hop-on-hop-off excursions around the city on Batobus. This service is comfortable, clean and importantly for this time of year, warm.

You can buy tickets at any of the stations or pre-purchase online, print proof of purchase and swap for a ticket on the ground.

Batobus stops at nine very key spots in the city, including the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Champs-Elysées and right across the river from Notre-Dame, where we boarded.

The entire route takes around one hour and forty minutes.

Relax and enjoy a front-row seat

We did a circuit on the Batobus, chilled-out and soaked up the view as we cruised in and around Paris' waterfront neighbourhoods.

Cooper and I disembarked at the beautiful Musée d'Orsay and had a look around before making our way to the nearest metro (again, Google Maps is very helpful for finding your way around the winding back streets).

Panoramic views

Our intention was to get to a place that promises the best views of Paris, in time for sunset (5pm at this time of year) so we could capture the scenery during the day and as night fell.

Destination: Montparnasse Tower Panoramic Observation Deck

City view from Montparnasse Tower

I'd asked for advice on where we could find a fabulous view, thinking along the lines of a rooftop bar, but the most popular vote by far was to visit here, and the advice was spot on.

Here you can see the city from a warm, spacious indoor viewing and events area that includes a cafe with drinks and snacks, and floor to ceiling glass windows.

You can also walk up two flights of stairs to the outdoor observation area, which while cold, is worth it for clean pictures not taken through glass.

Sun setting across Paris
Night falls and the city sparkles

Entry fee is €15 per person, but well worth it.

You can buy at the venue or purchase online and print your tickets for entry.

Montparnasse Tower is a lovely experience and highly recommended if you want to see all of Paris in just a couple of hours.

Shopping and the city

There are shopping centres in Paris that offer outdoor terraces where you can enjoy a free view of the city.

Seek Printemps or Galeries Lafayette flagship department store, but ask when you're there because it's not necessarily obvious how to access these views.

nightfall

Starting to wear from our early start and long, cold day, we took the metro back to our hotel, officially checked-in, freshened up and headed out for a look around.

There are countless places to try for food and drinks, and we stopped into a few to sample local fare along the way.

Of note, a chic little Parisian spot that had been recommended, called Gravity Bar.

It's a small place so book ahead or visit early in the evening so you can get a seat. The cocktail list is surprising, not least because it's all in French so we made a guess at what to order. We were assured by the friendly host that it would be, "an excellent experience".

It was.

How to spend your evening in Paris? Go for a wander and try new things.

Safety warning: Use common sense, and beware of pickpockets, especially well-known scams where groups of people will push into you in a crowd or on a train, and grab wallets from your pockets (front and back) without you even knowing it. This especially applies to men, but the rule of thumb anywhere is to only take what you need, and do not carry all your cards with you.

Christmas markets

You may be wondering why I've not mentioned festive markets in November.

Well, there are many lovely Christmas markets in Paris, but we missed them opening by about a week. If you're in town late November through to late December, look up something that might be on in a neighbourhood near you.

I remember big Christmas markets that we found near the Champs-Elysées but sadly they are closed in 2017. The markets were fantastic - hopefully they'll be back next year. Lovely to browse during the day, but at night, the lights of the markets are nothing short of magical.

Hungry locals

sunday morning

We were blessed with a bit of sunshine the next morning so despite the cold, headed out early for a walk around.

As the sun shone over the old streets, I spotted a few locals who had come out to read the newspaper, sitting on benches overlooking the street. Church bells sounded at 8am, and a couple of cafes cracked open the doors.

Not to break with French breakfast tradition, we picked up a couple of coffees and croissants for our morning walk around the quiet, pretty streets.

Local recommendations

A friend at work sourced food ideas for us from her best friend who lives in Paris, and although we couldn't visit because they were either closed or a bit far away for the time we had available, I did research these places and they look lovely. For breakfast, seek Du Pain et Des Idées for pastries, and Holybelly 5 for lunch or brunch (you can't make a reservation here, so consider visiting at an off-peak time like 3pm).

We caught the train back to London around lunchtime the following day, delighted to have dipped our toes into Europe for the weekend.

Travelling on the Eurostar was a very pleasant experience too, without all the hassles of the airport. Keep an eye on sale fares, and if premium seating is inexpensive (one way for us it was only £10 more per ticket than a general fare), book it, it's worth it.

paris guide: vlog

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