“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”Anonymous
Paris, the capital of France has been drawing visitors from across the globe for centuries. This is infact one of the most visited cities in the world and one of the most romantic cities in Europe.
As a part of my business trip, I got a chance to visit Paris in December 2019. It was a 2 day trip and I tried to sneak in some time to visit a couple of major attractions in Paris.
It was an 1.5 hours trip from Dublin to Paris in Flight. Could capture some scenic photographs from the Aer Lingus flight that I had travelled.
There are 3 airports in Paris:
a) The Major one being Charles De Gaulle(CDG) (2nd largest Airport in Europe after Heathrow) Its around 30 Kms from city centre
b) Orly. Its around 17 Kms from city centre
c) Beauvais (Low cost airlines like Ryan air fly out of this airport). Its around 86Kms from City center.
There are bus shuttles from Beauvais airport to Paris which takes around 1.15 Hours+. Please note that these bus shuttle schedules are adapted to the Flight timetables.
More details can be found here : https://www.aeroportparisbeauvais.com/en/access-parking/shuttle/
My flight was to CDG airport. CDG has 3 terminals and they are connected with the CDGVAL airport shuttle (Driverless trains). There are clear markings in the terminals which would help you to reach the airport shuttle.
The most convenient ticket that I had found was the ‘Paris Visit’ card. These are unlimited travel cards and you can select the convenient card based on the Zone/Days.
More details can be found here : https://booking.parisinfo.com/il4-offre_i149-paris-visite-pass-ticket-transport-paris.aspx
Since my itinerary was only for 2 days and my flights were from the CDG airport, I had opted for a 2 days Zone 1-5 card which costed me around 38.35 Euros. The website price was 42.20 Euros. So I believe the tickets from the counter was cheaper compared to the online option.
You can buy tickets from the Kiosks or the the ticket counters available in the airport. The ticket infact is a small piece of paper and its extremely difficult to handle and there are high chances that it might get misplaced somewhere. So be extremely careful with such tickets. The Paris visit card is valid in trains, Trams and buses. I had travelled only once in bus and the experience has not been great. It was extremely crowded, not sure if it was only with that bus/route which I had taken. If possible, look for metro options than the bus.
I had travelled from the CDG airport to Gare du Nord and from there, I took a taxi to my hotel in Porte De Clichy.
Gare du Nord is a large station which is connected by many local and international trains. I was told that this is one of the busiest railway stations in Europe.
If you are further travelling from Paris to places like Amsterdam, London, Cologne, Essen; this will be the station from where you will be catching such long distance trains.
Also, if you want to save some money on the taxi from CDG Airport to your hotel in Paris, my personal suggestion will be to take the train from Airport to major stations like Gare du Nord (RERB – around 9.5 Euros for a single side ticket) and then take a taxi further to your hotel from there. A direct taxi from CDG to Nord will easily cost around 50-70 Euros.
Also please note that there are some direct trains running from CDG airport to places like Marseille, Lyon, Bayeux and so on.
In this trip, I had explored some places in Paris:
a) Eiffel Tower:
When you think of Paris, the first thing that comes to mind is the iconic, Eiffel Tower (also known as Iron tower). Even though you feel like it’s a cliché, but Eiffel Tower is a must see place during your visit to Paris. You have options to reach the 1st , 2nd and summit(Top floor) of the tower and the tickets for the same can be purchased online well in advance. Its better to get the tickets booked prior to your trip to avoid disappointment at the last moment. I personally have not travelled to the top of the tower and hence might not be in a position to provide the comment whether it is worth or not.
This place is mostly crowded. So it better to reach the tower early in the morning time to avoid crowds.
The sparkling lights of the iconic monument is something that you cannot miss during your Paris trip. Every hour, on the hour, between sunset to 1:00 am, the Eiffel Tower puts on a sparkling light show that looks incredible at night!
Tickets can be purchased here à https://www.toureiffel.paris/en/rates-opening-times
b) Champs-Élysées (Shopping street):
One of the best places for shopping (and window shopping) is at Champs Élysées but please note that many of the brands are high end ones like Louis Vuitton. The streets were completely lightened up, as Christmas is fast approaching. You can also get costly cars like Ferrari for rent, from this place.
c) Pont Alexandre III Bridge:
There are many royal bridges in Paris. This is one of the most extravagant bridge.
The stone and metal sculptures, along with beautifully decorated architecture itself will define Paris. When you take the river cruise, it’s the most incredible river bridge you’ll be seeing in that journey. If possible, walk down to this bridge during the night time and you can witness some beautiful views from the bridge. The view of Eiffel tower from this bridge is spectacular.
d) Notre Dame (Cathedral):
This is one of the most inspiring cathedrals in World/Europe with its classic architecture, stained glass, and flower garden (behind the cathedral). There were some maintenance work going on in the cathedral during my visit in December 2019.
e) Seine River Cruise:
Boat trips on the Seine are really popular, with everything from five-course dinners to Champagne cruises available. But for a budget way to see the sights along the river, the Batobus does a hop-on-hop-off loop which covers the 9 major attractions. Tickets cost €17 for one day, but better value is the pass for two consecutive days for €19 per person.
The entire round trip (without getting out anywhere) will take around 1 hour 45 minutes or so. The frequency of the boat at any station would be around 25 Minutes. So plan your Hop On and Hop off accordingly.
If you have enough time, you can even walk through the banks of the Seine river.
Based on the number of days in your itinerary, please explore some of the below places aswell:
1) French is the most spoken language and very limited people speak English. Don’t consider this as a major concern. Public transports like Metro, Bus and all have proper English displays. Many of the taxi drivers whom I had interacted were also fluent in English.
2) In some routes, the Metro might not be available after 11 PM even though the Google maps might still be showing that the train is approaching soon. If there is a staff around, its always good to check the timings/alternate routes with them
3) You could easily cover many of the important places if you have 3-4 days in your Paris itinerary.
4) The best time to visit Paris is from April to October.
5) Paris is divided into 20 neighborhoods or arrondissements and everything is being referred to 12th, 18th, etc. 1st is in the dead centre of the city and the neighbourhoods spiral outward from there. Before booking your hotel check whether the area is safe and close to the places you want to visit. If you’re in Paris for a very limited time don’t choose a place on the edge of town, as you definitely don’t want to spend hours on commuting in order to save a few bucks.
6) Keep your Paris metro ticket until you’ve exited the metro system at your final destination because the police might be checking your tickets inside the station. Also, don’t be afraid of using Metro as it easy, cheap and safe option. On many Metro lines, the doors to the train do not open unless you press a button or lift a handle.
7) Paris has loads of little bakeries and pastry (Patisserie) shops.
8) Around all major Paris attractions, you will find beggars asking you to sign a form without giving you the chance to read it. Don’t let anyone put something in your hands otherwise, they’ll keep following you around.
9) Bonjour is ‘Hello’ and Au revoir is ‘Good Bye’ in French. You can hear these words multiple times during your visit.
10) There is absolutely no need for a car in Paris.If you are really looking for one, please note that you’ll be dealing with crazy driving, expensive parking, and traffic blocks.
This time search for the Indian food took me just outside Gare du Nord station. To my surprise, I could find around 7-8 Indian restaurants in a row. I decided to have some vegetarian food and ended up eating Masala Dosa from Chennai Dosa and Milagaipodi Masala Dosa from Saravana Bhavan.
Personally I liked Chennai Dosa both in terms of taste and price.