Having spent a wonderful weekend in Paris a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would share some of my tips and experiences.
I booked through an online company as booking last minute and trying to keep it simple, so wanted the accommodation and flight together. However, www.whtravel.es are a better bet to help you on packages. My hotel was a 4* boutique hotel very central near the Arc de Triomphe and lots of transport connections called Hotel Les Jardins de La Villa & Spa. I booked room only as breakfast in good hotels in Paris is not cheap and as they supplied a coffee machine in the room, it was easy to pick up some bagels and croissants in the evening for the morning. Although the hotel is lovely and has a small spa and gym, I had no to time to use it and could have picked somewhere simpler as there is so much to see and do in Paris.
I booked flights from Aicante to Paris Orly with Vueling flying early morning on a Friday and returning late Sunday night so I could have a full long weekend there.
Travelling from Paris Orly into central Paris was relatively easy. I used a app (google maps) on my mobile all the time to work out how to get A to B (slightly complicated by the fact that my mobile only worked in wifi areas and so I had to take screen shots of the instructions in order to be able to follow the when out and about!). From the airport it was relatively simple to follow the google maps instructions to get a ticket at a machine and get a bus then to change and take another bus. The drivers were helpful and it cost in total about 28 eur for both of us to arrive close to our hotel. On the return journey however I found a taxi from central Paris is 39 eur to Paris Orly airport and opted for this.
Our first morning, arriving early we took our small cases to the hotel and asked them to keep them while we headed off to explore. I thought the best thing to do was a hop on and hop off bus tour and had booked this in advance through the Paris Visitors Bureau www.parisinfo.com.
I had booked what was called a “Mini Pass” allowing us to use the hop on hop off bus all day. This cost 45 eur for an adult and 35 eur for a youth. I also booked with them a fast track entry for the Loouvre Museum (15 eur – children are free) and a “skip the line ticket” for the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower, which I had booked for 4.30 pm on the Friday. The total was 120 eur and I had the option to have the tickets sent to me, or to collect them in person from their office in Paris, which was not that far from the Louvre. I had taken that option as had not wanted to risk them not arriving in time. I duly turned up, showed my passport and was given lots of maps and instructions. They had also included a free boar tour on the Seine for an hour and they gave me the tickets.
We walked to the Louvre, went straight in and had a whistle stop quick tour of the parts we wanted to see, including the enigmatic Mona Lisa, and then caught our bright green bus and took a pleasant journey on the top deck seeing the sights of Paris. Eventually we made our way, using a short metro stop (it is quick and easy to manage to find your way to places using the metro and very cheap) early to the Eiffel Tour and ascended. At the 2nd Floor, we queued for probably an hour to go up to the top and I wished I had investigated trying to book that in advance.
I had looked at a website called www.fattiretours.com that did some great tours of Paris, but did not book anything through them, but they are worth investigating. Wearily returning to our hotel by metro, after the Eiffel Tower, we stopped at a small local restaurant and had some delicious French food; my teenage son enjoying his snails. Be warned that a fizzy soft drink can cost more than a glass of wine, frequently 5 eur and even water is often not cheap. Drinks in Paris are expensive.
The following day I had set aside for Disneyland Paris, which I went to years ago and has now grown to two parks; Disneyland Park and Disneyland Studios. I would recommend going to both parks unless you have young children, in which case just Disneyland Park would probably be fine. You can find a huge amount of information online on the parks and rides.
I booked online at www.365tickets.es Disneyland Paris for one day/2 parks for two of us tickets, which included an hour´s boat trip on the Bateau Mouches for a total of 153 eur. This included FastPasses for Disneyland, which in my opinion are not really fast passes, as they only allow you to book a future slot and come back at that time and walk straight on. We found many of the rides did not even allow you to use the fast passes, which was quite frustrating. There are very thorough security checks at the entrance to the park, but they did not confiscate my large bottle of water and next time I would try to take some food in, as the food in the parks is more or less just fast food of not particularly good quality and double the price anywhere else.
Again to get to the Parks I used google maps which told me to take a train (RER) to Marne´la-Vallee station which is only minutes walk from the entrance to the Parks. They are about 50 minutes/an hour from central Paris. Buying the tickets was easy as the ticket machines have a button to press to convert to English.
Sunday, our final day, we made our way by metro to the beautiful Marais area, Paris´s pretty historic area, and had pre-booked the Picasso Museum (children again are free). For any art lovers it is a must. The area is full of wonderful little boutiques and cafes, open on a Sunday and with a map you can wander and explore all the quirky shops and streets. We then made our way over towards the Notre Dame, and further on to the Pompidou Art centre and the colorful fountains in the Square there stopping for some refreshment. “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life. -Thomas Jefferson”
We then, with aching feet, caught a metro to catch one of our boat trips and enjoyed this immensely. An hour on the Seine is something no one should miss, and something for adults and children alike, although the elderly lady sat next to me did not stop complaining about the number of cameras on the boat and people using them! From the river we returned to the hotel, collected our cases, and got a car to the airport (feeling the extra 10 eur was worth resting our sore feet!) We drove through the quiet streets, dusk falling, the sky growing pink and rosy and I hoped it would not be too long before I saw my old elegant friend again.
“A final reminder. Whenever you are in Paris at twilight in the early summer, return to the Seine and watch the evening sky close slowly on a last strand of daylight fading quietly, like a sigh. -Kate Simon”
written by Amanda Thomas in Spanish Solutions