Last Monday, my fiancé & I were lucky enough to be on our way to Paris for a four day trip courtesy of County Wedding Magazines. After having to reschedule our Forest Holidays trip (which you can read about here) earlier in the year & with our New York honeymoon booked for September, we’ve been trying to save up but there was no way we were turning down a free holiday to France, especially when we were given the option of travelling the day after our anniversary.
Four days might sound like a long time, but once you factor in the train from Edinburgh to London (4 and a half hours) & the Eurostar from London to Paris (2 and a half hours), we only really had two full days to spend exploring, & while I didn’t want the trip to feel rushed, I also didn’t want to come home with the sense that we’d wasted the opportunity. I feel like we struck a really great balance between seeing the sights & keeping the vibe super chill, so today I wanted to share my tips with you for making the most out of a short stay in Paris.
1 // Use the Batobus
If you’re keen to see all the big sights I can’t recommend the Batobus enough. We paid €11 each for our 1 day passes which allow you to get on & off the boat as many times as you want in a 24 hour period. The journey itself isn’t super scenic thanks to the Seine’s raised banks but the fact that the boat has nine stops, each within walking distance of a key attraction, makes it ideal for sightseeing as you don’t need to worry about figuring out bus or metro routes. We bought our tickets after lunch at the Eiffel Tower stop & managed to visit Notre Dame & the Louvre before dinner, but you could easily cram in more if you started earlier & were more focused.
2 // Learn some basic French
I haven’t really used my French language skills since a hard-won A-Level seven years ago, but having a basic ability to communicate was massively helpful, from getting us the right Batobus ticket to knowing that the woman on the table next to us wanted me to pass the salt. It also helped ease my anxiety as I could loosely understand the conversations going on around us – something that was particularly sweet at the zoo, overhearing Grandparents talk to their Grandchildren about the animals. Obviously, a lot of people spoke English, particularly around the tourist areas, but it doesn’t hurt to throw the odd s’il vous plaît & merci into the conversation & we definitely encountered people whose English was very limited, so being able to at least attempt communication in French was super helpful.
3 // Don’t be afraid to venture out of the city centre
With only a couple of days it can be tempting to stick to the city centre, but if sightseeing isn’t your thing or if you’ve already seen the big attractions then don’t be afraid to venture a bit further out. We were staying in Charenton-le-Pont & would probably have preferred to be a bit closer to the centre of Paris, but it did mean we were basically next door to the incredible Bois de Vincennes park & the Paris Zoo which was definitely a major highlight of our trip. We drove through some super cool looking neighbourhoods on our way into town (a couple of which feature on this list) & I’d have loved to have more time to explore them.
4 // Check restaurant reviews
Particularly in the centre of Paris there are restaurants everywhere, most of them filled with tourists & office workers grabbing something to eat during their lunch break or after work drinks. This can make it hard to tell which places are actually serving decent food & which are just benefiting from a good location, so I’d really recommend eyeing up menus carefully & where possible checking out online reviews. Avoid places that are just offering the same 5 classic French dishes, wander down side-streets rather than sticking to the main roads, & look out for places serving fresh crêpes.
5 // Wear comfy shoes
Even with minimal sightseeing, we still managed to rack up over 15km of walking during our time in Paris including lots of cobbled streets & sets of steps. I swear by my Adidas Gazelles but if you’re not a trainers person get yourself a pair of flat boots & wear them in before you go, you’ll thank me later.
Our train travel & accommodation were paid for by County Wedding Magazines as part of a competition prize, but as always all thoughts are my own.