Paris. Who can resist it?
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With numerous flights every day, frequently less than £100 return, or a short hop from Kings Cross on the Eurostar, a short romantic break in Paris is quick and easy to arrange. A generation ago Paris was one of the top honeymoon destinations for couples from the UK, but it is now more favoured for a romantic weekend breaks.
The best time to visit Paris is during the famous ‘Paris Spring’. From February to May, the days are sunny, without being overpowering, allowing you to enjoy this stunning city in all its glory. When August arrives it brings with it high temperatures and tourists. Many restaurants close down as locals move to the coast to escape the crowds. However, regardless of this fact, ‘the greatest city on earth’ can be visited at any time.
Most visitors arrive from the UK by plane or Eurostar and there are easy links to the centre by Metro. Prices are similar to the London Underground and it is advisable to buy a pass to cover the whole time you are there if you will be using the Metro for more than a couple of trips per day. If you are thinking of driving to Paris, then bear in mind that there is very little parking in the centre – the majority of which is very expensive.
- No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower, and there is a now a little champagne bar (and toilets!) at the very top. Book online a few days in advance to avoid the queues, although inevitably there is still a bit of queueing for the security points and the lifts. If you are short for time, get a ticket to the 2nd level; the views of Paris are still dramatic and the experience similar, but without the wait for the additional lifts from the second level to the very top. For the energetic you can skip the lift and walk the 600+steps to the second level.
- The Louvre is high on everyone’s list of “must do” art galleries and it is well worth spending half a day here.
- If you only have time to visit one cathedral I would recommend Sacre Coeur, over looking the city from its hill top position, in preference to the more popular and touristy Notre Dame, which currently has a huge seating structure set up in front of the main façade in preparation for the 850th anniversary celebrations this summer.
- The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most iconic buildings in Paris and definitely worth a visit.
- Take a rollerskating tour around the city to visit the popular attractions in Paris whilst falling into each others arms!
- Burn a hole in your pocket by hitting the shops of the Marais 4th Arrondissement.
- When the sunsets, the city comes to life in a whole new way. Whether you are an opera fanatic or a throbbing night club is more your thing- everybody will find somewhere to have an unforgettable evening.
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Prices in Paris for a pavement coffee and croissant have been notoriously high in the past but this no longer seems to be the case. There are the tourist traps, but equally there are plenty of cheap eats, particularly in the student-filled Bastille area where there is a lively cafe culture.
Bear in mind that the total on the bill must by law include all the charges including the service charge everywhere in France. Many visitors get caught out on this one, either by waiters telling unsuspecting customers that it does not include a tip, or that only a minimal service charge is included but that it is customary to leave extra if you are happy with the service. Locals pay the amount on the bill and nothing more.
Hotels are expensive in Paris and demand is high, so it is hard to find a bargain.
Space is at a premium so rooms tend to be small and many feature just a shower without a bath. Like many city centre hotels it is hard to find hotels with ameneties such as parking, gyms, spas and pools; if you are arriving by car or don’t mind the 20 minute 20 euro taxi fare to leave the city centre there are some gems in the hills immediately outside the city centre including our favourite Caudalie hotel, Les Etangs de Corot.
If you would prefer to stay in central Paris our pick is BanKe Hotel. For shopoholics it would be hard to get any closer to that mecca for shoppers, Galleries Lafayette, and it is close to two Metro stations for easy access to the rest of Paris.