Paris, the iconic capital, full of must-see places, so romantic and extravagant. From all the reasons that could lead me to Paris, I chose the most unusual one: a concert! As my boyfriend is a big fan of Ben Howard and his concert was planned in Paris, we decided that there is no way back: let`s see Paris and Ben Howard, of course.
We faced 2 big challenges in our trip: having only some hours to visit Paris (I think you need a whole week in order to discover everything) and the bad weather: it rained all the time!! And the showers were pretty heavy! However, despite all the inconvenient, I liked Paris and I would definitely encourage you to go see it.
How to get there if traveling from Brussels
Thalys a fancy high-speed company. If you buy the ticket in advance, you will probably encounter some reasonable prices. If not, expect some high fares. The journey takes up to 1h and a half and the trains’ timetable is one train per hour.
Izy is a low-cost alternative provided by Thalys. The prices are decent and the conditions are normal (no WiFi) The journey takes up to 2 hours and a half and there is only one train per day. What is interesting is that they have 4 types of seats:
- Seat not guaranteed (usually this type costs 10 euro)
- Folding seat (15 euro)
- Standard seat (the prices differ but if you book in advance, you will find some lower fares)
- XL seat (10 euro more than standard price)
We chose the standard option and it was fine.
Take care with your luggage: if it does not fit their requirements, you will pay an additional fee (30 euro!!). In Brussels, no one checked the dimensions of our luggage but in Paris yes.
Bus (the journey takes up to 3 h and a half) and the prices are generally low: 15 euro.
Once there, we started our adventure through the crowded Paris. The route that I will recommend you today is basic, ideal for travelers that have only some hours to spend in Paris.
From Gare du Nord to Notre-Dame
We felt a bit lost in Gare du Nord as we knew that the metro 4 will take us until Notre-Dame but we were surprised to see that metro 4 was canceled until September! We managed to take 43 (RER) and we get off at Chatelet station (close to Notre-Dame)
First stop: Notre-Dame Cathedral
Notre –Dame is a Catholic cathedral, maybe the most iconic one in France and why not, in the world. The building and the architecture are beautiful but not that impressive as I expected to be. You can enjoy the Gothic architecture, as well as stained glass, which is really nice. The entrance is free!
Second stop: Conciergerie (10 minutes from Notre-Dame) a medieval fortress and Marie-Antoinette’s prison. It dates back in the 14th century. It is simply impressive!
Third stop – Louvre Museum (some 18 minutes by foot from Conciergerie). Well, Louvre is huge and amazing! What is interesting is that the museum is hosted in Louvre Palace, built in the 13th century!
Just in front of Louvre, you will see Tuileries Gardens (which look beautiful but we did not stop by) and Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
At 5 minutes by foot, you can admire the Museum of Orsay.
Fourth stop: Alexandre III Bridge (14 minutes) is sumptuous and extravagant (a bit too extravagant for me) You can admire the Eiffel Tower from there.
We did not continue the way until Eiffel Tower (some 22 minutes through the heavy rain) as we were running out of time and the weather was capricious. We got to the metro station Champs-Elysees and get off at Charles De Gaulle-Etoile station (metro 1)
Fifth stop: Arc de Triomphe another stunning landmark of Paris. Its construction, which started in 1806, was commissioned by Napoleon in order to commemorate the victories of his army.
Sixth stop: Sacre Coeur and Montmartre region (from Charles de Gaulle-Etoile take the metro 2 until Anvers and then walk by foot up to 10 minutes until Sacre Coeur)
Sacre Coeur and Montmartre region were the places that impressed me the most. Its privileged location (situated on Montmartre hill) is making things even more interesting. You should climb many stairs in order to get there (or just take the funicular railway, as we did) but it totally worth it.
We took the funicular (the metro tickets are used) but the ride takes up to 1 minute so I don’t think that the price – 1,90 euros worth it! For the next time, I would climb the stairs.
The views, the white-domed basilica, and its Romano-Byzantine style are great! The entrance is free in the church, however, in order to enjoy the panoramic views from the dome, you should pay 6 euro and climb up to 300 stairs! (we skipped this)
Just to set expectations, you will not be seeing Eiffel Tower from there but it still an enjoyable view.
If you are leaving Paris from Gare du Nord, Sacre Coeur is the best choice as it is only 15 minutes by foot.
What I liked in Paris was the fully automated metro (metro 1). I was shocked when I saw that no driver is involved and that the metro is running on its own. Well done, Paris!
Train Brussels to Paris: 78 euros/2 persons
Train Paris to Brussels: 38 euros/2 persons
Metro ticket: 1,90 – 1 ticket
Paris is definitely a must see capital. If you want to see it, plan an extended vacation there, you will not regret!
Travel. Enjoy. Repeat.