Review of a Relaxed, Short Break in Paris, Travelling by Eurostar and Coach

Updated on August 17, 2018
Glenis Rix profile image

Glenis lives in England. She enjoys travel in the UK and in Western Europe with occasional trips further afield.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Canal Saint MartinThe Artists in Place du Tetre, ParisParadis Latin Nightclub in the Latin Quarter of Paris The Paradis Latin Nightclub in Paris. The architect who designed this building was the M. Eiffel who also designed the Eiffel Tower. Bateau Mouche on the River Seine in ParisBasilique du Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Paris Lots of steps to climb but there is a great panorama of Paris from the terrace.Poster for the Paradis Latin Cabaret NightclubEurostar train at the Gare du Nord
Canal Saint Martin
Canal Saint Martin | Source
The Artists in Place du Tetre, Paris
The Artists in Place du Tetre, Paris | Source
Paradis Latin Nightclub in the Latin Quarter of Paris The Paradis Latin Nightclub in Paris. The architect who designed this building was the M. Eiffel who also designed the Eiffel Tower.
Paradis Latin Nightclub in the Latin Quarter of Paris The Paradis Latin Nightclub in Paris. The architect who designed this building was the M. Eiffel who also designed the Eiffel Tower. | Source
Bateau Mouche on the River Seine in Paris
Bateau Mouche on the River Seine in Paris | Source
Basilique du Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Paris Lots of steps to climb but there is a great panorama of Paris from the terrace.
Basilique du Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Paris Lots of steps to climb but there is a great panorama of Paris from the terrace. | Source
Poster for the Paradis Latin Cabaret Nightclub
Poster for the Paradis Latin Cabaret Nightclub | Source
Eurostar train at the Gare du Nord
Eurostar train at the Gare du Nord | Source

A Long Weekend in Paris on a Coach Trip

A short, escorted visit is an excellent way to familiarise oneself with a new city, particularly for those who are less confident in a foreign place, or travelling as a single person. Although I had visited Paris previously it was more than forty years ago and in different circumstances. I don't find holidaying without a companion particularly enjoyable, so I enticed a friend to join me on a four-night escorted trip via the Channel Tunnel and coach. We met up with our travel guide for our long weekend visit to the City of Lights beneath the statue of the poet Sir John Betjeman in St. Pancras station. Shepherded to the Eurostar platform, we boarded the train for a journey lasting just 2 hours 35 minutes, including 25 minutes under the English Channel. The train moved seamlessly on to French soil for a fast onward journey through the nondescript farmland to the Gare du Nord, where our group was picked up by coach. We were whisked to a Hotel Mercure located adjacent to the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles Showground where, coincidentally, the biennial Paris Motor Show was being held.


We stayed at the Hotel Pont de Versailles Expo. Spectacular atrium (our internal twin room looked down on the reception/lounge area); lovely breakfasts, and only 50 metres from an entrance to the Expo Centre.
We stayed at the Hotel Pont de Versailles Expo. Spectacular atrium (our internal twin room looked down on the reception/lounge area); lovely breakfasts, and only 50 metres from an entrance to the Expo Centre. | Source

Summarised Itinerary for an Escorted Weekend Coach Trip in Paris

The article describes the following features of an escorted tour with Riviera travel -

Day 1

Our first evening was free.

Day 2

Morning - Coach drop off in Montmartre

Afternoon - River Cruise

Mid - Late afternoon - free

Evening - Escorted Cabaret Show with dinner included

Day 3

Early morning - coach tour of the iconic sights of Paris

Late morning to late afternoon - Coach drop off at Versailles

Late evening - Coach tour of the floodlit monuments

Day 4

Morning - free time

After lunch - coach pick up for the journey to the Gare du Nord


I Love Paris in the Springtime

What to Wear for a Weekend in Paris

What you choose to wear in Paris will depend on the season, to some extent on how many stars you accommodation can boast, and on your planned activities. As you are likely to be doing quite a lot of walking, comfortable flat shoes are an obvious priority for daytime wear.

The place for sportswear is the gym or the sports field. Personally, for city travel, I prefer to aim for smart-casual separates for daytime wear. In Spring and Autumn, a top and tailored trousers with a raincoat, a trench coat, or a tailored jacket in a neutral colour would be my choice.

In the Winter months, a warmer jacket or coat will keep out the chill. For the ladies, a stylish hat and a pair of gloves will add a touch of Parisienne chic as well as keeping you toasty.

During the Summer months, separates in linen and cotton will keep you cool and comfortable. A jacket is usually unnecessary for daytime wear. Carry a packable waterproof or an umbrella if the sky is overcast.

Pack clothes for the evening that are appropriate for your planned activities - if you are going to a grand restaurant, a cabaret, or the theatre, the effort to look smart and stylish (it is, after all, Paris) is warranted. If in doubt, a little black dress is never wrong on these occasions and can be dressed up with a pair of heels, a statement piece of costume jewelry and/or a shawl, and a glamorous clutch. A gentleman escorting so well-dressed a lady should wear a suit. For dinner at a bistro or an evening stroll, smart-casual is fine.

A Morning Visit to in Montmartre

After a buffet breakfast on Saturday morning, the coach dropped us off in Montmartre. My companion and I climbed the steep route to the Basilique de Sacre Coeur for a panoramic view of the city. The vista is fabulous but a dispiriting haze of pollution that hadn’t been apparent on my first, long ago, visit hung over the buildings on the horizon. We consoled ourselves with a lunch of filled baguettes and then strolled around the nearby Place du Tertre, frequented in past times by the fin de siècle artists whose work now hangs in galleries across the world and sells for millions. Nowadays, a cluster of artists still gathers there to paint and to hawk their work.

Making our way back to our coach pick up point, we rested briefly on a bench in a small pocket park, enjoying ice cream cones and soaking up the local atmosphere before mounting the coach to be delivered to the embankment of the River Seine for a Bateau Mouche boat trip.

A Saturday Afternoon Spent in Paris

After leaving Montmartre, the coach dropped the party off at the Seine embankment, where we took the opportunity of an optional river trip (13 euros in 2018, collected by our tour guide before embarkation).

The trip lasted 1 hour and included a commentary delivered via audio headsets

Drifting past whispering young lovers on the embankment and the massive edifice of the Cathedral of Notre Dame was a restful and atmospheric Interlude in a busy day, giving a different perspective on the city.

The rest of the afternoon was free. Armed with directions from our tour guide about how to make our way back to the hotel, my companion and I visited the Canal Saint Martin, in a trendy part of Paris. A regenerated and atmospheric 19th century part of the city, it is an area of great bars, restaurants, and fabulous boutiques. A leisurely stroll along the canal side and across the iron footbridges, pausing at a pavement cafe, prepared us for a memorable evening at a typical Parisian cabaret.

Communicating in Paris

Do not assume that all French people understand the English language. Au contraire! On my first visit, I still could remember most of the schoolgirl French that had been drilled into me for five years. But I had forgotten much of that by the time of my second visit so I resorted to a Michel Thomas language course to refresh and expand my vocabulary. His credentials speak for themselves - during his lifetime he taught many famous politicians and actors to speak a number of different European languages. The Michel Thomas CDs are certainly worth consideration if you are contemplating a trip to a European country and need to either brush up your vocabulary or learn a new language from scratch. I have tried a number of different methods of language tuition and this in my opinion is by far the best.

Dinner at a Traditional Parisian Cabaret Revue Bar

We had tickets for dinner and entertainment at the Paradis Latin, a nightclub in the Latin Quarter. My companion and I were slightly abashed when we found that we had signed up for a show that included a topless chorus line. Crossing the foyer, I was encouraged by the photographic black and white evidence that the parties of A-list movie stars from the 50s and 60s who had visited the place appeared to have enjoyed a jolly time.

The food was good and the champagne and wine flowed. Semi-nudity notwithstanding, we had a fabulous evening. Whenever the bevy of beauties appeared on stage a single, slightly inebriated, middle-aged gentleman in our party applauded vigorously, loudly calling out 'Bravo! bravo!'. I wondered what the apparently ladylike and demure actress Audrey Hepburn gazing from the walls had made of the spectacle all those years ago.

Carbaret at One of the Most Popular Theatres in Paris

Would you visit a Parisien Cabaret Show With Topless Dancers?

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A Day Spent in Versailles

On Sunday morning, after a coach tour of the iconic sights of Paris we were dropped off close to the market in Versailles and spent our day browsing the wonderful displays of food produce on the stalls, devouring French onion soup at a pavement cafe, strolling in the gardens of the Palace, and admiring the goods in a nearby patisserie. Naturally, we were unable to resist the temptation to sample such works of art.

Most tourists in Versailles want to see the inside of the breathtakingly extravagant Chateau, built by Louis XIV, but the queues for admittance are very long. It is advisable to purchase tickets online prior to visiting in order to shorten the waiting time.

Floodlit Paris

On Sunday the weather was very hot and we had spent much of it in the sunshine so decided to rest and eat in the hotel prior to an after-dark coach tour of the floodlit monuments, Paris by night is magical. Dismounting briefly from the bus, I took the opportunity to stand beneath the massive edifice of the Eiffel Tower, lit by thousands of blue led lights. A magical, never-forgotten, experience on a balmy night.

Source

The Paris Motor Show

On our final morning, with a few hours to spare before the coach that would return us to the Gare du Nord arrived, I and my travelling companion strolled a few hundred yards to the Paris Expo centre to explore the Paris motor show, agog at the many luxury vehicles that were far beyond our price range. A lunch of Pivithiers and a glass of robust red wine in one of the Expo bistros nicely rounded off four fabulous days in La Belle France.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Paris Motor Show 2012 Can you spot me in the crowd? The Palace of Versaillles The queues to buy entrance tickets can be very long. Buy online in advance of your visit to avoid a long wait.French Patisserie in VersaillesTraditional French Onion Soup. Delicious beefy onion soup, complete with the essential floating slices of baguette topped with cheese and placed under the grill to melt and bubble.
The Paris Motor Show 2012 Can you spot me in the crowd?
The Paris Motor Show 2012 Can you spot me in the crowd? | Source
The Palace of Versaillles The queues to buy entrance tickets can be very long. Buy online in advance of your visit to avoid a long wait.
The Palace of Versaillles The queues to buy entrance tickets can be very long. Buy online in advance of your visit to avoid a long wait. | Source
French Patisserie in Versailles
French Patisserie in Versailles | Source
Traditional French Onion Soup. Delicious beefy onion soup, complete with the essential floating slices of baguette topped with cheese and placed under the grill to melt and bubble.
Traditional French Onion Soup. Delicious beefy onion soup, complete with the essential floating slices of baguette topped with cheese and placed under the grill to melt and bubble. | Source

April in Paris

Impressions of Paris

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Recommendation for an Escorted Weekend in Paris

Do I recommend an escorted trip to Paris? It's not for everyone. Some people, particularly the young, might prefer independent travel. However, for the middle-aged (most of whom made up our group) and the elderly, it seems to me to be an ideal stress-free way to visit this wonderful city, particularly for a first-time visitor or if your French vocabulary is limited. Would I do it again? Definitely.

Places Visited During a Long Weekend in Paris

A
Sacre Coeur:
35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France

get directions

B
Paris Expo Centre:
2 Place de la Porte de Versailles, 75015 Paris, France

get directions

C
Paradis Latin:
28 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 75005 Paris, France

get directions

D
Eiffel Tower:
Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France

get directions

E
Bateaux Mouche:
Port de la Conférence, 75008 Paris, France

get directions

F
Cathedral of Notre Dame Paris:
6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France

get directions

G
Versailles:
Place d'Armes, 78000 Versailles, France

get directions

H
Gare du Nord Eurostar Terminal:
Gare du Nord, 18 Rue de Dunkerque, 75010 Paris, France

get directions

I
Arc de Triomphe:
Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France

get directions

J
Canal Saint Martin:
Canal Saint-Martin, Paris, France

get directions

Atmospheric, picturesque and trendy

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 GlenR

    Comments

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      It sounds as if you had some fantastic experiences in Paris and Versailles. I think that escorted trips with guides are particularly helpful especially when it is a first visit to a new location. That second trip of yours sounded great! Hope you get to go again.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for sharing your Paris trips and for the language help. "When it's Paris, it's Paris." You're privileged to have experienced it at two different stages of your life.

    • Glenis Rix profile imageAUTHOR

      GlenR 

      4 months ago from UK

      Thank you for your kind remark, John. It's a long way from Australia to Paris but worth the effort if you are ever in Western Europe. Happy Easter!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 months ago from Queensland Australia

      A delightful article, Glenis. I have never been to Paris, but it is still on my wish list.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      4 months ago from SW England

      There is much to see in Wiltshire and Scotland. In fact, we've decided to explore much more of our own surroundings having just done a mammoth 10 weeks on the other side of the world. Home has much to offer and it's time we found out a lot more about it.

      Eurostar is fine but for us it's the other end of the south, so we go by boat on a short hop from Plymouth to Roscoff and Brittany is well worth any visit.

      Thanks for visiting my hub ref France too.

      Ann

    • Glenis Rix profile imageAUTHOR

      GlenR 

      4 months ago from UK

      Hi, Ann. I am also slightly apprehensive about visiting tourist hot spots nowadays but there is a lot that I still want to see before I get much older. I’m determined to go to Paris one last time - though perhaps not by Eurostar. Deeply envious of your impending holiday in France - the farthest I am going this summer will be Wiltshire and Scotland.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      4 months ago from SW England

      I love Paris and have been several times, including taking my then 12 year old granddaughter for a day, whilst holidaying in France for a few weeks. We had a marvellous time. I'm glad it was 5 years ago as I wouldn't be happy to take her now. Sadly, cities make me nervous in the current terrorist climate though I know I shouldn't let it deter me. However, we'll be in France again this year, visiting several friends and going down to the centre where we used to have a house and still have many friends.

      France has a special place in my heart.

      Great hub with lots of useful information. You sound as though you had a great time too, Glenis.

      Ann

    • Glenis Rix profile imageAUTHOR

      GlenR 

      4 months ago from UK

      Go for it, Mary! Just be careful where you tread.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Paris calls once again. We have not been there for years now so it is time to check it out again. Twice I stepped on dog poo there on separate visits and the second discouraged me from going again. Having said that, the exhilaration I feel when I am there is enough to goad me to go again.

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