Getting to Paris from London couldn’t be easier. The Eurostar makes the journey in about 2 and a half hours and the bulk of the ride is through the French countryside. The train spits you out in the middle of Paris and from there, it’s an easy connection to the rest of the city via the metro.
Sure, all the touristy things are there to do. I imagine most are already known so here are really just tips to get around more easily.
Louvre – The line outside the entrance around the pyramid is for people wanting to buy tickets to the Louvre, not to get in (which is a separate line). There are actually 2 other locations where you can buy tickets. If you’re coming from Place de Concorde, keep an eye out to your right for two lion statues flanking an archway. There, you’ll see a door and you can either buy your ticket at the booth or from the kiosk. Just past the kiosk machines is a separate entrance into the Louvre. If you get there when it opens, you’ll be able to go see the Mona Lisa with no one in the hall. That was my first stop and I was one of five people there. But when I walked by later that morning, the room was packed with people. Also, I’d argue that it’s overrated but hey, that’s just me.
Eiffel Tower – Sadly, there really is no easy way to get there via the metro or train. The closest I could get was a few blocks down from the train station. Once there, you’ll have the option to either walk up the stairs or wait for the elevator. If you have the energy, the walk up is definitely the shorter of the two lines. I’d recommend having a small sandwich and drink tucked away in your bag as the first platform/observation deck is the best of the 3 and a great place to catch your breath and have lunch. To get to the very top is another ticket. Is it worth it? I’d say no to be honest. The view from up top is almost nonexistent and it’s so windy that everyone up there will basically be huddled on the side that blocks the wind.
Versailles – This palace is worth the trip. It’s huge. The grounds just seems to go on forever and you can easily spend the whole day there. Definitely bring you best pair of walking shoes as you’ll be on your feet all day. The metro stop is about a 15 minute walk away and if you think you’re lost, just follow the main road until it ends. If you’re unsure about which road is the “main” road, it’s simple. If you don’t see any tour buses, you’re not on it.
General Tips –
When exiting the metro, make sure you know which street to exit onto. It’s really easy to get turned around and completely lost if you exit via the wrong passage. There are multiple entrances/exits at each station so you can be a couple blocks away and in a completely unfamiliar area if you’re not careful.
Look, the French are proud of their language. I think Paris gets a bad rap for being unfriendly but I didn’t get that sense at all. But it would behoove you to learn a few simple words and phrases to get around.
If you’re eating or drinking at a cafe, the table is basically yours for as long as you want. You won’t feel pressured to leave as you would here in the US so really take your time. Trust me, the French have a different view of time and a meal is supposed to be enjoyed and not rushed. The waiter may not be on you immediately to take your order but I think that’s also because no one is in a rush to leave. You’ll see business men and women enjoying lunch for over an hour unlike the 30 minute dash we have here.
Avoid anyone (even the children) who come up to you asking for money. They’ll be holding a paper saying they’re raising money for the handicapped or some illness but they’re just looking for money. If they won’t stop harassing you, I made a game out of it by walking with them for a bit and telling tourist they stopped that it was a scam.
If you’re coming or going to London, remember you’ll have to go through immigration. During rush hour, this could take some time so make sure you give yourself ample time at the train station. You won’t need 2 hours like a flight, but err on the side of caution. I almost missed my train leaving London because it took much longer than expected to get through immigration. Things could be worse now with Brexit so give yourself time. If you’re coming back, you’ll need to go to the 2nd floor of the station to go through immigration. It isn’t clearly marked on the station map so just find a set of stairs going up and you’ll see it.