Recently I went to England to visit some family an a sick little granny (don’t worry she is okay now), while there I decided to spend a few days sightseeing in London and that then expanded to a”quick” day trip to Paris from London via the Eurostar. I’ve always wanted to see Paris, even if it was just for the day.
When I told friends what I was doing, they asked me why would you travel to one country to day trip to another? Why did I think a day trip to Paris would be a good idea? Being an Australian, I didn’t know when I was going to be in Europe next, so i wanted to take advantage of being on that side of the work.
I thought I’m so close I may as well take a quick day trip over and get a feel for Paris. I checked online to see if I could find the best day trip from London to Paris and ended up booking through Viator, I found this tour was the best priced tour and everything was taken care of so that I could sit back and enjoy the day! You can of course check out the an online day trip to Paris itinerary however given the small amount of time and the overall cost, you are better off taking one of the day trips from London to Paris.
The Eurostar Train from London to Paris
I arrived at St Pancras International station at the crack of dawn (5:30am) – (Hot Tip, if you plan to catch the tube make sure your nearest station is operating or make sure you are carrying cash as you may need to catch a taxi) I got in line and waited for my London to Paris day trip with Premium tours. We each went through the line and were provided with an envelope that contained 2 train tickets (one from London to Paris and another back from Paris to London) and an itinerary for our day trip to Paris. I went through security and passport control (customs) and waited for my train (Eurostar London to Paris).
An announcement came on the loud speaker to say that the train was ready to board and I jumped up and headed to the train, when I got on there was someone sitting in my seat which I was a little confused about but moved along anyway, I started to unpack a few goodies to enjoy on the train and heard an announcement that this train was going to Brussels, I looked at the gentleman next me and confirmed this. I quickly got up grabbed my bag and jumped off the train – as it turned out, I got on the wrong train.. whoops! I made it onto the right one – the London to Paris train and off to Paris we went! While on the train, our guide Charlotte found our group. She explained that she would be with us for the whole day and let us know where to meet when we got off the train in Paris.
Approx 2 hours later we arrived in Paris, walked out of Gare du Nord station and headed for our coach tour bus, where we were introduced to our driver Jerome.
Jerome drove through the narrow street of Paris like a pro! I would have been terrified of taking out a building or two (driving a coach bus!). We drove past the The Place Vendôme Column which has a its veneer of 425 spiraling bas-relief bronze plates that was made out of cannons taken from the combined armies of Europe and many the monuments in Place de la Concorde including the Luxor Obelisk and the two Fontaines de la Concorde.
We continued on our tour towards the Arc de Triomphe but unfortunately due to the heavy congestion of traffic we weren’t able to make it to the Arc de Triomphe otherwise we would have been late for lunch at the Eiffel Tower. On a side note, the traffic in Paris is manic! There is no order or structure, there were cars everywhere!!! Our tour bus sat in the intersection waiting to cross and had cars coming from every direction.
The Eiffel Tower
When we arrived at the Eiffel tower, the line was enormous (although I’m sure it gets larger!) however we were lucky to have express entry tickets as we were going up for lunch on the first floor. The line to gain express entry was still fairly long, I would suggest taking the stairs if you are fit enough and if it’s not too hot, there are only 328 steps to the first floor! We went through a security check point and took the elevator up to the first floor (the elevator was jam packed with people, holding 25 people, very “cosy”!). When we got to the top the tour guide showed us to the restaurant and told us where to meet after our champagne lunch.
Our tour group was seated together near one of the windows facing into the Eiffel Tower, which while the view wasn’t as good as the other side of the restaurant, it was still pretty cool. The waiters were very friendly (and pretty good looking too!), they brought around glasses of champagne for us.
It gave me a good chance to get to know some of the other people on our table, there were a total of 12 people per table and I was the only Australian on a table full of Americans! I quickly made friends with a lovely couple and a few other single travelers (like myself) and we agreed to stick together for the day as, if one of us gets lost it might be missed but if a whole group of us gets lost it will be noticed. It was also a great idea to stick together as we were able to take photos for each other.
The food wasn’t bad either, we were served a main meal Roast chicken with fondant potatoes with what looked like dish bubbles and Chocolate cake and chocolate mousse. While everyone was enjoy their lunch, Charlotte (our guide) came around to ask if anyone wanted to join in on the private guided tour of the Louvre or if we would prefer to have free time at the Louvre to go on your own or to wonder around the area. The private tour was approx 30 pounds payable to Charlotte who later on purchased our tickets.
After lunch myself and my new group of friends wondered around the first floor of the Eiffel Tower taking photos and chatting, as we had a little bit of free time left, we decided to take the stairs to the second level as the lift line was fairly long. There are 669 steps to the second floor and then if you want to go up to the top you have to take the elevator. We got what felt like half way to the second floor and decided we were going to run out of time and headed back down. By the time we got to the bottom we were all giggling because we had jelly legs, one of the couples in the group was surprised at what a good work out going down the Eiffel Tower stairs were because she worked out regularly. We stopped off and bought some souvenirs goodies from the little store at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, although I suspect these prices are jacked up but tourists don’t care.
After lunch, we made our way down to the piers for our 1 hour River Seine cruise, we were able to take advantage of the extra time we had by taking a few silly photos with the Eiffel Tower behind us. We lined up for the cruise and hopped on, there were 2 sections, undercover and open, we opted for the open area thinking we would be able to see more. It was lovely to seeing the city from the river, however if you travel in summer make sure to take a hat and some sunscreen.
We glided past The Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre and so much more. On the side of our seats were large metal listen devices, this looked a phone from the 80’s, on this you could listen to the recorded commentary about the attractions we glided past and fun facts about them. I would suggest standing on the side of the boat or at the back or the very front as your views can be obstructed by the poles and roofing of the boat. We made our way back to the Eiffel Tower and back to our bus where we proceeded to the Louvre.
We arrived via an underground car park so when we actually walked into the Louvre it was a little breathtaking! (Cliché I know!). Walking through a wide room showing ruins of an old palace that used to be where the Louvre is. Charlotte left us at the Upside down Pyramid while she went to collect our tickets and then we all entered together. It was much easier having a guide showing us the main attractions than navigate this huge museum on our own, the line to get in would have taken longer than the time we had free at the Louvre.
To be honest the tour was all a blur of paintings, sculptures and bodies… Unfortunately I wasn’t really able to hear Charlotte speaking about certain pieces due to the enormous crowds around us (and the noise levels) so instead I wandered around the rooms we were in taking photos and looking around.
It was still worth going in as a private group as I was able to ask questions and Charlotte took us straight to all of the highlights. We saw the Mona Lisa which was beautiful but extremely crowded, I don’t see what the big fuss is around the Mona Lisa, there was so much in the museum that I found to be much more impressive such as enormous intricate paintings or sculptures.
One room really blew me away, the Galerie d’Apollon Gallery, everywhere you look is gold, gold, gold! Just before we left we stopped by at the Venus de Milo statue, I learnt that she was actually made in 2 pieces and put together!
We all headed back to the bus which took us back to Gard du Nord station where we filed out our departure forms, went through French customs and then English customs and headed back to the train from Paris to London.
So after that LONG story, Is a 1 day trip to Paris from London worth it?
However, keep in mind that you don’t get to see everything; I would have loved to see the Arc de Triomphe or Notre Dame Cathedral up close however this was a good way to give you a quick taste of Paris to help get your bearing for your next trip. It was the best London to Paris day tour I could find!
Bonus Tip! If you have come extra time make sure to check out the Paris Catacombs.
24 hours in Paris from London
Staying in London, but hoping to explore a bit of Paris? A day trip to the French capital can make a wonderful addition to your UK holiday. Particularly for travellers from Australia or even North America, it’s common to try to fit as much of Europe into your trip as possible. Who knows when you’ll have the opportunity again, right?
With the driving distance from London to Paris at over 450 kilometres, it may seem like a short trip between the two cities isn’t doable. Fortunately, it’s not only possible, but it’s a very regular day trip for travellers! London to Paris in 24 hours is even a popular cycling or bike trip to make. Of course, this won’t leave much time for sightseeing, so it’s not something to recommend to the average tourist!
While you won’t get to see everything Paris has to offer, a day trip from London will give you a taste of the city and allow you to see a few of those iconic landmarks everyone is always Instagramming. After all, a short time in Paris is better than no time at all! A day trip to Paris is, without a doubt, always worth it. It’s easy to get around the city using the public transport network, so you’ll be able to see a handful of the top sights all in one day.
Considering going from London to Paris for a day trip in 2019? This guide will tell you everything you need to know, from what you can see, how to get around, and the best ways to make the most of your limited time. If you want to try to do 24 hours in Paris on your own here is a guide:
How to get to Paris from London
The quickest way from London to Paris may technically be by plane, but there’s another option that’s much easier and usually more affordable. When flying, you also have to factor in getting to and from the airports, plus the required time before checking in and boarding. Since all of the airports in Paris are quite far from the city centre, it doesn’t make sense to fly after adding up all the travelling time.
When considering all factors, the best way to get to Paris via London is with Eurostar, a reliable high-speed railway service connecting London with numerous other European cities. The Eurostar London to Paris takes less than two and a half hours and departs the London St Pancras International railway station as early as 5:40 in the morning. Running direct, the train will take you to Paris Gare du Nord. Second-class return tickets cost as low as £58 when you book in advance, making it easy to plan a London to Paris day trip for cheap. To travel in a little more style, you can book first-class return tickets for £168.
Many of Viator’s guided London to Paris day trips can be booked on Viator, all of which use Eurostar as the mode of transport between the two cities. However, if you want to explore Paris on your own (and at your own pace), you’ve come to the right place. Use the following as your rough guide for a day in Paris via London.
Day trip to Paris from London itinerary
With such a limited amount of time in the city, you’re going to need a plan and some sort of schedule. Realistically, what can you see in one day, and what’s the most efficient way to do it all?
When planning what you’re going to see, choose one or two attractions you don’t want to miss out on. There’ll be a lot of other cool things to do around the same area, so you won’t have to spend the whole day going back and forth on the Parisian métro. You also need to take into consideration how busy an attraction is. If you’re only in Paris for a day, you don’t want to spend your time waiting in line for hours!
If you’re a big fan of the movie Amélie, prioritise the district of Montmartre above all else. If you’re a lover of art, make museums like Musée d’Orsay and the Paris Museum of Modern Art your focus. Remember to research opening days and hours, however. It’ll be disappointing if you’re set on visiting the Palace of Versailles, only to find out that it’s closed that day! You’ll also want to decide if you want to travel to Paris early in the day and return to London in the evening, or if you’ll make it a genuine 24-hour trip and include an overnight stay.
If you do try to fit in as much as possible in one day, remember that you won’t be able to spend hours and hours at any one attraction. Be realistic and remember that there are going to be some compromises on a day trip. Some attractions may only be pit stops and a few minutes for photo opportunities, but as mentioned earlier, it’s better than nothing at all!
Not too fussed about which places you visit, so long as you see a little bit of Paris? Here’s a rough itinerary you might like to follow for your day trip. This day starts bright and early and ends with the late train back to London, so it’s also ideal for a traveller on a budget who wants to cut down the costs of extra accommodation in Paris. Sounds like something you’re interested in? Let’s get to it!
5 AM: Sometimes travelling requires an early start! Get a good sleep the night before, because you’ll need to be up to catch the 5:40 AM Eurostar. To get to the St Pancras railway station in Kings Cross, you can catch the tube, the train, the bus, or catch a taxi from wherever you’re staying. After you’ve gone through customs and found your seat on the train, sit back and relax for the next two and a half hours.
9 AM: At a little after nine in the morning, you’ll arrive at Paris Gare du Nord. Remember, Paris is one hour ahead of London. If you didn’t pack any snacks to eat on the way there (or even if you did!), there are a few boulangeries (bakeries) around the station to grab a quick breakfast. Stop by Super Wild Coffee, Maison Carton, or L’éclair de Génie for a selection of pastries and a cappuccino that’ll give you some energy to start exploring.
Your first official stop is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, better known as Sacré-Cœur. It’s a one and a half kilometre walk from Gare du Nord, but you can also catch Métro Line 4 to the Château Rouge station and walk from there. Le Sacré-Cœur is the heart of the Montmartre area and the second-most visited attraction in Paris. Take the funicular to save time walking up the steep hill. Admire the unique Romano-Byzantine architecture and take in the incredible views from Montmartre Hill.
11 AM: Walk to Anvers station from Sacré-Cœur and catch Métro Line 2 to Charles de Gaulle–Étoile station. In total, this trip should take you about half an hour. You’ll depart at one of the busiest intersections in Paris, so prepare yourself for a little chaos! Fortunately, you won’t be doing any driving, so you won’t be amongst the traffic too much. Here, you can spot the Arc de Triomphe, one of the most infamous sights in Paris. Wander down the iconic Avenue des Champs-Élysées and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere. As one of the most beautiful avenues in the world, it’s the ideal spot for a little wander and some people watching.
After walking a kilometre, you’ll reach Franklin D. Roosevelt station, where you can catch Métro Line 9 to Iéna station. Wander a little further down to Pont d’Iéna, a small bridge that crosses the beautiful Seine River. It’s directly opposite the site you’ve probably been waiting to see, the magnificent Eiffel Tower! While you can’t go to Paris without stopping by this iconic attraction, it’s not necessary to go all the way to the top. You’re on a tight schedule, and you’ve already witnessed magnificent views from the Sacré-Cœur, so marvel from the ground below at the Champ de Mars park.
1 PM: You’ve walked a lot, seen a few attractions, and now it’s time for a well-deserved break. Combine lunchtime with one of the best sightseeing activities on offer and embark upon a Seine River lunch cruise. Depart Allée des Cygnes at one in the afternoon for a leisurely one and a half hour to two hours journey along the river. This is the shortest lunchtime cruise available on sites like Viator, so you still get the experience without wasting any time.
As the cruise serves meals, the majority of the areas on the boat are undercover. This makes it a perfect activity no matter the season! If you happen to find yourself in an open area during the middle of summer, don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen. It’s worth paying €5 extra for seats at the window so you can make the most of the cruise and see as much as possible.
You’ll float past the Louvre Museum, Place de la Concorde, Musée d’Orsay, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and other beautiful landmarks of Paris. Unlimited hot drinks are available, though you can upgrade to enjoy a half-bottle of champagne if you’re feeling fancy. In terms of food, you’ll receive a light lunch with both sweet, savoury, hot and cold options. This lunch tour is perfect for recharging your energy without feeling sluggish and full for the rest of the afternoon.
3 PM: Upon wrapping up your river cruise, you’ll be back by the Eiffel Tower at Allée des Cygnes. From the Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel stop, take the RER C train to Gare Musée d’Orsay. Now, there’s a lot of debate around which museums are worth seeing in Paris. While the Louvre is absolutely beautiful, inside it is always packed with fellow tourists.
This makes it hard to see any of the paintings close up, particularly the Mona Lisa. Musée d’Orsay, on the other hand, is a little bit easier to navigate and a lot smaller in comparison to the Louvre. Even those who aren’t too big on museums find Musée d’Orsay intriguing. Plus, if you’re visiting on the first Sunday of the month, entry is completely free!
Depending on how long you stay at the museum, you may still have time to visit the Notre Dame up close. It closes at 6:45 PM during weekdays and 7:45 PM on Saturdays and Sundays, so make note of the time if you want to see inside. Get on the RER C train again, and in only a few minutes, you’ll be at the Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station.
From here, you’ll cross the Seine to reach Ile de la Cité, the small island where the Notre Dame is. The cathedral is free to enter, though you’ll want to spend some time outside appreciating the exterior architecture. Make note of the stained glass windows and the iconic gargoyle sculptures.
7 PM: Stop by any of the incredible restaurants in central Paris for dinner. Yes, you can expect tourist prices around these areas, but it’s only for one meal. For a proper French fare, consider going to La Cochonnaille on Rue de la Harpe, Le Christine on Rue Christine, or Le Petit Châtelet on Rue de la Bûcherie.
All of these spots are reasonably priced and have classic French dishes on the menu, from foie gras, escargot, soufflé and more. If you’d rather a quick bite to eat, grab a sandwich wrap from Chez le Libanais on Rue Saint-André des Arts and eat it by the Seine River.
Finally, head back to Gare du Nord to be on time for your 9:13 PM departure back to London. Remember, you’ll have to go through customs, so give yourself at least an hour to avoid any panicking. The RER B takes only five minutes from Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, and Métro Line 4 takes about 13 minutes. Your train will arrive in London at about 10:40 PM, so you’ll be well and truly ready for bed.
Now you know that seeing Paris in one day is absolutely possible! Go ahead and book your day trip from London to Paris via Eurostar without hesitation, but remember to plan well before you leave!