For many living in London and the South East, Paris is so easily accessible via the Eurostar and the fast train time (2hrs20mins) means that even a day trip is possible. I visited recently and managed to squeeze lots into just 30hour. So, if you are in Paris and short on time, read on for my 30 hours in Paris itinerary ideas.
If you get one of the earliest Eurostar trains out of London you will arrive at Paris Gare du Nord before 10.30am, local time.
Drop your bags off
If you are staying at a hotel it is worth heading straight there to drop off your bags – you don’t want to be carrying them around all day! If you are staying somewhere you know you won’t be able to leave your bags, then head downstairs at Gare du Nord and pop your bags in a locker at the SNCF Left Luggage, which was €7.50 for a smaller locker (which had room for our two rucksacks and plenty of space left over!) or €9.50 for a larger one when we visited in early 2019.
We stayed at Hotel du Midi Paris in the Denfert Rochereau area of Paris, which is a nice easy journey on the RER B line directly from Gare du Nord. Our room was actually already ready when we arrived to drop our bags and they kindly let us check in early.
See the Eiffel Tower
What’s the one thing that everyone wants to see in Paris?! The Eiffel Tower of course! Tick it off your sightseeing list early and head there straight away.
We took a long walk there, through the Jardin Luxembourg and passed the beautiful golden Dôme des Invalides, and taking in all the beautiful architecture along the way. But you can obviously just take the metro if you prefer!
During our visit the only the 2nd level was open, and it was a cloudy day, so we decided to observe from ground level, rather than head up. This was also probably the best idea considering our limited time.
We took a long walk there, through the Jardin Luxembourg and passed the beautiful golden Dôme des Invalides, and taking in all the beautiful architecture along the way. But you can obviously just take the metro if you prefer! During our visit the only the 2nd level was open, and it was a cloudy day, so we decided to observe from ground level, rather than head up. This was also probably the best idea considering our limited time.
Head to Notre Dame for Lunch
Next jump on the RER from Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel to St-Michel Notre Dame. Here you will not only be able to see the famous cathedral itself, but you can also head into the side streets on the Left Bank to grab some lunch.
I wouldn’t say you will find gormet restaurants down these side streets, but you will find a cheap lunch deal! There are waiters on the streets, trying to charm you into taking a table at their restaurant , but don’t feel you need to oblige.
We stopped at a tiny little French place and had a simple but perfectly lovely €10 set menu.
Take a boat trip on the Seine
The Seine is the heart of Paris and as my mum is boat mad, taking a boat trip on the Seine was her only formal request for our trip. And who can blame her! With 37 bridges, some beautifully ornate, and many of Paris’ landmarks visible from the water, it is the perfect way to sight see when you have time constraints.
Not far from Notre Dame, you will find the Vedettes du Pont Nuef who offer one hour round trips, up to the Eiffel Tower passing under many gorgeous bridges as well as many landmarks such as the Louvre, the Muse D’Orsy, the Grand Palais, the American Church in Paris, and of course the star of the show; the Tour Eiffel!
We did a day time trip but if you go after dark, the trip is timed so that you can be at the Eiffel Tower for the magnificent light show on the hour.
Walk around the grounds of the Louvre
If we had longer in Paris, then visiting inside the Louvre would be high up there on our list of things to do. But on such a short visit, we knew that it was unrealistic to try to fit a visit in. We were made to feel better when the tour guide on our boat trip told us that if we wanted to see every piece of art in the Louvre it would take us three months!
Grab a drink
Having been to Paris a few times before, I can’t visit without stopping at my favourite bar/restaurant; Le Fumoir. And handily, it is right across the street from the Louvre.
But its close proximity to the major tourist site does not make it an over-priced tourist trap. Well, it is on the pricy side but you are paying for great service and great quality in a luxurious Parisian setting.
With drinks you will always be served free snacks such as olives and spiced nuts. We chose to sit outside, where there are heaters and blankets to keep you toasty.
Pop back to your hotel to freshen up and then head for dinner
After a long and busy day sightseeing, a nice dinner is the perfect reward. So head back to your hotel, give your feet a break for half an hour and get freshened up for dinner.
There are obviously an abundance of places to eat in Paris, and I couldn’t even begin to recommend somewhere that would suit everyone.
We decided to stay in the area of our hotel, Denfert Rochereau, which is a lovely area in the 14th Arrondissement. It’s close enough to the centre of the city for the sight-seeing but has a real local feel to it. We’ve stayed here on our last three visits and love it!
A short stroll down the partly pedestrianised Rue Daguerre brings you a whole host of restaurants as well as loads of fresh food shop like fish mongers, fruit stalls, bakeries and much more.
As my mum is a beer drinker, she spotted someone drinking a pint outside a restaurant called La Chope Daguerre. Considering it was a Tuesday night in January, it was packed inside and we managed to get the last table. It was full of chatting locals and had a fully French menu, so it felt super authentic for us!
We enjoyed an absolutely massive burger with sides, washed down with a brown ale for mum and a large red for me. Not a very Parisian meal admittedly but we felt so surrounded by locals who were all loving their meals too that it made up for it!
Our train was at 3.15pm so we had the morning and lunchtime to enjoy.
Grab some breakfast
When in France, you have to have a coffee and croissant breakfast at least once! Most cafes and restaurants offer a breakfast menu, with the basic being a hot drink, a pastry and an orange juice. This is the perfect way to start the day!
Drop your bags back at Gard du Nord
If you don’t fancy lugging a bag around all day then head back to the SNCF left luggage and leave your bags there.
Walk up to the Sacre Coeur
If you are making your way to Sacre Coeur from Gard du Nord then it is only about a 20minute walk, with the last part being up some hard but picturesque stairs.
The views when you arrive are totally worth the walk up though, be prepared to be dazzled not only by the Sacre Coeur itself, but by the views down over Paris.
It’s definitely worth taking a look inside this impressive church, and it is free to do so. You will need to pass through a baggage check, which may have a queue at peak times.
Wander around Montmartre
You can’t visit the Sacre Coeur without wandering the streets of Montmartre too. Home to, and inspiration for, many well known artists over the years, from Picasso to Van Gogh to Mattise, they all lived and frequented the bars here.
The streets transport you to a scene more reminiscent of a French village rather than a city centre; pastel painted buildings, cobbled streets and pretty trees.
Normally this area can get packed with tourists coming to catch a glimpse of the haunts of the famous artists. But when we visited, on a cold January weekday morning, we almost had the place to ourselves – it was such a treat!
Grab some lunch
Because we were pushed for time, we stayed up in Montmartre for lunch, where there are many restaurants all with set lunch menus alongside their A la carte. Place du Tertre is a particularly popular restaurant spot.
Obviously being a heavily touristy area, the prices are higher and maybe the quality is a bit lower than elsewhere in Paris.
We opted for the reasonably priced set lunch menu at Le Crémaillère 1900 on the famous Place du Tertre. The food was nice and the decor inside was super pretty, very Art Deco which I love!
Head back to Gard du Nord for one last drink
Wether it is inside the Eurostar terminal, or in one of the many bars outside the station, reward yourself with one last drink and reminisce about your whirlwind trip to this beautiful city!
If you’re looking for inspiration for other easy getaways from the UK, then be sure to check out this post: https://daislikethese.com/2018/03/12/easy-weekend-getaways-from-the-uk/