Eurostar is stellar

LONDON - Well I’m heading back to Paris! This time I’m travelling by Eurostar. If you book in advance you can get a great deal. When I flew to Paris last time, the ticket cost me approximately £135 and on top of that I still had to buy a train ticket to the centre of Paris. This time I’m heading to the City of Lights and it’s only costing £79 return…nice!

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I’ll be there in May and have already made a list of things I want to do. For instance with the exception of visiting Versailles, I really want this trip to Paris to be about exploring the quiet streets and quaint shopping districts and flea markets. It’s all about mosey-ing. Just can’t wait.

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Inside Notre Dame Cathedral

PARIS, FRANCE – The most visited sight in Paris is Disneyland. Notre Dame Cathedral is in the Top 5.

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It’s a free venue to visit and if you’ve read Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, you’ll want to pass by.

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As it’s so popular be prepared to line up outside. But once inside there’s a lot of space to roam at your leisure and find a quiet place to meditate and just look up at the stained glass windows.

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Paris, France

PARIS, FRANCE – Sights of Paris

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I knew that of all the cities I had to visit, Paris was one of them. So when I got some time off, I booked my ticket and started planning.

Getting there: I decided to go to Paris rather late. I had originally planned to go to the Mediterranean with another friend but differences of opinion led us to call the trip off. On a whim, I started scouting out for a well priced flight to Paris. Air France was the best at £139 as it was leaving from Heathrow and allowed me to check in baggage. Next time I go to Paris, I’d like to try the Eurostar. I think the prices are comparable and since it takes you right into Paris, you don’t have to figure out the metro from the airport (9 euros).

Accommodation: I searched for a good deal on lastminute.com, expedia.com, laterooms.com and found that there weren’t any good deals to be found. A lot of the time the rooms were exactly the same price as the hotel’s website. I stumbled upon a website called housetrip.com, very similar to airbnb and ended up booking through this website. We paid £120 each for 3 nights accommodation in the 11th Arrondissement (sp?). We rented a large studio apartment that was neat, clean and easily accessible. We had privacy and the opportunity to cook our own meals – keeps the price a bit lower. The only downside was that the studio was not in a well maintained building, but once we got past that, we were fine.

Money: I never change money when I travel abroad. I just use my debit card. I think the exchange rate is competitive.

Getting around: We used the day pass (6 euros or thereabouts). It allows you to get anywhere on the metro, buses and trams (like the one near Sacre Coeur – the third most visited landmark in Paris. Disneyland is the first).

Sights of Paris: My friend and I both decided from the start that we had no desire to go up the Eiffel Tower but rather wanted to find a nice spot to take a photo of it. As it’s so large this is pretty easy to do. Visiting the Arc de Triomf at sunset on the recommendation of a friend was a good choice. From here we got great views of Paris, including of the Tower.

A cruise on the Seine is a must do, as is visiting Notre Dame (free), Sacre Coeur (free), walking through the Tulieres (free) and sitting at a cafe while you people watch. We also did a walking tour of Montemartre with a company called Discover Walks. They do free tours around Paris with the option to tip at the end. Our guide for the day was Bertron. He told us lots of charming anecdotes about the area as we walked down cobbled streets that most people would probably never discover.

Four days in Paris wasn’t enough. I can’t wait to return. I’d like to explore the markets, restaurants and quaint shops more and perhaps venture outside the capital too. What’s your favourite thing to do in Paris?

Henley boat trips

HENLEY, ENGLAND – If you head to Henly, I highly recommend a boat ride along the Thames River.

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It leaves from the centre of town and takes you down the river for what is a very pleasant ride, weather permitting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn a clear day, the views are stunning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd you can also spot a few interesting homes along the banks. Wonder who lives there?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATickets are reasonable. And the boat leaves every hour or so.

Bottom line: A fun and relaxed way to pass the afternoon with a friend or loved one.