PARIS! All the tour books, online research, talking with friends who have been there, and pre-trip planning don’t prepare you for the overwhelming feeling of immersion once arriving in Paris. On a recent business trip to London, I weighed the pros and cons of going to Paris for the weekend.
1. It’s PARIS.
2. Only a 2½-hour train ride on Eurostar from London.
3. Because I can.
1. Cost of Eurostar: $300 round-trip.
2. Can’t think of anything else for a con.
Upon arrival at Paris Nord Train Station, my plan was to grab a taxi to my hotel, located just blocks from the architectural wonder of the Eiffel Tower. When I stepped outside, one of the first things I saw was McDonalds.
Needing to make a pit stop, craving a coke and French fries, and just curious to know what a McDonalds experience in Paris would be like, I walked across the street and went inside. The fries, coke, and lines to order were all pretty much the same as in the U.S.A., one exception being that I could’ve ordered a beer with my fries.
Having taken care of the necessities, off I went off to grab a taxi to the hotel.
The Eiffel Seine is a quaint boutique hotel, “Art Nouveau” style. It's in a great location for sights and restaurants, with only a four-minute walk to the Eiffel Tower and public transportation right outside the door to get to other areas in Paris. Just outside the hotel was a crepe takeout stand where I had an incredibly delicious ham and cheese crepe – the best food I had in 36 hours.
I’ve always had a fascination with the Eiffel Tower, and its romantic allure, and wanted to experience it in every way possible. Taking a ride to the top was a must-do, but standing below the tower, taking in what was happening all around me, was something I didn’t expect. Couples from all over the world experiencing the magnetism, kissing, hugging, loving was as much a sight to see as the Tower itself.
At night, it glows like the king of the city, with blinking lights shooting up and down its steel columns in a hypnotic splendor. During the day, it stands tall, full of elegance and beauty. I choose to ride to the top of the tower at night because that’s when I enjoy the city best, but also because the lines were a lot shorter than during the day.
The ride's in two parts: first an elevator to the second level, then another elevator line to get to the very top. The restaurant on the second level, Le Jules Verne, features – wait for it – French cuisine! Expensive, but you’re paying for the experience overall and the rights to say you had dinner ON the Eiffel Tower.
The two-day ticket on the Les Cars Rouges double-decker bus was a perfect way to get a quick overview of the sights in Paris with on-and-off privileges at every major sight.
I took some time to walk through Notre Dame Cathedral and then walked to the Arc de Triomphe, about three miles, and passed by the Louvre, Tuileries Gardens and Champs Elysee shopping, where the high-end designer shops are ready and willing to help you part with your money.