A single day in Paris doesn’t seem like enough time, or even worth the cost, but you’d be surprised.
A return ticket on one of the many coaches that leave London for Paris every day, can cost less than £30, if you book far enough in advance. It’s much quicker to reach Victoria coach station than one of London’s airports. You don’t need to arrive three hours before take-off either, the checks at the port of Dover don’t take nearly as long as airport security. Once you arrive in Paris, you’re in the centre of the city, close to the metro and only a short ride to the city’s many famed attractions. And as you’re only in Paris for one day, you don’t need to pay for a hotel either.
My journey to Paris began at Victoria at half-past-nine, late last April and I arrived in Paris just before 8am the following morning. The trip comprised the journey to Dover, the Channel Crossing and then the trip from Calais to Paris. Sleeping on the coach is strongly advised, but since this was an overnight trip, that wasn’t too difficult. Everyone on the almost empty coach, was pressing their coats into service as pillows and trying to get some rest. The channel crossing did interrupt my sleep, as everyone had to step off, but it did give me the chance to avail myself of the ferry’s facilities – a shop that seemed to specialise in empty shelves. Still, the crossing itself was perfectly calm and so vomit-free. Once the ferry had docked, I returned to the coach and then returned to sleep.
Once in Paris, I headed to the Louvre Gallery (after a quick coffee and croissant, of course) and due to my early arrival, I was one of the first admitted that day (for free, as I was under 25 and an EU citizen), after only a short queue. As it was still early, the gallery was not yet busy and so I was able to get vaguely near the (smaller-than-expected) Mona Lisa, although my personal favourite was ‘Liberty Leading the People’ by Eugene Delacroix and their Egyptology section. I spent three hours there before moving on to the Musee de l’Orangerie, a must see for impressionist works, where I spend two-hours admiring the huge panoramic canvases by Claude Monet’s water lilies, although there are works by other artists.
I must admit, I regret not buying a Napoleon hat for when I play the board-game: ‘Risk’ from Bonaparte’s Tomb or the Army Museum, but they were both good visits, nevertheless. An Ice Cream later, which I ate as I walked to the Eiffel Tower, I was sitting on a park bench in front of that most famous of Parisian monuments. By this time, I wasn’t in any great hurry, most of the museums were closed, so I just sat and watched for few moments. One place was still open, however, a unique English-langue bookshop opposite the then recently scarred Notre-Dame Cathedral. Called Shakespeare and Company, the shop was originally
founded in 1919 and was once frequented by many famous writers, including: F. Scott Fitzgereld, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway.
A trip down literary lane later and as I was alone and quite tired by this point, I decided to wait in a McDonald’s near a metro station before returning to Bercy, where a minor panic later, (as I had confused Bercy coach station and Bercy train station), I was heading back to London. The ferry neared the white cliffs just as the sun was coming up and soon, I was back where I started, albeit with the memories and photographs of a truly memorable day.