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Staying In London - Is a Day Trip to Paris Insane?

We're planning a trip to England, and will be on the ground for a relatively short trip but had thought of a day trip to Paris. Question is whether a very early train to Paris and a dinner time train back is just too crazy (even if it means you only see a few sites in Paris)?

Posted by
8700 posts

One night in Paris would be better, but lots of people do this as a day trip. On weekdays you can leave London at 05:25 and arrive in Paris at 08:50 (you lose one hour) or leave at 06:55 and arrive at 10:17. Because you gain an hour going back, you can leave Paris as late as 21:13 and arrive in London at 22:34.

To get the cheapest fare, book ASAP (up to 120 days in advance) at www.eurostar.com. Currently you can get a return (roundtrip) ticket for as low as 69 GBP.

Posted by
9110 posts

No! Don't do it.

Somebody's going to tell you that there's a way to do it and suggest an abbreviated way to hustle around and see a few things. Forget it. It can physically be done, but why?

Getting from someplace in London to whatever place in Paris is going to take you twice as long as the eurostar ride. Then you've got to spend the same amount of time getting back. You can't see very much, but you can say you've been to Paris -- and that's about it.

Spend you time in London, there's plenty to entertain you. Do that place as well as you can and save Paris for another trip. Paris has been there forever, it won't disappear itself, and you'll enjoy it a lot more when you have time to do it right.

Edit: Tim and I were apparently typing at the same time. I can't argue with him on the mechanics and I'm sure that people do it all the time. It still makes no sense to me.

Edit again: Then Michael hopped in. Argh! Go ahead it's your dime. Have fun.

Posted by
8995 posts

Go for it Steve. It's a bit crazy to spend such a tiny amount of time in Paris. But sometimes it's fun to do crazy things on vacation:) Rick's London guidebook has entire chapter dedicated to doing the Paris day trip efficiently.

Posted by
629 posts

It may sound crazy but the few of my friends who have done this were glad they did.

Posted by
970 posts

I'm with Ed. The last thing I want to do while in London is set an alarm to wake up early enough to catch at train at the crack of dawn.

Besides, Paris merits at least as much time as we spend in London.

Posted by
2664 posts

Hi Steve, I think if you want to see Paris then you should do it, it's not crazy. If you take the first train out 5:25am arrives in Paris at 8:50am, then you could take the 6:43pm Eurostar getting back into London at 8:06. There is a later train if you wanted. You would have a good 8 hrs in Paris.

Posted by
11450 posts

Its very doable... of course Paris deserves and needs more time,, but a one day visit is not insane.

Many tourist jump on tour buses from Paris for daytrips all over the place,, taking the Eurostar city center to city center , which takes only 2.5 hours, then having a good 10 hours on the ground sounds just as nice if not much nicer then a day bus trip to Riems or the Loire Valley,, if only because once in London your time is your own to create a day you will enjoy, tailoring which sites you see to your tastes and interests.

My only conidtion is I would not do it unless I could book far enough in advance to get the cheap tickets, usually 90-120 days ahead,, and try to book on a tue, wed or thurs for slightly lower fares.

Posted by
349 posts

i think a day in Amsterdam may be more fun

Posted by
6 posts

A little Paris is better than no Paris, IMO. I'd just try to pick one or two things to do and maybe get a sense of the city with the Hop On Hop Off tour. My husband hates that I make him do those tours, but they are a great way to get oriented in a city the first time you are there so that you can decide where you want to spend more time later; they also help me get my bearings for the rest of the trip or later trips. (I've found it is also a perfect activity for the day you get in and are jet-lagged since it doesn't require much energy to sit, listen, and watch the sites go by).

Posted by
8700 posts

If you book as far in advance as possible (up to 120 days), you can get the best discount fares any day of the week and any time of day.

Posted by
710 posts

Steve, if I had never been to Paris, had the time, and wanted to get a flavor of the city, I would do it. It might make you want to go back and see more of Paris on another trip. We met a mother and daughter who were staying in Paris for a week last summer and they did the opposite. They were spending the day in London. They had bought a Hop on and Off bus trip (available in both cities) and were having a great time. They planned to come back on another trip to see more of London and the countryside. The train trip itself is about 2 hours and 15 minutes, but you will need time to get to both train stations, etc.

Posted by
1035 posts

You may get back to London and wish you had carved out more time for Paris or skipped London altogether in favor of Paris.

To me there is no comparison. I like London, love Paris. Everyone is different on this...

Posted by
13 posts

Steve: You didn't mention how many days you were going to be in London. I've been there twice for a week each trip and have yet to see all of London and outskirts. There's a lot to see and do in and around London! It takes time to get around - traffic - stand in line for tickets - getting to train stations and waiting on the tube. Much more crowded in the summer.
If you are in London for over 4 days and want to add another country to your list, then consider taking a day trip to Amsterdam (Venice of the north - beautiful city) more canals and bridges than Venice. Fab museums, restaurants, shopping, great people, etc.

Paris - even with the metro - is very congested in the summer. IMO, Rick Steve's day list is not practicle. Took my group almost 3 days to do everything fully on his list, and that was rushing around. Unless you plan on only viewing the Notre Dame from the outside for a quick snapshot (you should climb the 400 steps to the top for views of Paris) ... unless you plan on racing thru the HUGE Louvre to only see the Mona Lisa... It takes a day to appreciate just one wing of the Louvre!

Paris really needs a week but certainly deserves 2 or 3 full days. Save that extraordinary city for a future trip to Europe.

Have fun and be safe with whatever you decide :)

Posted by
3428 posts

We did the day trip to Paris (it was an escorted one) on the Eruostar many years ago. It is what made me realize I did not want to ever go to Paris again. But it is nice to get a taste of the city so you can decide if you want to go back or not. If you decide not to do Paris, there are lots of other good day trips by train out of London- Windsor, York, Cardiff,Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon, Brighton, Canterburry, Dover, Winchester, and others, even Edinburgh in a pinch.

Posted by
286 posts

Thanks to all who have posted! Some great comments and suggestions. For those wondering, we are looking at spending 4 days in London, and making one of those days a trip to Paris (perhaps). We'll see. Thanks again to all for your insights.

Posted by
993 posts

Steve, Maybe a little crazy but who cares. Paris will make you want to come back and her job will be done. I say Have your ducks in a row and go for it. I am an acute anglophyle and I love all the previous suggested day trips. But as someone else said. A little Paris is better than no Paris.

Posted by
998 posts

Go for it, Steve. But before you go for it, how much time do you have for England? esp. London? Make a list of what you want to do in London then figure out if you really have time for Paris. Although RS outlines a daytrip to Paris, I suggest the hop on hop off bus since you'll see the whole city and may even include a Seine River cruise. I know in London the HOHO tours incluse a river cruise, check if the Paris HOHO does the same before you go. Combine this with 1 or 2 sites that you want to spend an hour or so in and that should give you a nice overview of Paris. However, their museums are not free like in London (another good reason to spend more time there!) so it wouldn't be worth it to pay the fee for just a short time. Do a walk like Rick suggests then.

Posted by
29 posts

We did this in 2007 and it was awesome! Here's what we did. We took the Eurostar from London. Once in Paris, we got on one of the hop on-off buses where they had headphones which described the sites as we drove by. That was a great way to learn about the city.

We got off at the Eiffel Tower (walked around and under it but did not have time to go up due to the long lines) and then had lunch. We walked the Champs to the Arch (walked around and under but not to the top) and then got back on the bus. We also exited at Notre Dame and spent time there. Then the bus back to the train station and had dinner while we waited for the train. It was a full day but wasn't rushed at all.

Good luck and have fun!

Posted by
776 posts

Hi Steve. I read a post on a photographers blog telling how they spent 24 hours in Paris, not sleeping at night, but finding interesting areas of the city to photograph at night. I'm not sure I could find it again. They were a group that met in London, took the chunnel over and back. Now that I'm thinking about it, they may have arrived in Paris after daytime work in London then stayed up all night in Paris to return in the morning.

Not sure many people would like to do that, but there are some adventurous readers on the Helpline that might give it a try.

Posted by
283 posts

Definitely go for a day trip in Paris!

When you arrive at the Eurostar station in London you have an option to purchase tickets for L'Open Tour or even metro tickets.

Once you arrive at Gare du Nord you only have to step outside to catch the tour bus. You will see all the sights and save plenty of shoe leather. There is more than enough time to complete the tour if you stay on or choose to get off at select sites.

I took my dad to Paris and he is more than happy to never go back... but me on the other hand... I am always up for day trips!

Posted by
241 posts

You'll be tired, but if you don't find disorientation too disconcerting this is do-able. You'll not really have time for much site-seeing. Go for a chilled out lunch (wine/beer and expressos) and people watching session. People do commute, but they go from A to B, know where they're going and don't wander about, etc.
s ;o)

Posted by
20 posts

I'm afraid I'm a bit of a snob and I'd go to Paris just for lunch for the sole purpose of saying, "Oh, and we went to Paris for lunch on the second day of our trip".

It's all about getting the stamps in the passport! LOL

Posted by
8 posts

I'm with Toni. I did the Eurostar escorted tour of Paris some years ago, one day trip from London. Made me realize I much prefer London to Paris, which I did revisit after that. Still prefer London to Paris. It's really subjective, but for my money, I'd recommend staying in London and enjoying it.

Posted by
466 posts

You can do it but once you get to Paris you will wish you had stayed a night or 2. It's to beautiful to go for just a few hours. I would reconsider and either spend a few nights or plan another trip at some point to Paris. Anyway whatever you do......have fun!!!!

Posted by
977 posts

We did it two years ago. Loved the experience. The trip on the Eurostar was worth getting up at the crack of dawn. However, we booked an escorted day tour through Golden Tours to maximise the time we had. We loved every minute of it. Going back to Paris this September for 6 days.

Posted by
4 posts

I know this post is old, but in case anyone else reads it here's what my husband and I did.

We booked a Britian Shrinkers unescorted day trip to Paris.

Once we arrived, we hopped on the metro and went to Sainte-Chapelle. While waiting in line, we realized we should scrap our original plan to visit museums and to instead spend the day outside because it was a cloudless day in April.

Here's what we did:

  1. Sainte Chapelle
  2. took metro to Eiffel Tower
  3. walked a few blocks away, bought sandwiches and ate lunch in the park by the tower.
  4. took a Seine Cruise (right across from tower)
  5. after cruise, walked over the Alexander III bridge
  6. walked down the Champs-Elysees towards Place de la Concorde
  7. Walked across Place de la Concorde toward Jardin des Tuileries
  8. hoped back on metro and went to Montemarte
  9. hung out on the steps, sang some songs and enjoyed the view of Paris
  10. walked back toward the Gare du Nord, stopping to get dinner and a pastry
  11. got back on the train to London.

We had a great time! Mostly because I loved looking at the architecture. Also it was a beautiful day. It was a great introduction that got us exited to plan a longer stay.

Posted by
3551 posts

Yep, insane! PAris warrants at least 3-5 days.

Posted by
115 posts

Why would you want to go over to Paris for one day? Because..... it's PARIS!! The first time I went to Europe I was visiting a cousin in the Netherlands. I said that if this is the only time I get to Europe, I HAVE to go to Paris, even if only for a day. I did, and I'm glad I did.

Posted by
1357 posts

One more thought: do you really want to get back to London in time for dinner when you could have dinner in Paris? I'd rather be exhausted from a night train as long as a had a belly full of yummy French food.

Posted by
28113 posts

Lynn, ^ ^ ^ That's wonderful!! I'm so glad that you posted your experience. ^ ^ ^ Now that's what I call a Day Trip. It sounds so wonderful, so romantic, "April In Paris". Yee Hah!

Posted by
19 posts

We did a day trip to Paris out of London and it was great! Once we were there, we took a hop-on-hop-off bus tour which allowed us to get a feel for the city. We ended up having enough time to climb the Eiffel Tower (to the 2nd level via stairs), spend some time in the Louvre, and visit Notre Dame(we only had time for this because Mass was going on, but we did get free admission). We had a great day! Book the Eurostar early as it often sells out months in advance.

Posted by
354 posts

I agree with Dianne: "Why would you want to go over to Paris for one day? Because..... it's PARIS!!" A taste of paris in one day (hopefully the weather will be good) is better than nothing. Just don't try to visit museums or stand in long lines. There's plenty to see and experience just wandering around.

Posted by
37 posts

Hard to say as it's fun to do things on a whim. Although I think I'd enjoy London and take Rick's advice: Assume you will return and plan a trip to Paris - doesn't have to be anything exotic. I surprised my wife one year and we did 36 hours in Paris coming back from Venice and had a blast. Just enough to make us want to go back for a longer stay some other time. Have a great time!

Posted by
2829 posts

Well, a 2h10 far day trip is always a 2h10 far day trip. Being it Paris or Cardiff doesn't matter on that sense. It it not inherently wrong to do a day trip to Paris. My only recommendation is that you don't try to see everything like you were in a marathon. Walk, go to one spot you want to see, spend the rest of the day enjoying walking and other open areas, and it will be fine. However, don't: (a) do this only to have one more famous city "clinched" on your list; (b) try to do in one day what usually takes 3.