I will be in Paris for 8 nights over Christmas. I was thinking maybe 1 big day trip could be possible. Brussels and London both seem to be feasible options. I have never been to either city. I know London has sooooo much to do, I am afraid I may be overwhelmed for 10 or so hours. Brussels, on the other hand, seems to get negative reviews from many here. Or should I just plan on 8 days in Paris? I already have an apartment booked in Paris, so overnight stays in other cities are not an option. I am worried it may be many years before I am back in Europe, so I would like to see what I can without feeling rushed. Anyone have any experience with either of these trips when the daylight hours are going to be short?
How about Lyon? Not even that long of a trip by TGV.
Oh Lyon! I think we have a winner! Thank you!
A day trip to a place as big as London or Brussels really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Even Lyon is a stretch, although the travel time is much less and the city is more manageable. It's a great city, but you also might want to consider day trips to chateaus/palaces closer to Paris; for example, Blois, Versailles, Chantilly. In some cases seeing the chateau plus the town is a great way to spend a good part of the day.
Since Paris is the hub of the TGV system, you can get to a ton of major cities from Paris in 2 hours each way. I would recommend Strasbourg, it's only 2 hours, the city is manageable in size to see in about 8-10 hours, and the Christmas market there is supposed to be one of the best in Europe!
I would stay with something on the TGV system as opposed to going by air. The TGV pretty well takes you to the heart of where you are going. If you fly, you will fritter away at least a couple of hours at each end of the trip getting to and from airports and going through security.
I was amazed to see Sarah's comment about Strasbourg, since I remember the drive being about 5 hours, and the train not any less. I guess that was before the TGV line was put in. Given that you can now do it in a little over 2 hours, and that the Strasbourg center is manageable in a short time and does have a beautiful Christmas market, that's a good suggestion.
Howdy neighbor, did the Eurostar at thanksgiving to London and had the time of our life.Weather was decent although overcast. We did hop-off-hop on double decker bus, did London Eye, River Thames cruise, and had time to fight the crowds on black Friday at Harrod's. We took earliest and latest Eurostar, had a wonderful breakfast going and a fancy dinner on our return . A little pricey, but worth it if you aren't sure you'll be back.
Sarah, I disagree that the TGV is usually on time. From my experience it's ALWAYS on time. At least on the routes I've taken. And why we can't come close to replicating that in the US is beyond me. I took a cross-country train trip on Amtrak a number of years ago, and every leg was late ... very very late. It was almost comical, and I enjoyed the trip, but it was astonishing how bad the system was. On one leg the electrical system wouldn't work until they rain the train backwards, so they had to back up from outside Detroit back into Detroit, then reverse the train in Detroit and go backwards all the way to Chicago. You can imagine how long that delayed things. But getting back to the Paris-Strasbourg train, I wish there had been a TGV line back when we did the drive, because I definitely would have taken it. And I'm still astonished at TGV times. It's about 300 miles from Paris to Strasbourg driving, 2 hours on the train. I live 110 miles from Boston, can drive it in under 2 hours, but the train from here takes around 2.5 hours.
Robert - what's amazing to me about the journey from Paris to Strasbourg is it's EXACTLY two hours! Don't know how they managed that! And it's usually on time. The drive is between 4 - 5 hours. Another reason the TGV is amazing! And yeah, there's a tram stop right at the train station in Strasbourg that will have you to the city center in 5 minutes or so. Or you can walk above ground in 15. Very convenient.