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Trip report London and Paris

These forums have been so helpful! I'm so appreciative of all the help I got while planning our trip. We just returned 2 days ago.
My husband, 2 daughters (17 and 9), my mom and I arrived at Heathrow airport. The line through immigration was extremely long, but knowing they are being extra careful made it reassuring rather than annoying. We went to the information booth once we were through, they were beyond helpful! Everyone we dealt with in London was great. We felt welcomed and never like we were bothering anyone with questions.

We stayed in an Airbnb in Dalston Junction. It was ok, pretty far out from everything, and were awoken pretty much every night by sirens or drunk people fighting. It was entertaining, but not super relaxing :)
My husband and teen aged daughter had fun figuring out the tube. It was easy to get around London and we always felt safe on the tube. We were able to buy a week long pass Oyster card, there was no need to load it and cash it back out, it was perfect. It was good for zones 1 and 2, and we just added some extra money for our one day trip out to Kew gardens which is zone 3.

We rode Big Bus hop on/ hop off tour which included a river tour. Loved them both!!

We toured Westminster Abby (loved), Toured the Tower of London ( good), Churchill War rooms (great), did tons of walking around the city, ate at lots of good pubs and more. Loved St. James park!
We took a trip out to Kew gardens which we all loved, but especially me and my mom since we are both avid gardeners.

Took a day trip to Cambridge and went on a punting tour. I highly recommend a trip our there! We ate at The Old Bicycle shop which is on the way from the train station into the old part of town. It was really good! We also ate the Eagle pub there, good food and a great Pimm's cup!
Then another day we went on The Secret Cottage tour in the Cotswolds. I can't give it enough praise. I would recommend it to anyone who has limited time in London. Now we can't wait to go back and stay there longer!
We then took the Eurostar to Paris and arrived at Gare du Nord. I would say the trip from the train station on the RER to our Airbnb by Notre Dame was the worst part of the trip. It is not easy to get around if you have luggage. I'm pretty sure that 2 men were attempting to take one of our suitcases but my husband caught on quickly and they got off the train.

The metro and RER in our opinion was not nearly as easy to get around or in as good of shape as the tube. We mostly walked and tried to limit our time on it.
We absolutely loved walking through Paris. It is a beautiful city!! Our Airbnb was across the street from Notre Dame and had a gorgeous view of it and the Seine. We went to the top of the Eiffel tower (awesome!), Musee D'Orsay (our fave museum), the Louvre (amazing and huge), Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Arc De Triomphe, 2 day hop on/hop off bus tour, river tour, picnics in Luxembourg gardens (one of favorite things, my younger daughter rented a sail boat for the pond), tons of walking, lots of eating and more.
We saw a lot of security both places, but Paris was definitely on a whole other level. We hardly noticed groups of police or soldiers with machine guns after the first day there. The other thing we noticed were the many homeless children with their parents. It was quite the wake up call for our kids to see little kids sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk, or toddlers sadly crying while the parent laid next to them. Heartbreaking.
We noticed the petition teens at Arc de Triomphe causing quite a commotion. They were quite aggressive, in fact my friend's dad who arrived the day after we left was robbed by them.

Neither city felt very crowded. After preparing to stand in 2 hour lines at the major attractions I was surprised to be standing for 20 to 30 minutes at any of them, and that was without prepaid tickets or passes.
We are already planning our next trip abroad!

Posted by
14153 posts

What a terrific time you had! Those 2 cities are such a great introduction to International travel, aren't they? I am so happy you are planning another trip and I'll bet everyone else is anxious to go.

Thanks for posting.

Posted by
6352 posts

Thanks, Catherine, for sharing your great time. We're planning to get back to both London and Paris sometime soon.... In the next couple of years, anyway.

Posted by
2484 posts

Catherine,
Thanks for your trip report, I am glad you had such a good time. I will put the Secret Cottage tour in the Cotswolds on my list for a future visit. I have been to Cambridge and also enjoyed my time there. Paris is a fave also, I haven't been there for two years, before the heavily armed security.

Where do you hope to go next year? Perhaps, Rome? So many wonderful places, it is hard to choose.

Judy B

Posted by
3580 posts

Thanks for your report, CatherineK. Next time you are in either city consider taking cabs with your group, especially when you are traveling with luggage.. It's easier and not expensive with 4, or even 2or 3 in a taxi. It took me a few attempts before I could get on the right RER train. I expected it to work like the Metro, and it doesn't.