We visited Paris at the beginning of a 10-day train trip from Paris to Lisbon. Since this was our first train trip and we wanted to see a lot of cities, we didn’t get a lot of time in any one city.
Our trip started with a flight into London from Newark on United in the exit row seats. It is a short flight (5 1/2 hours) so I was OK with coach seats. Of course that assumed I had the exit row. There was no way I could sit wedged in between two strangers for that flight. Luckily, we purchase an annual subscription on United to get the extra legroom seats on all our flights including international.
Flight Tip: For flights over 4 hours make sure you secure an aisle seat when you book your ticket. This allows you to get up and walk around.
London to Paris
We hopped on the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and then took a quick cab ride to St. Pancreas Station.
Travel Tip: The London Underground is easy to navigate and a cab from the airport to downtown London is a long expensive ride.
We made it to downtown London in plenty of time for our 1:31 pm Eurostar trip from London to Paris. I booked 1st Class and was able to secure seats 71 & 75 in coach #2. Seat 75 was facing forward and the two seats were facing each other across a table. I wouldn’t think of going 2nd class. If you are going to take the train through the chunnel, you might as well do it right.
I had pre-ordered the gluten-free meal for both my husband and myself. This was easy to do on Eurostar’s website using your reservation number. They gave us salmon, which my husband ate and enjoyed. I don’t eat fish. There are lots of things I don’t eat. i am so picky. I will say that the gf rolls and dessert were delish.
The train also gave single serve bottles of wine. The wino in me rejoiced. They had a pretty good selection of reds and whites. I will admit we tried quite a few of their white selections as it appeared to be unlimited. Red wine can be a sticky selection for gluten, so I usually stay away and stick with white.
Boutique hotels are our preference, especially in Europe. The Hotel Marceau Bastille fit the bill perfectly. We were in a lovely, quiet room on the 6th floor. Our hotel room was small with a comfortable bed. The bathroom was modern with an extremely high tub. I got stuck after my first shower as I am somewhat vertically challenged. I had to call my hubby for assistance. Better than having to call a maintenance man or maybe not…
As we were exhausted from our travels, we decided on an early night. Dinner was only a block away at Il Quadrifoglio. This Italian restaurant had some great gluten-free options. They even had gf bread. So delish. We tried two different pastas, one with a Gorgonzola sauce and the other with Pesto. We were way too tired for dessert. We crashed in our very comfortable bed.
Day 1 – Breakfast
Breakfast at the hotel was great. The main thing I love about boutique hotels besides, their uniqueness is that they usually include breakfast. The Marceau was no exception. A wide selection of cheeses, meats, fruits and yogurt was rounded out by gf bread for toast. Of course they had a choice of juice and even a latte machine for coffee. I recommend getting up early, as the hotel is small and the space for eating is also small, so get their early to get a good seat. They keep restocking items, so no worry about running out of food.
Our day was jam packed. So much to fit into a short time in Paris. We started with a 1 day pass for the Paris Metro. It was pretty easy to navigate. In fact, I don’t think we got lost once using the Paris metro and that is not something I can say in most major cities we have visited.
So it may seem strange that we started our day underground, but the Catacombs was what I wanted to see most in Paris. We chose a Small Group Tour of the Catacombs which ended up being about 20 people. I consider 20 people more than a “Small Group” tour so I was a little disappointed, but our guide was very engaging and keep us all together and well informed. Our guide, Lily was leading her last tour before moving to Berlin. Reserving the tour in advance saved us from standing on a huge line. This is a huge time saver and even allowed us to see the catacombs as some people got shut out on the day we were in Paris.
The catacombs were creepy and interesting at the same time. It was amazing to hear the history of this sacred place in Paris’s history. Our guide knew the history of this sacred cemetery and lots of general Paris knowledge.
Travel Tip: You walk down 130 steps to get down to the catacombs and must remember that you have walk back up.
After our cemetery tour we headed to get our art on. We headed by metro over to have lunch at a small cafe near the art museum. Masterpieces of the Louvre was our afternoon tour and was only 6 people. Again this allowed us to skip the very long lines at the Louvre.
This tour did exactly what the title said, it took us to the masterpieces you would except to see. The Mona Lisa was super crowded and a bit disappointing. There are so many wings and rooms in this museum, that an afternoon does not do it justice.
All I can say is I was in gluten free heaven for dinner. Breizh Cafe was our restaurant of choice where they serve naturally gf buckwheat crepes. Savory and sweet crepes were the perfect ending of our first full day in Paris.
Day 2 Tour
Our final tour was a half day tour of Saint Chappelle and Notre-Dame Towers. This was another small group tour. Are you seeing a trend here? We love the small group tour. You get a much more intimate experience. Both Church’s were stunning. Stained glass windows filled most of the tour of Saint Chappelle.
Part of the Notre-Dame tour included an extensive viewing of all sides of the outside of Notre-Dame Cathedral. Steps started our tour of the Bell Tower of Notre-Dame. 300 stairs to be exact. Luckily for all that went on the trek up the towers there were some stops along the way or I am not sure I would have made it. The view from the top was stunning. This was where I got my only view on my 48 hours of the Eiffel Tower. From the top you got stunning views of the gargoyles of Notre-Dame along with views of Paris in all directions.
After our tour we headed to the Falstaff Cafe to meet some old friends from college days. Don and Todd happened to be visiting Paris the same time we were and we hadn’t seen them in almost 30 years. Although we stay up to date in on Facebook it was so good to meet up in person and have a glass of wine and something quick to eat before we headed for our 1st class train to Barcelona. After lunch we ran back to the hotel to grab our bags and some snacks and off to the train station to head farther on our train trip and on to our next stop, Barcelona.
48 hours in Paris is a short amount of time, especially with jet lag. You can , however, fit a ton in, if you plan it correctly. Take some of the tips here and plan a quick trip to Paris either before or after other cities you plan to visit in Europe. We are heading back to Paris in May and there is tons more to see. Luckily, they are a great gluten-free city, so we will have plenty of places to eat. I hope to find some new ones so if you have suggestions, send them my way.
Super Travel Bitch Out
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