A Short Break in Paris

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Widely regarded as one of the most romantic cities in the world, steeped in history, a gastronomic paradise, and with the Eiffel Tower and other high quality tourist venues, Paris makes a wonderful destination for a short break. However, ones experience there can be enhanced by making a few simple preparations beforehand.

The quickest, easiest and most pleasant way to get to Paris from England, at least, is by Eurostar train from St Pancras International station, London.

This author went on a four day break to Paris in February 2009 and, while at the Eurostar terminal, was advised to purchase:
  • Paris Visite Travel Card.
  • Carnet of ten tickets for use on the Metro.
  • Two Day Paris Museum Pass.

While it is possible, and probably desirable, to purchase all these beforehand on the internet, they are available at the Eurostar terminal, and it is also possible to purchase a carnet on the train.

Paris Visite Travel Card

Available for a variety of zones and for a variety of time frames, this author purchased a 3-day travel card for Zones 1-3. This cost £18-80 for an adult, and £9.50 for a child, and allows unlimited use of the metro, bus services and RER trains. Possession of this ticket also allows discounted admission to a number of tourist venues. For example, in 2009 it gave a 20% reduction on admission to the Arc de Triomphe and a 50% reduction on admission to the Lido.

Carnet Ticket

For his visit of 4 days, this Researcher was advised to purchase in addition a carnet of 10 tickets for use on any journey on the metro or bus systems. This cost Euro 10.50, compared to a single ticket of Euro 1.40. Carnet tickets can be used at any time, and so unused tickets can be saved for a subsequent visit. In the event, this author did not need to use any of his carnet tickets as the 3-day travel card continued to be usable on the 4th day. This must be because the period of validity is counted in hours from the time of purchase.

Museum Pass

Once purchased, the two, three or four-day Museum Pass not only allows free admission to over 60 museums and monuments in Paris, including the Louvre, but also enables one to by-pass queues at the cash desks.

If using a two-day Pass, which is valid for two successive days, it is best to delay its first use until you can get a full day of use from it, thus allowing one to visit more than one attraction in the day.

Guided Tours

If you're visiting Paris for the first time, it is well worth taking an Open-Top Bus Tour of the city. The company, 'Open Tour' operates four different routes around the city. This author took the 'Grand Tour' which cost £26-97 and linked this with a one-hour cruise with commentary down the River Seine, operated by Bateaux Parisien. Starting from the Eiffel Tower, the cruise normally costs 11 Euros but is discounted to eight Euros when linked with the bus tour.

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