So, what happens if you have only 8 hours?
When my sister and niece came to visit us in London, we got to find out!
One of the things that makes travel truly great is having someone to share it with. Even a solo trip is enriched by the cool people you meet along the way, especially when strangers become new friends. 99% of the time I travel with my husband, my partner in everything. Our first trip together came right after our graduation from college. We spent a month traveling around Europe, with hiking packs, hostels, the whole bit. We visited 7 cities in total, beginning in London and ending in Rome, with Paris, Bordeaux, Nice, Cinque Terre and Venice sandwiched in between. It was a dream and it created in us a constant need for travel that can never be satisfied. We have so many memories from that time that we recount often. Recently, we got to share some of that magic with someone very close to us.
This year my eldest niece turned 13 and as her birthday present, my sister brought her to visit us in London; the first European trip for both of them! At home, each time a niece or nephew celebrated a birthday, we’d take them on a “birthday date” as their present. A birthday date is a whole day of adventures around the city catered to the birthday kid’s interests, like when we took our history-obsessed (then) 12-year old niece to check out the Merchant’s House Museum in the East Village (home of a “wealthy merchant-class family” from 1835 to 1933). In keeping with this tradition, we decided to give our niece a European birthday date to remember. We wanted to share with her a hint of the experiences we’ve been having here and give her a taste of the travel bug. What 13-year old girl wouldn’t love to celebrate her birthday in Paris?!
This itinerary is based on our plan to arrive into Paris’ Gare du Nord train station on the Eurostar from King’s Cross-St. Pancras in London. It draws a circle (ellipse?) around the center of the Paris, moving west from Gare du Nord, to eventually reach the Eiffel Tower, before crossing the river Seine to the south bank. It then moves back east, stopping at Île de la Cité in the middle of the river Seine to view Notre Dame Cathedral, before eventually returning to the train station at the north-east point of the journey.
Please note: This itinerary was meant to (and can) be done entirely on foot. That said, if you linger for a long while at any given stop (as we did), you can always resort to taking a taxi/car service or public transportation to make up some time.
Itinerary: 8 Hours in Paris
Musée de l'Orangerie (Jardin de Tuileries, 113 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris)
Avenue des Champs-Élysées (75008 Paris)
Macarons at Ladurée (75 Av. des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris)
Arc de Triomphe (Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris)
Continuing along the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe is now just down the road, at the Place Charles de Gaulle. It is one of the most recognizable Parisian monuments, after the Eiffel Tower. Stop for a photo op. (Tip: there are some souvenir shops between Ladurée and Arc de Triomphe if you want to pick up something to take back home.)
La Tour Eiffel (Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris)
Speaking of which, once you’re done snapping selfies with the Arc de Triomphe, make a left and head down Avenue d'Iéna to make your way toward the Eiffel Tower. Pass a park called Place des Etats-Unis, continue through the large intersection Place D'Iéna, and eventually walk through the Jardins du Trocadéro (Trocadéro Gardens) to cross the river at Pont d'Iéna. You will have seen the Eiffel Tower in the distance the entire time so you will know if you’re walking the right way.
Please note that the queues to the observatory levels can be quite long, especially if you are visiting on a weekend and/or would like to skip the steps and ride the lift instead. We visited on a Tuesday and opted for the stairs, so had a pretty short queue.
Familiarize yourself with the information provided on the official website of the Eiffel Tower before your visit. The stairs weren’t so bad but you may choose to ride the lift if you physically cannot climb the steps, simply don’t want to, or are pressed for time. You can recharge at level 1 before continuing the climb to level 2. I think it’s worth the supplement to continue to the summit on the last lift. Some would disagree but I think the views are spectacular and you’ve come this far already!
Notre Dame Cathedral (6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris)
This is where my husband took over the itinerary and decided we shop hop a cab and head over to the Île de la Cité, an island in the middle of the river Seine, so my niece could witness the stunning French gothic architecture of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Entry was free so we took a look around inside as well. If you walk to Notre Dame, you can stop along the way to pick up a chocolat chaud at Un Dimanche à Paris (4 Cours du Commerce Saint-André, 75006 Paris), another popular teahouse and pastry shop that is said to have excellent hot chocolate.
Gare du Nord (18 Rue de Dunkerque, 75010 Paris)
- Monet’s Water Lilies Musée de L’Orangerie (Jardin de Tuileries, 113 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris)
- Stroll the Boulevard Avenue des Champs-Élysées (75008 Paris)
- Macarons Ladurée (75 Av. Des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris)
- Arch selfie Arc de Triomphe (Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris)
- No Paris without… La Tour Eiffel (Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris)
- Glorious Gothic Architecture Notre Dame Cathedral (6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris)
- Steak-Frites Poulette (3 Rue Étienne Marcel, 75001 Paris)
- Bistro Les Têtes Brûlées (21 Rue de Turbigo, 75002 Paris)
- Time To Go Gare du Nord (18 Rue de Dunkerque, 75010 Paris)