A day in Paris you say, is it doable? Absolutely.
When my Europe trip was coming to an end I had to make a choice, save the rest of my money for future travels or spoil myself to a day in Paris. I have been dreaming of Paris for a lifetime. I would’ve had so much regret if I did not see Paris while spending time in Europe where it was within my reach. So I bought that train ticket from London and within the month I was staring at the Eiffel tower.
How to get around.
When I arrived I was adamant I was gonna walk the whole city. I was told by so many people it wasn’t doable and the metro was really easy to use. But I was doing it alone, didn’t speak or read French and I’m stubborn, so I had to prove them wrong.
You’re thinking I’m mad but I walked from the central train station, down to The Lourve, to Notre Dame, down The Seine to the Eiffel Tower and up to the Arc de Triomphe. Then yes I gave up and caught the metro to The Moulin Rouge.
Walking: If you give yourself enough time, have the right walking shoes and plenty of water. I’d say go for it. I got lost, found my way again (which hello sense of achievement!) and got to see what I wouldn’t have underground on the metro. I saw all the side streets, how the public rushed around to work and got to stroll around the river singing La La Land in my head.
Metro: As everyone said its easy as pie. I myself do not read French or Speak it so I was kind of scared however all the machines have an English Option. Plus English is a second language to most so I was able to ask the ticket man a question when I got stuck. As long as you are polite (which I hope you are everyday anyway!) you can get places. I knew from google maps what stations I had to go to and from. From there it was as easy as finding the right signs! It is also very cheap so it won’t put you out.
What to see?
I made a list of the top Tourist spots that everyone says you have to see and made a loop of what to see. I’m not a huge fan of being a tourist when I travel but if you only have a day I’d knock it off the list so when you go back in the future you can relax a bit more and enjoy the simpler things.
The Lourve: As you can tell, it would be impossible to see all of Paris in a day and go inside the Lourve itself. However seeing those famous glass pyramids and having a stroll in the gardens, were there are still installation art pieces is a great way to spend the morning. I had my first snack of the day here sitting in the gardens taking in that I really was in Paris.
Love Lock Bridge: There are plenty of bridges that can cross you over the Seine towards the Notre Dame but I had to choose the love lock bridge. The famous bridge filled with peoples love locked away to stay forever. However that said most have been removed to just the pillars as the weight was starting to strain on the bridge (so I understand that call haha). You can still see the love anyway, it is the city of love after all and it gives you stunning views of the Seine.
Notre Dame: Yes, I did get the overwhelming thought of ‘I need to watch Hunch Back of Notre Dame’ thank you Disney for that. It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, however the architecture alone was stunning and I could’ve spent a good few hours staring at and taking in all the details. It was a little later in the morning at this point so the crowds were starting to pile in but there was no wait to get inside, its also free admission. I really recommend spending another bit of your day looking inside the Church, if you are like me and love Churches and stain glassed windows, take a peak. It was gorgeous.
By this stage it was time for the longest walk of the day, from Notre Dame to the Eiffel tower itself. So I walked around the back of the Church to have a little more food and rest to prepare. I’m glad I did cause the back was just as gorgeous and reminded me funnily enough of Beauty and the Beast. Disney really does have my mind.
The Seine: Yes, I sung La La Land’s ‘Fools who dream’ most of the time I was walking along this river. Can you blame me? I didn’t really know what to expect but it was so lovely with the sun shining, the house boats driving along and the Autumn trees spilling their leaves onto the path and into the water. It took me just over an hour to walk along the whole river from Notre Dame to the Eiffel tower. People were having their lunches over the river wall, there were cute little cafes along the edge and running tracks further along. The city felt alive down by the water. It probably was one of my favourite parts of the day.
Eiffel Tower: I MADE IT. I nearly cried and my smile was blinding as my feet moved me faster towards what I’ve wanted to see most in my life. I will be coming back to climb it, but in a day trip who has time for lines. You can get the point just by walking along-side the tower and eating in the gardens behind it. Again as with most things in Paris I found it smaller than what my brain imagined. I suppose it comes down to talking it up for years so it becomes a huge uncontrollable image. It did not disappoint. I think I managed to spend at least 4-5 hours just walking around and seeing it from every angle possible that day.
Seeing it light up at night was not part of the plan. I was a little scared spending time into the night in a city I didn’t know or understand. However I pushed my boundaries, sat on the lawn with a chocolate crepe watching the sun set and the Eiffel Tower light up the sky. I did have a little difficulty finding the train station but I did and with enough time to get dinner at central station and head back to London.
Arc de Triomphe: What I loved most about the Arc was how old and majestic it looked while it was also being used as a roundabout. It was such a clash of times that it made it that much better. How long it could stand in time and people would still visit while locals would just see it as an everyday part of life. This was the part of the trip where I was exhausted from walking over the city and decided to conquer the Metro to see the final destination; the Moulin Rouge.
Moulin Rouge: Again I was expecting something from the movies, when I saw it I actually had a little laugh to myself. I don’t know why I imagined it to be so grand and for Nicole Kidman to come out singing show-tunes to me but I did haha, I would’ve loved to see a show to get a whole experience but in a day it wouldn’t be possible. It’s now on my bucket list.
I did this all solo. Since traveling I realized I do love my solo trips, there is a lot of fun when you go with friends and family but I found I preferred being able to do my own thing. For a day trip this is exactly what you need. There is no one to keep you behind schedule and you get to choose what you want to see most. I left London on train at 5:30 in the morning and was back at 11pm which would’ve been hard to do with more people.
I was also able to enjoy the little things and choose the perfect spots to eat and take in the sites. Photo wise, everything has selfie mode so it isn’t that hard. I also would spot out the other tourists who were asking others to take their photos so we could swap and there would be less chance of my camera being taken.
All in all solo traveling a day trip once you’ve planned your route, figured out time frames and booked your tickets is easy as pie. Just believe you can do it and you can.
What to pack
I only bought one small backpack. For a day trip there is no need to lug around a massive bag. I had enough room for; a small umbrella, my wallet with money and passport, phone, food, water and camera. Simple really. I gathered a paper map that was on a stand in along the Seine which folded up in my pocket. Necessities only. Don’t carry what you don’t actually need. It’ll just cause you anger when its dragging you down while you walk to your next destination.
A lot of people told me Paris would let me down, that it would not live up to the expectations I set. They were all wrong. I think finding the magic in cities is leaving half of it up to the city, the other half of the magic is what you choose to see in it. I knew I would love it so that love expanded into every nook and cranny I saw of the city. I love the ability to take day trips to other countries in Europe. If you live there you are very lucky. Australia is so isolated. I think solo day trips are a mind over matter incident. If you put faith in yourself and your planning it will work out, leave some room for the unknown and accept that will occur and you will have a day to remember.
I’d love to hear if you’ve done a day trip, tell me in the comments about it so I can plan more!