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Trips to Paris from London
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Ideas / Diary / Paris Trip
A group of Japanese students go on a weekend trip to Paris

In September 2007 Mark (the author of this website) guided a group of Japanese students around Paris. The students had come to England, accompanied by one of their teachers, for a month of cultural study and sightseeing during their university's summer holidays. The trip to Paris was a chance to find out about French culture, and maybe to do a bit of shopping too ...!

For more details about the places visited, and other things to do in Paris, see: Travel/Tours/Paris

On the first day we took the Eurostar train from London to Paris. After checking into our hotel, we spent the first evening exploring the area known as Montmartre, on the north side of Paris. The steep walk up the hill to the Sacre Coeur church was rewarded with fine views across the city. We looked around the interior of the church, looked around the souvenir shops and ate a meal in a restaurant in the artists' square: the Place du Tertre. When we came back down the hill we saw the famous Moulin Rouge - unfortunately we didn't have the chance to go to a show on this trip, but we took photos of the outside before returning back to the hotel.

On the second day we started by going to Trocadero, to enjoy the fine views of Paris' most famous building: the Eiffel Tower. After crossing the river to reach the bottom of the tower we decided to save time by taking the stairs, instead of queuing for the lifts. We went to the first stage: this is the lowest of the three platforms, but has lovely views in all directions.

Next it was time to take a 1-hour circular boat cruise on the River Seine. There are many attractive bridges, buildings and monuments which can be seen from the river. Three of these are shown in the photos below. Notre Dame Cathedral is the largest church in Paris and is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture. Many people have heard of Victor Hugo's novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", or at least have seen the Disney film version of the story! The Conciergerie was the place where important prisoners were kept at the time of the French Revolution: Marie Antoinette (the wife of the king Louis the Sixteenth) was imprisoned here for several months before she was taken to Place de la Concorde for her head to be cut off (this was quite common at that time ...). The Statue of Liberty is a copy of the original which was given by America to France. Many people don't realise that the original was a gift from France to America, and that the engineer who worked on transporting this monument across the ocean and rebuilding it on the island outside New York was Eiffel, the same man who created the famous tower in Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral


Statue of Liberty

After the boat trip we walked along Avenue Montaigne. This is one of the most famous shopping streets in Paris, full of many high-class fashion boutiques. Luckily it was Sunday and most of these stores were shut, so the girls were happy just to take a photo outside one of the shops!

For lunch we bought some baguettes (bread rolls) filled with French cheese and ham, and went to the Palais Royal to eat them. Speeches made in this square encouraged the start of the French Revolution. We also enjoyed a short walk around the attractive gardens. It is only a short walk from here to the grounds of the Louvre Museum. Before entering the museum we had a quick look at the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. This "victory arch" is a smaller version of the similar monument on the Champs Elysees (see below), and was also built on the orders of the French general and leader Napoleon Bonaparte.

Palais Royal

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

We only had a couple of hours to explore the Louvre, which is so large that you can spend days there if you wish. We concentrated on the Denon wing, where some of the most famous exhibits can be seen, including Leonardo da Vinci's painting the Mona Lisa. Below you can see three famous statues: the Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo, and one of the mysterious stone statues found on the remote Easter Island.

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Venus de Milo

Stone statue from Easter Island

There is an underground shopping centre where many of the students bought postcards and other souvenirs. The Inverted Pyramid was featured in the book The Da Vinci Code. Once we had returned outside we explored the Tuileries garden.

The Inverted Pyramid in the Carrousel du Louvre

Three nymphs in the Tuileries garden

For the evening meal we went into the student area of Paris: the Latin Quarter. This is where the Sorbonne University is located.

Time for a meal in the Latin Quarter

Onion soup is a typical French starter

After the meal we headed to the main island: the Ile de la Cite. We looked at Notre Dame Cathedral, and a couple of the girls asked to take a photo with the police guards outside the Palace of Justice. We returned to the hotel on the metro.

Saying hello to the police

Taking the metro back to the hotel

On the final day of the trip we started by visiting the Arc de Triomphe, before having some spare time for shopping on one of the most famous streets in Paris: the Champs Elysees. We walked down to the end to see the Obelisque and fountain in the Place de la Concorde.

Arc de Triomphe


Fountain in Place de la Concorde

There are some famous food shops around Place de la Madeleine, including Hediard and Fauchon. We walked to Place Vedome to see the hotels and jewellery stores, then up to the Opera Garnier. These days the stage is used mainly for ballet rather than opera performances, as a new opera house has been built near Bastille. The Opera Garnier was the inspiration for the story The Phantom of the Opera, a French novel which formed the basis of a popular musical by Andrew Lloyd-Webber.

Fauchon window display

Opera Garnier

Our final destination was the main Galeries Lafayette store on Boulevard Haussmann. Time for some last-minute shopping and to enjoy the views from the top of the department store. We headed back to the Gare du Nord to take the Eurostar train back to London. After a busy three days of sightseeing, many of the students were ready for a couple of hours of rest on the train ...

Opera Garnier: viewed from the top of Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette

Time for sleep on the Eurostar

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Paris sightseeing guide: Travel/Tours/Paris
Eurostar: Shop/Company/Eurostar

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