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Four Days in Paris Without a Plan

Aaron McHugh

I received an email from a friend asking about the trip my son Holden and I took to Paris a few years ago. I thought it was a great excuse to start offering this type of adventure, travel posts. Great adventures are available if you’ll go for it.

Walk the city.
Talk with locals. Rehearse a few French phrases and at least attempt to speak in their language.
If you’re American, please don’t be loud, obnoxious, demanding and talk about your cattle ranch in Texas. The reason we American’s get a bad wrap internationally is because of those few people who stand out. Instead, be kind, be polite and be mindful of others around you. Find a cafe and sit outside facing the street and spend an hour just watching people.


Getting to Paris from London Eurostar train

We did not have a specific plan for each day. We started with a general list of some sites e.g. The Louvre museum, Sacre Couer. The only advance reservations we booked were for the train from London to Paris and back. We traveled over the Thanksgiving holidays, November 2013. We rode the Eurostar train from London’s St. Pancres Station to Paris Gare du Nord Train Station. Here is information on fares. It looks like we paid around $109 USD per person, each way. Round trip total of $220 per person.

Arc De Triumph-Hotel Astrid room view photo credit Holden McHugh
Hotel Astrid room view photo credit Holden McHugh

Where to stay

The hotel we my assistant found was a last minute booking. We won the lottery. We ended up getting a room on the top floor staring just down from at the Arc de Triumph.

27 avenue carnot 75017 Paris
Phone: 0144092600 – Fax: 0972130031

Just off the Arc de triumph train stop. A buffet breakfast is served every morning in the dining room at the Astrid Hotel. Enjoy a drink while reading the newspapers provided in the lounge bar, which includes a collection of artworks. Hotel Astrid operates a tour desk providing information about local sights and excursions. Charles de Gaulle – Etoile Metro Station is an 8-minute walk from the hotel, providing direct access to the Louvre Museum and Disneyland Paris. Monceau Park is a 15-minute walk away. 27 avenue Carnot, 17. Palais des Congress. Just 1800 ft. from the Champs Elysées, this 19th-century hotel offers air-conditioned guest rooms.

Places to Visit in Paris

After a business meeting in London, a US native Sarah wrote me an email with a download of how to experience Paris. I copied her advice here below.

Montmartre – is up on the hill so you can get a great panoramic view, near Sacre Couer, and has lots of artists/good places to eat. We visited Sacre Couer early one morning. The views are pretty difficult to describe.

Notre Dame – is a must see and keep your eye out on the floor for a bronze circle which marks the center of the city. If you step on it, that means you’ll come back to Paris, so I always make sure I touch it every time! 🙂 Thanks Sarah, we found the bronze circle. Amazing. Better than any pictures they showed in my middle-school French class.

Eiffel Tour at night photo credit Holden McHugh
Eiffel Tour at night photo credit Holden McHugh

Eiffel Tour – if you want to go up (and it’s totally worth it) I would recommend buying your tickets in advance so you don’t have to wait in line. We didn’t go to the top, but I did take an evening run past her all light up and sparkling. Amazing.

The Palace of Versailles photo credit Holden McHugh
The Palace of Versailles photo credit Holden McHugh

Versailles – is basically a whole day trip, at least from 9ish to 4ish and I think it’s a great place to visit since we don’t have anything like this in the States. We opted for the whole day affair. Personally, I really enjoyed the grounds of the Palace of Versailles just as much as the Palace itself, or maybe more. I love the National Parks in the US and loved the contrast of the wealth of one king owning all of Versailles. Compared to the wealth of the everyday man having free access to the same beauty, but shared in the National Parks.

Music in Paris

St. Chapel photo credit Holden McHugh
St. Chapel photo credit Holden McHugh

Concerts and St Chappelle or Notre Dame (both on Ile de la Cite)- they have really nice and often free concerts. I’m sure they will have a lot of Christmas Carol ones that will be beautiful!

Jazz Clubs – Paris is FULL of great jazz clubs, which is a nice way to spend an evening. I don’t have one in particular to recommend but here’s a link to what seems to be a comprehensive website.

Museums in Paris

Louvre photo credit Holden McHugh
Louvre photo credit Holden McHugh

Louvre – I wouldn’t only recommend going inside if there are things you feel like you just have to see. Otherwise it’s very crowded and can take up a whole precious day in Paris. We walked to the Louvre, strolled through the museum. We spent a few hours. Loved it.

Musee Rodin – Is a beautiful museum in an old home with a garden to display all of Rodin’s sculptures. It’s small enough and central enough that it doesn’t take that long to go an enjoy!

Musée Marmottan Monet – 2, rue Louis-Boilly 75016 Paris All the good Monet pieces in a nice museum in a nice area, good to eat around there too

Musee D’Orsay on the left bank (if you’re into art and cool buildings) and definitely watch the sun go down over the city from Montmartre and the Sacre Couers (its where the cool artists hang out and a great commanding view of the city).

Panoramic View Bars:

Observatory Panoramique de la Tour Montparnasse– very high tower, good for a snack/dessert. Best time would probably be sunset.

Ice cream if it’s not too cold!

“Best” Ice Cream Sorbet in Paris and it’s on the Ile Saint Louis (other end of island from Notre Dame) is a very cute place:

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