City breaks: 24 hours in Paris

City breaks: 24 hours in Paris

Familiarity needn’t breed contempt when it comes to Paris – there’s always more to see, and now is the time to sell a repeat visit. Janine Kelso offers some inspiration

At only three hours’ train ride from London, many Brits have already been there, done Paris.

But the French capital reveals more with every visit, and the credit crunch is making short-haul city breaks increasingly attractive.

The strong euro means a day trip or weekend in Paris is not quite as cheap as it was, though, so budget about €100 a day for eating out and sightseeing.

09.00 Cultural coffee

Relax with a coffee in Les de Deux Magots, the former haunt of the city’s artistic and literary crowd, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Pablo Picasso.

10.00 Get on your bike

Paris’s wide boulevards are perfect for cycling and it’s a great way to see the city – you’ll be amazed at how close together everything is.

Bikes can be hired for about £1 a day from one of the 1,450 Vélib’ hire stations. The scheme’s registration system can seem complicated, but all you need is a credit card, from which £119 will be deducted if you don’t return the bike.

11.00 Stroll around Montmartre

The hilly and cobbled streets of bohemian Montmartre offer dramatic city views. Top local sights include St Pierre de Montmartre, a small Gothic church and the must-see basilica, Sacre Coeur.

Walk downhill to Place Blanche where you’ll see the red windmill of Moulin Rouge in the centre of a seedy street lined with sex shops. Its evening show is a gaudy affair with topless dancers entertaining diners.

13.00 Bon Appetit

Grab lunch at a cafe or bistro. For good, cheap options look for a Petit Futé sticker in the window – it’s rather like the Time Out Cheap Eats recommendation.

14.00 Don’t miss the boat

Take a one-hour ride on a riverboat, or bateau-mouche, along the Seine, for a relaxing tour of the city’s main sites. Alive with entertainers and musicians, the Seine’s many bridges are a great place to wander.

19.00 Go up the Eiffel Tower at night

This iconic structure is a must-see, especially at night when it flashes with lights. It’s perennially popular, so expect to queue for the lifts.

21.00 Eat out in the Latin Quarter

The Latin Quarter is a hive of activity at night with hundreds of restaurants and bars to choose from, offering fine French cuisine. Many have three-course meals from €15.

Highly recommended is the rustic Le Grand Bistrot, in Rue Saint-Severin, which has an open fire in winter and friendly waiters.

23.00 Hit the town

For live jazz, join the hip young crowd at Caveau de la Huchette, in the Latin Quarter. If comedy is more your thing, check out Lido de Paris, in Madeleine, where performers show off their moves with the aid of dazzling special effects.

Where to stay

For a touch of old-world elegance, book the grand Westminster Hotel. The Duke of Westminster stayed here in the 19th century. The hotel staff are refreshingly helpful and not at all snooty.

Rooms are huge by Parisien standards, and opulent too, with antique furniture and fireplaces. The hotel’s restaurant Le Celadon, has a Michelin star.

Book it: Twin rooms cost from £170 per night and junior suites lead in at £426 per night.

Send art deco fans to the Hilton Arc de Triomphe. The reception area is spacious with stylish red chairs, a ceiling mural and giant glitzy lights. It also has a thriving lounge bar and a restaurant. Set in a tree-lined suburban neighbourhood, it doesn’t feel like it’s in the heart of buzzing Paris but it’s only a 10-minute walk from the Champs-Elysée.

Book it: From £236 per room per night for a King Hilton deluxe room, including breakfast.


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