When it comes to mini cruise destinations, few places pip Paris to the post. The City of Light offers everything we’ve come to expect from a mini break; sightseeing, shopping, a bar or ten, and enough grub to guarantee that you’ll need the next size up in trousers by the time you’re back on board. The city is by no means small, in fact it crams many of the world’s architectural icons amidst its rustic arrondissements. So, if you’re spending the day in Paris, you’re going to need a plan – here’s our suggestion…
Most visitors to Paris arrive into Gare du Nord train station, many of them having travelled by train from the cruise port of La Havre. From Gare du Nord, the Basilica du Sacré Cœur in Montmartre should be your first stop. Travel via the Metro – a trip which takes less than 15 minutes – and climb the steps that sit in front of the spectacular domed building. Once at the top, you’ll find the entire city spread out before you, offering a taste of what is to come.
If you have time to spare, Montmartre is the starting point for the ultimate epicurean outing, courtesy of Secret Food Tours. French cheese, crusty baguettes, traditional crepes, macarons and French chocolate is washed down with French wine, as you make your wage around a district that has become known for its flourishing foodie scene. Tours begin at 11am, last three hours and cost €89.
From here you can hop back on the Metro and head to the Champs-Elysées, which is without doubt the most famous of all Paris boulevards. The Arc de Triomphe stands proud at the western end of the boulevard, whilst a walk in the opposition direction will lead you onto one of the city’s most popular public squares, Place de la Concorde.
Whilst it is possible to take the Metro from here to the Eiffel Tower, we prefer to observe the Parisian icon from afar as we take the opportunity to walk a little longer along the boulevard, popping into the city’s chicest boutiques and most tempting patisseries, admiring the beautiful Grand Palais and devouring treats gathered along the way on the manicured lawns of the Jardin des Tuileries.
Having indulged in eclairs or macarons, or whichever Parisian pastry piques your interest, you’ll find yourself refuelled and ready to continue on to one of the world’s most renowned museums, the Louvre. The landmark is located on the Right Bank of the Seine and is unmissable, literally in fact, thanks to the vast pyramid that fills the courtyard. Having made your acquaintances with the Mona Lisa, carry on along the Seine until you happen across the medieval Notre-Dame on the island of Île de la Cité. The cathedral is one of the most famous in the world, and one of the most impressive, so it is worth taking advantage of the free entry to take a closer look.
From the Notre-Dame, hop on a boat and head along the Seine towards Paris’ crowning glory; the Eiffel Tower. The Batobus allows you to hop-on and hop-off at nine of city’s best sights, including the aforementioned Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, Le Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. A day pass will cost you €17, meaning seeing the city by boat is just scenic but great value too.
If you are planning to head up the Eiffel Tower take head of one final note; arrive without a prior booking and you WILL be disappointed. Even advance purchase tickets sell out quickly so book ahead!