Paris in four hours – Why not
After an epic summer road trip from Brighton to Croatia and back again (taking in seven countries and 3,000 miles on the way), we took a wrong turn off the Périphérique on the way to Rouen so ended up taking the kids on an impromptu four-hour tour of Paris.
Now, Paris isn’t my favourite European city (sorry), but it’s definitely somewhere everyone should visit at least once. And it can be done in an afternoon, particularly if you’re in a car. Because we had so little time before our ferry, we really thought about where we wanted to go and what we wanted to show the kids. Plus, we cut out three days of wandering aimlessly around a city listening to people moan about how far we’d walked in the searing summer heat (usually me).
Paris was empty, as so many big cities are in the summer, which meant driving through the centre was a breeze (apart from the white knuckle ride that is the Arc de Triomphe). There are so many things to do in Paris, but you’ve got to visit the Eiffel Tower, particularly if it’s your first time in Paris. We parked right next to it for free (take note cities across the UK) and joined the ‘non-ticket’ queue, which moved fast considering there were so many people in line and very tight security.
After joining another queue for tickets – complete with those fine water sprays that kept customers cool in the afternoon sun – we caught the lift up to the top floor and took in the stunning views of Paris. The top viewing platform offers the best views but isn’t for the faint hearted. Don’t attempt it if you’re not good with heights. We took the stairs down, which was a good workout for the legs, and on the way out bought some souvenirs from the hawkers in the park outside. Six mini Eiffel Tower keyrings for €1? Bargain.
After taking our lives in our hands driving around the Arc de Triomphe – twice as the kids thought it was so much fun – and cruising down one of Paris’ most famous shopping streets, the Champs-Elysees, we ate falafel and wandered through Le Marais, photographing street art and admiring the boho bars and cafes as we went. We even stumbled on Supreme, which earned us some bonus points with the teenager. On the way back out of Paris we glimpsed the Louvre and drove past the headquarters of my favourite radio station, Fip.
All in all, a great afternoon in Paris that made me rethink my relationship with France’s capital city. Nothing was organised in advance, which renewed my faith in just turning up somewhere and doing something without months of meticulous planning.