Here’s how to make the most of one night in Paris

Heading to Europe? If you’ve got an extra night, here’s how to spend it in Paris.

Forget Bangkok, it’s all about one night in Paris. Since the last, and coincidentally first, time I went to Paris was when I was five, I begged for the city of love to be included on the itinerary of our recent European family holiday.

With the itinerary already jam-packed with Germany, Spain and Portugal, my ever-patient mum threw her hands up in the air and agreed we could have one night in Paris before we headed back to London.

While there’s no shortage of hype surrounding Paris, often this build up of excitement can only lead one to having a disappointing experience rather than the exuberance imagined in one’s head. Thankfully, however, my experience wasn’t tainted.

Paris was all that I had dreamed of and more. While it’s not exactly inexpensive, a night in Paris can make for a special celebration, especially if you’re already heading to Europe. if you’re headed to Europe or have something special to celebrate why not add a night in Paris. Based on my encounter, here’s how to make your night in Paris one to remember:

5:30pm – We land in Paris (always a plus in my fear-of-flying book)

8:30pm – After a trip that rivals the Tullamarine freeway and checking into our hotel in the Marais district, we hightail it to dinner on what can only be described as a 30-minute powerwalk. I catch my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, twinkling against the black evening sky, and for a moment at least, all is right in the world.

9:05pm – Politely on time (let’s be honest no one’s ever ready to welcome you at :00 on the dot) we arrive at Le Soufflé, the restaurant my parents have picked to surprise me with an early birthday celebration.

11:15pm – After fresh bread, even fresher green salad, champagne and two soufflés each, we roll out the door. But back to the soufflés: words really don’t do them justice. With a selection of both savoury and sweet, there wasn’t a disappointing, or deflated, one at the table. I choose the beef bourguignon as a main and can’t go past the chocolate soufflé as a dessert. Somewhat of an institution and experience in itself, Le Soufflé is the one Parisian restaurant I can highly recommend.

6:45am – Not quite the 6:30am start we were aiming for, but pretty darn close, my aforementioned, ever-patient mother is out of bed at an ungodly holiday hour so that I can see as much of Paris as humanly possible before we leave that afternoon.

7:45am – Pitch black, freezing cold and raining, the unforgiving Paris morning gets the better of us and we have to run into a local coffee shop off the Champs Élysées for cover – a tactical move in an attempt to avoid paying the ridiculous prices on said Champs Élysées. We refuel with coffee and a croissant – when in Paris – as we watch the local Parisians stroll in and throwback their coffee while standing at the counter.

8:30am – We make it to the Arc de Triomphe and I make my poor mum inspect it from every side to get the best photograph possible.

view of the arc de triomphe paris

9:15am – We’re now at some sort of shrine for Princess Diana, which features a gold flame and countless padlocks one assumes symbolises love. In the background across the river the Eiffel Tower beckons us.

view of the eiffel tower and flame 

10:00am – After losing the tower for a brief moment (yes it’s possible) we turn down a narrow street and see it looming ahead of us. 

10:10am – Stop to pat a cute, if a little cold, white fluffy dog that looks exactly like our beloved Monty. Mum uses her ‘very impressive’ French to communicate this fact to cute dog’s owner, who immediately looks rather alarmed and proceeds to bid us au revoir quite quickly.

10:15am – As we wait to cross the street, mum realises she has in fact stated that poor Monty was “killed” rather than had died.

10:30am – Still laughing – better than crying – we finish admiring the Eiffel Tower in all it’s statuesque glory and, armed with photo evidence, we head back towards Notre Dame along the river.

10:45am – I’m sure my legs are about to fall off. It’s been four hours of walking. Mum seems fine. Quite a sad state of affairs that I’m struggling more than her.

11:00am – After seeing the Notre Dame – no sign of the hunchback and no photos because an annoying yellow crane won’t move out of the way, we stumble back to the hotel for a 12pm checkout.

corridor in paris with twinkly lights

1:00pm – All I can think about is food, so we reunite with my sister and dad and the four of us set out to have brunch, lunch, in fact, anything resembling an edible item.

2:00pm – After enjoying a very appropriate croque monsieur at a local café doing a roaring trade, we head out for one final hour of power before we need to head to the Gare du Nord.

3:30pm – Having spent most of said hour of power in Zara – obviously fashion runs in the family – we head to the station and our awaiting Eurostar back to London.

5:30pm – I watch as Paris whizzes past the Eurostar window and, as I enjoy the surprisingly delicious mid-trip meal, I think how lucky I am to have had such an amazing experience in such a special city.

Moral of the story? While Paris is by no means inexpensive, it’s an incredibly special experience that you won’t forget in a hurry. I now know why they call it the city of love – it’s impossible not to fall under its charms.

SJ is a regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices, and if she had one superpower, it would be teleportation – the ultimate cure for her fear of flying.





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    COMMENTS

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    20th Feb 2016
    9:06am
    Don't forget the postcards, and letters.
    Mygasheater
    20th Feb 2016
    11:58am
    The postcard from Paris is ok, not sue about the French letter.
    Anonymous
    20th Feb 2016
    12:29pm
    You're quick!
    bob
    20th Feb 2016
    9:09am
    we found the locals in Paris very rude and arrogant and the food terrible.Best place for coffee and snacks was the fount of italian cafes spread through the city.As soon as leaving Paris the attitude of locals and the food improved 100%.Their bread makes ours seem tasteless but they have no idea how todo coffee
    Anonymous
    20th Feb 2016
    12:10pm
    They are a VERY rude nationality, something about inferiority. They can dive and swim well, though.
    Eclair
    20th Feb 2016
    4:30pm
    Sometimes the rudeness is a reaction to our own behaviour which they perceive as crass and rude. We are so busy concentrating on using the right words to order a coffee, that we forget that the French have strict rules on polite behaviour. It requires the customer to start with a proper greeting before the order and the appropriate thank yous after. Did you know that in France when entering even a doctor's waiting room it is necessary to greet the other occupants. Smiles don't suffice because they often interpret that as stupidity. They don't do smiles or hugs or instant mateship. They are reserved, take their jobs seriously, consider financial and family matters private, and still live in a world where there are strict rules on what is proper and improper behaviour. Tourists don't know the rules so are always breaking them. Of course, as in most big cities life is lived at a faster pace and there is less tolerance for those (like tourists) who aren't keeping up.
    Kaye Fallick
    22nd Feb 2016
    1:57pm
    Hi Eclair,
    I'm with you - i have always found Parisians far more friendly than their reputation suggests - but i always greet people with Bonjour Madame or Bonjour Monsieur so i guess i follow the rules... warmest

    Kaye
    Captain
    23rd Feb 2016
    9:09pm
    My wife and I went on our third trip to Paris in Oct 2014 and thoroughly enjoyed it. We stayed at a B&B in Marais and ate at La Souffle. We were with my wife's cousins and as they spoke fluent french, had a great time especially when the owner found out we were from Aust.

    Would recommend anyone go to Paris, we were only there for 3 days but loved every minute as the B&B owner gave us directions to everything we wanted to see (Versailles, Note Dame , local eateries and Mont mare and arcades we would never have found by ourselves).


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