Good morning! I hope you all had a great weekend and enjoyed some sunshine. Today Laura is taking over the blog to share her recent trip to Europe. She will share with you all the details of one week in London and Paris. In case you missed it, check out my travel guide to London and Edinburgh HERE and my winter in Paris post HERE. You may want to combine our trip ideas for your next journey. Laura had an amazing experience!
xoxo – Tanya
One Week in London and Paris
Hi everyone, Laura here! Recently I went to London and Paris with a friend, and I’m excited to share with you all of the details. In addition to London and Paris, we took a day trip in each country. We fit this all into one week! Something to note is that we went in early February, so there are some activities that would maybe be more accessible if you go during another season. I’ll go through the details day by day to make it as clear as possible. Leave a comment if you have any questions!
Day 1: Travel Day/London
To get to London, we took a non-stop American Airlines flight from DFW to Heathrow. The flight left Friday night at 8:30PM and arrived in London on Saturday at 11:30AM. Although I do not love red eye flights, this was actually the best way to do it. The flight went by really quickly and we actually arrived early. Then, we had half of a day to explore. Once we arrived, we took the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station and then took a train to our hotel. In hindsight, it would have been cheaper for us to just take an Uber and definitely easier with all of our bags. Definitely do a price comparison before hopping on the Express train.
The first night we stayed at the Howard Winchester Hotel. This hotel is about a block away from Kings Cross Station, so it was super easy and accessible. The London tube system is a breeze to navigate, so we had no problem exploring the city. You’ll find that many sites will recommend the Oyster Card, but that is not necessary. If you have a credit card with a tap option, you can use that each time you enter the tube. The only thing is that you have to tap in and tap out once again when you’re exiting the station, so be sure you put your card in a safe spot.
After dropping off our bags, we headed right back out to explore the city. Tanya had suggested that we needed to keep moving when we got there to get some fresh air and fight off the jet lag. Neither of us had ever been to London, so it was a little bit of a ‘storm the city’ kind of day. We started out in the Waterloo area. Big Ben and Westminster Abbey are absolutely gorgeous and a must-see if you’re a London first-timer. Afterwards, we headed to St. James Park, which has a direct path to Buckingham Palace and other great sights. It’s the perfect place for a leisurely stroll with some beautiful views. Next, we got back on the tube and headed over to Borough Market for lunch. You can definitely explore this market for an entire afternoon. There are tons of amazing food options so it was difficult to decide on where to eat. We ended up having Indian food at Horn Ok Please and it was delicious! Borough Market is located near Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, so you can easily go there before or after the market.
Another place we went to that’s worth visiting was Saint Dunstan in the East Church Garden. It’s a beautiful outdoor space made out of the ruins of a church that makes for a quiet escape from the bustling city. It’s a great place to take pictures or sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. Another place definitely worth visiting is the Leadenhall Market. Oh my goodness, it is so beautiful! This is the market where some scenes from Harry Potter were filmed. We walked through it at night, so the lights made it truly magical. To finish off our evening, we stopped in at Tayer + Elementary, which was recently listed as number two on the 2022 World’s Best Bars list. If you’re able to get in quickly, then I think it is worth a visit. It has farm to cocktail type vibes and their drinks were smooth and fresh. It’s located in Shoreditch, which is more of the artsy part of the city. Unfortunately, we did not have time to explore this part of town, but I’ve heard good things.
Day 2: Travel Day/Paris
The main reason we stayed at a hotel near King’s Cross/St. Pancras Station on the first night is because we had booked Eurostar tickets to Paris on Sunday morning and did not want to lug our bags across town. Definitely recommend! The Chunnel from St. Pancras International Station to Paris Gare du Nord was about 2.5 hours. We left at about 10:30AM and arrived in Paris a little after 2PM (time change). It was super easy. Also I recommend booking at this time since check-in times are typically about 3PM. You can book a Chunnel ticket HERE. Book as far in advance as possible because you can get really good deals and it’s way less hassle than flying. Be sure and note what time your ticket says to arrive. Sometimes it’s 45 minutes and sometimes 90 minutes. It just depends on the time of day you are taking the train. We knew we would be using the Metro often while in Paris, so we bought a 3 day Metro ticket pass at a ticket kiosk in Paris Gare du Nord. Like London, the Paris stations are really easy to navigate. For our stay in Paris, we booked an Airbnb in Opera in the 2nd Arrondissement and it was a great, central location.
TIP: Something we learned prior to the trip is that many museums in Paris, like Musee d’Orsay, are free on the first Sunday of every month. A week before the trip tickets were already sold out, so book way in advance! We tried going, but they did not allow walk-ups.
Our next stop was to Carette for a late lunch and their famous hot chocolate. It was great on a winter day. The best part was that our route to the cafe was on the Metro 6. This train has the most beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower! If it’s an option, then definitely take this train. We went to the Carette location closest to the Eiffel Tower, so afterwards we took pictures and had a leisurely stroll along the Seine River during sunset. It was exquisite. One of my favorite views was the Louvre after dark. The I.M. Pei Pyramid is gorgeous at night!
Day 3: Paris
We started the day by heading to Galeries Lafayette Haussmann. We actually did not go there for shopping, but for the view! TIP: Get there right at the opening at 10AM and head to the terrace for a view of the Paris skyline with zero crowd. Enter through the “La Coupole” doors. Plus, it’s free! We tried to get into the Opera Garnier, but it was under construction. Since Paris is hosting the 2024 Olympics, we found that there was a lot of construction and renovation going on. Just double check before going on your trip. One place that was not under construction and makes for a beautiful photo opp is the Palais Royale. The black and white striped pillars are unique to this area. You’ll see Tanya did this shot in her Paris post too.
Since it was a cold winter day, we headed to Bo & Mie to warm up with some amazing coffee and pastries. Their croissants were crisp on the outside and buttery soft on the inside. Yum! Afterwards, we went to Musee de l’Orangerie, located in the Jardin des Tuileries. This museum is a must! Claude Monet was commissioned to create a work inside the museum and it is breathtaking. The series of paintings were designed as a space for mediation, making it a quiet escape from the city. The location of Musee de l’Orangerie makes it perfect to stroll through the gardens before or after your visit.
This day we also strolled down Boulevard Saint Germain and ate at Cafe de Flore and then took a metro to see the Arc de Triomphe. Still have no clue how there are not hourly accidents on that roundabout! Thankfully, they have an underground passageway to get from the metro stop to the other side so we could walk down Champs-Élysées. This is another fun street to stroll down. A random find was the Boutiques Publicis drugstore. Yes, it is a random public drugstore. But inside was amazing! Tons of great gifts or souvenirs, a coffee bar, a restaurant and a Pierre Hermé macaron shop (which are the best macarons in my opinion). To finish out the day we ate at a restaurant across the street from the Moulin Rouge. This area of town actually has a lot of great restaurants, so it’s worth checking out. Plus, you get to see the iconic theater.
Day 4: Reims
One of my favorite days on the trip! Champagne tasting in none other than Champagne, France. We booked a tour with Sparkling Tour and it was the best decision! They were wonderful to work with and made the day perfect. Plus the tour is at a great price point. To get to Reims from Paris, we booked a train through SNCF Connect from Paris Est to Reims. It is a direct train ride and only about 45 min. Because of the train strikes, we ended up leaving earlier than originally planned, but it made for a happy accident. To kill time before our tour began, we went to L’Ours Bleu for coffee and a pastry and this was the best croissant we had in France. A must if you are in Reims!
Sparkling Tour picks you up right from the Reims train station, making it super easy. Anna was our tour guide and she was amazing! She was so knowledgeable and fun to be around. She took us to three different champagne houses in the Épernay region as well as Why Not, a Michelin Star restaurant. We also toured Dom Perignon’s grave site and the church where he attended. Did you know he was a monk? We learned so many interesting facts and tidbits about how they make champagne and its’ history throughout the day. The tour lasted from 9:30AM until 6PM. There is a half day option as well. I recommend taking a later train so that you have time to explore the city of Reims. The Notre-Dame Cathedral of Reims is the largest in the country and absolutely gorgeous. Three of the stained glass windows were designed by Marc Chagall, so it’s definitely worth visiting just to see that alone. STUNNING!
Once back in Paris, we went back over to the Eiffel Tower to see the light show. It runs at the top of each hour for five minutes. It is quite romantic and iconic and was a great way to finish off our time in Paris. We also had fresh crepes from a food stand. Très délicieux!
Day 5: London
We said au revoir to Paris and took the 7:40 AM Eurostar, which arrived back in London at 9AM. This leg of the trip we stayed at the London House Hotel in the Kensington/Notting Hill area. We loved staying here. It was a great location and the staff and accommodations were great. Also, there’s this incredible bakery and coffee shop around the corner called Granier Bakery. Highly recommend. Everything is freshly baked and it was the best coffee we had the entire trip.
We started the day by going to Little Venice and had breakfast at the Waterside Cafe, a floating cafe. We then strolled down both Little Venice and Portobello Road for a relaxing and fun day. There are so many cute buildings and shops to explore. If you’re in Notting Hill, definitely stop by Churchill Arms for a drink or lunch. It’s a sight to see, plus they have amazing Thai food. For the second half of the day, we had reservations for high tea and tickets to the ballet. We went to Fortnum & Mason for a classic English high tea, followed by Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Opera House. Both were incredible! You need to make a reservation in advance at Fortnum & Mason and be sure and book your ballet tickets far in advance. The show was sold out and it was a Wednesday night! Since my friends and I grew up training at the same ballet studio, the ballet was a must-see for us.
Day 6: Bath Spa/Castle Combe
Another one of my favorite days! We took the 10:02 AM train from London Paddington and arrived in Bath Spa at 11:20 AM. Again, super easy and direct train. We booked this in advance through Trainline (I found this site to have the cheapest fares). Once in Bath, they had tour guides standing outside of the train station to pass out maps and give you helpful tips. It’s a super walkable town and SO beautiful. Did you know they film parts of Bridgerton here? We started exploring the Georgian town by walking through Bath Abbey followed by a visit to the Roman Baths (hence where the name Bath comes from). This museum is well worth the price of admission! These baths have been well maintained since their origination over 2,000 years ago. They have a wonderful audio guide that takes you through many ancient artifacts. You even get the opportunity to drink the water like they did back in the day (very weird…that’s all I will say).
We also explored The Holburne Museum (Lady Danbury’s house for Bridgerton fans), the Royal Crescent and The Circus (not to be confused with the three ring spectacle kind). There are tons of shops, restaurants and museums in Bath, so you could easily spend a weekend there. One of the best places we ate on the entire trip was The Crystal Palace. It is a cute and cozy upscale pub with fresh and delicious food. I recommend the fish and chips!
Another area we really wanted to explore was Castle Combe, a village in the Cotswolds. The easiest way is to take a taxi from the Bath Spa train station. It’s about a 20-30 min drive. Even if you have a rental car, it is not an easy drive unless you are an experienced UK driver. Once we got to Castle Combe, we spoke to the receptionist at The Manor House to book us a taxi back since they do not have a station.
Ok so this is the cutest and quaintest village! I think we saw 10 people total. It’s the perfect day trip or romantic getaway. All of the original buildings are still there from the 1600’s, making it feel like you’ve stepped back in time. If you’ve seen Steven Spielberg’s War Horse then the village will look familiar to you 😉
Day 7: London
We started our final day by attending the Changing of the Guards ceremony at Buckingham Palace. A couple things to note – the signs say it begins at 11AM and lasts for 5 minutes. It started more like around 10:30 AM and lasted for about an hour! Luckily, we got there a little before 10:30 AM and got a spot at the gate. It is a neat ceremony to watch, but I wouldn’t necessarily schedule your entire day around it. This day we also did some shopping and more exploring. Covenant Garden and Neal’s Yard (hidden colorful street pictured above) are both great areas to check out. We finished out our time in London with a fun cocktail from Mr. Fogg’s and a Sri Lankan inspired dinner at Hoppers in Soho. I recommend both!
The following day we took a direct American Airlines flight from London Heathrow at 12:10 PM and landed in Dallas at 4:30 PM. We took an Uber from our hotel to the airport not only to avoid hassle, but also because it was cheaper than the train. Definitely leave early when flying out of Heathrow. There is nothing quick about that airport!
There you have it! One week in London and Paris. In hindsight, I really would not have changed anything about this trip other than that it was too short! There were many more items on our list that we just did not get to, but the things we did do were all wonderful. If we had stayed longer, I would have stayed an extra day in Reims and an extra day in Bath Spa. I guess I will just have to go back soon!
Would love your input about our trip. Have you been to London and Paris? – Laura
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Tags: England, Europe, France, London, paris, travel guide