Sunday 23 September 2012

One Day in Paris: Would we do it again?

After all of that lead up, the ultimate question comes down to: Is Paris "doable", in any meaningful sense of the word, as a day trip?

The answer is both yes and no.

Yes, in that it is physically possible and you can have a lovely day out (as we did!). 

But also. . .

No, in that, I definitely I would NOT recommend it for those who have never been before and are unsure when they are likely to go back. I'm not sure that I would make a habit of it either.

The downsides

  • The day started way too early and honestly I don't think gained us much except being more tired than we otherwise would have been. Those of you who know me, know that mornings are not my best time of day and a 5am wake-up call on a Saturday is a killer. Not much in Paris is actually open before 10am anyway, and as we found out getting there right as things open doesn't really gain you much of an advantage on the weekend (weekdays might be different). On a similar note. . .
  • The latest train back to London is around 8pm (9pm in summer). This means you need to be back at Gare du Nord no later than 7:15. No time at all for any evening activities, let alone dinner. Which brings me to food. . .
  • I mentioned this in my opening post - you get a limited experience of eating in Paris. Yes, I know that food isn't everyone's "thing", but it is one of our things and not getting a proper, leisurely French meal was something we really missed. When you go for the day, time is *very* limited, and even though we got in some nice eating, we felt rushed to get off to the other things we wanted to do. If this is your first or possibly only trip to Paris, amplify this feeling times 100 and really, that's just no good. And speaking of time limits. . .
  • Unless you're crazy, you'll have time for 2 real activities - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. It was hard enough for us to pick 2 activities and this was hardly our first trip to Paris (nor our last!) - I would have no way of advising someone who's first and maybe only trip to Paris was one day on what 2 - 2! - things to see. How can you do a city like Paris justice with only 15 hours?
The upsides

  • We didn't lose our whole weekend. Not that I begrudge our weekend jaunts, but I think everyone knows the feeling of coming back home from a great trip, starting to unpack and realising that you've not done the laundry for the week, dirty dishes are still in the sink, and when in the world are you going to go grocery shopping? So from that perspective, it was kind of nice to get back from a little day trip and still have time for all the various bits and pieces of life that need to be squeezed into our weekends.
  • Not needing a hotel room. Hotels in Paris, like many big cities, are *expensive*. It was nice not to have to incur that expense, but this is a really small thing if you budget properly.

Would we do it again?
Maybe. I certainly won't make this the primary way we "do" Paris, but it would be something to consider if there was a specific thing that we really wanted to see and our schedules were too hectic (or train tickets/hotel rooms too expensive) to be able to make a whole weekend of it. So for the odd exhibition, afternoon concert (see the problems with evenings, above), or festival, then I think we'd consider another day trip. But I think our first preference would be to try and make it overnight to give us a little bit of breathing space.

An interesting experiment to be sure and just gives us more options for how we approach things. With luck, someone else out there will find my musings useful. 

Opening post is here: One Day in Paris - an experiment
Post on what we actually did is here: One Day in Paris - what we did

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