Paris streets

Paris – again?

…and again. I’ve been to a few places since I last posted, but I’ve been back to Paris again twice. The next visit was just a few months after the first, doing a similar type of trip; another spur of the moment, long weekend with no planning or organisation. Those are the best.

For this trip I saw a little more of the city and finally went up the Eiffel Tower. By the time I’d waited in all the queues to get in and get to the top, it was already dark, but that made for a brilliant view.

Last summer, I went to Paris for the third time. This was a more organised trip because I went with a friend and we needed to make the most of the trip. This time, I was there for Bastille Day, the French National Day, and had the opportunity to see the fireworks from the Champ de Mars, the gardens in front of the Eiffel Tower. There was a massive crowd of over half a million people waiting around until the start of the fireworks at nearly midnight; I’ve always loved fireworks and these were the best I’ve ever seen.

It’s also well worth taking a day out to visit the palace of Versailles. It’s huge, so you need a whole day to get there and take it all in. Top tips here; book a timed entry ticket the day before and save the barcode to your phone. To travel there, there’s a deal on public transport which I think is a fixed price from any metro station in Paris so just ask at a ticket desk for “aller-retour vers Versailles” (“return to Versailles”) and they will give you the right ticket. Keep it with you for the whole journey.

For all the major attractions in Paris, ticket barcodes can be scanned straight from your mobile screen with it’s brightness up high, so you don’t need to book and print everything out before you travel, and this gives you the option for a bit of flexibility. But keep an eye on availability levels, sometimes they can get booked a long way ahead. ALWAYS use the official ticket sites, don’t be lured in by these sites promising “skip the line” services, they’re basically scams and are just selling you a timed ticket at four times the price. As a guide, you do NOT need to pay more than about 21 Euros for a timed entry ticket to the top of the Eiffel Tower; until you get to the lifts, you’ve got separate queues and entrances. No one can skip the lift queue and if they’re advertising that service they cannot guarantee it because they are not connected to the onsite staff. A 70 Euro ticket can’t get you to the top any faster.

This trip to Paris was also the first time I’ve flown from Gatwick Airport since living on its doorstep. Being only a short bus journey away is great because you can take advantage of often cheaper early morning and late evening flights and get nearly two extra full days out of a trip. I flew from Gatwick a few times as a child But that was when it was still a four hour drive meaning leaving home at 1am to reach the cheap package holiday charter flights in time.

Some photos from the last two Paris trips below, and a video of the fireworks coming soon on YouTube…

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