As part of our ever expanding travel column here on Girlie Gossip we aim to bring you the hottest destinations, the best holiday ideas and review only the coolest hotels and attractions. This summer we put the spotlight on Paris and give you the lowdown on this magical city and the best things to see and do here, even if like us you only visit for a long weekend!
When to Go to Paris?
Deciding when to go to Paris is a key part in your experience. We chose to go from the 1st-4th of July 2011 and found the weather to be perfect. Warm, sunny and clear blue skies which provide the perfect backdrop for your holiday snaps!
Without doubt, the best and easiest way to get to Paris has to be on the Eurostar. You can find some great deals depending on when you want to go and the process could not be more simple, even for first time travellers and families.
We travelled as a family of two adults and one 8yr old child and had no problem at all with our journey. In fact, we loved every minute of it! The check-in process is far easier and quicker than that of airports and the departures lounges have everything you need for those final preparations. The trains are comfortable, clean and fast. You can even book standard premier travel and enjoy a table and some light refreshments along the way. This is great if travelling with kids as we found it gave our daughter a bit of an energy boost before arriving at Paris and made the trip that little bit more relaxing. Of course, if you are sticking to a budget then look for the latest deals and you will be pleasantly surprised at how affordable Eurostar travel can be.
The journey takes just under two and a half hours and you are through the tunnel in approximately 25 minutes, we couldn’t believe how fast it was and how little time was actually spent in the tunnel before you were back out into daylight again.
Although we were travelling into central Paris to check in to our hotel, it is also so simple to get to Disneyland Paris on the Eurostar and would be perfect for those looking for a weekend Disneyland break or a full holiday there.
Keep reading below for some handy Eurostar facts and information. You can find more info and book your journey on the official Eurostar website here: http://www.eurostar.com
Eurostar Facts and Information
Eurostar operates a daily direct service in each direction to Disneyland Resort Paris (daily direct services to the resort do not operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays except during school holidays)
Fares are from £69 standard class return (adult) £44 return (child aged 4-11)
Children under 4 years-old travel free (not allocated a seat)
Standard Premier travel is from £159 return for an adult and £94 return for a child aged 4-11
Connecting fares available from more than 200 stations in the UK.
2hrs 35 mins from London, 2hrs 25 minutes from Ebbsfleet and 2 hours from Ashford, Kent
Tickets are available from eurostar.com or from Eurostar’s contact centre on 08432 186 186
Services via Paris
There are up to 18 daily Eurostar services from London to Paris Gare du Nord. Passengers bound directly for the resort can catch the RER, the fast train service which serves central Paris and the suburbs, is very straightforward and involves one change at Châtelet-les-Halles onto another RER line and then straight to Marne-la-Vallée. The journey takes around 45 minutes but it is recommended to allow an hour if travelling during the commuter peak.
People who want to base themselves in central Paris and visit the resort use the RER to access the resort.
Where to Stay in Paris?
Where you stay in Paris is completely budget dependant and needs to fit the kind of Paris break you are wanting to experience. For example, if you want to be close to central Paris and budget is not a problem then you can book some amazing hotels near to all the major attractions.
We found that it was actually more enjoyable and budget friendly to stay just out of the city centre, this is great for those who don’t mind using the metro system (which is actually easier to navigate than London’s underground to be honest) and for those who enjoy walking and seeing the city on foot. I honestly believe that this is the only way to experience Paris, get your comfy shoes on and walk. Discover and explore those much talked about winding and quaint Parisian streets, mix with the locals and immerse yourself in the Paris lifestyle. You will find it is actually very laid back and not at all intimidating.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Paris-Canal de la Villette which is right next to the St Martin canal, connecting to the River Seine. A stunning waterfront setting!
A striking wood-clad eco-hotel, Holiday Inn Express Paris-Canal de la Villette is proud of its green credentials, solar roof panel & recycling programme. At 23 sq mt, the Guest rooms give you plenty of space to stretch out & relax.The hotel is 30 minutes by train from Charles de Gaulle Airport.And with Riquet metro station just 2 minutes away,it’s easy to explore central Paris which is only a 10 minute metro ride from your peaceful waterfront base.Holiday Inn Express Paris-Canal de la Villette is next to Parc de la Villette,a futuristic activity park with gleaming metal sculptures in flower-filled gardens.Relax on the grass listening to live music,or keep the kids entertained with a visit to the Science Museum & screenings of 3D movies.Ask our friendly 24-hr Front Desk staff to suggest their favourite local attractions.
Get the best of both worlds at this eco-friendly central Paris hotel. Tucked away beside a quiet canal, Holiday Inn Express Paris-Canal de la Villette is just 3 metro stops from the bustling city centre.
The hotel was an amazing find, I cannot praise it highly enough. It is close enough to everything you need to see whilst in Paris. You can catch the conveniently located metro at Crimee or Riquet and in just a few stops you’ll find yourself within walking distance of all the major tourist hotspots. Granted, it does mean a bit of travelling, but we enjoyed waking up in the morning, walking through town, grabbing a baguette from the many local bakeries on the way and heading out to explore!
The hotel staff were friendly, helpful and always on hand if you needed anything and everything was spotless, possibly one of the nicest, cleanest hotels we have stayed in. We returned every day to fresh smelling rooms, immaculately made beds and everything tidied to perfection. Even walking through the corridors there was no sign of mess. We always felt safe and it was an absolute joy to have the canal right on your doorstep when you wanted to enjoy a drink or just sit (as many of the locals do) with a picnic at the side of the canal relaxing and watching as the boats pass by.
The hotel has a 24 hr reception and staff are always on hand to let you in even if you arrive back late from a day of sight seeing! You will not be disappointed with this hotel and the price is one of the most reasonable we’ve seen. Book it!!
What to do in Paris?
When in Paris for just a few days, it is understandable that you want to try and fit as much in as possible. Although you really do need a full week in Paris to properly explore, here are a few of our favourite things to do…
Take in all the tourist attractions on your first day. You will be surprised at how many of them you can do simply by planning them properly and figuring out which things are next to eachother. Buy a really good map and get walking or use the metro to stop near to each one. The Louvre is a must see, as is the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe. In our opinion, the Eiffel Tower is definitely a must see, stand under it and look up and you will be amazed at the sheer scale of it. Nothing can prepare you for this sight! It is breathtaking. Be warned though, if you plan on going up the Eiffel tower, it gets insanely busy with people queuing for hours and sometimes the top gets closed for congestion. We only went half way up as the prices were ridiculous for the lifts and full access to the top, as were the waiting times. Do yourself a favour and get a better (and free) view from outside of The Sacre Coeur.
Sacre Coeur and Montmartre
Montmartre was one of our favourite places to visit. We spent a whole day wandering around here and soaking up its beauty. You can find so much of that Parisian charm around the winding streets and charming cafes. Climb the steps to the Sacre Coeur (they really aren’t that bad) and be amazed at the view you are greeted by. The Sacre Coeur itself is simply stunning and the view from outside is beautiful. You can give a donation to the church and enter, walking all the way around. Then you have the option to pay a relatively cheap fee to climb up the tower and view the crypt. We did both, it was amazing. The steps on the way up the tower are tough going though, so be prepared for lots of walking and a very winding stone staircase which seems to go on forever! When you get to the top you realise why you didn’t give up though, as the view is breathtaking. You can see the Eiffel Tower and so much of the city from up here, gazing out over the rooftops of Paris and enjoying the cool breeze after your long climb.
When you are back on solid ground, you can wander through the town and make your way to another ‘must see’ Paris attraction. The Moulin Rouge!
The Moulin Rouge
The Moulin Rouge is one of the most romanticised Paris attractions. Although you shouldn’t go there with ideas of it being exactly like the movie. It is absolutely amazing and one of the most extravagant and lavish experiences that you can take in whilst in Paris.
Moulin Rouge History and Facts
The Moulin Rouge (literally translating to Red Windmill) is a cabaret built in 1889 by Joseph Oller, who also owned the Paris Olympia. Close to Montmartre in the Paris district of Pigalle on Boulevard de Clichy in the 18th arrondissement, it is marked by the red windmill on its roof. The closest métro station is Blanche.
The Moulin Rouge is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site, the can-can dance revue evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe. Today the Moulin Rouge is a tourist destination, offering musical dance entertainment for visitors from around the world. Much of the romance of turn-of-the-century France is still present in the club’s decor.
The Moulin Rouge, world famous for its French Cancan, and immortalized by painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, has always presented sumptuous shows to its ambiance: from Valentin-le-Désossé and la Goulue’s Quadrille to the Redoutes and Operettas, from Colette to Mistinguett’s great revues… the concept never changes at the Moulin Rouge: feathers, shinestones and sequins, fabulous settings, original music and of course the most beautiful girls in the world!
Many international stars have performed on stage at the Moulin Rouge: Ella Fitzgerald, Liza Minelli, Frank Sinatra, Elton John… They have all given exceptional galas, following in the footsteps of French celebrities such as: Maurice Chevalier, Jean Gabin, Edith Piaf or Yves Montand.
For the past 110 years, the most legendary cabaret in the world has been welcoming millions of spectators as admirers of the renowned shows! Today’s new show at the Moulin Rouge is”Féerie”.
Féerie and the Moulin Rouge Experience
The sixty Doriss girls, together with our one thousand feather, shinestone and sequin costumes, the famous French Cancan as well as the giant aquarium await you in the most prestigious cabaret worlwide. Devised by Doris Haug and Ruggero Angeletti, The new revue introduces a luxurious stting of shining colors and unique patterns, with novel and amazing themes such as “Sandokan”, “The Circus”, “Paris, To-morrow and Always”, “More Beautiful than Ever” to the sound of original and magical music.
The show is a real treat to the eyes, the costumes are sumptuous and detailed and the cast are beautiful. You can’t beat the atmosphere in the room as you take your seat at the tables, lit with stunning little red lamps, as you gaze around you and see all of these lit up around the room, see the sparkle from the stage curtain the sense of excitement builds!
The show begins with upbeat and catchy music, fabulous dancing and the audience applauds and claps along. The Féerie show is just stunning and in between the various songs and dancing we are treated to comedic acts and fun performers! We took our 8yr old daughter along with no problem (Children aged 6yrs and upwards can attend) and to be honest, she was enjoying the dancing and the costumes so much that she didn’t pay any attention to the partial nudity on display. It is nothing offensive anyway, everything is done tastefully the the girls look amazing.
There are two showings, the 9pm show and the 11pm show, so you can choose a time to suit you best. We spent the whole day enjoying the local area then took in a show. The public transport closes down just as the 11pm show finishes though at around 1am so we had arranged for a driver to come and pick us up (read about this below) and we left the show feeling exhilarated and having had a truly unforgettable experience. If you are visiting Paris, you simply must visit the Moulin Rouge to create a memory that will last you a lifetime.
If you have kids, there is no way that they will let you visit Paris and not go to Disneyland! Let’s face it, it is every childs dream place to go, and probably a lot of adults also! When we took our 8yr old daughter here, I thought her eyes were going to pop clean out of her head when she stepped through those magical gates!
As soon as you walk in to the park, you see just how amazing it is, everything is larger than life, bright and colourful, basically a kids dream land! You enter at Main Street USA which is packed with gift shops, an olden day American style street and various attractions. From here you can branch off into various other directions depending on which part of Disneyland you want to visit.
Adventureland and Frontierland were probably our favourites (although everything is so amazing it is hard to choose!) the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, is great and Phantom Manor is a real must! It is spooky and very theatrical. Our daughter absolutely loved the chance to go round all the lands visiting her favourite Disney characters and having her pictures taken with them all. It does get very busy though and there is lots of standing about in the sun so make sure you put plenty of sunscreen on if you go during peak season and I’m sure if you get them a Disney cap then you’ll get no complaints about wearing that!
Things inside the park are not as expensive as you may have been lead to believe, the gifts are really well priced and you will walk into the shops and see so many Disney products that you never even knew existed!
Everything inside the park is immaculate, it is clean and tidy and everyone is only too happy to help. We didn’t have one problem through out our whole visit.
Walt Disney Studios Park is also really great family fun, this is a bit more interactive and focuses on the Disney movies, big screens and experiences to wow you. I’m not going to spoil the surprise, but you MUST visit Cinemagique it is a live cinema experience and so much fun. You will be surprised at what happens in there, that’s all I’m saying!
Our daughter also loved the Stitch live show, in which Stitch is fully interactive with the audience, very clever and great family fun! Even the adults were laughing.
Both parks are a joy to be in and if you purchase your fast pass tickets you can cut down the time you have to spend in line before getting on the rides, meaning you have even more time to enjoy! Well worth it we thought.
Magical Moments – All The Info!
This year, Disneyland Paris offers guests an exciting new festival that lets everyone live and relive their very own Disney Magical Moments with family and friends
During the Disney Magical Moments Festival (from 6 April 2011) at Disneyland Paris, guests step into the spotlight to star in their very own adventures inspired by classic Walt Disney Pictures films. From Fantasia to Alice in Wonderland, from Peter Pan to The Jungle Book and The Lion King, everyone can experience their own spectacular moments that will create memories to last a lifetime.
Get swept up in classic stories from Snow White to Tangled, Beauty And The Beast, Cinderella or The Princess And The Frog. Or take part in the adventures of the new Disney•Pixar generation stories from Ratatouille, Cars, Wall-E, Monsters, Inc. and the Toy Story films.
In 2011, there is something for everyone at Disneyland Paris. Get ready to experience endless magical moments, full of action, adventure and emotion on a dream holiday with family and friends.
Spotlight on 14 Disney Magical Moments
1) Mickey’s Magical CelebrationEvery day, the Disneyland Park stages a spellbinding show in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. This fantastic production stars Mickey surrounded by Disney Magicians, from Genie to Merlin, and even Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. Anything is possible with a sprinkle of pixie dust and a little imagination
2) Disney Princesses: A Royal Invitation Disneyland is the perfect place to meet your favourite Disney Princess. Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Tiana… they’re all waiting to meet you. A royal invitation to come and capture the most enchanting of Disney moments
3) Following the Leader with Peter PanIt’s a real crocodile-snappin’ adventure for Lost Boys and Girls and absolutely anyone who’s never wanted to grow up. Help Peter Pan, Wendy and his band of Pirates give Captain Hook a real fright by joining your favourite characters on this interactive adventure
4) The Wonderful World of Alice and The Mad HatterThe Mad Hatter has set the zaniest of tables to celebrate thousands of un-birthdays in Wonderland. A chance to savour a succulent cup of imaginary tea not far from the Dormouse and his teapot
5) Adventureland rhythms of the jungleThe “Hakuna Matata” terrace becomes the new hotspot for getting down to the sound of tam-tams with the heroes of Disney Classics such as The Jungle Book and The Lion King. Untamed winds are blowing over Adventureland and may bring along performances from characters such as Baloo, King Louie, Timon, or the wise old Rafiki for a frenzied dance
6) Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular featuring Lightning McQueen! (2)The most exciting automobile stunt show welcomes a feisty new star, Lightning McQueen – soon to be seen in the Disney•Pixar film Cars 2. This is set to be one fast-paced moment, so look out for Lightning McQueen when he hits the asphalt
7) Meet Rapunzel from Walt Disney Pictures’ TangledThe latest Disney heroine is decidedly modern… from her feisty temper to the tips of her magical, long hair. Discover Rapunzel’s story by stepping into a giant pop-up book for a magical photo moment in Fantasyland!
8) Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade with interactive show stopsThis year, the Disneyland Park grants your wish… to become part of the fabulous Disney’s Once Upon a Dream parade. Disney films’ greatest stars and their friends encourage guests to take part through accessories, dance moves and other fantastic tricks
9) Green Army Men Meet & PlayDestination Toy Story Playland(3), the all-new land in the Walt Disney Studios Park with three new attractions: Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin, Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop and RC Racer! Andy’s Green Army Men enlist guests in an adventure that sees them reduced to the size of real toys 10) Smile and say “Cheese” with Remy and EmileRemy the gourmet and his gluttonous brother Emile have ordered a huge French cheese platter for guests at the Walt Disney Studios Park. Pop your head through the holes and say cheese – for a fun food moment to remember forever
11) Monsters, Inc. Scream AcademySully, top scarer at Monsters, Inc. and his faithful assistant, Mike, encourage guests to participate in a terrifying screaming contest. Meet them at Toon Studios to break the decibel meter and experience a spine-tingling moment with the Monsters, Inc. Scream Academy.
12) Aladdin’s Magic LampHidden somewhere in Adventureland… is Aladdin’s famous magic lamp. Plunder the market of Agrabah and release the Genie – to receive your three wishes and pose for a picture with the world-famous lamp!
13) Share the love with Wall-E and Eve!Celebrate Wall-E’s love for Eve in Discoveryland. Get swept away in timeless love story full of humour and romance from these two heroes of the 28th century.
14) Disney Dance ExpressThe Disney Dance Express train travels along Main Street, U.S.A. several times each day and invites guests to dance along with Goofy, Minnie, Donald, Chip ’n’ Dale, and even Daisy and Pluto
These and many more magical moments are waiting for you to create your own Disneyland Paris experience
Disney magical Moments Festival… where guests become the heroes of their favourite Disney stories!
How to get Around in Paris?
Obviously walking and the metro/RER are the best ways to get around Paris. We found it really easy to navigate and had fun hopping on and off the metro and walking to various different places. There are times that you will need to arrange other forms of transport however, for example airport or train station transfers and in our case, for getting back to our hotel after the late showing of the Moulin Rouge.
The driver waited for us after the show and picked us up right outside the Moulin Rouge. He was friendly professional and polite and the car was clean and safe. We were taken directly to our hotel and had a thoroughly enjoyable journey. Our driver chatted to us as he dropped us off and he couldn’t of been nicer. We had a lovely safe, warm trip back to the hotel for our final night in Paris and I can highly praise Must Limousines as one of the best methods of stylish and comfortable transport that we have used during our trip.
You can take a look at their website here: http://www.mustlimousines.com and you can even book your car from the UK before you get to Paris. They will arrange all the details for you and send you confirmation of your journey etc leaving you nothing to worry about at all on your trip. You can also ask for the driver’s telephone number which is handy to have incase you can’t find him or are running slightly late. Must Limousines also have a Facebook Page so go and ‘like’ them for updates and info if you are a social networking fan!
Our trip to Paris was an unforgettable experience, filled with sight seeing, days out and more fun than you could possibly imagine! There is something to suit everyone, whether you are going for a weekend away with the girls or a family trip like us. We now have memories of a beautiful city that we will never forget and tales that we will share with friends and family forever.