Discovered this very good restaurant and winebar on the way back to Gare Du Nord. Its only 10 minutes on foot from checking in for the return Eurostar journey to London.
A godsend! Calm, pleasant environment with extremely tasty meals and wine. The serving staff were pleasant and helpful.
We will be back!
As an enthusiastic and regular traveller, I love to make use of all modes of transport when travelling. Train journeys are so much more than getting you from A to B, they allow you to see the local environment, save money, reduce carbon emissions and if you are lucky, you may get to meet some locals and get a great insight into real life. My top highlights and tips to train travel around the world are:
1) The bullet train (Shinkansen)
Japan's iconic bullet train lives up to its reputation. Fast, clean and always on time, the bullet train (Shinkansen) travels up and down Japan's main rail network, transporting you from hub cities like Tokyo and Kyoto in a matter of hours. Trains travel at speeds up to 300 kph and are a great travel experience. The city to city centre network means that they can be time saving as well, much quicker than travelling via Japan's notoriously remote airports.
The downside is that train travel can be very expensive, particularly at today's exchange rates. A single ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto starts from GBP100! However, there is a solution... if you are a visitor to Japan then before you travel you should get yourself a Japan Rail Pass. Available in 7, 14 and 21 day flavours, you can save a huge amount of money if you plan to travel more than a couple of times on Japan's rail network. A 7 day Japan Rail Pass costs around GBP235 at current exchange rates - just slightly more than the price of a return journey.
More details can be found at www.japanrail.com/JR_shinkansen.html
Your local travel agent or www.japantravel.co.uk can sell you a Japan Rail Pass
Remember, you have to get a Japan Rail Pass before you leave for Japan and it must be validated once you arrive in Japan. My recommendation is that get yourself a reserved ticket whenever you travel, as services can get quite busy at times. You can get reservations just 30 mins prior to travel. When you get to the Shinkansen station, go to the ticket office and ask for a reserved seat or go to the English speaking Tourist Information centre in the main stations for further help.
One additional tip, if travelling with a group of friends, also note that the seats also spin around so that you can sit face to face. Just place your foot on the lever under the seat and spin (thanks to a local passenger for showing my friends and I this!)
London to Paris in just over two hours? Yes we can with Eurostar departing from the newly redeveloped London's St Pancras station. The grandiose building solicits great thoughts of the history and romanticism that is linked with a train travel. Train travel for this popular route is recommended over air travel as it is quicker, cheaper and all the more comfortable. There are different classes of service available depending on your desires and travel times. My personal recommendation is to double check the price of leisure select ticket - the business class travel for leisure travellers. It often is available for just a small supplement and adds to the journey experience with food and a shorter minimum check-in times. The great thing about the Eurostar is that it goes straight into Gare de Nord, right in the heart of Paris. Here you can join the metro system and get to wherever you want in Paris.
My top tips would include being flexible with times to get the best deals and consider visiting some other of France's cities like Lille which offer an interesting alternative to Paris. Also try and avoid restaurants near the station, they tend to be more catered for tourist but as a result more expensive and less authentic.
Book tickets on www.eurostar.com but also look out for special offers.
3) Maglev - Shanghai
I had to end the tip with the world's fastest train. Shanghai's Maglev airport train shoots you across 30km at over 500 kph - the world's fastest. Take it for an experience rather than ease, unfortunately it doesn't take you right into the city centre but the station is well connected by taxis which wait around the station.
A one-way ticket is just around GBP5 so well worth the experience.
Hope you enjoy your train journey.
Rather than lug your purchases around with you on your speedy business trip, why not pick them up at Gare du Nord right before Eurostar check-in? As you exit the Metro in the 'Magenta' part of the station, there's a small stall run by a chap from Provence, who dispenses great wine, cheese, pate and meats to those London-bound. Great for picking up some goodies before heading up to the Eurostar terminal.
Gare du Nord, Paris. SNCF says: France des Provinces Niveau -1 (Level -1) sous la verrière Transilien, face au couloir RER E
Remember your Brussels Eurostar ticket covers same day onward travel to all stations in Belgium. This includes Brussels Central Station, so you can use it instead of the Metro to get across town from Midi station to your hotel or meeting near Brussels Central.
Forget those designer boutiques and get on the metro to head to the Place d'Aligre for a fascinating market full of clothes, antiques and world goods (particularly great for African crafts).
There really is something more enjoyable about grabbing a bargain at the market than flashing the credit card down the Champs Elysees!
For a formidable fondue feast, I recommend the Refuge de Fondues, 17 Rue de Trois Freres (near bottom of Sacre Coeur). It's a fab little restaurant with graffiti-covered walls and long tables where you eat elbow to elbow with other diners.
Love art? Love food? Overload your senses and combine the two. Le Georges sits like a crown at the top of the Centre Pompidou. Seat yourself next to the reflective pool and indulge in the beauty of the Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame.
The sleek modernist style seeps through from the galleries below and encourages a creative flair to the food. This restaurant infuses Parisian chic and fiery Thai flavours with an artistic hand. Enjoy an exquisite meal and a long stemmed rose to accompany your hedonists' view of Paris.
My top tip for Paris, especially if you’re a food lover, is to experience it like a Parisian and chose to stay in a self-catering apartment.
Paris has so many markets and beautiful specialist shops which you can’t take full advantage of if you’re staying in a hotel. You can have freshly baked bread and croissants for breakfast and then browse les marchés, boucheries, charcuteries, fromageries and other stores for fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, paté and cheese and prepare your own meals, including a tasty picnic for your return trip which will have your fellow passengers green with envy!
Directions to one of Paris’s best-kept secrets: Take the Metro's Line 5 and get off at Laumière. Climb up Rue Laumière until you reach the main entrance of the most beautiful Parisian garden: Les Buttes de Chaumont.
Climb up the hill around the lake, up to the view point. Now the real secret: if you happen to be there on August 30th at about 8.20pm, you'll see the sun setting right behind the Sacre Coeur and the Montmartre hill, now that's a view that will stay with you for a while.
Take Metro 11 (brown) to Porte des Lilas, walk down Rue Belleville using the Metro stations as your guide. Pass through neighbourhoods such as Jourdain, Pyrenees, Belleville and, passing canal St Martin, finish in Republique, the venue of many a Parisian Riot.
Alternatively, at Pyrenees, turn right on to Avenue Simon Bolivar and head for the surreal, landscaped Parc des Buttes Chaumont (19th Arr), complete with its own mountain, waterfall, temple and an incredible view of the Sacre Couer.
To finish the day, head to restaurant Au Pied du Sacre Couer, for fine yet inexpensive French cooking (metro Lamarck-calaincourt, 18th Arr).
If you are a vegetarian desperate for some French-tasting sustenance, try Le Potager du Marais near the Pompidou Centre, Metro Rambuteau.
It is a wonderful change to eating pizza or falafel and really makes you feel like you are taking part in France's famous cuisine.
Take the train from Paris to Bourg St Maurice when skiing in some of the major French resorts such as Trois Valleys, La Plagne, Les Arcs or Tignes Val d'Isere.
As an alternative to the snowtrain why not take the scheduled London to Paris Eurostar and change stations on to the TGV from Paris to Bourg St Maurice. There is the disadvantage of changing stations in Paris, but this can be eased by taking a taxi between the stations. The advantage is that you have more flexibility with traveling times and the fares can be cheaper if you book early.
If you end up at Bourg St Maurice you can take time to enjoy the French town life with many interesting bars and restaurants. The Bazoom Bar is a favourite of ours, directly opposite the station. You can enjoy several hours having a good meal and watching the world go by whilst waiting for your transfer taxi/bus or before you board the return train.
The transfer times are very short in comparison to the airports, often in the region of 30 mins for Les Arcs, La Rosiere and Tignes / Val d'Isere. There is a funicluar railway directly up to Les Arcs. For La Plagne and Les Trois Valleys you have to use stations before Bourg St Maurice or the transfer is longer.
Paris' constant drone of traffic noise can be wearying for the footsore tourist, but if you are near to the Opera Bastille you can make an instant escape by walking up a few steps on to the Promenade Plantee.
This little heaven away from the roar of the big city is actually a reclaimed elevated railway line, 4.5km long and planted with thousands of gorgeous flowers and shrubs. Instant relaxation guaranteed, instant slowing down of pulse, and another - somewhat secret - addition to this wonderful city's delights.
For an authentic Parisian experience, visit the market on Rue Mouffetard (Latin Quarter) on a Sunday morning. Start at the top end, enjoy a coffee in Cafe Delmas in pretty Place Contrescarpe, then work your way down the narrow cobbled street, fresh fruit, veg, meat and cheese either side, then turn left onto Rue Monge before finishing off your shopping at the market in Place Monge. If you've got time, nip across the road to see Paris's very own Roman amphitheatre (reconstructed).
Particularly if you are visiting with children make sure you take a trip on Metro line 14. This is a new line from St Lazare to Olypiades and the trains are driverless. If you get in the front carriage you can sit right up front and pretend to drive! It is great.
Visit the Deportation memorial on Ile de la Cite behind Notre Dame. It is the most poignant, peaceful place imaginable and cannot fail to bring me to tears that in the middle of such a beautiful city there is a reminder of the horrors that cleaved Europe in the 20th century. Everyone should visit, sit and think.
Slightly off the beaten track, the Grand Mosque at the 5th Arr. has a large, sunken garden, fountains and a 33-metre high minaret.
The internal courtyards, lined with Andalusian mosaics, are offset by dark eucalyptus and cedar trim. The mosque's adjoining cafe and restaurant, serves excellent north African cuisine such as couscous, tajine and sweet mint tea to all.
After many stays in mediocre and cramped hotels we've finally found the one for us - Clos de Medicis in the 5th, just five minutes' walk from the Luxembourg RER station - itself 4 stops from Gare du Nord.
From Eurostar to hotel in half an hour. It's a great area too, many good restaurants and walking distance to the Ile de Paris, Louvre, Marais - well everywhere really. Very friendly and well designed hotel - just a gem.
If, like me, you know that going to Paris means going clothes shopping then here is a treat: mens’ and ladies’ wear shop Comptoir du Marais.
It has two floors packed with stylish but wearable designs by young French designers and is unbelievably cheap! The shop has a tea room and small gallery where you can relax with your bags - inevitably full of clothes you have just bought. Tucked away at the end of Rue des Mauvais Garcons (street of the naughty boys) in the heart of gay Paris – this boutique is well-behaved wallet-pleasing fun.
8 rue de Moussy, 75004 Paris. + 33 1 4274 0606
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