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London and Paris recommendations

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Sorry to bother you guys with another one of these 'recommend me threads'. Going to the UK with my wife for two weeks, staying in South Hampton the majority of the time for work.

Me and my wife are both 27, so looking to have a good time, but not necessarily just getting drunk at pubs/bars and hitting the clubs.

This is my fist time going to Europe, I'm going for work but have a 4-day weekend (good Friday) where we get to travel and be tourists.
We've already got hotels in London and Paris and Eurostar ticket to go to Paris.

1 full day and night in London
2 full days and nights in Paris then return to London

Any off-beat non-touristy recommendations and some things to steer clear of?

We're for sure going to the Louvre in Paris as my wife is set on that. Other than that, not really interested in many other art museums, although I'm sure there are many nice ones. Just not enough time.

I don't know much about either cities, but I'd like to learn appreciate some of the history and historical landmarks etc. I obviously don't want to waste time since we don't have much, but I imagine it would be good to take some guided tour to get to cover the bulk of it.

Thank you SF
post #2 of 15
I'd skip the louvre. That could nearly eat up an entire day. In Paris, i would recommend going to the Montmarte area and visit the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur at the top of the hill for views of Paris that rival the Eiffel tower.

For London, you have to go to the top of St. Pauls.
Edited by sns23 - 3/24/12 at 9:05am
post #3 of 15
St. Paul's on Holy Week is usually more closed to just worshippers. I believe sightseeing closes by 4p FYI.

If you only have one day and your wife is into museums, perhaps just hitting the V&A, British or Tate?
post #4 of 15
Unless you are truly into modern art, i would avoid the Tate. I was not impressed.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the replies.

We're really not that into art museums... my wife wanted to see The Louvre. But other than that, we really more want to see architecture, nice views etc.
post #6 of 15
I'd probably just spend the day on foot in London, take the tube and walk. You can readily fill a day, hit a pub. A little shopping etc. If your day is Saturday, go early and walk the flea market on Portabello Road in Notting Hill etc.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
My day/night in London is a Friday it's also good friday so it's a holiday. Not looking to go shopping anywhere for clothes at least. I am coming back to London on Monday as well for about half the day, it's also a bank holiday.
post #8 of 15
Got 1 day in London? Start early in the morning and do the open top bus tour, getting off at about 3 of the the things that interest you most. For example st pauls, covent garden, piccadilly/mayfair

Have dinner in a central neighborhood whee you can spend an hour or two wandering around, soaking up the scene and having a few drinks. Soho, cov garden, fitzrovia, mayfair, etc...

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Well technically 1 and 1/2 days. 1 full day to do whatever we want and then the monday we get back we're doing a tour which will hit major historic points etc.

Thanks for the recommendations of the neighborhoods... we'll definitely check one or two of those out.
post #10 of 15
dont half ass each. spend it all in 1. and if its between the 2, paris obviously
post #11 of 15
So - there are plenty of restaurant threads - one restaurant I don't think I ever mentioned in those and you wouldn't find in a zagat/michelin/etc. is a wonderful creperie near the bastille called Cafe Breizh (

For tourism - Westminster Abbey is by far the coolest thing I saw in London. For free and off-the-beaten-path, if you go to the British Museum, the free exhibit at the Library a few blocks away is tremendous - takes about 30 minutes to see. Includes first draft beatles lyrics hand-written on menus and postcards, original copy of Alice in Wonderland with illustrations by Lewis Carol, handwritten original Shakespeare, some religious texts, etc.

Changing of the guards at Buckingham is a cluster-f ... but about a quarter mile away they also change the guards at Prince Charles's house. There are only two guards, no horses, no parade, but you get to hear the conversation and be about 10 feet away. It's pretty cool.

Paris - agree with the person who said skip teh Louvre. The few things in there you MUST see are so far away and crowded... it's just a waste. Orsay and Pompidou. Also - rather than climbing the tour eiffel, just go to the top of the pompidou where you can see a great view INCLUDING the tower. Lunch at Les Deux Magots is very cool from a "historical vibe" perspective, as all the luminaries used to hang out there. Also - Rodin and Picasso museums are quite nice and smaller/quicker / less crowded.
Edited by ChicagoRon - 3/26/12 at 7:14pm
post #12 of 15
I had a lot more fun in Paris just walking around the various parts of the city. Its a lot more fun seeing the real Paris. The museums and tourist traps are over rated. I went twice last year and did not do one touristy thing and I do not regret it one bit.
post #13 of 15
Originally Posted by Jokerman View Post

I had a lot more fun in Paris just walking around the various parts of the city. Its a lot more fun seeing the real Paris. The museums and tourist traps are over rated. I went twice last year and did not do one touristy thing and I do not regret it one bit.

So - logically...

Either you did them once, and then began to enjoy just walking around the city or you have never done them and don't know what you're missing. Either way, it might be overreaching to suggest someone else skip them completely.

I'm not saying the cultural immersion trip is not fun or worthwhile, but there are also some world treasures on display in some of those "tourist traps" that you should probably see once just to check a box, or at least have a frame of reference when people ask you about your trip.
post #14 of 15

+1 on the top of the Pompidou. The restaurant is also supposed to be pretty good value for lunch. Reservation is supposedly recommended. 


Skipping the Eiffel is something I would also recommend. I would recommned taking the balloon which takes of from Parc Andre citroën and supposedly takes a tour around the Eiffel (it was closed because of the wind when I tried to go). Much better view (on both the city and the tower) and probably less crowded. If my memory serves me correctly it was only around 10 € too.


IMO Paris is all about the riverbanks and the parks. That's were all the locals seem to be. The atmosphere during a weekend evening was really special. Jardin du Luxemburg was my favourite. Although if you are leaving really soon it might be still too cold. 


No matter how corny it may be, Paris does live up to its romantic reputation and you can pull off lot of the cheesy stuff you would not be able anywhere else.



post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you everybody. Great suggestions. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we are doing the Louvre at Paris, but we got some passes to skip the line. So hopefully it won't eat up too much time. We'll probably try and try to see the 'famous artworks'. I'm honestly not that interested in going, but my wife wants to, so I want to please her as well... even if she ends up thinking it's a waste.

We're spending two full days in Paris, so hopefully we'll get to just walk around and appreciate more of the cultural side rather than the 'touristy' points. We are looking forward to the food etc. and it is just a few weeks from our anniversary so it will hopefully be special. I'm sure at the very least it will be a trip we'll remember the rest of our lives.
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