We got the first flight out of Southampton to Paris Orly to give ourselves as much time in Paris as possible. Getting up early for a flight is never easy, especially in the winter but flying from Southampton makes it really convenient with only a short drive to get there. Once arriving at the airport we sailed through security and had just enough time for breakfast before we boarded our flight.
It’s really easy to get from Orly Airport to the centre of Paris. The cheapest and easiest option is to get the Orlyval shuttle to Antony where you change to the RER network. We were in the centre of Paris in under 45 minutes and there are plenty of stops in the centre so it’s easy to get to where you need to be.
We spent the afternoon exploring the area near our hotel, after a walk through the Jardin de Luxembourg and a delicious quiche picnic we went to see the Pantheon and for a walk around the Latin Quarter.
One of my favourite places was Montmartre. I enjoyed seeing the Moulin Rouge but the main road was full of souvenir shops giving it a really touristy feel. If you head in to the smaller cobbled streets behind it there is a great atmosphere with quirky shops and cute street-side bars and cafes. We climbed the hundreds of steps to the Basilica Sacre Coeur, hard work at the time but well worth it for the fantastic views of the city. It’s a great place to sit and watch the sun set while listening to the buskers. Afterwards we enjoyed an amazing meal at the family run Seb’on a great value, tiny restaurant in Montmarte where the husband is chef and wife serves the tables. Book ahead if you want to go though as due to its high tripadvisor rating it gets booked up early.
Our second day in Paris was beautiful and sunny and after a walk to the Eiffel Tower we enjoyed a cruise along the Seine. This was a great way to see the city as many of the sites are next to the river and you also have the added benefit of a guide so you know what everything is!
We spent the afternoon in the Musee d’Orsay which was massive, you could have easily spent hours in there. My favourite area of the museum was the fifth floor where there were works by Monet and Renoir. The building itself was also beautiful.
After a day of walking we enjoyed another great meal at Semilla in Saint-Germain. This restaurant serves traditional French dishes with a modern twist and the open kitchen makes for a great atmosphere. A lot of restaurants in Paris are closed on Sunday or Monday nights so it is definitely worth booking something in advance.
The next day we headed straight for the Louvre. Getting there early morning is definitely worth it as there wasn't much of a queue, but by mid-morning the queues were enormous. It’s also worth, with all the attractions in Paris, booking your tickets online before you go. You can then skip the ticket queues giving you more time in the attractions so you can pack more in to your weekend. As the largest museum in the world, the Louvre is huge with over 300 rooms! Located in the old royal palace it is also worth visiting just for the beautiful building. Top things to see include the Mona Lisa, Venus di Milo and French crown jewels but make sure you take a guide book with you so you can pick, and find, the things you want to see.
After the Louvre we battled against the wind and rain and walked to the nearby Musee l’Orangerie in Jardin des Tuileries. Although far smaller this museum is well worth a visit for the stunning floor to ceiling Monet water lilies. The final stop for the day was the Notre Dame, this was another one of my favourite sites. We had a quick look inside but decided against queueing in the rain to visit the towers. That evening we headed to Les Halles for our final Parisian dinner at Pirouette. This was my favourite of all the restaurants. The food was stunning and the three course set menu was great value for money.
For our final day in Paris we decided to head out of the city centre to visit the Chateau de Versailles. The palace was really easy to get to by train with a direct service on the RER C line taking around an hour. Make sure you take the train to Versailles Rive Gauche as there is only a 5 minute walk to the Chateau from here compared to about 20 minutes from Versailles Chantiers. The palace was fantastic and well worth the visit. I particularly loved seeing the hall of mirrors which was very grand and the magnificent bed chambers and many drawing rooms. Unfortunately when we visited the grounds were closed due to high winds, they looked spectacular and were massive. It would be worth visiting the Chateau in the summer to thoroughly enjoy them.
After visiting the Chateau we headed back to the city centre for a final walk around and delicious lunch before travelling to Orly for our flight home.
Orly airport is not very big so it is easy and quick to get through security and to your gate. My advice would be not to go through security too early as there isn’t much through there whereas in the main terminal there are plenty of shops to look around and places to have a drink or something to eat.
After a quick flight we landed back at Southampton early. My favourite thing about flying from Southampton is when you land back after your tip and you just want to get home you’ve only got a quick journey out of the airport to your car and are back home, on your sofa with a cup of tea in no time.
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