Booking a Cheap Weekend Away is one of the best ways to add a little excitement into your life. A Weekend in Paris as been on our wish list for a long time, so I decided to surprise Joao and plan it all in secret! I turned up at his work on a Friday afternoon with his bag packed and announced we were going to Paris! My parents were able to look after our Son for the weekend, and this would be our first ‘couples’ trip away since we became a family, almost three years ago! A Weekend in Paris promised to be the perfect romantic getaway. I am going to talk through every detail of the trip to help you plan your own perfect trip.
Weekend trips require a little more thought than longer trips, as you need to be very specific about flight times in order to make the most of your trip. In our case we had to fly later in the afternoon on Friday as Joao was working. If we’d have had the Friday off of work, we would have flown as early as possible to enjoy more of the Friday in Paris. Our return flight on the Sunday needed to be a late flight so that we could spend the whole of Sunday exploring. Being so specific about times can sometimes mean you end up spending more on your flights than you initially planned.
We flew from Manchester Airport and took an easyJet flight at 17:10 for £65pp with seat reservations. We travelled with rucksacks which meant we didn’t incur any additional luggage charges. We flew in to Paris CDG airport which is very close to the centre. The flight is just over an hour, and so with the time difference (+1hr) we arrived in Paris at 19:20. From the airport you have to walk to the train station within the terminal (there are lots of signs pointing you in the right direction) and get on the RER B train. The ticket was €10.30pp. Use a website like Rome2Rio to find the best way to get from the airport to your hotel. You can alway get a taxi but this will be more expensive and often takes longer in rush hour traffic.
On the way home from Paris we flew from Paris Beauvais airport with Ryanair. This airport is around 100km outside of Paris. The flight was at 22:20 so we got to enjoy the whole of Sunday in Paris. As this airport is a fair distance from the centre, it tends to be a lot cheaper to fly into and out from there. Our flight home cost £38pp without seat reservations (We’d spent enough time together by this point!) To get from Central Paris to the Beauvais airport, we took this bus – it is €16.90 if booked online and is a one hour fifteen minutes direct journey. Extremely easy and the bus was very comfortable.
Be flexible with the departing airport (you can search your favourite plus an alternative airport with out platform) and be open to both CDG and BVA airport. When using our system to search for Paris, we check both airports and offer you the best price. Use the specific date search and select all the weekends you can travel in a month. Play around with dates, it really is trial and error to find the best prices and options for you.
When choosing our accommodation I wanted somewhere with a nice view, within walking distance of some iconic landmarks and naturally I didn’t want to spend a fortune! As this was a surprise trip, I also didn’t want to go for the most budget friendly option as we usually would do. So I settled on Stella Etoile (click here to read more about it) – with a view of the Arc de Triomphe and within walking distance to the Eiffel Tower, it was perfect. At £233 for the two nights it wasn’t cheap, but I felt it was excellent value for money. The metro in Paris is cheap and easy to use, so staying more peripherally but close to a station is a great way to save money.
WHAT TO DO
With so much to see and do in Paris, I had a very regimented plan in order to fit everything in. I quickly noticed that the admission prices to the different attractions were really adding up. We were kindly gifted a GoCity Paris pass and were blown away by the amount of things we could see and do using it. Essentially the pass gives you a QR code that gets you in to all sorts of top attractions, plus extra bonuses like drinks, snacks and breakfast!
We had the ‘two day all inclusive pass’, it is currently €104 (£90) which initially sounds a bit pricey but it works out an absolute bargain if you want to do as much as physically possible with your weekend. It includes breakfast at a Parisian cafe (see picture below), endless attractions including a tour up the Eiffel Tower (see below for the activities we did), wine tasting, cocktail stops, champagne and pastries, beer tasting, a hop-on hop-off open top bus tour, a sight seeing river cruise. When we visited it included entry to all the museums and historic sites – however now they seem to have limited a lot of these to the 4-6 day passes. Still, I highly recommend you check it out to see just how much you can do. Click here to learn more.
Our flight landed at 19:20, by the time we had gotten through border control, found the train and checked in to our hotel it was 21:00. We stopped at a supermarket right by our hotel and bought a bottle of €5 wine to start our trip off right. Whilst on the train we used an app called The Fork to find a nice restaurant close to our hotel with an available table. We reserved a table at ‘Caves Pétrissans‘ for 22:00. The Michellin Guide calls it ‘A remarkably appealing place’ and we couldn’t agree more! The food was amazing, we chose the three course menu which was €48pp plus we ordered a bottle of wine which was around €40. Around midnight we left the restaurant tipsy and excited for our Weekend in Paris! Walking back to the hotel chatting and laughing together whilst passing the Arc de Triomophe was magical.
The Go City Pass has certain attractions that require a reservation and this is easy to do via the app. Try to make these reservations as early as possible to make sure you get the times you want. The app is one of the great things about this pass, you can go onto a map which shows your location plus all of the attractions available around you. You can filter the options by Historical sights, Shows and entertainment, Tours and cruises, Food and drink, and lots more. It even has a section where you can construct your itinerary.
We woke up early (with a bit of a hangover!) and walked to ‘Cafe Louise’ to get a Parisian Breakfast, included with our pass. You simply turn up and show your pass and they will bring you coffee, orange juice, croissants, bread and a fruit salad! The location is fantastic and the perfect way to start your Weekend in Paris!
After breakfast we got the metro to the Louvre. The metro is a great way to get around Paris. It is either €1.90 for a single journey, or €13.20 for a 1 day pass travelling within Zone 1 – 3 (you very likely wont need to travel outside of zone 3). We only used the metro twice, choosing to walk most journeys in order to see more of the city. If you plan to take a lot of metro trips, the day pass may work out better value.
We had a 10:30 reservation for the Louvre. It was very well organised with separate queues for people entering on the hour, or half passed the hour. Get there early to snap some pics outside the glass pyramids. Once we got to the front of the queue we had to show our reservation and Paris pass – then we went through a security check in order to enter. If you don’t have the Paris pass, the tickets start at €17 and can be bought online. The Louvre is the worlds most visited museum and so naturally it is busy, however due to its huge size it never felt crowded (the Mona Lisa was the only piece of art attracting significant crowds with an actual queue to be able to see it face on – we just looked at it from the side!). There is so much to see that you will never get around the whole museum, so pick up a map at the entrance and select two or three areas that you like the sound of and focus on those. There are the famous highlights like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, Napoleons apartments, the palatial area of the museum, is extremely beautiful. There are thousands of paintings, drawings, sculptures, decorative art. We aren’t the ‘artsy’ type, but we found it all fascinating. We stayed until around 13:00 before realising we should really move on and see something else. We got lunch within the museum which was around €22 for a mozzarella panini, a slice of quiche, two packets of crisps and two drinks. We then set off walking to Notre Dame Cathedral. We had wine tasting booked for 14:30 (again done through the pass) but wanted to see Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle and La Conciergerie which are all within the same area, around a 10-15 minute walk from the Louvre.
French Wine Tasting at ‘Les Caves Du Louvre’ is really fun, especially if you love wine like we do and are interested in learning more about it. You need to make a reservation, which is free if you have the GoCity Pass or €35pp if you don’t. The tour was led by a very knowledgable guide and the caves are beautiful. You can upgrade your ticket to include premium wines or champagne, but given we can drink Aldi £3 wine and be satisfied, we didn’t see it necessary!
The session lasted just over an hour and put us in the mood for cocktails, so we went back to Cafe Louise to make the most of our pass and get a cocktail with some snacks (see picture below!). On the app the experience is called ‘French Apero in Saint-Germain-des-Pres’ – there is a picture of people drinking beer which could be a bit confusing. But rest assured it will be the cocktails and snacks you see below! There is a big menu with a variety of cocktails or beer if you prefer. There are a variety of food and drink options on the pass such as Beer tasting, Wine tasting, Champagne and pastries, Cocktails and light bites – you can even go to a chocolate factory and taste their chocolate on site!
After our cocktails we went for a walk along champs de l’elysée and back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. We don’t get to go out for dinner very often when we are at home – anyone with a Toddler will understand why. I wanted us to eat somewhere special on the Saturday night using the excuse that we have a huge unused ‘pot of money’ for eating out since becoming parents! After a lot of research I settled on ‘Monsieur Bleu‘ – it is a very trendy bar and restaurant with perfect views of the Eiffel Tower. There is an outdoor seating area that we chose to be seated in. The view was fantastic and we love a bit of Al Fresco Dining. Even during this icy February night, the outdoor heaters meant it was pleasantly warm enough to enjoy our dinner outdoors. I noticed other people had blankets brought to them, but we were fine without. We ordered starters and a main course each. For a restaurant like this the portions were very generous, so much so that we couldn’t manage desert. We also ordered a bottle of wine (“Your cheapest red please, sir…”) and some sparkling water. The meal came to £160 which I felt was a reasonable price (but obviously very expensive!) for the fantastic evening that we had. We first got in to eating at expensive restaurants whilst in Venice a few years ago. We still to this day talk about what a great evening we had and how special an experience it was. Money for me is there for enjoyment and experience, and if we can get a life long amazing memory for £80 each, then I think it is a bargain. I have a TikTok video showing the restaurant here.
We decided to have a lay in (again slightly hungover!) as our first reservation of the day (climbing the Eiffel Tower) wasn’t until 10:30. We checked out at around 09:00 (yes, unfortunately this is a significant lay in for us!) and left our bags at the hotel. The bus station where we would later get the Bus to Paris Beauvais Airport was conveniently just a ten minute walk from the hotel. Given our flight wasn’t until 22:20, we didn’t need to get the airport bus until 19:10 – so we had the whole day to explore. We had a leisurely breakfast at a different location, close to the hotel and with a view of the Arc de Triomphe and then took a relaxing stroll to the Eiffel Tower. We accidentally stumbled across this gorgeous view of the Tower and so had to stop for some self indulgent pics! This is the link for that street if you want to head there yourself!
There are two options to climb the tower, either by taking the elevator or by climbing the stairs. The pass includes the guided stair tour and we thought this would be the more enjoyable and memorable way to experience the Eiffel Tower (and we were right!). Surprisingly most people choose the elevator so there’s a much longer queue to get started if you choose this option. We met the guide at the south entrance of the Eiffel Tower who then escorted us through the security checks and told us about the history and construction of the tower. I have a very short attention span, but he made the information so fun and interesting that even I paid attention for the whole talk. There are two levels that you will climb up to, each separated by around 300 stairs. You need a very basic level of fitness to do it. We are not athletes (or even fit for that matter) but we found the climb easy. There was a slight burning of the glutes by the top, but nothing that meant we had to stop. The views on the way up are fantastic, and just keep getting better the higher you go. There is a lovely place to get drinks on the first platform and more facilities on the second. Our tour guide (Sheldon) pointed out all the landmarks visible from our 360 views of Paris and told us lots about them. There is a significant break between the first and second floors so your legs can recover for the next set of stairs! We took the elevator back down, just to experience both – and honestly you could barely see anything and it was over in a matter of seconds. I definitely recommend taking the stairs if your mobility allows.
Close to the Eiffel Tower you can find a ‘Big Bus’ stop. An open top bus that drives around the main sites of Paris providing headphones to listen to guided information in your chosen language. The hop on hop off day pass is included with the GoCity Pass, or you can buy tickets online for €35pp. You can get off at any stop, explore that area, and then get back on the bus to move onto somewhere new. The buses drive by every 15-20 minutes so you’ll never be waiting long. This tour worked out perfect with the Pass as we could explore the museums and attractions included in the pass whilst using the bus to get from place to place. Alternatively you could just sit on the bus for the whole route and see everything from the comfort of the open top bus!
We spent quite some time at stop number three of the route. You get off the bus at The Opéra Garnier which is an amazing building, one of my favourites in Paris. We took a stroll from there to see the Moulin Rouge, you can watch a show and get dinner here although very pricey. From there we walked to ‘Restaurant Au Cadet de Gascogne’ where our pass gave us champagne and french pastries. If you have the ‘Explorer Pass’ you can get a three course lunch or dinner here which the restaurant kindly gave us to try knowing we were writing this blog post – getting an ‘Explorer pass’ is a great option for a nice meal out if you are on a tight budget. You essentially select between 3 to 7 of Paris’s top attractions. As it includes Disney it is a little more expensive than the All Inclusive pass. The food at ‘Restaurant Au Cadet de Gascogne’ was great and probably one of the best Creme Brûlées i’ve ever had – I recommend waiting to get a seat outside as the atmosphere in the square is fantastic.
After lunch we walked the short distance to Sacré-Cœur , an impressive basilica perched on top of a hill with amazing views of the city. There are lots of people selling things and it was probably the busiest area of Paris that we experienced. Lots of people were sat on the steps having lunch, a lovely way to eat if you are on a budget. Watch out for scams such as the ‘string men’ who tie a piece of string (bracelet?) to your wrist then insist you pay an extortionate fee for it… We walked from the top to the bottom and just ignored everyone who came towards us with string (and there were quite a few!).
After this we went back on the big bus, enjoyed some more sights and then got off of the bus back by the Eiffel Tower so that we could go on a Sight seeing River Cruise on the Seine River. This was one of the experiences included with the pass that really caught our eye, so we were determined to fit it in before we left! The tickets are €17pp if you don’t have the pass and can be bought by the river. The cruises set off every hour, on the hour. There is no need to reserve, just show up and either show your pass or purchase a ticket. We got on the 5pm cruise so that we could enjoy the sunset from the river as we passed some of Paris’s most iconic landmarks. A perfect end to our Weekend in Paris!
We had to move pretty swiftly after the cruise. We docked around 18:10 and it was a 30 minute walk back to the hotel to collect our bags. The bus ticket says to be at the station 15 minutes early, so we were pushing it slightly for time! We arrived at Porte Maillot bus station at 18:55 and the bus was scheduled to depart at 19:10. We had already purchased tickets online, so a man simply scanned the QR code on our ticket and we were on our way. Fortunately the bus had USB ports so we were able to charge our dying phones. The bus set off early at around 19:05, so they really mean it when they say arrive 15 minutes early! Paris Beauvais airport is TINY. You can almost see the departure gates from the moment you enter. Don’t worry about whether you will be dropped off at terminal one or two as it is only a few minutes walk between the two.
We had already checked in so we showed our mobile boarding passes and we were through in minutes. There is a small cafe at the gates and a shop with duty free. Bring a snack from Paris if you can as the food options there weren’t great.
Our Weekend in Paris was absolutely amazing, my partner said it was the best weekend of his life! (I think a combination of it being a complete surprise, us fitting so much in and it being great to have some rare quality time together). We managed to do so much in a short space of time, so much so that we can well and truly tick Paris off of our to do list. With so many beautiful places to visit, I think it’s important to see and do as much as possible whilst visiting a particular destination, so that you can spend your money on somewhere new the next time you go away!
I will summarise what we spent on our Weekend in Paris to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay.
Flights to Paris: £65pp with seat reservation
Flights home: £38pp without seat reservation
Airport car park at Manchester airport: £32 for the weekend (£16pp)
Two nights hotel stay: £234 (£117pp)
RER train from airport to centre: £9pp
Bus to Beauvais airport: £13.50pp
Total for the basics (room + hotel + transfers) = £288.50pp
We were fortunate enough to be gifted this pass however we have provided an honest and authentic review and would never recommend anything to you all that we didn’t think was absolutely fantastic. Our reputation as trustworthy and knowledgable travel advisors and our audiences satisfaction is always at the forefront of everything we do.
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