SPOTLIGHT: 16 November, 2007
A Tale of Two Cities
with Burlington Bertie .
he inauguration of the high speed Eurostar line to Paris out of London's spanking new St. Pancras station this week has significantly altered Londoners' travel perspective. Just 59 minutes away from central London, Calais is now closer timewise than "London-by-the-Sea" Brighton. Central Paris itself, is now just 135 minutes away. The Eurostar journey is therefore considerably faster, cheaper and more romantic than by air, given the time wasted getting to and from airports, the time and hassle of airport checking in and checking out, surly or bloody minded officials who have the mentality of a sardine packer in a canning factory, flight delays and flight cancellations. Add to this the hourly train departures and these two thrilling cities are now close enough to make day trips feasible, and overnight or weekend stays positively attractive - not only for the burghers of London and Paris, but to vacation visitors to either city.
London and Paris are now metaphorically joined at the hip and a standard round trip fare costs just £59, which is £10 less than the cost of a set lunch without wine at Alain Ducasse, Mayfair's new restaurant overlooking Park Lane at the Dorchester Hotel.
Like many Londoners, Shophound Alexia is already planning a Christmas shopping trip to Paris with her friend Georgina, selecting a Eurostar package that gives them two days and an overnight with buffet breakfast at a 3* hotel in the Opera District of Paris for just £98, (c.$200), per person.
Paris is alight with sparkling fir trees and Christmas lights now, and the Seine bridges are romantically lit; a perfect backdrop to a couple of days shopping in the famous stores like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps on Boulevard Haussman, the city's many chic boutiques on the upscale Champs Elyzees, the fashionable Avenue Montaigne, the Marais District, Rue Charlot and along the Canal St.Martin - and of course the famous Paris flea markets of Puces de la Porte de Vanves, or the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen.
I have little doubt that there are a number of Parisians planning similar forays to London. They will enjoy shopping at Harrods and Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge, Fortnum and Mason and Burlington Arcade in Piccadilly, and a visit to the newly opened Tutankhamun exhibition in Greenwich as well as enjoying a night out on the town with a visit to the theatre or ballet.
On a cautionary note, I strongly recommend visitors from North America who are considering a two city London-Paris vacation to check the cost differential between round trip flights from New York to London and New York to Paris. There can be big savings in flying into and out of London rather than Paris.
Rail Tour to Paris from London by Eurostar This is a fully escorted day tour to Paris starting from USD $276.94 per person
Eurostar Schedules, fares, City Break, Disneyland deals etc.
Visitor's Guide to Paris Hotels, city and Versailles tours, shows, deals, etc.
Tutankhamun Exhibition A spectacular new exhibition of 130 priceless treasures from the tombs of Tutankhamun and his royal ancestors. Online booking including tickets and hotel deal.