A average winter day in Edmonton, what better time then to start my three part series on European airport layovers. Today’s article focuses on Paris, France.
A quick scan of various message boards will surely build up enough angst to prevent many a traveler from venturing out of Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport if you have anything less than a 10 hour layover. Being one to constantly go against the grain, this 40 year old didn’t listen!
Faced with a 7 hour layover and having never been to France below, an itinerary had to be developed! Sadly the plane from Nairobi landed a few minutes late, 6:40AM on an early Saturday morning. My departing flight to London was at 1:25PM, so now I had less than 7 hours.
Bags weren’t an issue as the airlines were taking care of them. I also had a boarding pass for my next flight so another potential issue was turned into a non-issue.
Now before you begin such a journey, a back-up plan is a must! Mine was to take the train to London as my flight back to Canada wasn’t until Monday so…no worries!
Now, what to do in Paris? Well it’s pretty simple, experience street life, visit Notre Dame and of course the Eiffel Tower. No small task, as I’ve been told.
A 30 minute trip through immigration followed by a jaunt through a well signed airport found me on the direct commuter-rail route to Paris (the RER). Forty-five minutes or one hour and 15 minutes from landing later (via the Saint-Michel/Notre-Dame RER station), I was in one of the most famous churches in the western world, Notre Dame, wow!
Looking at a map, walking to the Eiffel Tower would provide an interesting insight into Paris street life. Sadly it was still early in the AM so the streets were quieter than I thought possible. A quick trip across the Seine turned into a fabulous walk along its northern bank.
Take the time to explore the following sites, Place de Hotel de Ville, Parc de la Tour Saint Jacques, and of course the Louvre. Another option would have included a trip through the Louvre but the Eiffel Tower took precedence.
A few more minutes of walking and the beautiful tower could now be seen. As expected a large line had already been formed. Time is beginning to be an issue so after waiting 35 minutes in line the second level was chosen. The Eiffel Tower lived up to its billing, what a spectacular experience!
Now three options were available. Walk, ride a train back to the Saint-Michel/Notre-Dame RER station or take a taxi. Again, the walking option along the southern bank of the Seine, past the National Assembly and many other beautiful buildings and parks, was chosen.
A few missed turns but with the help of some very friendly Parisians, I find myself back on the RER. Forty minutes later, through security and I’m at my gate a full hour prior to departure, enriched with a lifetime experience that was definitely worth the time and effort.