Ebbsfleet's Paris connection: a day on the other side
PUBLISHED: 09:51 27 December 2012
For the last five years Paris has been on the doorstep of north Kent thanks to Ebbsfleet International.
In just two hours and 20 minutes the wonders of the capital of wine, cuisine and culture are in reach, so Anna Dubuis went off to do as much as she could in one day.
From a frosty and dark Ebbsfleet International the Eurostar races through the Kent countryside and I nestle into my seat, willing myself to grab a bit more shut-eye before my nine-hour Paris marathon begins.
Arrive at Paris Gare du Nord and walk down the platform into a packed station of tourists looking bewildered and business types looking purposeful. Head down the escalators (looking purposeful) to navigate the Métro.
First stop is Bastille, from which I wander down the wide boulevards lined by balcony-laden Haussmanian buildings.
Walk over to Place des Vosges – the oldest square in Paris – and find a café for an espresso and a freshly-baked croissant.
Walking through the Marais there is a variety of shops to discover, from those selling little trinkets to chic fashion stores like Comptoir des Cotonniers.
This is the perfect area for window shopping, while the old city walls decorated with street art are just as appealing.
Through the back streets of the Marais lies the Musée Picasso, containing more than 3,000 different works of art.
A quick stop here - not too long to wear myself out, and off through the Marais again.
Cross Pont Neuf onto the larger of the two islands – Ile de la Cité – and absorb the view of the River Seine, taking the obligatory picture of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Walk through the small streets to reach Notre Dame for a wander around its vast and beautiful interior.
A leisurely lunch in the Latin Quarter consisting of an omelette and chips and a glass of red wine, sat next to the street – a perfect location for watching the world go by and pretending you live here.
Métro up to Pigalle to climb the many steps up to the Sacré Coeur and work off that lunch. Clear blue skies mean the whole of Paris can be seen. Spend time trying to identify landmarks and getting them wrong.
Find a café in the cobbled backstreets of Montmartre and sip some more of France’s best wines. Ignore the numerous artists trying to entice tourists into caricatures but enjoy watching others have theirs done.
Navigate way to rue Oberkampf – which is something like the French equivalent of London’s Old Street – and enjoy a dinner in a café followed by cocktails in one of the busy boho-style bars.
Take in last whiff of cigarettes and coffee and head back to Gare du Nord for the journey home. The train speeds out of the city into the suburbs and I drift off to sleep again only to arrive at 10.18pm GMT at a frosty and dark Ebbsfleet International, with a surreal feeling of déjà-vu.
Tickets from Ebbsfleet to Paris start at £69 return. To book visit eurostar.com.