Day 1 Start of Adventure
Landed at CDG in Paris and used my France Rail Pass to board the RER train 30 minutes into the city center. Surprised as to how easy it was to get into Paris! I must say I was a little worried, good to keep in mind for future stop overs in Paris.
Then a guided tour of The Louvre by City Rama – our guide showed us the highlights, which were a tourist’s delight.
Afternoon: Touring Paris by bike or Paris a Velo is an experience! Biked to the 19th arrondissement and rode past Edith Piaf’s house! The tour takes you off the beaten path to explore the real Paris with lots of local flavor.
Day 2 Love, Love, Love Parisian Trains
Morning: Used Paris Visite Card to take the metro from my hotel the Lutetia to Gare de L’est where I boarded the TGV Est to Champagne. Arrived at Reims (great Cathedral!), to the heart of Champagne in 45 mins – love the TGV!
Noon: Sampled some champagne at a little bar called Comme Champagne in Epernay – a guided taste tour of Champagnes for only 17 Euro. Best 17 Euros or $20 I’ve spent in a while.
Afternoon: Visited a family owned Champagne house called Jacquesson – the owner Jean-Herve Chiquet gave us a tour of his vineyards and his cellars – what great champagne they make!
Evening: Met with Philippe Wibrotte of the Comite Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne – he can answer all your questions about champagne. Took the slow train home from Epernay to Paris – needed the hour on board to sit back, gaze out the window & reflect on my once in a lifetime day.
Day 3 At the destination stations
Morning: Used my Paris Visite Card & took the metro to Gare du Nord. Had the fast and comfortable experience of crossing the English Channel via Eurostar. Arrived in London 2 hrs and 15 mns later. The timing just felt like I was taking a commuter train and not going to a whole other country. Make sure you travel at a meal time – meals included in price of Leisure Select and Business class tickets, the food is actually worth it.
Afternoon: spent some time enjoying St Pancras – the “destination station” Now I see why everyone keeps calling it that. More champagne..the station has Europe’s largest champagne bar.
Day 4 At London’s Langham Hotel (very posh)
London’s Langham Hotel reopened just months ago – beautifully refurbished and the food and service were excellent.
Day 5 Markets and Virgins (trains that is)
Just when I thought I’d seen everything London had to offer, I discovered the Borough market – take a guided tour by Celia Brooks Brown an American now living in London, her tour is such a treat. Save some time to shop, taste and explore the gourmet treasures of this charming old London market.
I always enjoyed the Virgin flights to London and now I can say I also enjoy the Virgin train experience from London to England’s North country. Had a freshly cooked breakfast on board the London/Manchester train – its a comfortable, quick and easy train ride with a BritRail Pass.
Day 6 Perfect ending with Tea at Betty’s of York
In some ways the best part of the trip! Took a train from Manchester to York. Took a walking tour of the city, along the old city walls, the Shambles, Mulberry Hall is a great place to shop. I learned that according to Medieval law it is still legal for a man from York to defend his city from a Scotsman by shooting at him with a bow & arrow!
Afternoon tea at Betty’s of York – a MUST for all visitors. The line is always out the door, so be prepared to wait, but it is so worth it! Try their scones with jam and clotted cream and don’t leave without one of their fruit cakes!