From London to Paris and on to Venice- an unforgettable week of romance and beauty
Travelling is all part of this wonderful trip’s romance, as the train speeds through the night towards Italy, and passengers wake to the hazy Venetian sun glittering on the Grand Canal, just outside the station. Three days in Venice follow- enough time to explore the beauty of the floating city’s Renaissance architecture, follow old stone bridges across hidden waterways, and view the great cathedrals and palaces of Venice from a gondola or vaporetto on the Grand Canal. On the return journey, there is time to stroll in Paris, browse the bookstalls of the left bank, take a boat trip by the Eiffel Tower, or simply sit at a pavement café with a coffee and croissant. Relaxed and inspiring, this trip is a Grand Tour in miniature.
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Leave London St Pancras after a relaxed breakfast at one of the refurbished station’s excellent cafes. Take the Eurostar for Paris, to the Gare du Nord. The journey is deceptively fast- the comfortable train rockets through Kent, beneath the Channel and emerges in France in the time it takes to queue at an airport..
Check-in is smooth and simple, up to thirty minutes before departure, and there is a lounge with wifi and plug sockets, shops including WH Smith and Costa Coffee and comfortable seating in the departure lounge, with an escalator which delivers passengers directly to the platform. In just two hours and fifteen minutes, the train arrives in the Gare du Nord at the heart of Paris.
There is a buffet car on board, and an executive upgrade means food service at your table, a quieter carriage, more spacious seats and a plug socket and free wifi.
After arriving at the Gare du Nord, cross Paris by Metro or taxi to the Gare de Lyon, in time for a relaxed dinner at Le Train Bleu, the station's famed belle époque restaurant, encrusted and adorned with gilt framed mirrors, ceiling murals, velvet curtains and bas-relief decorative panels. The food is deeply traditional but excellent, -it’s all as far from a British station buffet as could be imagined. If it’s all a little too theatrical, there are also several bistros within a couple of minutes’ walk.
Days 1 - 2
Board the night train to Venice, where you can eat in the restaurant car if you prefer, which serves excellent hot food and has a children's menu- or buy wine, bread and cheese at the station and picnic in your private cabin. The Thello trains offer two or four berths, for families or couples, and the train leaves Gare de Lyon by 8pm. The couchettes are narrow, but reasonably comfortable, the doors lock securely, and there is a plug point and small basin in each cabin. Take books or playing cards, as there is no TV or wifi, and be aware that the conductor will take your passports and boarding cards to avoid disturbing you in the night as you cross the border into Italy.
Days 2 - 4
When you arrive at Venice Santa Lucia take the Vaporetto, from the front of the station, or walk to your hotel and check in your bags and enjoy dinner overlooking the Grand Canal.
On your first morning in Venice, walk or take the waterbus to San Marco, at the heart of Venice. Spend the day exploring the square with its famous bell tower, the Doges’ Palace, and the waterfront of the Grand Canal between the Ponte Vecchio and the Ponte dell'Accademia, a walk forested with wonderful churches, galleries and gondoliers. Have lunch at an osteria, the little Venetian bars which throng the tiny streets behind San Marco, or celebrate with afernoon tea at the exquisite Caffe Florian. An evening gondola ride, followed by dinner, closes your first, full day in Venice.
On your second day, spend the morning examining the glories of Venice more closely- at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Accademia, or in any of the city’s great galleries and churches. This water-bound city can be warm, so take a gentle approach- have lunch at Il Figli Delle Stelle, on the shady island of Guidecca, looking back towards San Marco, or escape to the cooler backstreets towards Santa Croce which offer plenty of traditional trattorias. In the afternoon, wander the canals, or take a vaporetto down the Grand Canal towards The Lido to see the glorious, fading facades of the ancient buildings glowing in the setting sun.
On your last day in Venice, breakfast in a pavement café, before further sightseeing- visit the beautiful Museum of Musical Instruments, or shop for souvenirs of wooden carnival masks or croquantes, the local sweet, in the little shops behind San Marco. Have lunch at a pizzeria, and explore the narrow streets, or take a waterbus to Murano or Torcello.
Days 4 - 5
Collect your luggage, or use the Railbookers concierge service, and return to the station to catch the night train to Paris just before 8pm. Take a picnic on board, or eat at an osteria before leaving, then settle down to remember all you’ve seen and done as the Thello train rushes you through the night towards France.
The train arrives into Paris from Berlin at around 9.30am, so there’s time for coffee and croissants and a few hours’ sightseeing. Leave the bags at left luggage at Gare de L'Est, and take a petit - dejeuner at one of Paris’s charming pavement cafes.
You can then either head back to the Gare Du Nord by foot (it's only a ten minute walk), Metro or taxi and catch a mid-morning Eurostar back to London, arriving early afternoon for your onward journey home- or enjoy a relaxed Parisian lunch in the Marais and perhaps take a stroll along the Seine to leave you with memories of the city’s marvels, before taking a mid afternoon Eurostar and arriving back in London just as the sun sets over Big Ben.
Or you could stay an extra night in Paris and travel back to London the following day. CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR PARIS PAGE
If you're coming from Gare de Lyon (or Gare D'Austerlitz and Gare Montparnase) you'll need at least 90 minutes to allow for check-in time at Gare du Nord. Gare De L'Est is much closer, just a 10 minute walk.
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