What we did in Paris

Paris eiffel towerParis is of course best known as the location for the 1979 Douglas Adams-penned, Tom Baker-starring Doctor Who episode City of Death.

The episode starts with the Fourth Doctor plus companion Romana admiring the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower, so here are the teenager and I recreating the event, as is the modern way, with a selfie.Paris top of the eiffel tower


It really was very pleasant at the top of the Eiffel Tower, even if like me you don’t really like heights. If you’re going, I recommend booking tickets as far as possible in advance. I tried a month before we set off and they were already all booked up. In the end we opted for a late night visit to minimise the queueing – it’s open until midnight in the summer.

We also all enjoyed visiting the bookshop Shakespeare and Company. You might have seen this legendary bookshop in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset or Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. You’ll find it on a cobbled street just opposite Notre Dame Cathedral.

It’s where William Burroughs researched Naked Lunch and where countless writers and poets have come to drool. It’s tiny, so you might have to queue, but once you get inside you can understand the drooling.paris shakespeare and company

Then we took a day out to the Palace of Versailles, which was the setting for David Tennant’s Doctor Who in The Girl in the Fireplace. Though that episode wasn’t actually filmed in Versailles – as ever, Cardiff was the stand-in.

Cardiff doesn’t actually look like this:versailles



Though we got there early, Versailles was heaving with crowds, to the point where getting through the rooms was a bit of a chore. If you’ve got claustrophobia don’t even bother – stick to the famous gardens instead, which are free. You can ride a miniature train around the grounds, take a boat ride or just walk. versailles gardens




We also had a few days in Disneyland Paris (which of course isn’t in Paris itself but around 20 miles outside the city). I was a bit apprehensive about this because it’s peak season, but it turns out that you can still beat the queues by sticking to late nights and early mornings.

And if you are prepared to be separated from the kids then the single rider queue is a good way to get into popular rides quickly. We opted for this to try the newish Ratatouille ride because it was one of those ones where the queue never seems to go down. I enjoyed it, but I was glad I hadn’t waited an hour for it.disneyland paris

In complete contrast, Pere Lachaise cemetery is where the good and great come to be buried, and where tourists in black t shirts come for an alternative Parisian day out. Not so many queues here.

And I will devote a separate post to my visit to legendary house of skincare City Pharma because …well..it was quite the experience.

Until then, adieu!


  • Looks like you had a great time. I haven’t been to Paris (not including Disneyland) for over 20 years. Far too long, must rectify that x

    • Well this was my first visit for 20 years and it was great to revisit. Not much has changed.

  • I’ve just read a short story set in Paris, now I’ve seen your post I want to go there NOW.

    • Get on the train Sandy, it’s not so far away. I don’t think it’s the best place to visit with small children, since there is so much walking, but for older ones with more stamina it’s great.

  • I revisited Paris last year but did the traditional tourist thing in the centre, however I didn’t manage to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower but still want to and I didn’t fit in the Palace either, boy those queues scare me though. I wonder if out of season may be better to see it. Love the other tips too, a bookshop and a cemetery, intriguing.

    • Thanks for your comment Mari. You can beat the queues for the Tower if you book online, but you have to do so at least a couple of months in advance. Apparently Versailles is much less busy in the afternoons, but then you have less time to go round. The queue going in wasn’t too bad, but the crush inside the rooms was just too much. I kept thinking it would abate but it never did until we got outside. Glad we’ve seen it but wouldn’t do it again.

  • Loved this! I’m going to visit Paris next spring and I am already getting really excited about ‘City of Death’ location spotting 🙂

    • It’s fabulous, you will have so much fun. Make sure you read my other post about City Pharma, that place is definitely worth a visit. I really want to go back again now.