Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Capital Hopping : London and Paris

Without question, two European capitals on the top of everyone’s must-see travel list are London and Paris. The two cities offer visitors a plethora of tourist attractions ranging from historic buildings and landmarks to fine dining and exciting nightlife, and they’re easily accessible to the rest of Europe. Making the most of your experience in both cities requires a little planning. Here’s what you can expect from your capital hopping adventure in London and Paris:

London

London is a city that makes history exciting. There, your list of historical activities might range from watching the tradition of the Changing of the Guard outside of Buckingham Palace to attending a show at the Globe Theatre to coming face-to-face with historical figures of yore at the quirky Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. You could also join in the thousand-year-old tradition of shopping at Borough Market—home to an impressive selection of British and international produce—or partake in London’s current food revolution by sampling its fare: head to the curry houses on Brick Lane or the restaurants in Chinatown for ethnic, or go gourmet at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant.

The Tower Bridge in London:

One of the major drawbacks often attributed to London travel is cost. However, London has plenty of free attractions, most notably its world-class museums and galleries including the British Museum, Tate Modern, the National Gallery, and the Natural History Museum. Buy a pay-as-you-go Oyster Card for cheap rides on the Tube, and take the Euro Train for fast and affordable travel to your next destination: Paris.

Paris

Paris is a city with style. Not only will you find it in the city’s impressive display of architectural landmarks—from the heights of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower to the intricate details of Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame Cathedral—you’ll also see it in the shop windows, and in the trendy garb of passersby. For this reason, in Paris, a visit to the Faubourg Saint-HonorĂ© or the Marais shopping district is just as essential as a stop in Concorde Square.

But as with your visit to London, your Paris excursion doesn’t have to break the bank. The beauty of great architecture is that it can be enjoyed from outside, rather than having to pay a pricy entrance fee. As for the fashion, check out one of the free fashion shows held every Friday at the Galeries Lafayette, and wait to do your shopping at Paris Flea Markets, where you’ll find plenty of discounted and vintage items to browse.

Another great tip for travel to London and Paris is to plan your visit during the shoulder season—November, April, or May. Your budget will reap the benefits of lower airfares and hotel rates, and in most cases the weather will still be bearable.



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