Oh Paris – the romantic city, where you see everyone go in the movies! I have been to Paris once about 5 years ago in the depths of winter, it was so cold and I was so ill prepared that the majority of the photos I have from it, I have a giant black scarf wrapped around my head in some attempt to keep my eyes and nose warm. Earlier in the year when I noticed there was a bit of a Eurostar sale on, I thought it was time to tackle this huge city again and what better time, than over my birthday when I had booked time off work, so Paul and I booked our tickets and waited!
Now I do like the Eurostar, flying is always such a stressful, anxious time for me so the thought of just jumping on a train was much more preferable! I remember when I first went on the Eurostar I was amazed by it, but I do think that the Virgin trains to Manchester are actually nicer – I’ve been spoilt! The café to buy drinks was also terrible, Paul went off to buy me a birthday beverage in England, and by the time he came back we were in France, not ideal.
However, we arrived in the late afternoon feeling awake and excited! We were staying in one of the outer suburbs so grabbed some metro tickets (which is a bargain compared to the London tube, though definitely not as nice) and headed to the hotel to dump our stuff. Now the previous time I had been to Paris, I have lasting memories of not being able to find anywhere to eat and wandering about aimlessly, so I had asked Paul to book us into a couple of restaurants. The first was on the Friday evening so when we were ready we jumped back on the tube to the 18th arrondisement, now I have to say the 18th district of Paris is not the nicest, it is the red light district but we persevered and wandered about through some very dark back streets and ended up at Sacree Fleur. And oh my, it was amazing! It was a steak restaurant which had amazing reviews on trip advisor, firstly we stuffed ourselves on the free French bread, you just don’t get free bread in London anymore! Then dived into a couple of fillet steaks which were cooked amazingly – may have been on the rare side but tasted delicious, along with 3 sauces and some potatoes. We rounded off the meal by sharing some sorbet. Honestly, if you are in Paris this place is worth the trek.
It was only about 8 by the time we finished so we decided to head down to see the Eiffel Tower. It is a spectacular building, especially in the dark as the lighting really highlights the huge metal work. I’m not the biggest fan of tall buildings so we wandered about and had a walk along the river before heading back.
Saturday was my birthday! Woohoo, I have written a little post on it here. But essentially, I started the day with a fresh Pain Au Chocolat and it just got better from there. We decided to go for a walk through the centre of Paris and see what took us, so we headed to Notre Dame. This is a really beautiful church with gorgeous gardens near by the river, we had a wander around, going in to look at the impressive vaulted ceiling. After a quick detour to Sephora (of course!) we went to the Louvre. The Louvre just boggles my mind it is so huge and so full of gems (plus free if you’re under 26!), if I had a few days I would spend hours just wandering the halls. As we didn’t have that much time, we went around the History of the Louvre and then the huge Egyptian wing, as I do love anything Egyptian. It was then amazing to wander the halls and look at the beautiful ceilings. We popped our head in to the Mona Lisa, but to be honest I have never been too impressed with it and the hall is always stuffed full of tourists so we headed out.
After a rest, we headed out to our second amazing dinner, this one was just on the bank opposite the Notre Dame and it was amazing! I had prawns with avocado, then duck and we shared profiteroles for dessert (though to be fair I was too stuffed to eat many!). Following a wander around the river to walk off our amazing food, we went back to the hotel – an amazing birthday!
Sunday was our final day and we were getting the Eurostar at 8pm, after a very lazy morning which may have again involved Pain au Chocolat, we decided to go to the Paris Catacombes. Now I had heard such great things about the catacoumbes, which is essentially a giant ossuary in one of the quarries under ground Paris. But to be honest, it creeped me out quite a lot! You had to queue for about an hour to go in, then you headed deep down underground (which made me feel a bit claustrophobic) then just through mountains of bones. It isn’t the most enjoyable of experiences but I’m glad we went as it was interesting to see.
After the bone saga, I needed to do a bit of retail therapy so we got the metro to the Champs Elysee, by now the weather was getting pretty dreadful for the first time on the trip. But when we came out of the metro, we found the Paris Christmas Market! I do love me a Christmas market so we had a walk around and up to the Arc De Triomphe. I stopped off on the way at the biggest Sephora I have ever seen and a French pharmacie where I picked up some goodies – you can see my whole post on what I grabbed here.
Following our walk, we headed back to the hotel to collect our stuff and jumped back on the train to England. Now I did really enjoy my trip to Paris but overall it isn’t my favourite of the European cities, it is a bit too touristy and it just doesn’t hold the magic which I get when I was in places such as Prague and Barcelona. I think 2 days was an ideal amount of time and would be wary to suggest any more – the sites are beautiful but if you are heading to Europe definitely stop off but make sure you go a bit further afield!