CITY OF LOVE?

IN PARIS, FRANCE

 

Bonjour! So the last time I travelled to France I was but a grumpy teenager and really didn’t appreciate much of, well anything. So when John told me he was taking me to the city of love I was beyond excited. We had often debated travelling to Paris throughout the years, but thought it, too expensive and preferred to spend our money travelling further away.

We hopped on the first Eurostar train from Kings Cross on a Saturday, which I actually wouldn’t recommend you do. Getting through security was a bit of a nightmare and of course we were so tired by the time we got to Paris all we wanted to do was hit the sack! Arriving at Gare du Nord, I was shocked to see how rundown the station looks. As the weather was so nice we decided to walk to our airbnb. On the way I couldn’t help but notice how many homeless people there were and how strongly the streets smelt of wee! My first impression of Paris was that it was a bit grimy. But thankfully that thought didn’t last long.
The further away we walked from the station though the more pleasant it became. We passed many bakeries and my heart was happy to see streets lined with apartment buildings with cute balconies. Although check-in time for our airbnb wasn’t until 3pm, we were able to leave our suitcases in the apartment at noon, which we have done many times. So make sure to ask your host! My only tip would be to lock your suitcases.
* Our airbnb was really great by the way and I would highly recommend booking (click here to check it out) It was only a 10 minute walk away from the Louvre and next to many bakeries/ restaurants. 

Louvre 

After we dropped off our bags we walked… ok, we ran to see the famous Louvre palace and glass pyramid. I was a little underwhelmed but probably because of the sheer amount of tourists and I was running on 4 hours of sleep. When we came back the next morning at 6am. Yes thats right I said 6am! Nobody was around. We had it all to ourselves and it was wonderful. I truly got to appreciate the beautiful surroundings and just got to soak it all up. We took our time taking photos and then sat down to watch a couple taking their wedding photos. Before we knew it, it was nearly 9am and lines quickly started to form to get into the museum. We joined, paid our 15 euros admission fee each and like everyone else, did a quick run to see Leonardo Di Vincis, Mona Lisa. Now be prepared when visiting to get pushed and shoved by fellow tourists trying to get a photo. I had to have stern words with a lady for hitting me in the head twice with her camera! She was very apologetic and I do think everybody gets caught up in the mania. So try not to take it personally! After that we strolled around the museum and I was impressed with not only the many beautiful collections of artwork but by also the amazing building that houses them. Don’t forget to look up because the ceilings are seriously stunning.
* If you are under 26 years old admission is free (boo hoo for us!) If you are not planning on visiting early morning aka as soon as it opens, I do recommend you buy tickets beforehand as lines do get busy. It is the worlds second most visited art museum in the world!

Eiffel Tower

What can I say about the Eiffel tower that hasn’t already been said? It really should be on everybody’s bucket list who has not yet seen it. We chose not to go up, as we had in the past and agreed it wasn’t needed. I enjoy the view of Paris with the Eiffel tower actually in it. If you do have the time I suggest packing a picnic and enjoying lunch here as there are many places you could choose to sit and enjoy the view. There are many, many places in Paris where you can get a fantastic view of the Eiffel tower so don’t feel stressed about timing.
*Do be aware as always in tourist areas of pickpockets!

Arc De Triomphe

I read before visiting that here has one of the best views of Paris and I can confirm that it is well worth a visit. We got here late afternoon and although the line was fairly long we only waited for 20 minutes. We paid 12 euros each and then proceeded to climb the very narrow stairway to the top. I wouldn’t say it was a struggle but it did leave me a bit out of breath, there were ALOT of stairs! Once at the top though the 360 degree view was impressive. Of course there was a crowd taking selfies with the Eiffel tower in the distance but do be sure to look down at the  famous ‘most dangerous roundabout’ which surrounds the Arc. I spent ages traffic watching. It was fascinating to see the organised chaos! I did want to stay until sunset to see the city lights and of course the Eiffel tower sparkle but because we visited in July the sun didn’t set until very late.

Notre Dame

I’m so gutted because we actually didn’t get a chance to go inside. The line was ridiculously long every single time we passed by. But the building was still beautiful to look at from the outside. Do walk along the river Seine to get a less crowded view. Also across the river, opposite Notre Dame are stalls full of very cheap souvenirs. Very close to the Notre Dame is also Saint Chapelle. Again we didn’t get a chance this time to go inside because of the crazy lines. But do look it up and add to your itinerary if you can, because the reviews are really good and look at these photos of the stained glass windows, amazing right?

I can’t end the post without mentioning the food we tried. We were on a  budget so unfortunately didn’t have a chance to try any fancy french cuisine but we did manage to find a few places that I will recommend. We are Londoners but I was suprised with how expensive everything costs. Do buy drinks/snacks from supermarkets to keep you going (Carrefour, Franprix) it will save you money. When I asked our airbnb host for breakfast recommendations he said, French people don’t really eat a big breakfast just coffee and a pastry. And when we did stumble across a place that did a full breakfast (pancakes, bacon etc) the cost was 24 euros each! We put our jackets on and left that place so quick! 

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Stoher- We had no idea it was such a famous find. It was founded by chef Nicholas Stoher in 1730, who made desserts for the royals! We were looking for lunch and were pulled in with the amazing, mouth watering looking desserts. We did buy the traditional ham, cheese salad baguette which was tasty. But my goodness the raspberry tart that we gobbled up was ridiculously delicious, and I don’t even like tarts! We visited again and tried the praline eclair and again it was seriously yummy. I highly recommend you put this high up on your list of places to go in Paris! I wanted to try everything but at over 5 euros for each dessert, we just couldn’t.

La Crepe Dentelle- This crepe place was actually recommend by a friend and I’m so happy we tried. We came for lunch and found it budget friendly. For 12 euros you can get a main, dessert (all crepe based obviously) and a drink. I chose the classic crepe filled with ham, cheese and egg and really liked enjoyed. The staff were also so friendly and welcoming, which is such a bonus especially in Paris!

Berthillion- Type in ‘best ice cream in Paris’ and for sure this place will pop up everywhere. We waited in line for around 30 mins! It was obvious to spot as the line was so long. We came on a very hot nearly 30 degree, Sunday afternoon. We did consider not trying as we have never waited in a line so long for just ice-cream, but then we came to our senses and joined because of its famous reputaion. I was gutted pistachio flavour was not available but happy with my choice of raspberry sorbet and salted caramal. I ate it up lightening speed, mostly because it was delicious but also it was melting so fast, we had all of  30 seconds to get a photo! And yes i’m well aware that it is not the most photogenic ice cream, we all laughed at the scoop sizes BUT don’t let this fool you as the taste more than makes up for this.
* Open Wednesday – Sunday!! Be sure to visit the right store as few in the are have a similar name.

 

Boulangerie Julien- We picked up a pistachio and raspberry eclair from here last minute on our way home and it was scrumptious. I saw the reviews online and for sure thought the place would be packed but it wasn’t. There were many desserts to choose from and honestly although they weren’t as expensive looking as others we had seen, the eclair was perfection. John and I are still swooning over it now!

Happy Nouilles- I found this place when looking up cheap places to eat that weren’t too far from our airbnb. We were tired and wanted something filling to eat which didn’t cost a fortune. This ticked all the box’s. The cooking felt very homely, with handmade Chinese noodles. I really enjoyed and woofed down the beef and chicken chow mien I ordered. I tried Johns spicy beef noodle soup and it was really good too although not really that spicy. Come here If you like homely chinese food and are on a budget.

All in all, I had such a great time discovering Paris. I love that there were many, many places to see and things to do. I will definitely return to actually see inside Notre Dame, Saint Chappelle and also the Orangerie museum to lay my eyes on Monet’s water lilies. I felt like we didn’t have enough time to relax and truly wander about so suggest booking as much time as you can. If it wasn’t such a struggle to find budget friendly accommodation (even on airbnb) and if the food wasn’t so expensive then I could really see myself travelling here more often in the future. John and I mostly travelled by foot but I do recommend getting the metro, which is very easy to navigate. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Paris getaway which is all about our trip to the place of every kids dreams, and actually mine too… Disneyland. Was it a magical experience? Well you may be surprised with my thoughts… 

J
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