A Weekend in Paris

 

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Back in February, my cousin and I went to Paris.

 

This all came about when my cousin asked me if I’d like to go and I jumped at the chance. Ive never been to Paris and have only been to France when I was a child with school. After planning and planning and planning the day finally arrived. We had stayed in London the night before with family and caught the first Eurostar out in the morning. I had some reservations about the Eurostar purely to do with the whole going under the sea thing but it was lovely. We arrived into Gare du Nord around lunch time and our hotel was nearby. I would thoroughly recommend out hotel. It was close to the station, close to the metro and had lots of tasty restaurants nearby. So, if you want a clean, well presented and cheap hotel check out Hotel Albert Premier (http://www.hotelalbertpremier.com/en/).

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After dumping our bags at the hotel, we ventured out towards the Eiffel tower. If you know Paris at all, you’ll know Gare du Nord is quite a long way from the Eiffel tower. We had brought the Paris Pass which includes a Metro pass but ours was only valid for 3 days and we were there for 4 so we decided to walk there. It was soon obvious that we were not the best at directions especially with one map and limited data on our phones. Whilst walking the streets of Paris we went through many different places: some lovely; some interesting shall we say. Eventually we got to the Eiffel tower. It sounds stupid but I was genuinely shocked at how big it actually is and what a funny colour it is. When you look at photos of the Eiffel tower you cannot contemplate the sheer size of it and how a city can have such a striking monument? Hannah and I decided we were going to go to the top so queued for a while then caught the lift to the top. The views were worth every penny. They were breath-taking. We slowly worked our way down to the bottom. Once we had seen it  we ticked that off the bucket list and  we wandered over to the Palace Du Trocadero. We didn’t currently know where we had walked to except that it was an impressive bit of building. We caught the Metro back to the hotel as by this time our feet were broken and we went to explore Gare du Nord for some food!!

 

Day 2 was far more successful and I began to fall in love with Paris. We got up super early and got straight onto the Metro to Bastille.  It was a beautiful sunny day but rather chilly and the Place De Le Bastille was flooded with light and looked amazing. I love how Paris has so many gold statues around. We then headed along to the Notre Dame. Breath-taking. We instantly fell in love with the building, the stained-glass windows are amazing.  In our English churches we see pictures of stories from the bible and it’s beautiful; however, Paris bumps it up quite a few notches. The colours, the patterns, the different shapes were mesmerising. We walked round the cathedral looking at all the different windows and the architecture. If you’ve never been you must go! Once we had finished there we went off to Sainte-Chapelle. The benefit of having our Paris pass was that we skipped the queue too. This little chapel in the middle of the court buildings was beautiful again and similarly to Notre Dame has some stunning stained glass. They are currently in the process of taking damaged sections of the glass cleaning it and restoring it to its original beauty. Everything in this building from floor to ceiling was beautiful and very intricate.

 

Next on Day 2’s list was the Louvre. This was one of the best line skips of the whole trips, with our Paris Pass we sailed past at least an hour’s queue to get straight in. It’s big and a tad overwhelming. I can’t say my art knowledge is overly high apart from liking Monet and Degas. I’m not that worried. We decided we should go and see the very famous Mona Lisa… what can I say. DISAPPOINTMENT. She’s small, not an overly exciting picture. After a wander around we decided to leave. We met my friend who lives and works in Paris for lunch. After lunch, we went on an open top bus tour. We initially went on the wrong one and went around the north section of Paris up to Montmartre, past Gare du Nord (where we were staying!!) but then jumped on the next which was to the Champs-Elysees and up to the Arc de Triomphe. We were frozen by now so quickly had a look round the top, and love how from the Arc de Triomphe there are all the roads leading to it in a star. We then went to the Renaultbar which was bizarre but doing 2 for 1 cocktails as we warmed up. Then dinner before we went to watch my friend Laura dance in the Lido. If you go to Paris I would say splash out the money and go to the Lido. It’s quite the spectacular, the dances, acts, costumes, set and everything about it was magnificent. I’m a dancer so I appreciated that side of it and my cousin has not danced and she loved it too.

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Day 3 was a different kind of adventure. We took the train out to Versailles. Versailles has been on my list of places I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. My love of large stately homes has grown and watching films about the garden being designed meant I really wanted to go. Once we got there we realised how obscenely big it is. It is insane. The house was busy, it took ages to get in (they didn’t let us skip the line with our Paris passes…not impressed). Once in and fighting the crazy people videoing themselves walking round the palace???? we saw the stunning interiors. As I’m training to be an interior designer it made my heart sing. There was a lot of marble which was a tad over the top but then again if you had that much money, why the hell not. The hall of mirrors was my favourite room. For every window, there is a mirror opposite so as well as being amazingly light and bright it felt like a never-ending room. The gardens were nice but as it was February the water features weren’t on; the statues were covered and everything seemed a bit grey. We wandered around for a while and looked at Marie Antionette’s house on the estate. Once finished walked back to the station and back to Paris.

 

 We filled our time going to the aquarium (also another good one to do because of the Paris pass and queue jumping), we went on a boat ride which was delightful to watch Paris go by and see everything we had visited the days before. Wine tasting and then we then travelled over to the Montparnasse tower. Another highlight of the trip. The queue took a while but  of course it was 7pm on Valentine’s night and Hannah and myself who were trying to avoid the romance were smack –  bang in a very romantic situation with a lot of nervous twitchy men. We were trying to guess which ones were going to pop the question. Once we were up the top, which is HIGH! the views were stunning. Paris by night is just breath taking and the Eiffel tower looks gorgeous. Amazingly I remembered that a friend had told me on the hour the Eiffel tower does a light display so we hung around for a while in the cold. It was worth the wait. If you do one thing in your life watching the Eiffel tower sparkle on the hour was magical!!! DO IT! I want to go again and even writing this blog has got me pining for Paris.

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Day 4. Our last and final day. We stayed in the north of Paris so set off very early to the Sacre-Coeur. We got the so early not many people were there. It was beautiful and the view from outside was lovely. It was a very hot day which was a surprise as we were dressed in coats and boots and we were not prepared for 15 degrees and sunshine. We walked round Montmartre and got a caricature done which is hilarious and although I did have my reservations about it, it sits proudly on my wall in my living room and it reminds me of what a wonderful adventure I had with my cousin. We wandered around after making the most of our Paris Pass and went to the wax works museum, chocolate museum and then sat and ate lunch outside. It was a lovely way to finish our trip before we collected our suitcases and boarded the train.

 

Paris was far more than I ever thought it would be. I fell in love with it and I will make sure I go back. I’m so thankful for going on such a wonderful trip with the perfect traveling companion, even if our sense of direction was not great.

 

J’aime Paris

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