There are a few things in this world that never seem to get old –
- ‘It wasn’t me’ by Shaggy;
- Mean Girls; and
- Mini breaks to Paris.
My latest trip was particularly brief, and considering how many times I had been fortunate enough to visit Paris before, I thought that I could relax a little more than last time. I was wrong. No matter how many times I visit Paris, I seem to want to start from scratch with every single trip.
On this occasion, I travelled with a group of friends from work, who will be known as ‘Chicken Legs’, ‘Sweet Sauce’ and ‘Louboutin’.
Accommodation: Hotel Elysee Union
After arriving very sleep deprived in beautiful Paris and haggling over room arrangements with the very helpful concierge at Hotel Elysee Union, we went straight for the main tourist destination – The Eiffel Tower. Although the Eiffel Tower was within sight of our hotel, it was still a fairly long walk and so it might have been a better idea to use the metro. The closest stop to the Eiffel Tower is Champ de Mars (which is on the RER; a train system used interchangeably with the metro).
While the Eiffel Tower itself is spectacular to look at, especially next to the glistening River Seine, the tourist code demands that you take the lift to the top and enjoy the view of Paris, even if you’ve done it ten times before. For a lift to the top, tickets cost €13.50 for those under the age of 24 (with ID), and €15.50 for adults. The queue for tickets and lift entry was incredibly long, but we managed to pass the time by people watching and enjoying some of the entertainers that were performing around us. We also enjoyed the fear in Sweet Sauce’s eyes, as her rampant ornithophobia took hold and she ran from pigeons while screaming various expletives.
Once we got up to the top, Paris’ movie-like charms seemed to melt away our tiredness and we basked in the French sunshine together. Paris is known as one of the most romantic cities in the world, and this was probably true for one particular couple who decided to get engaged in front of us! Being effortlessly uncool, we managed to disturb the moment for newly engaged couple by shrieking in excitement and Chicken Legs flinging herself at them in a moment of joy. It’s still nice to know that we will have played our part in their engagement story for as long as they tell it!
Once we were finished enjoying the views and frightening couples in love, we then decided to head back to the hotel for some rest. However, this plan was quickly scuppered when Chicken Legs and I realised we were incapable of relaxation when in such an exciting city. So while Sweet Sauce and Louboutin napped, we snuck out to check out the famous Arc de Triomphe and Champs Élysées. We also decided to indulge in one of Paris’ most traditional treats; the humble crepe.
In the evening, our hotel concierge recommended the Latin Quarter, aka San Michel, for a vibrant place to have dinner. Being quite overwhelmed by the noise and commotion of the area, I don’t think we made the best choices for our meal and ended up in a generic tourist trap restaurant which served us some quite bland and boring food. Nonetheless, it was good to experience the hustle and bustle of Paris’ night life (even if it was from afar) and see the Notre Dame all lit up.
Awake and refreshed, we began our second day in Paris with a visit to Sacré Coeur. For the first time during the trip, we used Paris’ metro system. This was fairly inexpensive to use with a day pass, and as someone who is still occasionally caught off guard by the London underground (despite 24 years of experience), it was pleasantly simple.
Sacré Coeur is a Roman Catholic church and basilica which is situated at the highest point of the city. The views from the top of the hill were unparalleled and we managed to catch a service going on inside the church. The sound of the nuns and choirboys singing, as well as the general atmosphere of love and community, made for quite an emotional experience.
In stark contrast, our next stops were Montmartre and the Moulin Rouge. Montmatre is often branded as a ‘seedy’, ‘dangerous’ and ‘uncomfortable’ neighbourhood. While the plethora of ‘specialist’ shops were not exactly to my taste… ahem… I wouldn’t have considered it an unsafe place to visit, or even an area best avoided with children. The shops looked appropriate enough from the outside and we were able to walk around without any issues (albeit in broad daylight). Chicken Legs and I even got to indulge in our love of falafel and grab a wrap from one of the many street vendors in this area.
For those expecting all of the exuberance of the movie ‘Moulin Rouge!’, the real place could be seen as a little disappointing in comparison. The Moulin Rouge is said to be the birth place of the modern can-can dance and a leader in the field of cabaret. Today however, it seems to exist as a shell of its former self, catering more towards tourists seeking a bit of cheeky late night entertainment. However, for an external view and a Kodak moment, it was well worth the visit.
We ended the afternoon with a quick trip back to Champs Élysées in order to explore some of the high street fashion on offer, before catching our train back to St Pancras.
During my penultimate visit to Paris in 2011, I also visited the Louvre (something which I had to miss on my latest trip due to time constraints). For museum lovers such as myself, the Louvre is one of the top five museums you should visit in your lifetime. It holds masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, as well as a large section of historical artefacts from across the globe. The museum can easily take an entire day to fully explore, and general entry costs €12 for adults.
Paris is a city that I could visit 100 times and never get bored of. Whether you’re visiting for relaxation or tourism, there is a feeling in the air that you can’t capture anywhere else. It is truly unique.
Thanks for reading,
~ Plane Emoji