A Weekend In Paris
As you may/may not have seen on my Instagram, I went to Paris for my three year anniversary! That sounds very grown-up, doesn’t it? Whenever anyone has asked me how it was, I have replied that it was such a dream, because it was. I felt like we were in a beautiful cloud, and had escaped from reality just for a few days.
Before I went, I didn’t do masses of research – I had a few rough ideas of what I wanted to do and we had booked Disneyland, but I think just wandering the streets and finding little places to go was lovely in itself. But I thought I would break down what I did and why into a tidy little blog post, to hopefully be interesting and also handy if you are planning on going…
We travelled by Eurostar both ways, which was definitely a lot easier than going by plane! My main reason for picking the Eurostar was that the station was so close to our accommodation, but I didn’t realise how much more relaxed it was. We were running late, so we got to the check-in an hour before the train departed. Even still, we had time to get a cheesy croissant and a coffee before we departed. Delicious. On the way back the check-in was quite a bit stricter, with two rounds of passport scanning, but it was still a fairly seamless process.
To get to our apartment and to get around the city, of course, we used the metro. It has a very similar model to the London Underground, and after figuring out we needed to be on the Porte Dauphine line most of the time (or potato dauphinoise as we used to remember it), it was easy to hop on and off wherever Google maps told us. We saw some people using public bikes similar to the Boris ones which also looked like a good way to get around – but I haven’t ridden a bike in years so we didn’t do this.
When booking the Eurostar, we saw there was the option to have a package to have a discounted hotel price with the train ticket. This would have cost the same as booking an Airbnb and tickets separately, so we did wonder if we wanted that extra bit of luxury. But we decided to go for the Airbnb for an authentic experience. We stayed in this studio in Montmartre, which was lovely, and our host Catherine gave us lots of tips for places to eat and places to go.
I could not capture it well enough on camera, but the balcony outside the studio had the most amazing view. You had the Sacre Coeur to the left, rooftops of Parisian apartments and buildings in the middle, then right at the edge, you could see the Eiffel Tower. It was pretty windy during our stay so we couldn’t enjoy the view as much as we wanted, but we braved breakfast on the last day in woolly hats and coats. If you’re after a clean, homely, cosy base for your explorations, I really recommend this place. Mind you, it looks booked out most of the time…
Okay, yes, we went to Disneyland. Sorry, but I’m a child at heart. Being immersed in the playful, magical atmosphere was lots of fun. It was easy to get the Metro, but we didn’t realise that, like the Underground, the city is split into travel zones, and unfortunately we got fined as Disneyland is in Zone 5, whereas we got city travel tickets which were for Zones 1-2. Luckily we were able to plead with the guard to just fine us one ticket, but they were very scary and strict, so don’t make the same mistake! We got our tickets at AttractionTix which meant we paid kids prices for our park tickets, which was handy. My top tips for Disneyland are to buy your own ears beforehand as they cost 20 euros there, buy coffee sachets beforehand too and then bring your own cup, so all they have to do is top it up with (free) hot water, and pack your own lunch as the food is very overpriced. For a whole day of rides and entertainment, the cost was worth it. We were there 10-6, which was basically a working day, and that made us chuckle. All play, no work!
On Saturday we did a whistle-stop tour of all the touristy places – the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Luxembourg Gardens and the Louvre Pyramid. In between those points, we wandered around the streets, dipping into shops and just enjoying being in Paris. If you’re like me and enjoy taking snaps for the gram, I recommend finding spaces around the sites that aren’t as well-populated and getting photos there. This is what we did for the Eiffel Tower, where we went through the park opposite it rather than queueing to get into the gated section, and the Luxembourg Gardens, we found a little lake off the edge of the main area, rather than attempting to take a photo-filled with the tourists. We did this for the Sacre Coeur too – we found there was a back-street that had the back of the Sacre Coeur on it, and it barely had any people there. Sometimes though there is no short-cut and you have to wait your turn, unfortunately – just get ready to pose fast.
We wandered the streets of Montmartre on Sunday, having not realised before the Sacre Coeur was a ten-minute walk from our apartment. The streets were gorgeously rustic, and we sipped 2 euro mulled wine while again taking in the atmosphere. As is the tradition we had our picture drawn by a local artist. They can charge hundreds, and more than that in the main square, but we said we only had 30 euros, and the artist luckily was okay with that. Paris is famous for pick-pockets though, which I had read about beforehand, and in Montmartre, I felt a hand slide in mine. Luckily I had bought a bum-bag before my trip which fit my phone, cash and keys – I would definitely recommend getting one, as with cross-body bags, backpacks and pockets they can slash them easily and grab your stuff.
It was really easy to pack lots of places into three days, so if you thinking about going for a long weekend but worried about time, don’t. The metro makes it so easy to get around, but equally walking from place to place is easily doable too.
With Paris being a tourist attraction, the prices are a little steep in the central places, but there are quite a few with reasonable prices or ways to get around paying loads. On our first night, we went to Bouillon Pigalle, which was a packed eatery where you could have a cheap, tasty three-course meal. We opted for French onion soup for starters and what was basically a plate of cauliflower cheese for mains, which both had generous portions and were delicious. We got there around 6pm and queued for 15 minutes, but after 6:30pm the queue went all the way down to the end of the street.
On Saturday we ate out for every course, which was very much a treat. We didn’t spend our money going into tourist places or buying items (apart from some choccies to nibble on), as we preferred to spend our money eating. After visiting the Eiffel Tower, we looked for breakfast cafes (on Google) that had outdoor seating. We settled on Aux Cerises and had a basket of pastries and bread for two for 10 euros, and coffee for 2 euros. Nestled under the airy umbrellas, we were truly relaxed.
For lunch, we went to Deux Magots – an iconic restaurant in Saint Germain, infamous for its outdoor seating. It was Saturday and impossible to sit outdoors without waiting for 40 minutes, so we sat inside, which was beautifully ornate. We split a 20 euro cheeseboard and had a glass of wine each (8 euros!). Considering that their main meals were very expensive, I think we did quite well with enjoying the food – the cheeseboard had a variety of cheeses, all delicious – and not hurting our wallets.
Dinner wise, we went to Tien Hiang, on the recommendation of my Editor Ash. It was a vegan Chinese, and I think my stomach was glad to get some vegetables down it. Each dish was 8 euros, and we had a main and split a 6 euro starter platter. The seating was limited, so after a 30-minute queue we were seated and huddled in a corner, but the food made up for that completely. I had Satay Soup, which was nutty, flavoursome and had me wishing I had ordered another to take home.
As well as eating out we had some meals at home – including a three-course meal of camembert and crusty bread, gnocchi, and Crème Brulee on Valentine’s Day. It’s about finding the balance and deciding what you want to spend your money on really – being big foodies we wanted to eat out more, but if you enjoy shopping, art, or other things more or equally, of course, you can spread your money out how you choose.
I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. Great food, great experiences, and great company made this trip the absolute dream I mentioned at the start. It has given me the travelling bug, and I’d love to go to more places in the future and explore the world even more. For now, I’m scrimping and saving. But whenever I’m feeling demotivated or sad, I can look at my photos, sift through my souvenirs (cheese labels, receipts, postcards) and think about my next adventure.