After scrolling through my draft posts I came across this one from my birthday trip to Paris in 2017 and thought I’d finally finish it off and publish it. For my 25th birthday, my mam had booked for us to stay two nights in London to see the Royal Variety Performance followed by two nights in Paris, where I travelled on the Eurostar for the first time. Having never visited Paris before I was excited to explore the city and spend some quality time with my mam. As we were only there for a short period of time, we had to cram in as much as we could. Today I’m sharing what we got up to during the 48 hours we were in the French capital.
After a smooth journey on the Eurostar, we arrived at Gare Du Nord train station in Paris where we waited in the taxi queue outside with our luggage ready to be taken to our hotel.
TIP: Be aware of the men lurking around arrivals trying to get you to get in their cars. Although they may be completely genuine, they had no uniform, name badge or sign that made them look like a kosher taxi business. To avoid being overcharged and stay safe, we stood in the queue at the taxi rank outside the station, even if that meant waiting a while longer.
Once we arrived at our hotel and unpacked our cases we decided to go for a wander in hope to find the Christmas markets and explore the area around our hotel. Unfortunately we were a week too early for the Christmas markets which we hadn’t realised until I’d dragged my mam around for a few miles in her new trainers that were cutting into her poor feet (sorry mam!). After realising we were searching for a non-existent market, we stopped in a quaint bar for some well earned cocktails before grabbing some food from Le Cardinal on our way back to the hotel for an early night.
Our only full day to explore Paris was washed out with rain so we decided to get the hop on hop off bus to see the sights without getting soaked through. I love that you can spend the day getting off the bus at the points you find interesting and then simply hop back on to finish the route as and when you please. Another highlight to the hop on hop off buses is that you get headphones where you can listen to a tour guide explain the history of the city and give you more information about the monuments and buildings you pass along the way.
One of our first stops was Champs-Elysées which even in the rain was just beautiful. Thought to be one of the world’s most beautiful avenues with more than 300,000 visitors a day, the perfectly symmetrical street is a shoppers haven with everything from high street favourites to luxurious high end designer stores. They even had shops that have disappeared from UK high streets such as Morgan, a woman’s clothing brand that my mam used to love! There is also a huge multi-storey H&M shop and it was interesting to learn they really struggled to get approval of opening a flagship store on Champs-Elysées due to it not fitting into the usual ‘high end’ persona of the street and it potentially lowering the tone of the avenue!
It was amazing to see the Notre-Dame cathedral in the flesh after spending my childhood obsessed with Esmeralda and the movie The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. The architecture of the building is phenomenal, just like all of the other buildings in Paris. We also passed the Louvre museum in the bus which I struggled to get a good picture of due to the crowds and being on a moving bus! If given more time and had the weather of been better, I would have liked to walk around these famous sights.
During a chilly morning stroll to one of the many French coffee shops dotted around the city we stumbled upon the incredible department store, Galeries Lafayette. I’d not heard of it before our visit but it had the most beautiful Christmas window displays which drew us in and enticed us to have a wander around the store itself.
I was mesmerised by the beautiful dome glass roof that was decorated with colourful balloons in the shape of sweets, stars and doughnuts that danced wonderfully around a giant Christmas tree made from the same balloons. There was tonnes of brands within the department store with varied price ranges, I’d say Galeries Lafayette was much like a French version of our Selfridges or Harrods stores in London.
Driving over one of the many beautiful bridges in Paris, I just loved these market stalls selling everything from souvenirs to beautiful paintings, there was a number of these stalls dotted across the bridge which folded up nicely into metal containers when they were closed for the day.
With it being my first visit to Paris, I just had to go up the Eiffel Tower! Despite the poor weather conditions we decided to take the plunge and go up in hope we would get a drink and some lunch at the top – we were under the impression we could eat up there but we couldn’t find the restaurant, perhaps we needed a different ticket to gain access to it?
After a scary journey to the top (I was surprised by how scared I actually was going in the vertical lift up the leg of the Eiffel Tower!), we realised there was only a little window where you could buy drinks in plastic cups and you had to drink them outside. The wind was absolutely terrible so we didn’t stay up there for long. It was great to see Paris from above but I bet it would be much more beautiful on a warm sunny day with blue skies!
Although I enjoyed my time in Paris, I didn’t fall in love with it like most people do. I’m not sure if it was because of the unfortunate weather we had and the fact we didn’t have an awful lot of time to explore but I also found the French residents to be rude and unwelcoming. I would like to go back in the future in the summer months to see if it can win me over.