- 22 Oct, 2017
A WEEKEND IN PARIS
Paris: A refined capital fuelled by great cheese and even better wine; an untiring magnet for art and cultivation connoisseurs; a romantic place for lovers... Or, a place for a weekend jaunt for a Manchester girl to spend some down time with four of her best friends.
Originally planned as a trip for two with my super BFF, I was thinking something along the lines of a relaxed few days strolling the avenues of Paris, taking in the Parisian culture, capturing the famed sites and indulging in iconic French food.
Yet we decided to invite along with us 3 more of my closest friends. The heaviest drinkers, and by far the most boisterous of the bunch (and they won’t mind me saying that at all) which led me to ponder; Will this be a mad dash around the Champs-Élysées, flirting with Frenchmen, downing too much wine and, whilst crawling back to our apartment at 4am, end up being sick in the Seine..?
It did, in the end, turn out to be a fantastic mixture of the two.
Beautiful apartment kindly rented to us by Richard. You can rent this apartment on Air BnB here
Our beautiful Parisian apartment was situated on Rue de Grenelle in the 7th Arrondissement; a ritzy residential neighbourhood with the Eiffel Tower and its Champs de Mars park just 300m away. Tourists tend to be put off staying in such central areas, but with Rue Cler, an energetic market street jam-packed with vibrant restaurants and cafés and gourmet shops, just next door – it was a foodie haven and perfect for me and my friends.
Amongst the most iconic landmarks in the world The Eiffel Tower was our first stop. We had pre-booked tickets to go up to the top (tip: this is always advisable as the ticket queues are HUGE and you would easily waste hours of your day) But, delays getting in to Paris from CDG in the morning rush hour meant that we missed our slot. No harm done, and instead we took some photos in front of it.
The Eiffel Tower
Next we headed to the stunning River Seine to board a Bateaux Parisien; An excellent way to get to see a lot of historic Paris from a few different angles and, perfect if you don’t have the time to walk around them all.
Bateaux Parisien; A Seine River Cruise
Nicole, Me, Amy, Justine (and Jenny in the background taking a pic)
An hour later, feeling refreshed and with horrendously windswept (worzel gummidge-esque) boat hair, we grabbed a Croque Monsieur from a street vendor and walked towards the Champs-Élysées to ogle at the Chanel’s, the Louis’, the Dolce’s and the Dior’s. Of course, no sales assistant in their right mind would have let us into their store nor did we have funds for a luxury shopping spree, so we headed towards the Arc de Triomphe.
We didn’t fancy dying on our trip to Paris so we took the underground pass to avoid the 12 avenue, 6 lane death trap that is the Place Charles de Gaulle Roundabout. With car horns honking every 3 seconds we saw some very near misses, but on that particular day all motorists seem to have escaped with their lives.
The monument itself is breath-taking. It honours the soldiers who fought and died in the French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars and World War I and is an almost sombre experience. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a sight to behold.
The Arc de Triomphe
In the afternoon we found ourselves at Montmartre. Nestled in the very bohemian 18th arrondissement, this hilly neighbourhood was the perfect place to stop for a glass of Vin or three. Le Progres; A quaint café and wine bar on the corner of Rue Yvonne Le Tac & Rue des Trois Frères came highly recommended by a friend and did not disappoint.
Sitting atop Montmartre is the awe-inspiring Basilica of Sacré-Cœur, the next stop on our walking tour. Tipsy, we headed up the many steps to the top, where the views overlooking the city are paramount.
Arriving at yet another desired Parisian spot, the Musée du Louvre, it was safe to say that every single one of us were in awe of its contemporary yet classical beauty and, in true tourist fashion, we all posed for the subsequent coveted shot:
What absolute dickheads
Having researched ahead, I knew we wouldn’t have the time to go into the Louvre itself. Usually underestimated by day-trippers it’s colossal in size and would easily have taken us half a day to even see the best parts, let alone every exhibit. It’s definitely on my list for next time.
Musée du Louvre
With the night time approaching we headed to the seedy Pigalle area of Paris. Home to the Parisian red light district this tourist trap was bursting with sex shops, shows and of course, the iconic Moulin Rouge. As much as I’d have relished watching a show of theatrical gimmickry, incredible Can Can dancing and of course, BOOBS, tickets were expensive and difficult to get hold of for our Friday night in Paris. So instead we took photos of the iconic windmill and danced around the streets singing to ‘Roxxxxxanne’.
The Moulin Rouge
Ooh la la
It was safe to say that our first day was definitely a whistle-stop tour of Paris, and as we walked down the banks of the River Seine we stopped to admire the most incredible view of the twinkly Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Arriving back to our apartment (via a local supermarket for bread, cheese and copious bottles of wine) a much more civilised evening unfolded than I had originally imagined. We enjoyed our first Parisian night in the living room and balcony of our gorgeous apartment, chatting, laughing, storytelling and getting quite merry. J’adore.
The day we had all been waiting for was finally here. The 5 of us being huge Disney nerds we donned our Mickey Mouse ears and boarded the RER to Marne-la-Vallée –Chessy with the final destination being the most magical place on earth, Disneyland. Now I know what you're thinking... 'Aren't you almost 30?!'
Well, yes I am but you're never too old for the magic of Disney. And as Walt Disney himself once said, "Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.” Yes, Walt.
Autumn had definitely arrived at Disneyland Paris and we found the foggy October morning to be quite nippy. But filled with giddiness and adrenaline for the fantastic day that lay ahead our six year old selves came out as we skipped towards the gates of the Disneyland Park.
Don't worry, it brightened up around lunch time!
My friend, Jenny has never been one for rides, so quickly became the handbag lady whilst the rest of us jumped on a few rollercoasters. The first one being, of course, Space Mountain.
Next up was the daytime parade, followed by lots more fun, frolicking and a few more attractions...
And an incredible way to end the day...
We grabbed petit dejunier at L’éclair on Rue Cler. This cute cafe served traditional french cuisine and incredible coffee. Channeling our inner 15 year olds, we tapped into our GCSE French and tried our very best to order from an all French menu. It seems we were successful as we all received what we had hoped for.
We just had time to squeeze in a visit to Notre Dame before leaving for the airport. Situated on the Ile de la Cité - the oldest part of the city - Notre Dame is both the symbolic and geographical heart of Paris. On approach I couldn’t help but admire the exquisite exterior. The striking stained glass windows, the group of gaggling gargoyles, it really is one of the most exemplary pieces of Gothic architecture anywhere in the world.
Having seen just a limited few of the highlights of Paris in just a weekend, it’s become apparent, like any other city it would take months and months to see and do everything. It really is impossible to try to see all of Paris on one trip, but I plan to head back time and time again. I can honestly say I fell in love in Paris. With the city itself.
The deets (in case you’re interested):
Flights: MCR – CDG £100 return with Easy Jet (Oct 2016)
Accomodation: Air BnB £380 for 2 nights (£38.30 each per night) Much less than a hotel would have cost!
Travel: We each purchased a 3-day Paris Transport pass (zones 1 to 5) at €59.20 each (around £50) This gave us travel to and from the airport plus Metro and RER trains around the city for the weekend. It also covered our fare out to Disneyland too.