Oh Paris. Je t’aime. What can I write about the city of love ‘n’ lights that hasn’t already been said?
A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.
– Thomas Jefferson
The weekend before Valentine’s (because hello much cheaper fares, duh) and courtesy of a seriously babin’ sale on eurostar.com, me and him packed our bags for Paris.
Aside from going in The Chunnel (LOL I’m old) in its opening year, back in 1994, and a couple of fleeting business trips, I’ve never really done Paris properly. As in: I’d never seen the Eiffel Tower IRL.
So I was pretty excited about this little jaunt, to say the least. I even made a ‘what to pack for Paris’ board on Pinterest in an attempt to look like a chic Parisian girl. And still ended up wearing the same bloody jacket and hat I wrote about being surgically attached to here.
Around two hours after leaving London, we were in gay (grey, rainy) Paree! By the time we got a taxi to our hotel, night had fallen so we decided to head straight for dinner.
We were on our way to a restaurant recommended by the hotel when we stumbled across a charming little place called Le P’tit Troquet (literally less than a block away, half way down rue de l’Exposition).
This retro bistro dining room certainly was petite, but very perfectly formed – and especially the food!
Dining on delicious scallops and beautiful beef bourguignon, washed down with excellent red wine, there was only one way to end the evening: catching my first ever glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.
We wandered around the block and she was teasing us for a bit – I could see her head poking over the top of buildings, then suddenly we turned a corner and ooh la la, THERE SHE WAS. She’d put on her sparkling evening finery and err’ythang.
After taking approx 983489 photos from every angle, we headed back to base – the Hotel de la Paix. While the room was barely big enough to swing le chat, it was clean, cute and only five mins away from bae (the Eiffel Tower).
On the first morning, we woke early – why snooze when you’re in PARIS?! – opened the shutters to the view above, then scoffed some croissants washed down with hardcore coffee in the hotel’s breakfast area in the basement and headed towards the River Seine to start exploring.
The Parisian air was crisp but not too cold. Perfect weather for walkin’ (and Instagrammin‘). Particularly this place:
Pastel-hued buildings WIN at Instagram. So do macaroons but… I don’t actually like them that much. Does that make me a bad blogger? Oh well.
From one Parisian landmark (LOL) to another, we strolled down the western end of the Champs-Élysées to take in the magnifique Arc de Triomphe.
We couldn’t resist climbing up the 284 stairs for the perfect eyeful (Eiffel?) of Paris.
She so fine.
We headed east back up the Champs-Élysées, past Place de la Concorde, to the 2nd arrondissement AKA the theatre district of Paris, making a pit-stop in a typically French bar (although probably totally geared towards tourists like us).
Feeling refreshed after drinks ‘n’ snacks, we then used our last legs to carry us to the cusp of the 9th and 18th arrondissements to a certain sexy red windmill…
Voulez vous couchez avec moi?
Sadly, I didn’t realise how close we were to picturesque Montmartre but tbh I’m not sure I could have made it up the hill at this stage as we’d walked blaaady MILES. Something to add on the list for next time.
After getting snap happy, it was time to retrace our steps back towards the hotel, salivating at all the window displays en route.
I also managed to turn any pit-stop into a photo opportunity with me an’ you know who <3
For dinner that evening, we actually made it to the place the guy in the hotel had recommended: La Fontaine de Mars. It’s one of the oldest traditional brasseries in Paris, all red checked tableclothes, big bulb lamps and deep cherry wood panelling.
It ain’t cheap (like, at all – apparently President Obama dined here a few years back, so…) but the service was off-the-scale impeccable, and the food was sensational. I’d recommend booking in advance as opposed to sauntering in at 8pm like we did, although the amazing maître d’ managed to seamlessly accommodate us.
The sign of a good night is being so engrossed, so in the moment, you forget to take any photos, right? Good.
The next day we decided to walk along the river and up to the Notre-Dame.
Passing riverside stall-holders and accordion players en route, we mostly powered along the 5k route courtesy of copious cups of strong AF French coffee.
I didn’t realise there are two natural islands on the Seine river in the centre of Paris, and they’re right next to each other. Cool story bro!
The towering Gothic cathedral was suitably impressive, but overrun with tourists (yes, aware of the #IRONY) and it was all a bit manic. I was more taken by all the little chirping brown sparrows, nestled in the surrounding shrubbery.
HELLO LITTLE FELLA! You so cute.
We walked all the way around the cathedral, discovering a beautiful garden to the back (Square Jean XXIII), before ‘island-hopping’ across to Île Saint-Louis for – you guessed it – another coffee. Hashtag powered by caffeine.
Once on the other side of the river, I managed to make us detour to check out the Centre Pompidou – a place I’d wanted to see IRL after writing this feature on how the building inspired the exposed air unit on Nike Air Max. Little fact for you there.
With a bit of a wiggle, we finally made it to the lovely Louvre where the glass pyramid was shimmering in the afternoon sun.
I pulled up a pew by the pond in the Jardin des Tuileries to soak up some of the horticultural eye candy. And, not gonna lie, to rest my feet because we had walked approx eleventy trillion miles by this point. City breaks are NOT relaxing, in that sense, amIright? #FIRSTWORLDPROBS.
However, I was determined to locate the Palais Royale because HELLO INSTAGRAM OPPS. Unfortunately, I wasn’t 100% sure where it was and definitely took us along the “scenic” route, which was fun for our feet.
(Yes, I did need a ‘footsie’ to clamber on top but it WAS WORTH IT OK)
Not really got this action shot thing down yet. Sake.
We were so #BLESSED as it was a gloriously sunny afternoon, and after larking around on Daniel Buren’s candy-striped columns, we then whiled the rest of the afternoon in the beautiful gardens, watching the world go by.
As the sun started to set, we walked back past the Louvre for once last glimpse and winded our way
home to the hotel – stopping off for the most delish hot chocolate on the way because PARIS you guys!
We had a few spare hours on our last morning in Paris, so this time we stayed near the hotel for Sunday strolls through the Champ de Mars and some QT with the EF (Eiffel Tower, duh).
There’s srsly no better way to spend a sunny Sunday in the park, all be it one flanked by one of the world’s most famous landmarks.
After wandering a little aimlessly, all of a sudden we were in the midst of the most amazing market, held underneath the stretch of overhead Metro bridge on Boulevard de Grenelle.
I mean, we get little French Markets popping up at home, but this was the Real Deal. Beautiful displays of meats, cheese, fruit, fish, vegetables, honey and flowers and loads of locals filling their baskets (SRSLY) with baguettes and blooms.
I vowed to come back with an empty bag next time, to stuff full of French fancies to take back home and devour. Or to pick up items for a picnic at Champ de Mars. Having gone a little bit off track (no, YOU’RE lost), we used the river to guide us back, strolling past a port and pretty house boats plus the zillions of joggers.
Like, that must be how Parisians stay so slim. They ALL jog at the weekend, apparently.
All too soon, it was time to say au revoir to Paris.
Star boots (similar here)
Because we so fancy, and to end our lil’ break on a HIGH, we upgraded to Standard Premier for the return journey, mainly to see if it was any good. You obviously get more room as there is one seat less across the carriage, and we got served a hot meal plus free drinks.
I’d do it again for a special occasion – but I’d also say for a two hour journey or so, it’s probs not worth it FYI.
I realise with the fancy food and cheeky upgrade on this trip it sounds like we’re made of all da money *insert flying cash emojis here* Not so, but we saved loads on the travel and accommodation, and barely spent any moolah on anything else, part from the food.
I DIDN’T DO ANY SHOPPING (show-off caps lock there) and we walked errr’ywhere (shout out to the dreamboatin’ Puma Baskets I bought from ASOS pre-trip for a) not giving me blisters and b) being as comfy AF).
Paris, I will be back! My plan is to try and visit during every season this year, so I’ll be seeing ya in the spring!
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