Well well well, this blog post is SO overdue I apologise for taking so long to get it written so here it finally is, your go to guide to Parii – the City of Love ❤
For my 24th birthday last May, my boyfriend and I went to Paris for a long weekend of sights, wine, food and lights. Paris is such a beautiful place I cannot recommend going enough. I have been many times but each time is like experiencing it for the first time all over again. I recommend travelling via Eurostar (if you are travelling from the UK) as you will save money rather than flying.
We arrived in Paris at 7am on Thursday 2nd May. Too early to check into our hotel and also tired from a 5:30am train journey. Nothing hits the spot like a French espresso in the morning AND nothing beats a French pastry/Croissant/Pain au Chocolat so find the nearest cafe or boulangerie stat!!!! One thing, when you arrive in Paris I highly recommend buying a three day train ticket as travelling via train is very easy, convenient and the fastest and cheapest way to get around Paris (cheapest not including walking). Once we’d had our fill of French coffee and croissants, we decided to drop our bags off at our hotel and explore. Another tip, even if you can’t check in early at your accommodation, many hotels will take your bags and look after them until check in so this allows you to start sightseeing without carrying heavy bags all day. We stayed at the Best Western Opera Gallion, which I highly recommend. Very central location (directly outside/in front of the Paris Opera) and for a very reasonable price. In Paris hotel prices can be very expensive especially if you are in the first 6 aroundisments or close to a monument. Our hotel was really fair priced and in a very central location so we were very happy and lucky. Having dropped off our bags at the reception, we decided to start by visiting the Paris Opera (a monument I feel is highly snubbed by people visiting Paris) but actually one of the most beautiful buildings. The architecture is stunning and tickets start from 15euro pp.
Following a very LONG tour of the Opera, we popped into Zara for some holiday shopping. Girls if you are a Zara lover like myself, then the Zara’s in Paris (Opera and Champs Elysee) are the BEST Zara’s I have ever been too. Better than the UK, Venice, Rome, Budapest lol.
As afternoon was approaching, we decided to walk down the road to the Louvre and stop for a coffee at Cafe Marly. Expensive but you are paying for the view so if you want to experience this on a budget, I suggest ordering an espresso and you can sit directly in front of the Louvre for as long as you like 😉 We spent an hour or so taking in the views and relaxing before we headed back to our hotel for Check in around 4:30pm, freshening up and getting ready for dinner. We found a small, very cute little restaurant hidden in the side streets near the Louvre and indulged in lots of red wine, cheese and delicious food. One of my favourite things about holidays is night time strolls exploring cities after dinner, trying to digest all the food you’ve just over ate lol. So full bellies, we headed back over to the Louvre and it is so beautiful all lit up at night.
Next morning, I woke up bright and early (for my FAVOURITE French activity) and went on our breakfast run….the local boulangerie and collected lots of croissants, choixs, and pain au chocolats (not forgetting our coffees either haha). There is nothing more beautiful or refreshing than walking the empty streets of Paris early in the morning, the sun rising and pink skies collecting your pastries. And not forgetting the very friendly bakery people.
We got dressed and headed to the Champs Elysee making sure we visited every shop possible (lol) including Zara of course, and finished under the Arc de Triompe. We then took a very LONG walk to the Eiffel Tower, saw how ridiculously long the queue was (3 hour wait) and decided to head up to the Place du Trocadero for a different view of the Eiffel Tower. By this point we’d been walking for a few hours so we wondered back down towards the Eiffel Tower to find a little coffee shop along the river and ended up walking all the way to the Quartier Latin (do not ask me how we ‘accidentally’ did this but when you’re constantly admiring the beautiful city whilst walking around this will definitely happen to you haha). We stopped at a little corner restaurant and order some baguettes (so French) and LOTS of water to regain our strength. Whilst taking a long walk back to our hotel, we bought tickets for the ‘Bateau Mouche’ a boat tour along the Seine River, another activity I highly recommend. Tickets are around 15euro pp and the tour takes you past all famous monuments and gives you some history on Paris too. I also recommend not doing this when it rains because we firstly got SOAKED then we got extremely CRAMPED by all passengers coming inside from the rain on the tour haha. Luckily for us, once we got back to our starting point and walked back to our hotel, the rain stopped so we took the long scenic route back to get ready for dinner.
As we had such a late lunch, we ended up buying a few bottles of red wine, getting quite tipsy and actually headed to the Eiffel Tower around 7:30/8pm (we got there at 8pm because we got there just in time for the light show which was BREATH TAKING!) and the light show is usually every hour. There was no queue (lucky us!) and we headed up for some late night magic. Paris is so beautiful at night. I can’t put it into words but it’s something everyone should experience once in their lives because the city comes alive at night. We stayed up there for a solid hour because we witnessed another light show (haha) whilst being inside which was amazing and by this time we were starving (I can’t say whether it was the all the alcohol or stair climbing we did) but a very VERY kind restaurant let us in at 9:30pm after their last orders and let us order burgers, fries etc and fed us well before we headed home for bed.
Despite our late night drunken antics, I woke up surprisingly early (probably the smell of fresh croissants calling my name), headed to the boulangerie for our usual croissants and pain au chocolats and woke Matt up for another day of exploring. We started at the Gallerie Lafayette past the Opera, so not far from where we were staying. These are HUGE buildings full of your shopping needs but we went for the 360 view of Paris that you NEED to see when you are there. Also, both buildings are beautiful and especially at Christmas (so sad I won’t be able to visit this Xmas due to corona ahhh). After taking hundreds of photos of the panoramic views of Paris, we headed to the Sacre Coeur. One BIG tip for when you go, the ‘street sellers’ over here are a little more aggressive than more central Paris. When you say NO they will still try and get you to buy so make sure you steer super clear of them and say ‘NON’ as loud as you possibly can, or just stay close to another group of people and hope they don’t harass you. The Sacre Coeur is so beautiful, I always come here when I visit Paris. There are also some amazing (and cheaper) coffee shops in the streets surrounding so naturally when it started to rain a little we headed straight for a coffee to wait for the sun to come back. After the rain stopped and two coffees deep (I am a caffeine addict I know) we headed to the very famous and very beautiful Notre Dame. Now, as the world knows, earlier in the year Notre Dame was damaged by a fire so we could only admire from a distance but when and if you get the chance to visit inside, do it. I went a few years back with my mum and it was stunning. That evening was our last night in Paris so we wanted to do something really fun to end the trip on a high so we headed to the Moulin Rouge and Chat Noir.
The last day! We woke SUPER early that morning, leaving our bags at reception, because we wanted to get the earliest train to Versailles possible. Versailles, my FAVOURITE place in Paris!! You cannot come to Paris and not visit so make sure you allocate at least half a day for this. Book your tickets in advance too and make sure pay the extra 10euro for the skip the line ticket or you will be waiting outside for at least three hours. The train journey is also roughly an hour so like us, get the first train in the morning and you’ll miss the packed stuffy train. Just before catching our train, we went to a local boulangerie for more crossaints (lol by this point I had turned into a croissant) so we could enjoy breakfast on the train to Versailles. Versailles was by far my favourite part of the trip. It is SO beautiful, from the architecture, hall of mirrors, paintings, furniture, landscaping etc all of it. It is not something to be missed. The Palace, the gardens there is not one part I don’t love about it. We stayed for HOURS before we had to head back into Paris to grab our bags and head home 😦 Paris is always a fun and magical trip so I can’t push you enough to go if you get the chance! It will always hold a special place in my heart 🙂