Paris. I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I did! This is nothing more than due to, despite the fact I live in the UK’s capital city, the fact I would prefer to see other countries smaller cities than their capital. I was bowled over by Paris and how beautiful it was. We planned the trip sometime ago, and decided to go by Eurostar from London, as this year they seem to have made their prices cheaper than ever (£60 each return). We stayed 1 minute from the metro stop “Voltaire” in a very sweet little Air Bnb apartment. The owner was a wonderful guy called Yvon and thanks to similar words between English, Spanish and French, plus the added assistance of Google Translate (invaluable I’ll be honest!) we were able to more than get by. We adored the food, had perfect weather and found Parisians a wonderfully accommodating and friendly bunch! Maybe that’s because we’ve been in London a long time and are used to the hustle and bustle of cities, but honestly, the stereotype of Parisians being “rude” was so NOT our experience. We roughly spent about £250 in total, each for the accommodation, travel and expenses whilst there from a Friday-Monday. We fell in love with it!
Here are the highlights I’d totally recommend!
- Visit the Catacombes! (http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en/homepage-catacombs-official-website). I heard about this via The Wandering Quinn’s blog post on Paris and was instantly, ghoulishly fascinated. Over 6 million bones were placed here in these underground tunnels, from the overflowing Parisian cemeteries of the 17th and early 18th century, and Ruben tells me the French resistance set up home here during WW2 (not directly at this site of the tunnels- where the bones are is just a small fraction of the size of the tunnels).
Ruben, on first hearing about this, thought I was a complete weirdo. Turns out we both “enjoyed” it (if that can be the right word). It’s also really rather sad, but just something you’ll never see again. We had read heard horror stories about the queues and how bad it might be. Perhaps visiting in April was the help there, or going on a Sunday afternoon, but I think we waited only about 50 minutes-1 hour and paid the normal adult price of 13 Euro each. Definitely unusual, definitely fascinating. There are 130 steps to go down, and it can be a bit narrow and wet in places, so best to make sure you and your party are fit, well and healthy before considering it!
- Visit the district of Monmartre– watch the Parisian skyline at night, so beautiful! We actually visited Monmartre during the daytime AND the night, as it just connected with us and we were keen to return. It’s the home of Moulin Rouge, and has a sophisticated but down to earth village feel, many cafes and bars and people eating and drinking outside. The beautiful skyline from the church the Sacre Couer is well worth a visit. People always say food in Paris is expensive. Well, the mains might be what than what’d we’d pay for a main meal in London, but we found set menu options from 12 Euros in Monmartre! For us, it was buying a soft drink in a Parisian restaurant where we really noticed the price difference- a coke was 5 Euros in most places!
- Stroll around Luxembourg Gardens and find a tranquil spot with a good book on a deck chair
- Get off at Assemblie metro stop and walk along the River Seine until Notre Dam. People watching along the sidewalks here is just lovely, especially on a sunny Sunday afternoon when everyone’s out! We queued on a Sat morning for Notre Dam itself- no more than 20 minutes. We also foolishly paid for the Treasury inside the Cathedral- recommend you don’t waste 5 Euros on this exhibition- unless we missed something there didn’t appear to be anything too spectacular here!
- Absolutely visit the Louvre– but in the evening if you can! Swarms of people including many large groups is just. not. fun! It’s well worth it the price; 15 Euros per adult, but about 10 times the size of the Victoria and Albert museum in London, with access to Napolean III’s apartments which are just beautiful. These photos don’t reflect the large numbers of people who were present with us, but it also probably wasn’t the best idea to have left this visit until the very last day. Go mentally and physically prepared and you’ll love it!
- Buy a combined ticket for Saint Chappell and Conciergerie– 15 Euros combined ticket (or 9 Euro entry separately). The Conciergerie is all that remains of the royal Palais de la Cite, built as as early as the 6th Century, then becoming a judicial court and prison. It housed thousands of prisoners, including Marie-Antoinette, the very last Queen of France before the French Revolution and makes for a very nice and informative visit. Saint Chappel is small, and does not take more than 20 minutes to admire. It was built to “house the relics of Christ”, and was home to Kings of France until the 14th Century. No photo can reflect how beautiful the colours in the chapel were.
- Buy a pack of 10 tickets for the underground for just under 15 Euro! We used approximately 5 of these each a day, which therefore cost us around £7.00, which is what you would spend on a day pass in London for the underground. Be savvy and plan your day around similar areas- you’ll do soooo much walking, and don’t therefore use these tickets for “just one stop” as therefore it won’t be worth it.
- Visit Pere Lachaise Cemetery. It’s absolutely beautiful. Get off at the metro stop aptly named the same, and look over to your right- the cemetery is just there. We visited on a quiet and sunny Sunday morning and paid 2.5o Euro for a map (which you will need) to look for the graves of artists including Jim Morrison from the Doors, Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf (whom we couldn’t find, sadly)
9.The Eiffel Tower of course. It’s something I thought would just be a bit “pah” and a cliché up close. It wasn’t! There’s something definitely romantic and captivating about it, and we didn’t go up (we said next time we will!) but being close was good enough, and here’s to the next time!!
We spent our days in Paris walking, eating the best of food (I’ve always hated pan au chocolates in the UK, now I realise how they should be tasting!), enjoying the random drinks and cocktails you have to have on a break away, and simply being in the moment. Paris, je t’aime: we can’t wait to return!
What were your highlights of Paris, and anything else you’d recommend? #anyexcusetoreturn!