As a special treat for turning 28, I got taken to Paris for the weekend. ‘Hourra’ as the French would say.
I’ve been to Paris twice in my life: once when I was 11 and I had my portrait drawn in Montmarte (an hour of constant smiling, all for a portrait that made me look like the ‘Scream’ mask) and again last year, for one cold night in January during which I saw a homeless man pooing in the metro station.
So this was my third time lucky in Paris!
Armed with my ‘Lonely Planet’ guide, I took off around Paris. Our hotel was situated on the road between the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, so they were two things ticked off the list immediately.
As a quick aside, I would suggest climbing the Eiffel Tower at night. We walked past a five hour queue during the morning, so instead went up there at midnight, when there was no queue at all. Even more importantly, at night it glitters and sparkles so very beautifully.
On Saturday morning, we decided to avoid the tourist traps and headed to the Jardin du Luxembourg. In the middle of Paris, these 23 hectares were dedicated to the children of Paris by Napoleon, and were filled with puppet shows, ponies and carousels. Luckily, all of this is still there, plus amazing chestnut tree filled boulevards, flowers and Parisians taking a break. They are all here, reading; playing bowles; playing chess and generally relaxing. There is also a big lake in front of The Palais du Luxembourg with children playing with small boats and sticks. The whole thing was like a surreal Parisian dream – it really is beautiful and worth a visit.
That evening we took one of the river cruises. We used the popular Bateaux Parisiens company and would definitely recommend using them. We had a great table by the window and whilst gorging ourselves, floated past the main sites of Paris: Notre Dame, The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower etc. There was only one downside of the cruise and that was the trauma of the photographer. I saw him saunter over out of the corner of my eye and being British, my boyfriend and I did our best to pretend we couldn’t see him. He, however, ignored this entirely and demanded we smiled for the camera. We did so, reluctantly, before he asked us to ‘kiss passionately’ for the camera. We were both deeply horrified but for some reason, obliged. What came next was 5 horrible seconds of forgetting the basics of kissing, whilst a crowd of diners looked on. The photograph we got back at the end will now be burnt and we shall never speak of it again.
But back to Paris. Of course, we saw all the other famous sites and museums, but you’ve heard of all these. So a few other suggestions – visit the Latin Quarter if you like boutiques and books, and make sure you visit the bookstore ‘Shakespeare & Company’. This is a really magical bookshop with its very own live-in authors, who give readings in the evenings. It is a must-see and you can easily get lost in here, amongst the dusty books, for hours.
Also, make sure you visit ‘Angelina’ – the most picture-perfect Parisian tea room I could have imagined. It has an old, sophisticated feel and is filled with the sounds of clinking china and beautiful classical music. The pastries are dainty, yet delicious, and can be washed down with champagne or a dizzying array of teas. Delightful!
Thank you, Paris!