The beauty of living in London is that you have the rest of Europe literally just across the sea. It’s a great, cheap and an awesome way to get some culture in on the weekend. You really don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a quick getaway.
Tiredness comes in the form of trekking all the way to Victoria for a 2AM coach journey and a 6AM flight. Have I mentioned how out of the way Luton is? Anyway. Happiness, however, comes in the form of a 4AM American breakfast at Frankie and Benny’s. Tiredness was ever present that day, I’ll tell you that. All the nesses.
We arrived in Paris around 9AM, and after phoning the hotel to find out whether we could check in early, we braved Parisian transport to make our way there. The ticket system in Paris is a tad confusing. You have to buy a separate ticket to get into Paris from the airport, and then from there you just need the figure out which type of ticket you need. There are several options available:
- A single metro ticket costs €1.80, and can be used for one journey, including all connections.
- White-coloured tickets can be purchased singly or in a book of 10 (“carnet”) for €14.40, at the ticket offices or machines in metro stations, and also in some tobacconists.
- Paris Visite: This pass is valid for 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days in zones 1 to 3 or 1 to 5.
I didn’t use the transport as much the last time I visited Paris, so it was kind of fun getting to explore using their method. I had prebooked our hotel on booking.com, which is a great site for cheap stays (I swear I’m not being paid for this promotion, ha) and for most of the hotels you don’t have to put down a deposit, you just have to pay when you get there. They take your card details just to hold your reservation.
Initially I had booked Lodge du Centre, however as we wanted early check in and they didn’t have any rooms available they sent us to their sister hotel, Hôtel d’Espagne, which was literally around the corner. I would definitely stay there again, when I go back, as it has really good transport links and there a good few restaurants/bars around the area.
It is a lovely renovated hotel, with all the charm of a B&B. The staff were really friendly and attentive, the room itself was cosy and clean, and the bed was super comfortable. We didn’t have breakfast, but that’s fine. The decor of the hotel was simple, and totally had a homey feel to it. Loved all the storage units. I’m a sucker for storage.
After resting for a bit, we went out to meet my cousins at Le Rousseau, located in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, for lunch. My cousins had already ordered some starters: a 5 cheese board, duck foie gras and large burgundy snails.
Okay. So. Snails.
Surprisingly, not that bad. Granted, they did smother them in garlic and butter, it was still okay and not as bad as I had imagined it to be: slimy and just yuck. It was quite chewy, but at least I can say I actually tried them. They are a Parisian delicacy after all and I am all about trying out new foods (that I’m not allergic too). I also ordered steak and chips, because yum.
Also, it was so lovely to be reunited with my cousins. Missed them so much!
After lunch, we headed to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, a boulevard running between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located. The Champs-Elysees is seriously so long, and the amount of walking that we did was tantamount to ridiculous. Definitely worth it, though. We stopped by the Long Champ store, where my cousins proceeded to get extremely giddy about all the bags, and also the Chanel store. We then made the long walk to the Arc de Triomphe, and after security checks made it through. Mutay and I didn’t actually go up and into the Arc, but it is a beautiful piece architecture and totally worth admiring up close.
The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. – Wikipedia
We were extremely tired at this point so whilst my cousins headed off to the Sacré-Cœur, we headed back to the hotel to get some much needed rest.
We fell asleep and didn’t actually wake up until half hour before we were due to meet the others for dinner. I guess we were that tired. We weren’t too late (only by like 15 minutes), but man, I was so frazzled when I woke up and realised what the time was. Fun times.
For dinner we went to Kitchen Galerie Bis (KGB, if you want to be that person. Ha), the younger sibling of the original Ze Kitchen Galerie by chef William Ledeuil. This restaurant has an awesome blend of “fusion” cooking using only first class products with the know-how of marrying classic French with Asia. Honestly, all the food seemed to dance in my mouth and for the first time I did not balk when eating steak tartare, which was a part of our “Zors-d’œuvres”.
We had the spectacular 8 course tasting menu and could not have been happier. The chef chooses the menu, and the nice part of it is that they ask if you have any allergies, any preferences and accordingly the dishes are served. Each course that came out was explained to us by our waitress, as well.
Despite the small looking dishes, it filled me up so much. Everything we ate was so delicious, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Paris.
Whilst my cousins were tired, as they had been out the whole day, Mutay and I decided to head over to the Eiffel Tower after dinner. It was the first time I had actually seen the Eiffel Tower during night, so it was pretty exciting. Bang on midnight, she lights up and looks absolutely beautiful.
We ended the night in O’Sullivans because every city has an Irish pub, right? Fun things that happened during the night: I got hugged by a random French man because I gave him a cigarette (he was actually so excited and grateful, bless his heart), another random French man thought it would be okay to touch Mutay’s hair (you know you could just say hi if you think I’m cute), and we had to run away from weirdo guys who told us to stay where we were standing inside because they were coming back for us. No, thanks. I’m good. Seriously. We were also given cheese and bread at the bus stop by a man who had set up shop at a bus stop – he offered us alcohol and also had music blasting out loud. I love Paris.
It would only be Mutay and I who would climb 10 million steps for food, right? IT WAS SO WORTH IT. Located in Montmatre, Hardware Société concentrates on an Australian spin on French breakfast classics. The perfect spot of brunch before heading over to the Sacré-Cœur. Absolutely loved the decor in there, as well: marble table tops and black and white tiled floors with tea cups hanging on the wall. So quaint.
First thing’s first, I need to discuss the quote they have in their menu by Virginia Woolf: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” PREACH IT, WOMAN! Ultimate love for this restaurant immediately emerged as soon as I saw that quote, and that was before I had eaten anything.
Secondly, their food is gorgeous. I ordered a chai latte and butter croissant with orange and grapefruit jam, which was the perfect precursor to my main: pork belly and fried eggs. I’m talking potato and bacon hash, spiced tomato and apple relish on smoked sourdough. HNNNNGGGG. Foodgasm x 10000000000.
Satisfied, bellies full, walking like penguins, we stumbled across the Sacré-Cœur whilst walking back to the train station so we could go meet up with my cousins. Funnily enough, the previous night we were debating on whether to go with my cousins when they went and we were like, “Nah, we can miss out on a church.” Clearly, it didn’t want to miss out on us!
Whilst it was quite a foggy view, we still had an amazing view of Paris from the top of the stairs of the Sacré-Cœur. The church itself is absolutely stunning, as well.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris, France. – Wikipedia
After marvelling at the Sacré-Cœur we headed to Marché Bastille, which is one of the biggest markets in Paris, where we found my cousins buying striped shirts because they were having a “Oui-oui, La-la” day the next day. Don’t ask, hahaha.
We then headed to Louvre Pyramid, the main entrance to the Louvre, to find the Da Vinci Code – obviously. Shout out to my main man, Dan Brown. Spent an insane amount of time taking typical tourist photos, which you can find on my Instagram for your perusing pleasure, and then took a walk through the Tuileries Gardens, a public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde.
We randomly found a goat whilst we were walking through the gardens. It looked really content, I must say.
Our last stop was Musée d’Orsay, a museum that holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. We were lucky to get in for free because we told British passports, and as members of the EU (for now) we can get free access to the museum.
It was utterly amazing seeing ‘Starry Night Over the Rhone’ by Van Gogh in real life, alongside many other beautiful pieces of art. Museums always give me a sense of inner peace, because it is usually quiet in the galleries so you get time to take in what you’re seeing and walk around in your own time as well.
When we came out of the museum, I managed to haggle with a man outside selling oil paintings and get one of them for €10 instead of €20. Bargain. We then went to get something to eat because we absolutely starving at this point – we ended up in Cafe Le Saint-Germain located on Rue de Bac. We ordered the assorted cured meats and pâté platter, foie gras, and again more snails! These ones tasted better than the ones I tried before because it wasn’t as overwhelmed in garlic and butter – tasted kind of sweet. We had a shit ton of bread, as well. Overall, a lovely place to eat for our last meal in Paris. Service was good and the food was delicious 🙂
After filling our stomachs, we headed our separate ways and Mutay and I headed to the airport to head back to reality.
Paris is such a beautiful city, and I will definitely be back soon. Considering it was so cheap to get there, how can I not visit again? I’m glad I got to see more of the city this time, as well, because the last time I went with my sister it was really mainly a Disney trip and seeing the Eiffel Tower. Had an absolutely wonderful weekend!