Paris lived up to every expectation I had.
The streets were charming, the food was incredible, the city was alive.
Here is the story of our long weekend in Paris…
I travel as much as I can with a full-time job and as often as my bank balance allows me to.
This trip took us to Paris, the French capital. It was my girlfriends 21st and what a memorable experience it was.
Day 1 is always the best, this day is always the “Let’s get our bearings day”. A wander round the streets, getting lost, stopping in cafes mapping out the city in your mind.
We arrived in Paris Friday lunchtime, with our rucksacks & wheel-along luggage fresh off the super-efficient Eurostar from Kent. After quickly figuring out the French metro system we headed to our hotel to freshen up, drop our luggage off and get straight back out exploring.
First impression of our boutique hotel “Hotel des Tuileries” was amazing, the newly renovated pearl white building draped with bright flowers stood proud amongst the Parisian buildings. Situated in a hidden but charming area, the hotel was surrounded with plenty of cafes and eateries. In an absolute gem of a location, a short walk from the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Jardin Des Tuileries and the Opera, during our stay we had no need of any transport, except the occasional musical playing tuktuk!
Hotel Tuileries Paris
10, rue Saint Hyacinthe
The hotel is the former home of one of Marie-Antoinette’s lady-in-waiting and staying in the Hotel des Tuileries proved to be the perfect base, being a five minute stroll to Garden Tuileries was a delight. A few narrow streets that stretched door to door with cafes and the occasional I ❤ Paris souvenir shop then across the busy Rue de Rivoli – one of the most famous streets of Paris, whose shops include the most fashionable names in the world and you are presented with the Jardin Des Tuileries. A beautiful retreat from the hustle and bustle of Paris, stretching over 22 acres this vast green space offers countless possibilities for walks and relaxation.
Wandering along The River Seine we found ourselves at the Notre Dame, a medieval Catholic cathedral in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. This spectacular gothic building was breath taking, with its striking stone work, rose stained windows and its iconic two tower architecture. Its beauty is unmatched, awe-inspiring and highly recommended.
6 Paris Notre-Dame
Pl. Jean-Paul II
Early evening found us exploring the Latin Quarter, known as the heart of student Paris, we dipped in and out of shops eventually stopping in a typical intimate French bistro for dinner. Our first taste of French cuisine and we weren’t disappointed. The Latin Quarter is a must, situated in 5th and the 6th arrondissements of Paris full of windy roads, stone churches, soaring columns and amazing architecture, a testament to old-world craftsmanship.
A long but exciting day, by this time, a day of travelling and “getting our bearings” was nearly over, Paris had us hooked. After getting back to the hotel we couldn’t wait until morning and having the Louvre so close we put our jackets back on and went to see the magical Pyramid shaped Louvre at night, before heading back in the early hours of the morning to get some much needed sleep.
Up bright and early our first mission of the day was to find a café where we could indulge in French patisseries & coffee to wake us up and plan our day ahead.
Our adventure began with a slow walk up The Avenue des Champs-Élysées which is adorned with a series of cafés, shops, restaurants and other extraordinary buildings, all the way to the Arc de Triomphe.
After the long walk up the most beautiful avenue I have ever been to, we made it to the Arc de Triomphe. We climbed the internal stairs and were greeted with the most spectacular views. 12 grand avenues intersect at the arch making it look like a giant star from above, giving a panoramic views of Paris.
50 avenue des Champs Elysées
After stopping to watch the mad French drivers zoom around the tower and having a “fromage & jambon” baguette we took a short stroll to the number 1 must see monument, The Eiffel Tower.
I had pre-booked the Eiffel Tower, with 7 million visits a year and after the hearing nightmare stories of 3-4 hour long queues I’m glad I did, virtually going straight into the Eiffel Tower, the views from here as you could guess were unreal. A view of Paris in its entirety, we went to the highest floor – which yes was extremely daunting, being squeezed into a small lift that goes up the neck of the Tower was not my idea of enjoyment but oh what a reward. Of course you don’t need me to tell you this is a must do when in Paris, that’s if you’re not scared of heights of course.
5 Avenue Anatole
A quick trip back to the hotel for a change of clothes, we freshened up and headed straight back out for dinner. This time we stopped at a typically French restaurant, I had to try the Duck Confit, different but really tasty!
I had planned a special surprise for my girlfriend this night, a late night cruise along The River Seine. We were running late and literally made the boat by a few minutes which was not planned, but we made it and I’m so glad we did! This was one of my favourite parts of the trip, Paris transformed into a magical atmospheric place, we drank, laughed and this moment will stay with me for a very very long time. Just check out the sky in the picture below – Magical! Anyway as the evening turned to night we spent some time underneath the Eiffel tower where the flashing lights turned on every hour, enhancing its beauty. Before we knew it, it was time to hit the hay before our final day.
Our third and final day began much like the second, more coffee more croissants, I could eat those every day. Sitting outside a café, with a coffee, people watching in the middle of Paris was one of those moments where you realise how lucky you really are. I think these moments are important, taking in the surroundings and fully emercing yourself in the culture of another country is truly special.
After a relaxed morning, picking up some souvenirs we headed to the Louvre. I’m a bit of a geek for museums so this was a must. After a lengthy queue it was completely worth it, I cannot describe the sheer scale of this museum, with over 35,000 pieces of art inside. Like most we headed the Mona Lisa so we had the rest of our time to explore everything else, A part from the crazy selfie taking tourists it was a bit bizarre seeing a piece of art which you have seen so many times in pictures but nothing compared to seeing it for real. We weren’t disappointed, a truly special piece of art and I’m not surprised at the crowd it gets. We wandered around the different sections of the museum, my favourites included the Winged Victory of Samothrace & the Egyptian Antique section.
99 rue de Rivoli,
After a jam packed museum visit we took the short walk to Jardin des Tuileres, the perfect place to enjoy some sun and reflect on a truly magical trip. We were lucky to enjoy many of the sights while in Paris with no problems, we were even fortunate enough to the visit some sights for free due to being under 25, which was a delightful surprise. There are far more places and spaces we missed out, for example I would love to visit Montmartre and the Sacre Couer, I can’t wait to return to this special place.
My favourite part of Paris? A long midnight walk along The River Seine, with the Eiffel tower sparkling on the hour, while walking past people laughing, drinking & singing – Paris at night was my favourite.
Have you been to Paris? What are your must visit Places & Spaces while in the French capital?