Living the dream in Paris

For the longest time I’ve been dreaming of taking a trip to Paris with enough time to truly take in the city and finally this year I made that happen with my lovely bestie Hannah. I’ll be honest and tell you that it certainly 100% did not disappoint and I had the best time! Paris does everything pretty and beyond, every street that you turn down has you gasping at its beauty. It’s like when Paris makes a building they just keep adding decoration until it is ornate enough to compete with the beauty of the rest of the city. The food also does not disappoint, we have eaten so much in the past week, perhaps the entire contents of a pâtisserie but when in Paris… Since we did so much over the week, this is a pretty long post so I’ve split the days into what we did so you can read however much you’re interested in! If this post has you dying to follow suit and go to Paris, be sure to check out my tips before you go!

*

Day 1 – travelling there (AirBnB, Place des Vosges)
After a long but fairly relaxed day of travelling we made it into the centre of Paris at around 6PM, we stayed in an AirBnB apartment between Bastille and Le Marais, it was little but perfect for us and was also within walking distance to a lot of things. Stumbling around in the Bastille area we saw a billion cafés and bars and ended up having dinner in a cute Thai place before wandering to the Place des Vosges gardens to chill near Victor Hugo’s house (thank you for Les Mis and Hunchback of Notre Dame!) We made sure to have an early night to we were well rested for an early start the next day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Day 2 – Disney day!
We got up bright and early to catch the Disney Express shuttle bus into Disneyland! It was a lovely warm day, averaging around 25°C most of the time, so roasty toasty! We had one day to do both parks and honestly it was very achievable. If we hadn’t had to get our bus back at 8pm I think we could have been able to appreciate a few more hours in the park but we did almost all the rides we wanted to in the Disney Park and Studios (sadly missed the new Star Wars one, the Finding Nemo ride and Space Mountain because the wait times were just way too long). My personal highlights have to be the Peter Pan ride, flying over the starry rooftops of London was super pretty and I also loved the 3D simulator experience of the Ratatouille ride, where you became a rat in Gusteau’s kitchen. I am super proud of myself being a grown up, facing my fear of heights, and going on big boy rollercoasters, that went upside down and everything. The Indiana Jones ride and the Rock n Rollercoaster – both absolutely terrifying but quite enjoyable.. I think..? Our day was rounded off with a three course meal with wine pairings (ooh la la!) in Bistrot Chez Rémy, themed on the restaurant Remy creates for the rats at the end of the Ratatouille film. We got salads to start, I had fish as my main and Hannah got steak, both of which came with ratatouille. Dessert was brie for me and a marshmallow cake situation for Hannah accompanied by Disneyland’s very own champagne brut. After all that we gave in to our exhaustion and headed back to the apartment to chill out. My Disneyland Paris tips can be found here!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Day 3 – tourist day (Louvre, Jardin des Tuileries, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Seine)
Another super hot day at around 28°C most of the time! This was to be our mega tourist day cause you have to do all these things at least once in your life, right? The day started by going to pick up our Paris Visite metro cards then walking to the Louvre. After debating how to find the side entrance to beat the queues (use it, trust me) we wandered around the biggest museum I’ve ever been in. Yes, we saw the Mona Lisa and yes, it is beautiful but I felt like the distance plus the glass case plus the hoards of people cramming in to see it ruined the experience a little. We then had a lovely picnic of baguettes and macarons before walking through the gorgeous Jardin des Tuileries, past the Place de la Concorde, and all the way up the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe, which is spectacular and huge. By this point, our feet were aching and it was way too hot so we shielded ourselves in the shade for a bit with cold lemonades before continuing the walk all the way to the Eiffel Tower – cue photo shoot. We had already decided that going up it would be a waste of time and money so we got slushies and sunbathed in the gardens below the tower. A couple hours of sun soaking later, we decided it was time to move on. Chilling on the Left Bank in the sun while waiting for our boat to sail down the Seine so we could breathe in the sights from the river. We were also grateful for the breeze on the river, which totally cooled us down! What kept hitting us was how goddamn pretty Paris is, the intricate details involved in making everything just stunning. We got off the boat near Notre Dame and went to find a place for dinner, on the way encountering an amazing pianist on the bridge who we just sat and listened to for a while. There was a lovely brasserie with shaded outdoor seating not too far away, Hannah had ravioli while I got baked Camembert, the soundtrack to our meal coming courtesy of a local band busking. On the way home we found the best ice cream in the world – from French glacier Berthillon, we got salted caramel, raspberry and pear gelato and it was divine! After another crazy day of walking and being worn out by the clichés, it was wine time!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Day 4 – palace day (Palais Garnier opera house, Palais de Versailles)
After a lovely wee breakfast of pastries and smoothies, we took a tour of the Palais Garnier, Paris’ absolutely stunning opera house. I have literally never been in a prettier, more ornate building in my life! You know I love my theatre so to be in that legendary, grand atmosphere, that has been home to so many classical greats in music, opera and ballet such as Mozart, Beethoven and Balanchine to name a few, was spectacular. I absolutely loved it so if you go to Paris, be sure to check out this place! I’m still awestruck. Seeing a show in that theatre is absolutely on the bucket list now. Then began the complicated Métro, tram, and train journey to Versailles. As it was a Saturday it was absolutely heaving and we waited in a queue, that doubled back on itself five times, for an hour in 30°C heat to get into the Palace. A long and uncomfortable experience but we made it inside and it was worth it! The Palace is stunning inside and the famous Hall of Mirrors is fantastically ornate, although the experience was slightly marred by the gigantic throngs of tourists. P.s. the mirrors aren’t as clean as you would expect! Afterwards we headed into the gardens which are absolutely lovely and it was glorious in the sunshine! We hung out by the mirror pool, dangling our feet in the water, for an hour or two where the fountains danced to classical Baroque style music. It was a lovely way to enjoy the sun and read a chapter or two of our books. Overall a lovely day in absolutely gorgeous palaces rounded off by picking up some delicious raspberry and strawberry tarts for Hannah’s birthday cake!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Day 5 – art and death day (Picasso Museum, Pompidou Centre, Père Lachaise cemetery, Catacombs, Musée d’Orsay)
The day began with heading to the market at Bastille and picking up some fantastic strawberries to eat for breakfast in the park. We then wandered our way over to the Picasso National Museum which is rather lovely and quiet, I think a lot of people don’t realise that it’s there, but well worth a visit for the crazy paintings of Picasso and the lovely garden! After baking in the sun for a bit we decided to move on and had a wander around Le Marais, making sure to stop off at the famous L’as du Falaffel (apparently a favourite of Lenny Kravitz) which did indeed give us the best falafel in the world. We then took a turn around Le Centre Pompidou, the modern art gallery. I always find modern art really interesting and amusing because some of the stuff is crazy! Lunch was lemon sugar crepes and slushies which were absolutely lovely, until it started raining! Being the Scots that we are, we embraced the rain and honestly, it was a nice relief from the mental heat we had the rest of the week. Using our Paris Visite passes we journeyed our way out to Père Lachaise and visited the grandest and largest cemetery I have ever seen. Père Lachaise is resting place of many famous people like Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf. However, what took us by surprise was all the WWII monuments to those who died in concentration camps. It was an incredible sight. Continuing the day on the note of death, we took a tour of the Catacombs. It involves a lot of stairs so beware but it was really interesting to see the layers of Paris. Every now and then you have to remind yourself that these are real human bones from real people that you’re walking past and then it feels a little creepy but really cool in a morbid way! It didn’t take us as long as we expected so we decided to finish the day on art, rather than death. We headed over to the Musée D’Orsay (which we didn’t have time for on tourist day) and saw famous pieces from the likes of Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Rodin and Degas which was super cool. The day properly concluded with dinner at Le Rempart near the apartment. For our starter we took a risk and went for snails and frog’s legs, verdict: not actually that bad, I think we just psyche ourselves out because we know what it is. Our main courses were beyond delicious; Hannah had a 3 cheese burger with gorgeous melty sauces and fries and I had a delicious duck confit with dauphinois potatoes (I could still have a foodgasm thinking about it now) as well as having many happy hour cocktails!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Day 6 – church day/showgirl night (Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Company, Pathéon, Sacre-Coeur, Moulin Rouge)
Final full day in the city and it is split into two rather contrasting parts. On the one hand you have three of the most sacred and stunning churches and on the other hand you have a fantastic showgirl cabaret! A super healthy breakfast of more amazing Berthillon ice cream (mango and passion fruit for me, pistachio and melon for Hannah). We went inside the magnificent Gothic landmark Notre Dame which is just stunning and so grand. I lit a candle for the innocents and we wandered around the amazing artwork. Notre Dame also have an organist and a choir so that really added so much atmosphere. Before this trip, we made a point of wanting to go to the bookshop Shakespeare & Company and it was honestly one of my trip highlights. It is a bit like a rabbit hole of rooms filled to the brim with books of all sorts and bookshelf ladders (the dream!) and there is a live in cat, adorable. The exciting part is that the shop has so much literary history, it used to be host to Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Eliot and was the first to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses! Books of course had to be purchased from here and they get a unique Shakespeare & Co stamp on the front. Shakespeare & Co is not definitely competing with Word on the Water as my favourite bookstore! Pausing for a lovely lunch of Croque Monsieur, we then went to the Panthéon. Another ridiculously stunning building and it contains an appropriately chilly crypt. The crypt is the resting place of Victor Hugo, Marie Curie and Alexandre Dumas – I don’t know why we’ve witnessed so many graves on this trip, but they’ve been really interesting. We then took the journey to the final church of the day, the Sacre-Coeur. Sitting atop a hill in Paris, it does require about a million steps to get to and then a further 300 steps to get to the top of the dome. Burning calves aside, the climb is worth it for the stunning 360° panoramic views of Paris. The actual body of the cathedral is so stunning too. Disclaimer: neither of us are particularly religious but these buildings are landmarks and symbolise history and architecture so we were interested. You could really feel the special atmosphere in each of those churches.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Part two of the day is the big finish of the holiday! Dinner, a sparkly Eiffel Tower and the féerie show at the Moulin Rouge! Since we were already in the area after Sacre-Coeur, we popped over to the Moulin Rouge to assess the situation and get our souvenirs so we wouldn’t have to carry them around at night. We also found the Café des Deux Moulins, the main location in the movie Amèlie, which I love, and sat down for a wee glass of wine. It felt kinda surreal to be in the setting of my favourite French film! Back to the apartment for dinner and a wee chill out, we then set off to the Moulin Rouge. They have an oddly illogical queuing system that goes up and down stairs but eventually we were personally seated in a table with a great view of the whole stage. I’ll tell you, the show was actually incredible, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The layout of the show is split into 4 parts with different story lines, each separated by a short circus-style act. It starts with a stage full of dancers, head to toe in silver sequins with awesome 80’s style Showgirls choreography to a cheesy song I don’t think will ever leave my head. The first story was a love story in the magic garden, the girls had these lovely Ginger Rogers style flowing skirts, it was stunning. The first Circus act was ridiculous! I don’t think I’ve ever gasped so much in my life. I was genuinely afraid for their lives, it was a couple called Roller Pilar doing rollerskate tricks on this small circular platform and they would turn so fast and the girl would be spinning at speed hanging on by just an ankle or by her head! It was crazy, I could try to explain better but here is a video I tracked down of the astounding act! The second Féerie piece was pirates travelling to an island and encountering Medusa (that headpiece was insane) and one of the girls swam around in a pool of water that rose out of the stage filled with giant, real snakes! The next cirque act was a couple called Duo Unity who spin around and do tricks in a large hoop. The next piece was a circus with clowns, a lion tamer and real life miniature ponies! The final circus act was a Duo Stykan who did an incredible balance act – the core strength is seriously impressive, I’m sure the girl was in handstand position for about 15 minutes while they moved around in different positions, it was amazing! The finale of the Féerie show was the Moulin Rouge from 1900 to now. They went from a traditional cancan routine to 40’s swing to 80’s prog rock to now which was a stunning piece with fairy lights everywhere! It was spectacular. I would 100% recommend going to see the Féerie show if you’re in Paris, even if tickets are quite expensive. Wow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

*

Thank you if you made it all the way to the end of this mammoth post! I am absolutely knackered, we walked so much (90+km!!), ate so much delicious food and saw so many amazing things, I’m ready to sleep for a week! I know that I absolutely must go back to Paris again because it is one of the best places in the world, so until then… je t’aime.

Click here to see my tips for going to Paris, from general tips such as AirBnB and Métro cards, to specific tips for places like the Louvre and Disneyland, to recommendations to activities, cafés and restaurants that you may not find in a guidebook!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s