One city… two days… three friends and 2000 photos!
We had all been to Paris before on school trips as kids, work trips, or a weekend away, so we had already hit all the tourist spots. This time we just wanted to take the opportunity to relax and take it in. We wandered around the city revisiting some of our favourite spots and discovering a few new ones. We ate, we drank, we shopped, then we ate some more… and then we started taking photos, so many photos!
I love to take photos and looking through them afterwards is like reliving the moments all over again. I had so many this time I wanted to share them, so I put them together and made this stop motion video, 2000 photos of our trip in less than 3 minutes:
The thing I love about Paris is that it is one of those cities that are fun to visit at any time of year and there is always something new to discover. We visited in February this time and although the weather was wet and windy it didn’t really deter us in our plans! So here are a few highlights from our trip.
Initially on our first day we just wanted to wander, eat macaroons and see where the day took us, so we walked through the centre of the city starting from our hotel close to the Gare du Nord then on to L’Opera, taking in the sights, getting lost, stopping for a fine lunch at a small bistro, then again for some giant raspberry macaroons (had to be done), un café and shopping (mostly of the window kind). Then making our way to the river and along to the Place du Concorde and last stop the Champs-Élysées. Then tired of walking we jumped on the Metro to one of my favourite places…
L’Arc de Triomphe Champs-Élysées
Le Marais is cool and will always be one of the hippest parts of the city for me. Set between the 3rd and 4th arrondissements it’s just as touristy as any other main area in the city but the beautiful architecture of it’s crooked little medieval streets, give it something special. Having being well-known for its gay scene, it has also now fast become a bit of a vintage lovers paradise too. These small lanes are alive with bars, restaurants, hotels, trendy shops, hip young designers, old fashioned bread shops, falafel, jewellery, wine, more falafel, fashionable art galleries and museums all crammed into one small area. I’d also recommend looking out for some great street art as you wander through its streets. It is this forever-changing scene that always makes me want to come back here and see what’s new!
We decided to spend the evening here with a leisurely meal in a quirky little restaurant called Les Philosophes, I highly recommend the tart au chocolat with a speculos base!
Basilica of Sacre-Coeur and Montmartre
Basilica of Sacre-Coeur
Waking up in the morning, we left our hotel with the aim to find a nice spot for breakfast but before we new it we were already on the Boulevard de Clichy making the pilgrimage towards the place that nurtured so many great artists and writers. By the time we grabbed a coffee and some chouquettes we were already at the carousel staring up at the Basilica. For me Sacre-Coeur and the Eiffel Tour have the same effect, for I always feel happy just to see them, or catch a glimpse of them as I go about town.
Once up the hill we hit the Place du Tertre now filled with watercolours, portrait sketchers and caricaturists. You can’t blame them for trying to make a bit of money, and a few are actually good artists who need money, but for me the square is more of a reminder of the lost generation of artists who lived and worked here. Look out for wall plaques identifying buildings and cafes as historic, or places of note. “Hemmingway once peed in our bathroom…” was my personal favourite!
Montmartre view of the Eiffel Tour
Thinking once again about food, our search continued for the Maison Rose or the “tiny pink house” as my friend called it, a quaint little restaurant she fondly remembered it as one of her best meals in Paris from here last trip. We found it – unfortunately it was closed that day, so it is on the list for my next trip to Paris!
From the heights of Sacre-Coeur and many beautiful views of Paris from above, we ventured into the labyrinth underneath the city to see Paris from a completely different stance! This is an amazing experience. If you have time I recommend reading beforehand on its history, as you will appreciate the Catacombes a lot more.
We entered through a humble gate in the western pavilion of the former Barrière d’Enfer city gate. After descending a narrow spiral stone stairwell of 19 meters and passing through about 1.5 km twisting hallway of mortared stone, we arrived at a stone doorway or portal, the ossuary entrance, with the inscription “Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la Mort”.
Then we were left to make our own way through this empire of the dead, endless caverns and walls of carefully arranged bones. Some arrangements were almost artistic, such as a heart-shaped outline in one wall formed with skulls embedded with neatly arranged tibia bones. Slightly eerie, I expected it to be a much more morbid and macabre experience but I came out feeling fascinated, not just by the sheer scale of it but with the new understanding of the city it gave me.
Musee de l’Orangerie
Musee de l’Orangerie
I abandoned my friends and took a break from macaroon eating to check out the Musee de l’Orangerie, which I’ve never quite made it to in the past, and was so glad I did. It’s a gem for several reasons: Firstly as it houses Monet’s Nympheas (water lilies) the size of which you cannot believe until you see them al around you and the best part – its set in a corner of the Jardin des Tuileries and not as crowded as the Louvre or Musee d’Orsay. So it was like a calm oasis in the hustle and bustle of the city!
Ladurée on Champs-Élysées
After L’Orangerie there was only left time for one more macaroon before we had to catch the Eurostar back to London, so we had to make it count. We headed to the place serving arguably the best macaroon in the world, Ladurée on the Champs Elysees! And we did it in style, no queuing for macaroons to go for us, we had our macaroons in the full grandeur of the salon du thé upstairs. It was pouring with rain outside, which made a our round table by the fireplace even more special. The only difficulty was choosing which macaroon to have, as the choice is overwhelming! Macaroons are always expensive so €18 for 4 mini macaroons of my choice and un chocolat chaud didn’t seem that bad. Laduree was beautiful and so were my macaroons, I highly recommend the orange blossom!
How we got there:
Eurostar London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord from £69 return, but look out for some great deals early in the year we paid £59 return in February.
Where we stayed:
BEST WESTERN Premier Opera Faubourg
49-51 rue Lafayette | 09 Arr., 75009 Paris, France (Montmartre)
Although it is now a Best Western, this hotel still has the feel of a boutique hotel with its maze of rooms and modern quirky design. The hotel was very clean and comfortable and in a good central location, we walked everywhere from here.
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