Paris | Nov 2018 Journal

21/11/18 - 26/11/18

 

I arranged a trip to Paris for Jenny’s early birthday present which I managed to keep quiet until the airport. Coincidentally, my parents were on the same flight because Dad was taking Mum to Paris as well, so we got a lift to Aberdeen airport with them. 

 

As well as showing Jenny the main sights of Paris, I tried to find some stuff to do that I’d not done before and explore a little more. In 4 days I covered 45km's, doing 60,600 steps and climbing 135 floors, and thats with us taking metros... everything in cities is so far apart!

 

Day 1:

 

We picked up Jenny who looked quite confused as to why my parents were there but more to the point why they had suitcases. She kept quiet and didn’t know where we were going until the check in desk: success! We took a train to the Gare Du Nord together and then said our goodbye’s there. We got 5 metro tickets each because it’s cheaper if you bulk buy and then headed to the apartment via metro. 

Not long into unpacking and chilling out I realised I left my hard drive cable at home - a rookie error. We went for a brief wander, mainly just to find a supermarket and to get our bearings. We got ingredients to make packed lunches and some pasta for dinners. We went in and out of fast food chains, expecting to just grab some cheap dinner but ohhh no. Damn, Mcdonald’s is expensive in Paris. We found a little takeaway just simply named “Burger and chips” and went there. 

 

The Airbnb:

It was certainly not a cheap apartment, but once we were there it seemed as if it was. That’s Paris for you I guess! The location was good, but the host never introduced herself to us even though she lived downstairs and there were a few other odd things. Our bedroom door didn’t close properly or lock, there was only 1 working socket in the room, the curtains may as well of not been there as they only covered 2 of 4 windows and let in so much light and finally the entire place smelled of smoke. Honestly, though, in Paris you've just got to try and take what you get - it ain't cheap.

 

The evening consisted of planning the next day’s itinerary and relaxing. 

 

Day 2: 

 

In the morning we wandered to Rue Cremieux, a small street with colourful houses, which was pretty but littered with “no photo” signs, and then along the river to Notre Dam Cathedral. I managed to stand in dog shit which was a great start to the holiday, before we headed to the Fontaine Saint Michel which wasn’t functioning. We had our sandwiches in a small park and took a breather. 

 

From here we walked to Le Louvre museum which is world renowned. It was €15 each although in hindsight I reckon we could of got it for free or a discount because we were 18-25 and from the EU. A lot of attractions in Paris are free if you can prove these things. We spent 1-2 hours aimlessly wandering around the museum, seeing artwork like the famous Mona Lisa, and many many more displays. Outside, we took photos at the large glass pyramid before walking to Galarie Vivienne which was under a major refurbishment so wasn’t very attractive. 

 

Day 3:

 

Today we woke up a bit earlier and took a metro straight to the Eiffel Tower which was almost totally engulfed in fog. We couldn’t even see up to the 2nd level, so that ruined that idea! From the bridge we watched Masterchef France for a bit while they filmed on a boat and then walked to Bir Hakiem bridge hoping that the fog would clear at some point. Bir Hakiem bridge was featured in Inception and, usually, provides great views over the river to the Eiffel Tower. 

 

We headed towards the Arc de Triomphe, stopping first at a viewpoint of the Eiffel Tower to take some photos and then at a Cafe called Cafe Belloy for a Vin Chaud and a Chocolat Chaud (€13). We felt pretty underdressed in this place in our hoodies and jeans but hey, everywhere in Paris seems to be posh so whatever. 

 

The Arc de Triumphe is one of those places that lets your in for free with proof of being 18-25 and from the EU. I only had a photo of my passport but luckily that worked! The whole city was still pretty foggy but it provided us with great 360 degree views of the nearby area. You could just see the silhouette of the Eiffel Tower and the CBD skyscrapers poking their way through the fog which looked pretty awesome. 

 

We walked down the Champs Elysees for 5-10 mins, going in and swiftly out of most shops, and then headed back towards the Eiffel Tower via Rue de l’universite for a different angle of it. It was still smothered in fog and really not worth queuing and going up at all, so we took some more photos from the Trocadéro Gardens and headed home to chill for 2 hours before meeting up with my parents for dinner. 

 

We took a metro to Notre Dam Cathedral where we met my parents and went for a few cocktails at Cafe Le Dante before dinner. Nearby was Loubnane, a Lebanese restaurant ranked 97/15500 in Paris on Trip Advisor, where we had reserved a table. We ordered a “mezze” (€25 per person) which consisted of the chefs choice of 16 starters and is seen as their specialty. It was my first time having Lebanese food and it was good. I quite like just picking at different things as opposed to just having a starter and a main. From here we aimed to go to a Jazz bar but with a €15 entrance fee per person, we decided not to and instead went to Le Notre Dam which had no atmosphere and massively expensive drinks. It was right beside the Notre Dam Catherdral which is probably why it was so expensive and empty. Finally, we found a Piano bar and stayed there for a couple of hours and watched a young guy play the piano and a woman sing. She was pretty good at getting the crowd going and very soon people were up and dancing. 

 

Day 4:

We had a very late start today, after a late night before, and didn’t actually leave the flat until about 1:30. The Eiffel Tower was shut due to protests all day as was the Champs Elysees and surrounding area, so we got a metro to the Sacré Coeur. This basilica provides panoramic views over Paris and hidden backstreets behind that host market stalls and rustic shops. This area behind Le Sacre Coeur is called Montmarte. We wandered around this area for a while and got a hot cheesy baguette at Grenouilles (€8). 

From Montmarte we walked to Galarie Lafayette Haussmann to grab some "bargains" on black Friday. Its a massive centre and all of the Christmas decorations were already out on force. We saw the tear gas from the protests in the distance from the rooftop viewpoint. As it got dark, we wandered around the Christmas market before realising that all major metro stations and roads were blocked off and half of the city was in lockdown. There were fires on the streets, smouldering barricades and just an all-out mess everywhere. We had to walk back to the flat which was about 2 miles and then went for dinner at a restaurant nearby. The food was okay and was presented amazingly. I stupidly asked for water and didnt specify "tap" water and so consequently paid €6 for it!

 

Day 5:

 

Jenny feels ill. leave at 9:15 for eiffel tower which website says will be very busy. opens at 9:30 arrive at 9:45ish and buy Stair tickets with lift to top. Very foggy at top but quite a good moody view. Queue for boat tour called Batienne Parisiene?? at 12, leave 12:30. pretty bad tbh, have to hold a phone to your ear for info so to take pics, no info. good job it was free! decided to go home instead of catacombs cause jenny doesn’t feel well and we have to pack and get an early night for flight.  

 

Go home day:

Up at 4am, uber at 4:30 €45, metro not open til half 5, arrive at 5, flight at 7:10 to Dam -exit row, 

© James Lilley 2018