The last time I went to France was when I was about 13, and my best friend and I caused absolute havoc somewhere in the North on a school trip. We were two very young 13 year olds with Lego haircuts and an obsession with Hello Kitty, and pretty much everyone in France hated us.
My recent trip to Paris was far more sophisticated, and I spent 5 days away with my boyfriend, using the Eurostar tickets he bought me for Christmas last year.
Paris in December is pretty much as festive and beautiful as it gets, and I would honestly urge anyone considering a European trip to wait until the Winter. Not only are hotels much cheaper, but the city itself was much less congested with tourists, and so the entire trip could be spent at our own pace rather than getting up early to queue for attractions.
We arrived at Gare du Nord on Thursday evening, and had a quick ten minute walk to Gare de l’Est station which was opposite our hotel. Our hotel was basic but pleasant, and as knew we weren’t going to be spending much time there anyway so we were happy enough with free coffee and comfy sheets.
Our first evening was spent at a little French bar, where we had real French wine and perfectly cooked burgers.
Friday was our first full day in the city, and turned out to be our most action-packed day. We trekked across most of Paris on foot, and covered almost 8 miles and not most of the big attractions on our way.
We started the day by visiting The Louvre, which is the museum where the Mona Lisa is currently displayed (when she isn’t living it up in Italy). As neither me or my boyfriend are huge art enthusiasts, we decided not to pay to go into the museum just to get a pic with Mona, and instead we just walked around the outside and enjoyed the free section of the landmark. We got to see the famous glass pyramids where the Divinci Code is apparently hidden below!
From the Lourve we walked the short distance to Notre-Dame, and we managed to get some of the most incredible pigeon pictures courteous of a French conman who stole my camera and threw bird seed at us. After our photoshoot, we then went inside the beautiful cathedral, and honestly it was one of the most awe-inspiring buildings I’ve ever seen. I’m not religious in any sense, but it was truly humbling to see such a huge and monumental building filled with so much history and faith. We even got to see a Catholic woman trying to touch a famous artifact that she wasn’t supposed to touch!
We then decided the best way to see the city would be at night, so we got tickets to an Open Bus Christmas Lights tour, and got to see the Eiffel Tour, The Arc de Triomphe and lots of other beautiful buildings lit up with festive lights. It was definitely a better experience than waiting in line and paying serious money to climb the Eiffel Tower!
Our legs were somewhat recovering on Saturday, but we still managed to venture out and grab a Burger King brunch, as well as hitting our new favourite shop Pull & Bear.
Sunday was super overcast, so we thought what better day to go and visit the The Catacombs of Paris? The Catacombs are one of the strangest and most famous places in Paris, holding the remains of over 6 million Parisians who were put there when overpopulation in burial grounds led to disease across the city. The skulls and bones of the long dead may seem like a morbid thing to enjoy, but it was actually a really interesting experience, and one I would recommend! (But definitely buy the queue jumping ticket, or risk waiting around 2 hours in the cold).
Monday was all about the sights and embracing the last of the Parisian atmosphere before we went home. We had read that Montparnasse was one of the cheapest and best views of Paris as it’s the tallest building in the city, even taller than the Eiffel Tower! From this tower you can see the whole of Paris below you, and it’s a great opportunity to snap pictures from the best view in Paris.
For anyone considering a big trip anytime soon, I cannot recommend Paris enough! It’s a beautiful city filled with most many delights, and there are so many adventures to be had! My main advice is to explore the local areas, off the beaten track, and at least try to speak French as much as possible to avoid the wrath of waiters!