Sunday, 19 January 2014

Parisian Moments

Another late post – I’ve just been having so much fun that there was no time to actually write about all the fun I was having! Let’s leave grim January and think back to all the festivities of December…and to the weekend I went to Paris with my good friend Emma. I think it’s safe to say that if you left people to their own devices for a weekend in the famous capital, the majority would report back that they LOVED it. And clearly I also share this opinion. World famous monuments, the little Parisian cafés, cobbled streets and quaint murmurs of a city that has some sort of chic and modern yet ancient charisma. What’s not to love?

After travelling up to Montparnasse in first class TGV heaven, we then transferred to the smaller version of the London Underground, the Metro. Catching trains left, right and centre we headed to Montmartre/Pigalle – where the Moulin Rouge, red light district and a cathedral sit harmoniously beside each other.  Montmartre is a mixture of Brick Lane, Crystal Palace and Notting Hill – hopelessly grubby, chic and celebrated all at the same time. Upon arriving at the street of our hotel, it took us a good ten minutes to actually figure out what building we were looking for. Finally we arrived at what seemed to be a bar where people were spilling out onto the street, the strong smell of cannabis and beer flying everywhere…apparently we had arrived! Ushered in by a lovely lady who apologized for lack of sign and the ongoing refurbishment, she said she had given us the best room as compensation – it was only EDITH PIAF’S OLD ROOM. Evidently our weekend in Paris was off to a good start!

When a tourist comes to Paris, the ideal day is filled with sightseeing, sampling wine, beef and crème brulée and because it was Christmas, go to all the Christmas markets and take pictures of all the monuments. We’re not tourists, were practically French…but we did it anyway. As one may know, the most important meal of the day is breakfast – and Paris didn’t disappoint to offer a hearty plate of French goodness at the famous Café des Deux Moulins. For those of you who don’t know what this is, watch Amélie with Audrey Tautou. If you have watched Amélie and still aren’t familiar, hit yourself.

Following the fill of our bellies, we thought we should probably commence the touristy stuff. Conveniently we were just five minutes from the white domes of the Sacré-Coeur. After easily choosing to take the lift instead of walking up 200 stairs, we were greeted with a panoramic view of the city and hoards of people…it was Christmas after all. The cathedral was every bit as grand and lavish as it looked – almost more than words can describe.

After catching a view of Paris, we headed towards every girl’s dream, located on Boulevard Haussmann > the French answer to Selfridges/Harvey Nichols and Harrods…Galeries Lafayette. If you go in with a credit card you will come out with debt, this is a given. After a few expenditures, we headed toward the Champs-Elysées straight toward the Christmas market. It seemed like the whole population was in full Christmas swing…so much so that walking a meter was taking about 15 minutes. After weaving in and out of the market and finally grabbing a standard day out meal (hot dog, chips and soda is not French but its tastes like heaven when you’re stuck in a never-ending crowd) we slowly moseyed on up towards the Arc de Triomphe. A grand monument, which seemed taller than was possible, evoked wafts of Parisian grandeur. What an extraordinary city to be in - never to the far away from the old or the new.

By this point I think we had walked about twenty miles because that is the only way to really see a city. Despite our feet nearly falling off, we headed towards the glinting of the Eiffel Tower in the near distance. On this particular day it had been the burial of the great Nelson Mandela and the world was mourning and celebrating a life – and Paris was doing the same. A dazzling display of lights together with the president’s name projected onto the tower was one of the most brilliant tributes.

We ended the weekend with a few cocktails and soaked it all in. Paris’ stereotype of a magical, beautiful and romantic city isn’t all that untrue. Yes, the suburbs are pretty much like the worst parts of Croydon or Camden. However, Paris has a magic of it’s own that phases it’s visitors in different ways and I don’t doubt that it is one of my most beloved cities. It the perfect balance of the hustle and bustle, grit, romance, beauty and roughness that every great capital needs.


La Carte

Le Pétit-Dej

Moulin Rouge

Arc de Triomphe


Nelson Mandela Tribute

La Tour Eiffel

Emma and Roxy