The travelling bug really bit me in June, and after I came back from Barcelona it wasn’t long until my next trip abroad! This time it was to Paris, and while we had everything planned in advance it didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts…
As my friend Becca and I had booked one of the first Eurostar trains in the morning on June 17th, to make my life a bit easier I stayed in London the night before; I thought this would make my journey to Kings Cross a lot easier in the morning but TFL had other plans…
With our train at 7:01am, I was still stuck panicking on a very slow running tube from Russell Square to Kings Cross at around 6:30am when ideally we should’ve checked in 45 minutes before the train. Ahhh!! Getting into Kings Cross at around 6:35am I remember running to the check in desk where they’d apparently closed the check in, but as another 25-30 people arrived from the tube station who had also been delayed thankfully they re-opened the check in for us to all get on the train, phew!
So after a stressful start we were finally on our way to Paris and very excited! I’ve been to Paris before when I was a little’n, and all I can remember from that holiday are bits of Disneyland and the Eiffel Tower at night as we drove past it. As well as that I was in Paris for three hours last summer on my way back from the Dordogne but with two huge suitcases all I managed to see was the Arc de Triomphe, not such a successful trip! Becca had never been to Paris before so really this was the first time we’ve both properly visited the city.
As soon as we arrived we went to our AirBNB to drop our bags off, rested for a short while and looked up where we were going to explore first. With the weather being so beautiful we wanted to do as much as possible, and soon we were off towards the Arc de Triomphe.
Walking up from the metro station we were immediately faced by the Arc de Triomphe and after getting our photo taken in front of us (thanks to a kind Texan couple I got chatting to!) we then realised we had no idea how to get across the crazy roundabout to get to the Arc itself… Thankfully the couple we were chatting to did, and we safely made our way to the Arc via the subway instead of attempting to cross what could only be described as a death trap. I won’t be driving in Paris through that roundabout!
We’d found out earlier that luckily because we’re between 16-25 we didn’t have to pay a single thing to go up the Arc de Triomphe, how brilliant is that?! So all we had to do was queue up and show our ID (though I stupidly forgot my proper ID and only had a 16-25 railcard, thankfully I managed to blag it) and then we were on our way up the million stairs that it takes to get up the Arc. I’m exaggerating of course but in thirty degree heat it may as well have been a million stairs! However the view from the top was 100% worth it!
With the sun shining we had the most gorgeous unrestricted views over Paris! We found the clear cut avenues through the city from this spot so interesting, and loved the rows of trees in each street, there was just so much greenery! It was really fun (and nerve-wracking) to watch the cars below too, kudos to anyone who has the guts to drive round this part of Paris because there were absolutely no lanes and it looked like a free for all on that roundabout. Terrifying!
After admiring the view, we headed towards the Eiffel Tower – the next attraction on our whistle-stop tour of Paris! We stopped for a quick lunch before heading up the Tower, but had a splendid view while eating our yummy crêpes!
We then joined the queue to get our tickets, and again thanks to our age we managed to get discounts – note to anyone under 25 travelling around Europe make sure you check out what discounts or even free tickets you can get on attractions! We thought we may as well pay to go all the way to the top of the Tower so we took the lift all the way up there first, and wow what a view!
I remember being fascinated by the colour of the river, being so used to the Thames and it’s grey-brown appearance the blues of the Seine were beautiful in comparison. Even though I’d consider the time we went to be off-peak tourist season everywhere was still very busy, we probably queued for about twenty five minutes to get our tickets and then there were queues for the lifts but everything moved along as quickly as possible and you could always spend that time admiring the view of the city so the waiting around wasn’t too bad!
It was fascinating to see so much of the city from one spot, in the photo above you can see the Notre Dame and the Louvre in the distance which I love! We were so happy the weather was really clear too because I can imagine had it been a really grey day the view wouldn’t have been half as stunning. We were so lucky.
Having enjoyed the view from the top viewing level we made our way down to the next level below that to wander round, stand on the clear glass and watch people walking below us (ant size in comparison!) which was very surreal and a little bit scary, especially when someone started jumping on the glass near us!
We walked the rest of the way down the Eiffel Tower and from there we started to make our way over to Parc de la Villette to have some dinner before going in search of Le Trabendo. We ended up having to catch an Uber as close as we could after dinner as the traffic was mad, but we made it to the venue in good time! I’ll talk about this more in another blog specific to the concert, but the whole reason we came to Paris basically was to see James Bay live, which is crazy I know but it was so worth it. All his UK dates for his first tour had sold out and Paris was the next closest venue, so it made total sense right?
We made it back to our AirBNB quite late and embarrassingly couldn’t work the lock on the front door so had to wake our hosts up to let us in, we felt so awful! As soon as our heads hit the pillows we were fast asleep.
I think we’d planned to wake up at around 8:30/9am the next day but that for sure didn’t happen. By 11am we’d at least made it to the Louvre though which I consider an achievement considering how much we’d packed into the day before! We had to wait quite a while outside to get through their security checks, and then once we were inside the Louvre we queued yet again thinking we had to to get tickets but again, being young was in our favour and we could get in for free without queuing – shame we didn’t know this beforehand!
Knowing we didn’t have a huge amount of time to see the Louvre in its entirety our main goal was to see the Mona Lisa, and apparently that was everyone else’s goal too…
We couldn’t stop laughing most of the time we were trying to get to the front to get a photo because it was just so ironic. Becca and I go to a lot of theatre stage doors after shows and we joked that this was reminiscent to a post-cast change performance stage door experience with everyone in a craze to get their photo! Saying that, we did manage to get a very quick photo!
I’ll always chuckle looking at this photo just because of what a bizarre experience it was. We were saying afterwards how even though it’s a great painting we didn’t quite understand the hype of it all and did it make people feel really thoughtful about anything? Moments later we were in a really deep philosophical chat about life, so maybe yes the Mona Lisa did make us go all thoughtful?! Ha!
Naturally afterwards we joined others in taking silly photos with the Lourve Pyramid.
We began wandering up the River in the direction of the Notre Dame and stumbled across part of the lovelocks bridge, something we’d wanted to see but had read that the Parisian government had already taken most of the lovelock panels off the bridge by the time we were there. We’d been gutted to read that this would be the case so when we found some panels just off the side of the bridge that still had locks on we were thrilled!
I’ve wanted to see the lovelock bridge for years now, so to even just see a portion of it still intact made me really happy. It was funny because as we walked along other places we saw locks on other parts of different bridges – it’ll be hard for the government to get rid of all the locks as people will want to keep this tradition of love alive any way possible!
Finally we made it to Notre Dame, and marvelled for quite a while the beauty of the architecture this building represents. It’s awe-inspiring how old these buildings are yet the skill and craft behind them is just incredible! Unfortunately we couldn’t go inside Notre Dame as we were restricted for time and the queue was huge, it’ll go on the list of things to do next time I’m in Paris.
We got on the metro to head back to the Arc de Triomphe as we decided that had the best gift shop haha! Becca braved the stairs once again to pick some things up, so I had another wander round at the base of the Arc. I’m still not sure why but when we went to the Arc on the 18th there was a huge French flag billowing in between it and while we were there people in old war uniforms arrived, I presume it was something to do with the Unknown Soldier tributes they have but I’ve yet to find out why. The flag looked amazing in the arch though.
Then sadly it was time for us to head back to Gare Du Nord and take the Eurostar back home. I’m still amazed at just how much we managed to pack into two days, and we had such a blast. I loved travelling with Becca, we don’t get to see each other as often as I’d like but to have this awesome trip with her was perfect, especially considering how much we love James Bay’s music. I love that she was crazy enough to agree to come with me!
Paris you were a dream, I’ll hopefully be visiting again soon.