Last Friday, Michael and I hopped on a 7.01 Eurostar and headed off to Paris for a five-day trip, something we’d been looking forward to since we’d arranged it last October.
To say I had been excited about our Parisian holiday would be a mild understatement – I mean, I’d installed a countdown app on my phone the minute I’d found out we were going, and driven my colleagues and friends mad for the best part of nine months with tales of what we’d do when we eventually got there.
Finally, the time had arrived! And it was so worth the wait, because it was more than we could have ever hoped for. Here are just a few highlights.
#1 The sights
We got stuck into all the proper touristy stuff as soon as we arrived – from the Eiffel Tower (obviously), to Sainte-Chapelle, Arc de Triomphe, and lots, lots more. There’s a lot of these to tick off in Paris, and I think our five-day visit was just the right amount of time to get most of the big ones in.
The thing to bear in mind is that there’s obviously huge numbers of tourists at most times of the day – as is the case with any enormously famous landmark – which means that to get inside anywhere involves at least some queuing (but we Brits are quite good at that). Getting there first thing in the morning is advisable, but because we’re lazy we didn’t quite manage the early starts… not even once. Hey, we were on holiday!
#2 The food
It’s safe to say that most of the money we brought with us on holiday was spent on food. Then again, it is Paris.
Naturally there were croissants (among other pastries) a-plenty, not to mention a quest for crêpes following a drunken Saturday night out, but few things consumed during our stay could beat the majestic edible beauties from Princess Crêpe, a Japanese/anime-themed creperie with a vast selection of out-of-this-world fillings and flavours. Michael opted for the chocolate gateau option, and he was pretty damn happy when this work of art appeared from behind the counter.
Among the other treats we tried were “the best macarons in Paris” according to Google and TripAdvisor, from a gorgeous Pierre Hermé boutique not far from our apartment, and snails (yes, really!) from a lovely restaurant called Maison de Verlaine. Drenched in garlic butter with just a little meatiness, they were delicious and definitely the biggest surprise of the holiday. I should add though, we were drunk when we ordered them.
The reason we had planned to go to Paris in the first place was because Michael generously bought me Coldplay tickets for my 24th birthday last year. Anyone that knows me fairly well should be aware that Coldplay are my favourite band in the whole wide world – I even blogged about how wonderful they are on my blog a few years ago. So you could say I was pretty excited.
We made our way to the Stade de France via the Metro on Sunday evening, prepared for an incredible night of flashing wristbands, dancing, jumping, singing, whooping and (for me) crying emotionally at songs you’ve been in love with since the age of 9. They put on the most incredible, colourful and creative show, and we were so, so happy.
#4 Our first night, Bastille Day
Quite coincidentally, we arrived in Paris on Bastille Day – the French National Day – and the atmosphere was awesome. We had sadly missed the parade down the Champs-Élysées in the morning, but we were determined to make our way to the Eiffel Tower to see the evening firework display. The sun hadn’t long set before the tower illuminated with stunning gold colours and flashing lights, as everyone made their way to the surrounding areas of the famous landmark for a night of celebrations. Everyone was so happy, and as La Marseillaise (the French national anthem) sounded, each and every person seemed so proud to be getting involved. Part of me wished I knew the words so we could join in. It was a real once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we felt lucky to capture it.
#5 Our last (drunken) night
The night that began quite calm and civilised, and resulted in us both getting the worst hangovers either of us have had in a long while.
The evening began with a walk to Maison de Verlaine, a beautiful, authentic French restaurant that my friend from work had recommended. Upon arrival, we were told that a table wouldn’t be ready for us for another 40-50 minutes, but “no matter”, we thought – there were a few fun-looking bars around, so we went to explore.
We came across a place called The Mayflower, which Michael was happy to discover sold Belgian beer, while I found myself captivated the cocktail menu. Our two drinks came to €13, but with a €15 card-minimum, we thought we’d throw in a couple of €1 glasses of punch, too.
It was, however, this lethal punch – packed with god-knows-what – that set us off on a downward spiral from which we shamefully failed to recover. By the time we were ready to leave for the restaurant, we were essentially hammered.
The food in the restaurant (including the snails) was truly delicious – following our starter, we both had rump steak with vegetables and the most gorgeous croquettes I’ve ever tasted, with tarte tartin for dessert for me, and profiteroles for Michael.
As our hysterical state of drunkeness continued – a bottle of red and two glasses of champagne later – we then went back to the bar for more lethal punch, cocktails and beer, at which point the night became a little fuzzy, particularly for Michael, who still doesn’t seem to remember much of the journey back to our apartment.
We needed to be out of our airbnb by 10am the following morning, and with a day set to experience 34-degree heat, I was not prepared.
Home by around 9pm British-time, we were gutted that the trip for which we had been waiting for so long was finally over, but it was truly magical and I’d do it all over again – maybe even the hangover. I think it was a city that really suited us, and we are desperate to go back and explore the nooks and crannies that we didn’t have the time to see this time around. And if you can, a trip on Bastille Day is so worth it.
à Bientôt, Paris – you were magnifique!