The (one) good thing about living just outside London is that it’s quick and easy to get to mainland Europe. With the Eurostar taking less time than it takes to get to Northern England (there’s a 5 minute difference). I thought it would be silly if I didn't take advantage of it. One of my friends is currently on her erasmus study abroad period in Nancy, France. With Nancy not being too far away from the French Capital, we thought it would be the perfect halfway point to catch up and do a bit of sightseeing. I’ve visited a lot of mainland Europe but not Paris, so it was an opportunity I couldn't let slip.
The only time I wake up before 6am in a good mood is if I'm going on holiday. So my friend who I was travelling with, was in luck. Although at one point, I did get a bit of a stress on as I thought we were going to miss the 08:24 train(not my fault) - but we were on our way to France! The journey takes around 2 hours 10 minutes, so we arrived into Gare Du Nord station just before midday, with the hour time difference.
Every time I write a travel post, I feel like I’m advertising City Sightseeing Bus Tours. I’m not, I just think they're really great and could go on about their greatness for hours. Plus, the 360 degree view from the top deck allows you to take great pictures, weather permitting. We bought a two day pass for around €30 and it picked us up at the train station, basically taking us to our hotel. We were staying in the Novotel Paris Centre Eiffel Tower right by the Eiffel Tower. I would honestly go back and recommend anyone visiting Paris to stay at this hotel. We were on the top floor(31st floor I think) so the views looking out onto the River Seine were INSANE. Like the City Sightseeing Bus Tours, I can’t fault the Novotel Hotel. All the staff were lovely, the facilities were good and the location was amazing.
I’m a really organised traveller so I had our itinerary put together about 2 weeks before the trip. After dropping of our bags, and taking a few obligatory snaps on the Champ de Mars, we hopped on the red line City Sightseeing bus and did the full tour of the city. Even though I made a promise to myself not to sit at the top of an open air bus between the months of January - June and October - January during my Dublin post. I fully enjoyed listening to the commentary and taking in the sights with the wind blowing in my face. It was practically a picture out of French Vogue.
Paris and its cobbled streets are the most beautiful and elegant in the world. And the Hop on, Hop off bus is the best way to explore them. So first things first, we headed to the Champ de Mars - a grassy garden area with wide walking paths across the lawns. And of course, visited the most famous feature in the Champ de Mars garden - the Eiffel Tower. On the second day, we journeyed up to the top floor of the Tower, and the views were incredible! Even though the queues sometimes go on for days, I would recommend a trip up the Eiffel tower to anyone. The full loop of the bus tour took us about 2 hours in total and thanks to this scenic route, we nearly missed last entry to the Musee du Louvre. I’ve been told you can spend hours exploring the 35,000 works of art in the Lourve. But we had 15 minutes. Which wasn't bad considering we didn't pay any entry fee. Turns out being under 25 and part of the European Union is beneficial.
With so much to see, a ticket for a City Sightseeing Paris bus tour offers great value with 2 days of sightseeing! It goes to the Notre Dame, a Gothic cathedral built in 12th century. Famous from that film, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. If you're really fit you can climb the spiral staircase where the views of the city are stunning.
One thing I’m really gutted we didn't do was visit Galaries Lafayette. Probably one of the worlds' and Paris’ best department stores. The detail of the domed ceiling is just one of the reasons to visit(I’m told). And if that didn't convince you, there’s a Topshop inside!
Of course, I had to get my shopping fix somehow. So in the early evening, we ventured to the Avenue des Champs-Elysees. Despite the avenue being one of the most expensive streets in the world, I still managed to get a few things. I went into Sephora and was like a child in a sweet shop. It really is makeup heaven. So after it became clear I couldn't leave with the whole shop, I settled for ‘Better than Sex’ mascara by Too faced . I've heard so many rave reviews about it, I thought I’d try it for myself. The end of the street features the Arc de Triomph, a historic symbol of victory for French troops returning home from fighting. After this, we realised we’d done the whole day sightseeing and hadn't stopped to eat so we went to a cute little restaurant named Cafe Victoria, just off the Champs-Elysees, where I tried and loved snails for the first time.
I’ve always heard the Eiffel tower is at its best at night and if you go on the hour it twinkles up. I thought I planned every second of our trip but somehow we ended up at the tower at 10:15pm. 45 minutes before the next light show at the eiffel. So as we were stood in the cold for 45 minutes, I had the feeling my friend actually wanted to kill me for begging her to go to the Eiffel to stare at it. BUT as soon as the clock hit 11, this happened. I was feeling so smug at this moment and knew it was worth the wait in the cold. I’m now one of those eiffel tower enthusiasts. I know its tourist central but why would you go to Paris without seeing the beast that is the eiffel tower, built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel and at 324 metres tall.
Although I didn't get to go to see a show at the Moulin Rouge, go inside Notre Dame Cathedral and conquer those 387 steps, go to Angelica cafe, shop at Galleries Lafyette or go to Disneyland, it was really nice to get out the country for a few days. AND i will go back and do all the things left on my to do list.
Jusqu'à la prochaine fois.