I’ve dreamt of Paris for so many years and longed to jump on the metro, gaze up at the Eiffel Tower and stroll along the pretty river banks.
Now I’ve heard mixed reviews about the city of love so I was hoping that I wouldn’t be left disappointed.
And I’m delighted to say that it is the most beautiful place I’ve clapped my eyes on. I love all things art and architecture (Grand Designs!!!) so I found each street as idyllic as the next.
If you are planning a city break to the French capital then here’s some of my tips.
Transport: The bus we got from Brussels took only six hours! But it was the cheapest route. The trains were working out at €200 one way. So if you are planning on taking the train book early as you might get a better offer. As I’ve always stated I don’t believe in splashing loads of money when travelling. I’m all for a great deal.
The Metro in Paris is second to none. You can get a daily or weekly pass which is ideal for hopping on and off at all the sights. The maps are extremely easy to follow even though they are in French.
Accommodation: Again Europe is so great for hotel deals. Really makes you wonder why Ireland charge such extortionate prices. Once you find a place beside a metro station it doesn’t really matter where you are located.
We stayed in the Super Hotel. It was grand for what we wanted. My only issue was during the second night there was a horrible smell of stale smoke in the room that was coming from the AC unit, presumably because the hotel room backed into a residential yard where smokers must have been puffing away.
So take time booking a place and read all the reviews but once you are beside a Metro station you will be sweet.
Food: I was so excited for Paris because let’s face it French food and wine is top class. On night one, we opted for a Chinese restaurant and it was some experience. The staff were of Chinese descent and spoke French but we managed to create some aspect of understanding and had such a lovely time.
On day two we went for eggs and coffee in a local coffee shop. Indiana Cafe (Rue de Pyrenees) and I was a little surprised at the prices. Around €12 each but not that big a meal. And I love my food. I get grumpy if I go hungry or if my meal doesn’t satisfy me.
As the day went on and the cold set in it was time for another refuel. This time a place walking distance from the Eiffel Tower. We ate in Le Royal Orsay beside Musee D’Orsay. I went for a four cheese crepe and a large coffee. I’m obsessed with cheese so this was heaven and not terribly priced. I love value for money!
As night wore on I got very excited for dinner (see a pattern here, food excites me). By this time we were by the Moulin Rouge and found the Hippopotamus restaurant. They had a set meal – three courses and a drink for under €20. Here was my chance to taste all the local cuisine.
It was snails for starter – not like the ones I remember pulling from the pavement as a kid. They were dressed in a green pesto sauce and they were delicious. For mains I opted for a Charlaois steak – medium rare and I reckon I didn’t lift my head from the plate from start to finish. And chocolate lava cake to finish. I’m even licking my lips writing this.
I went for a local red wine with dinner which was decanted with more than one glass. Deal.
The Lourve: This is the largest museum and monument in Paris. It is such an iconic piece of architecture and something we have all seen in movies and on Instagram. But to see it with your own eyes is dazzling. As I walked through the grounds and under the arch I was met with the masterpiece.
The museum is home to some 35,000 object including the lady herself Mona Lisa. And you have to take a standard snap outside as I did.
The Eiffel Tower: Well if there is only one thing you could see in Paris it has to be the Eiffel Tower. One of the most spectacular thing I have ever seen. It’s wrought iron and it was built in the 1800’s. Weather permitting you can lie underneath and just soak it all in. But I was there after Christmas and you would catch your death if you lay down. So I stuck to selfies while standing.
But the best thing to do it walk back to Jardins du Trocadero or Trocadero Metro Station and you can get some great shots of the tower. Not to mention come back at night fall to see the light show. It is magical. If you plan on heading inside book in advance and that goes for every attraction in Paris.
Arc de Triomphe: Again I have seen loads of photos of the this arch and it was a little different in real life. It is located in the middle of a large roundabout which is insanely busy with cars. So much so that when the lights go red, pedestrians line the road to try and grab a decent photo (as I did below). Then as the lights flash amber everyone shuffles back to the path.
You can get under the arch as well and it is quite remarkable in size the detail is incredible. If you plan ahead and book early you can get inside and walk to the top for a birds eye view of Paris.
Moulin Rouge: I’ve seen the movie and it’s one of my favourite love stories between Satine and Christian. so there was no way I was going to leave Paris without seeing that famous windmill. Now I had heard that the area was a little seedy but once I walked out of the Metro station (Blanche) I was greeted with dancing lights and all the glitz you would expect from the infamous dance hall. I just wish I had time to book in for a show.
Also down from the Moulin Rouge is the Irish pub The Harp where we saw all the Irish fans party during the Euros.
Sainte-Chapelle: This Gothic chapel lies on an island nestled in the banks of the Seine. We just found i by looking at a map so decided to check it out. The queue to get inside was like nothing I have ever seen before and between the cold temperatures and lack of coffee I had zero interest in joining the line.
But what did excite us was the pigeons outside sitting on peoples arms and eating grain from their hands. There are locals selling some grain so you can feed the birds and have them fly onto you. If you check my video below you can see. It was something fun and perfect for a selfie.
Christmas Markets: Seeing as we hit Paris during December the Christmas markets were in full swing and they were plentiful. If you wander down through the Lourve and onto the Grand Palais you will find what seemed like miles of Christmas cabins lining the streets.
It was truly magical looking. And because of the cold it seemed a shame not to taste the mulled wine not only that but the drinks were served in Christmas cups that you could take home. A nice touch.
Overall, Paris exceeded all my expectations. It was breathtaking and that wasn’t just the cold. There is so much to see and do and a place one could never tire of. Between the historical buildings, architectural masterpieces and mouth watering food.
Checkout my video below: