Travel

Paris is always a good idea

Paris is one of those cities you would think being a neighbour, I would have popped over to visit by now. Alas, I’ve never given the city of passionate love a glance – until this year of course. In a need for a break and to beat the January blues, I booked an impromptu weekend away to the fashion city of the world. Paris stole my heart in an instant.

Flying into Paris with British Airways rather than taking the standard Eurostar a Londoner would have was a good idea. Sitting by the window seat, I caught sight of the iconic Eiffel Tower as the plane geared up for a landing. Towering above the rest of the buildings, it truly was a sight to behold, setting me up nicely for what turned out to be a memorable weekend.

I chose to stay in the Pigalle district due to its proximity to Montmartre, a neighbourhood I wanted to explore for its history and colourful atmosphere. I booked Hotel Villa Boheme as my accommodation, which turned out to be a cute and comfortable hotel, considering the trip was all very last minute. Upon reaching my temporary sojourn, I freshened up and made myself a cup of tea  – as you do when it’s winter. After relaxing for an hour, I wrapped up and headed out to begin my adventure.

Montmartre is a large hill in Paris’ 18th arrondissement, and as such, it is wise to have good walking shoes as you make your way uphill. I thoroughly enjoyed hitting the cobblestone lanes. There’s a typical route one should follow, particularly as you look to reach your final destination – the stunning Sacre-Couer church. On this route very early on, you will come across the Wall of Love in the Jehan Rictus garden square. The words ‘I love you’ features 311 times in 250 languages. If there was any ever doubt I was in Paris, this monument cleared that up.

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I walked on further till I finally reached the Sacre-Coeur just as rain began to fall, causing umbrellas to burst open and tourists to run for cover. I managed to capture some shots before I headed inside for some warmth and reflection. The Sacre-Couer is a magnificent building on top of a hill with a beautiful interior. I assure you it is not an easy walk to get there, but for those who aren’t as fit, you can take the funicular. The views of Paris from the church were out of this world! There is no fee and it is well worth the trek up!

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As I left the church, I proceeded towards Place du Tertre where I had read artists and painters could be found displaying their talent. A few artists had braved the rain, but the weather had clearly caused most to abandon their job and take shelter elsewhere. Not many tourists were in the mood for having their picture drawn but I enjoyed taking in the square and was mesmerised by the cute cafes and shops as I walked the cobbled lanes. If you have ever seen the movie ‘Amelie’ the last few images may be familiar!

 

The light rain soon turned into a downpour and lunch beckoned. After getting some much needed grub, I grabbed some essential food items from a local supermarket and headed back to the hotel. It had been a tiresome afternoon of exploring and with the cold weather, catching some shut eye seemed like the most sensible thing to do.

Stomach more than lined with ham and cheese croissants from a local bakery, I set off the next morning for the centre. With only a day left, I thought it was best to skip the museums this time round and just have my own walking tour, heading to the famous hotspots.  As you can see from the pictures below, I managed to see quite a lot from the Notre Dame de Paris to Saint Chapelle. Truthfully, I wouldn’t say these buildings blew me away, but I did think the stained glass work at Saint Chapelle was quite stunning. I definitely preferred Montmartre to the city centre itself, perhaps because it was somewhat off the beaten path.

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Following lunch, I returned to my hotel feeling knackered once again. I did manage to head out into the Pigalle district early evening however to do some exploring. We all know that amongst other things (ahem), Pigalle is home to the Moulin Rouge – well worth a photo!

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A trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower. I highly recommend going during the evening when the tower lights up for five minutes every hour on the hour. An unforgettable moment, I just could not get my eyes off it. All in all, Paris is one of the most endearing cities I’ve been to. The life of a Parisian fascinates me. The morning routine of going to a cute bakery to pick up baguettes delights me. The next time I go back, it will have to be a spring or fall trip and dedicated to museum visits. Je t’aime Paris.

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