Paris, the most romantic city in the world. No better place then, I thought, to go on a long weekend by myself then! I had never been to Paris and after an unexpected air miles windfall I managed to bag myself a return trip with BA for £27! Bargain! It also gave me a reason to brush up on my GCSE level French (grade B if you’re asking!)
I planned a very strict budget for my trip, researching the best budget eats in Paris, staying in a hostel, and walking everywhere to save euros. It all went to plan (I only spent €8 on visiting the usual tourist attractions) but my careful planning usually unravelled after a carafe or two of wine…
I pretty much saw all the major landmarks on my first day, arriving in Paris at the Gare du Nord and then walking around the city taking in the Arch du Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and the Notre Dame Cathedral before heading to my hostel to rest my weary feet.
On the other days I went exploring the less central parts of Paris and went to the Pere Lachaise Cemetary (which houses such luminaries as Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Victor Hugo and Jim Morrison). I only found the French writer, Honore de Balzac (which I enjoyed for quite puerile reasons…grow up man, grow up!)
I then ventured from Belleville along the Saint Martin Canal to Montmartre (where the majority of the film Amelie is based and filmed) and stopped off for coffee at the cafe where Amelie is set, the Cafe des 2 Moulins, where there is a very splendid looking copper bar.
Just round the corner from the cafe and the nearby Moulin Rouge was my first foodie glimpse of Paris, a tiny chocolate shop called A l’Etoile d’Or. The place was filled with tempting looking chocolate bars and sweets in glass jars and I bought some dark chocolate salted caramels and a couple of choclate bars for presents.
My chocolate salted caramels didn’t last long, I ate them under the light of a dirty kebab house nearby!!
I ended up at the Louvre that night, extremely pretty when it is dark!
The next day I ended up at the Louvre again in the morning as access to all museums was free that day (the 1st Sunday of each month).
The crowds got busier around lunchtime so I decided to leave for a little snack. I went to macaron boutique by Pierre Hermes, and this was my own little Paris romance. I fell in love with these little morsels of sweetness, the crisp exterior yielding to a soft and chewy centre before hitting the creamy ganache (can you tell I like them?!). At €2 a piece they were a bit more expensive than your ordinary macaron but well worth the money.
This was the passionfruit and chocolate one, but I also bought less traditional flavours such as foie gras and also white truffle and hazelnut! They didn’t last long…
After I went for late lunch at Le Comptoir du Relais, a famed cafe bistro, however one that is surprisingly affordable. I started off with one of their signature dishes, the smoked salmon croque monsieur, a slightly classier take on the classic toasted cheese sandwich that even came complete with a liberal spread of caviar. That and a carafe of the house red came to less than €20!
I got talking to a Australian family next to me and eventually ordered some snails drowning in garlic butter and a couple of beers to down them with.
Suitably lubricated I stumbled across the road to a George Larnicol chocolatier where I bought some more macarons (much more affordable at €3 for 6 pieces) and some more presents (which were later confiscated at the airport…).
The next day I did more walking in the Montparnasse area in the south of the city and ended up at Pizza Chic for lunch. For those in the know, it is one of the most fashionable places to eat in Paris but I managed to find a table for myself this lunch service. At €21 for my pizza it definitely wasn’t cheap but the service was outstanding as was the food. P.S. Don’t leave without checking out the toilet!!
This day was definitely a foodie day as I decided to go for a second lunch at Au Pied au Cochon, a traditional brasserie in the Halle area renowned for it’s fried pigs trotters and all things piggy. It is also famous for it’s french onion soup which is what I ordered, good value at €8. It is so cheesy it could easily be mistaken for lasagne at first glance! After this mega lunch I was more than full for the rest of the day.
On my last day I went down into the catacombs, tunnels underneath the city that are filled with bones and skulls of dead Parisians. Rather creepy but morbidly fascinating.
I grabbed my final lunch at L’as Fallafel, a Parisian institution, before heading off to the airport back to London and onward to Edinburgh for the second half of my trip!