Laying on the grass underneath the Eiffel Tower, the sunshine prickling my arms, I thought to myself “I should be in work right now, life ‘aint half bad ey?!”
When you think about spring time in Paris, it conjures up a vision of warm days, blossom, cobbled streets, amazing fashion and breath-taking sights. Visiting this remarkable city for the first time in March achieved all this and more, and opened my eyes to the history and intrigue of France itself.
As a 4 day hiatus from work, and the chance to soak up the mystery of a city so far removed to the concrete jungle of London which I was used to, Paris seemed the ideal chance to fulfil my ever-growing travel bug. Earlier this year, my parents had moved there for work, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to have free accommodation, a well-versed tour guide, and the comforting sense of home while I was away.
Research, research, research…
As with any city break, it is vital to do your research first! With the internet at your finger-tips, it is increasingly simple to Google some ideas of how to spend your days. Whether you want to cram all of the famous sights into two days, visit specific towns or districts or just enjoy the local, relaxed cuisine… it’s worth looking into the best ways to go about it!
The public transport system in Paris is second to none! If you have enough language proficiency to buy a ticket and translate the flamboyantly–named stations, then I highly recommend the Metro System and local Buses as a way of getting around and seeing the sights. It’s cheap, efficient, and a far-cry from the smelly London underground.
If public transport isn’t your thing, and you’re lucky enough to be in the city of love while it is warm and dry, then lace up your walking shoes and take to the streets. One of Paris’ perks is that everything you could ever want and need is in close proximity to one another, so walking around to see the sights is completely do-able. Not only will you return to your room at the end of the day with rosy cheeks and a genuine feel for the city, you can find some interesting places on your journey and soak up the sights, smells and sounds too.… As an added bonus, you will also walk off all of the rich cheeses and fresh breads you’re very likely to be munching on during your days!
Ready to Indulge…
Talking of the local delicacies, when visiting Paris it comes hand in hand with great food, and even better wine! This being said, you are guaranteed to over-indulge on these expensive local treats. Try a change of scenery and eat in a small local restaurant off of the main tourist streets. This will ensure a real cultural experience and usually a cheaper price too! Ask the waiter to translate the specials menu and go bold with something you’ve never tried before, having a taste of the local menu is all part of the fun, right?!
When it comes to the touristy stuff, Paris has it all. Galleries, Museums, Churches, Towers and famous streets. It’s wise to set aside a handful which you know you really want to see before you visit, and see which are near to each other to ensure a smooth day of travel. During my trip, I decided I wanted to see as much of it as I could, but leaving enough to make a second visit worth-while.
Day 1 took us to the Arc De Triomphe, The Champs-Élysées, around the high end shopping district and to see some street performer’s break dancing along the way! With my DSLR in hand and the sun shining, it was a great start to the trip. Day 2 we managed to visit the Eiffel Tower and its beautiful grounds and take a boat trip down the Seine to soak up all the touristy information from the tour guide as we glided across the calm waters. The boat trip is something I highly recommend – enjoyable, especially in the sun, and so rich with valuable information! By taking it from outside the Eiffel Tower, it costs 13 Euros to travel an hour down to the Notre Dame and back again! If you’re a history buff, or interested in some eerie facts, walking distance from the Eiffel Tower is the infamous tunnel where Princess Diana died, and under the Arc De Triomphe; a beautiful memorial for the ‘fallen soldier’ and those who lost their lives in battle for France. Day 3 was as attraction packed as the others, and we visited the Louvre, shopped along the arches, photographed the Notre Dame in the sunshine and clipped a padlock onto the Bridge of Love.
There seems to be a Paris Bucket List for those travelling to this beautiful city – and still to cross off of mine is the Moulin Rouge, The city of Versailles and to have a glass of champagne at the top of Montparnasse. With breath-taking views of Paris in its entirety – this is a sure-fire way of seeing it from a rare height compared to the majority of perfectly preserved pre-war architecture below.
Don’t Waste a Minute…
In reflection of my short time in Paris, the tip for unlocking the magic of this beautiful location is to not waste any time! Get out there, get stuck in, talk to locals and plan your time well. If you are travelling on a budget, there are ample ways to do this trip on the cheap. Get food from the local markets to save on dining out for every meal, and if you want to buy tickets for famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower viewing platform or to visit Disney Land Paris, pre-book online the week before you leave!
All in all, to make the most of this Parisian Paradise, pack quirky but comfortable clothes, embrace your inner-tourist and don’t be afraid to explore! With so many things to do and see, this City of Love sure had me smitten.