Travelling changes your mind, your perspective and your perception of your own world. Everywhere we go and anytime we explore places we have never been to, we take a part of this place with us and lock it up in our hearts, for eternity to keep. Paris is one of those cities everyone puts on their bucket list because you think you’re missing out on something if you don’t at least see the Eiffel Tower once in your life. When you live on mainland Europe you sometimes start to believe that you have all the time in the world to explore those cities that seem so close but are still so far away.
It’s remarkable how much we take the “little” distances on our relatively small continent for granted and forget that travelling still takes time. Ever since I came back from Manchester I decided for myself that I would visit at least one place a year that I had never been to. While Scandinavia is rather highly ranked on my list of places I want to see, Paris had been at the back of my mind for quite a while as well. The French language has always fascinated me and I used to take French classes at uni so I was exceptionally excited for actually getting to know the French capital that I had heard the most magical stories of.
My expectations were exceeded. Paris is one oft those extraordinary cities that engrave themselves into your mind and make you fall in love with their atmosphere and pure, simple beauty.
As a lover of architecture Paris was nothing less than paradise for me. Historical buildings shaping the city grounds, old facades with fascinating embellishments and the dominance of exceptionally fascinating creme coloured brick work made one wonder if one had entered a fairytale, letting forget the dark past of a city that now presents itself as the vibrant centre of a country full of pride. The long lost kings’ love for symmetry, elegance and splendour is still undeniably visible in 21st century Paris no matter if walking down Esplanade des Invalides or strolling through the gardens of the uncountable palaces that are embedded into an otherwise modern metropolitan.
Entering Montmartre, located in Northern Paris, is like entering a different world. Hidden in the shadows of majestic Sacre Coeur that has been throning on a hill overlooking the city since 1914, Montmartre is a gem that should not be missed. A tiny version of the calm of the Provence resting in the north of an otherwise lively city makes you feel like travelling back in time. Small shops and aspiring painters that are crowded together on a market place and present their art to the public while hiding under sun shades from the burning heat. The houses are colourful and packed with the most exotic flowers tingling your nose with extraordinary smells. Montmartre is a place that you could spend your entire day in, just strolling through the tiny alleyways finding yourself discovering even more of these tiny shops and cafés that have people sitting in front all day.
Even though the French are known for their exquisite cuisine and one might think you might want to splash out on a fancy dinner at some point, you are immediately taken aback by HOW HIGH the prices are. I had heard that Paris was expensive in terms of food and drinks but the prices were indeed horrendous. I wish I could give you a proper review on where to go out for food and which cafés and coffee shops were cute to enjoy brunch in but as a matter of fact, we didn’t go out for dinner once. I usually don’t look at prices when I’m on holiday but as soon as I have to pay 15 to 20 euros for a simple dish that would cost me a third of said price at home, I am sort of appalled and my appetite is gone. We helped ourselves at the local bakery and supermarket just around the corner of our hotel that offered everything we needed and actually enjoyed trying out local pastries for a reasonable price.
The Small Cafés.
As France being a wine nation I was able to drink a deliciously tasting, reasonably priced glass of wine in one of the cafés right around the corner of our hotel. What I love about the French is how much they enjoy their life and how much appreciation they have for being able to spend time socialising. The streets of Paris all day round are packed with people sitting in woven chair outside tiny cafés having food and drinks.
Our hotel was located in Avenue de Tourville right in between Champs de Mars and the Dome des Invalides. The hotel we stayed in was called Hotel Le Tourville, a tiny four star hotel that exceeded all our expectations. The staff was exceptionally friendly and helpful and they appreciated my attempt of speaking French more than I had expected them to (Parisians in general are delighted when you at least try to speak French even if you have to switch to English then, the effort counts).
Our room on the fourth floor might have been tiny but the views and the furniture were incredible. We had booked a stay with breakfast included and as it was a tiny hotel everything from breakfast to service felt personal and genuine. A bar in the lobby provided free drinks and snacks all day. We booked our stay via Secret Escapes, which has always been one of my tips when wanting to travel luxuriously for little money. Even a boat trip was included in our booking.
The metro in Paris is reliable and enables you to get around the city super quickly as there’s a train every couple minutes. I suggest you buying a so called Navigo Decouverte which costs less than the standard tourist Paris visite pass and you can still use the public transport all around the city. All you need is a passport photo as the card will be personalised.
Another tip for everyone under 26 is a day ticket for 4,10€ with which you can travel around the city for 24 hours on weekends and national holidays.
Shopping in Paris can be described with a single word: heaven. Everything one could possibly imagine can be found on one of the various shopping streets and centres all across the city. When going into Saint Laurent we were treated like actual princesses with multiple staff members offering us drinks while we were waiting for our purchases to be wrapped up in bags you didn’t even want to open because they looked like art themselves. I had never done anything like that before as high street brands like Topshop and Zara have always been my primary go-to but experiencing such special treatment was a nice change for once.
The whole trip was remarkable in every single way possible and I am still so grateful about the fact that I get to experience such amazing things at such a young age and that the world has become so accessible.
Eating pizza in front of the Eiffel Tower, watching the sunset until the whole tower started glittering at 10PM was one of the most breathtaking experiences I have ever experienced and I still cannot fathom that this actually happened to me.
I could to immerse myself into the culture and got to witness the ups and downs of Paris in the historical centres and museums all over Paris. What I consider amazing is that you can enter most churches for free and Musée d’Orsay is free for everyone under 26 as well.
I have fallen in love with the city of love and am definitely planning on coming back. Paris, mon amour, je t’aime.