Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Postcards from Paris - Day 1


Thomas Jefferson famously said 'a walk in Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life'. Desperate to experience this for ourselves, we booked a short break in the much-loved French capital city. Having lived in London for a while now, it's a wonder as to why I've not made Paris my second home. It's so close to London, yet so far from what London is...indescribable differences that make these cities incomparable, yet beautiful in their own ways. I've said it time and time again, whilst I love London, spending too much time there can wear you down...Paris on the other hand, is the city to visit when you want to feel alive

Even emerging from a railway station, you're surrounded by the beauty of the city. Take the Gare D'Orsay for example, you're instantly hit by a view of the Seine and it's many wonderful bridges, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the beginning of the Champs Elysees, I could go on....there really is nothing like it on earth. 

Anyway, I digress, today I wanted to share with you my first day in Paris, and how I instantly fell in love with the city. Our flight left London Heathrow bright and early, so we were lucky enough to catch the morning light in Paris by 8am. The first part of our morning was filled with the necessary admin tasks that come with landing in a new city - finding the hotel, checking in, and of course caffeinating for the day ahead. Unfortunately, Air France lost our suitcase, so a lot of our day was spent on the phone to their (somewhat useless) customer service team trying to locate our belongings, with little success.

Determined not to let the small issue of a missing case ruin our mini-break, we hopped on the metro to the Grand Palais for a quick look, we were pretty behind schedule at this point so we didn't have time to go inside, and then a wander down the Champs Elysées to the Arc De Triomphe. We found that the best way to see Paris was to walk, theres so much beauty in the architecture and the quaint little shops and cafes that you'll miss if you're on the metro - so it was definitely worth the extra steps to walk everywhere on day one.


As I said, the architecture in Paris is something to behold, and the Champs Elysées is just stunning. The Avenue des Champs-Elysées is probably the most famous avenue in the world. The impressive street stretches from the Place de la Concorde (the famous fountain where Anne Hathaway throws her Blackberry away in the Devil Wears Prada a.k.a my fave film ever) to the Place Charles de Gaulle, or the site of the Arc De Triomphe.

Determined to make it to the Arc De Triomphe before it got too dark to enjoy the view, we strolled down the Champs Elysées without stopping in any of the shops (serious will power was required), only stopping to take a few snaps of the beautiful buildings.


When we finally made it to the Arc De Triomphe we spent some time exploring the beautiful details of the statue and paying our respects to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It's often easy to forget that the Arc De Triomphe is more than just a beautiful statue, but a monument to honour those who fought and dies for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The monument has the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer pillars, and beneath the monument lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WW1, marked by the first eternal flame in Europe since the Vestal Virgins' fire was extinguished in the fourth century. It can be quite a solemn experience, but something I'd definitely recommend visiting if you're into your history like me.

After we'd taken it all in underneath the monument, we headed inside to purchase our tickets and hop in the lift to the top. It turns out that a visit to the top is actually free if you're under 25, so remember to take your ID with you and you can save yourself a few euros! We then quickly discovered that the lift was out of service for maintenance and that we'd have to climb all the way to the top...this wouldn't normally be a problem but I was suffering with the flu and trust me, it's not easy to climb when you can barely breathe! After we'd finally made it to the top (after multiple little breaks) we were amazed by the view. From the top of the Arc De Triomphe you can see pretty much the whole of Paris - everything from the Sacre Coeur to the Eiffel Tower and all of the pretty buildings in between. It was a pretty misty day when we visited, but luckily we were still able to enjoy the breathtaking view.


After we'd made it safely back down the Arc De Triomphe, we decided to rest our legs and do the typical girls weekend thing of going for tea and cake at Ladurée. The Ladurée restaurant on the Champs Elysées is simply stunning, it's typical parisian ornate decor was everything I'd ever dreamed of and the treats were to die for. I had the hot chocolate with chantilly cream and it was honestly like nothing I'd ever tasted - simply amazing. Between us we managed to try one of their chocolate delights, a cheesecake and their famous Ispahan, all of which were so tasty. As I go through my three days in Paris, I'm sure you'll start to notice a theme...hot chocolate and cake!



After we'd finished up at Ladurée and felt we were ready to brave the cold, we hopped on the metro and took a quick train to the Louvre. We didn't spend long here as it was getting dark, and we'd all been before, but it was still lovely to have a quick walk around and grab some photos next to the famous art gallery. It was already dusk by this point, so there wasn't too much more sightseeing we could fit into the day, however we did quickly cross the road to admire the Palais Royal - one of my favourite places in Paris. As it was getting dark quickly, we made the decision to revisit the Palais Royal another day, as we wanted to admire it's beauty during daylight.


As it had been quite a long day (especially with losing all of our belongings - thanks Air France!) we decided to treat ourselves to some bubbles and some traditional french snacks (french bread, french cheese and french cold meats) at Bistrot Valois, located right next to the Palais Royal. The Bistro was a traditional french cafe, complete with european festive decorations - it was the perfect way to get cosy before heading back to the hotel.


After we'd drank our way through a bottle of french champagne, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for dinner - although there wasn't much we could do as we didn't have our outfits and makeup with us! For dinner, we headed to La Bocca Della Verita - a quaint little italian restaurant recommended to me by Jenny from Margo & Me (she's your go-to girl on all things Paris!). If your craving italian food, then this place is to die for - their rocket and hazelnut pasta is divine.

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