Hi everyone! I have recently come back from Paris and I can’t believe how fast our trip went, they always do when you’re having fun right? With it only being a couple of hours away on the plane from Manchester (and two hours on the train from London I believe), it’s the perfect place for a short break and spend the weekend away. You can do some window shopping, go sightseeing and admire the art and architecture, potter around the cafes and chic boutiques, all whilst enjoying fresh baguettes and cheese (my “no-carb” diet went out the window!). So today, I thought I would share with you our experience and to give you an honest review of our trip.
Departure time was 7am so we had to get up at 3am to get ready and to sort out any last minute packing as well as giving ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport. We both only had about 2 hours sleep that night because we really wanted to finish watching the US series, Stranger Things(!!) – Has anyone else been watching this?? We flew from Manchester Aiport with Flybe and it was a smooth and relaxing ride for the next hour and a half before landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport. We we arrived at the Passport Control area which was chaos and so many long queues everywhere! We queued for about an hour and a half before we got through, there were no staff around other than those behind the control desks to inform us what was happening or where to go, it was frustrating and tiring.
Our hotel had already arranged for a taxi from LeCab to pick us up at the airport to take us there and this was already prepaid at €50!! So bearing this in mind, we were worrying whether our taxi guy would still be there or not because it took us so long to come out. At the Arrivals we couldn’t find our taxi guy (kind of expected) so we headed straight to the Information desk to ask if they could contact LeCab about our taxi. Turned out the taxi man had been and gone, and that we would have to pay an additional €20 for them to come back out to pick us up….!! To say we were unhappy and annoyed was an understatement, but we felt so tired and drained we just wanted to be get to the hotel so we could just drop out things off and enjoy the trip. The taxi man eventually returned and took us to our hotel which is half an hour away from the airport.
We stayed at 1er Etage – Premier Etage in Marais, a trendy neighbourhood in Paris surrounded by cool boutiques, vintage shops, trendy bars and cafes . The hotel was one of the nicest places I have ever stayed in because I felt like a true Parisian living in Paris, which I don’t believe you can get if you stayed in other larger hotels. There are a total of five rooms and each one has its own personal atmosphere with unique furniture and decorations. We stayed in the “Marais” room which is all modern and chic,
Once we dropped our bags off we made our way to the Musée de Louvre, the world’s largest museum. We spent a couple of hours looking at the historic artwork including the Mona Lisa before taking a stroll outside to admire this iconic glass triangle. If you are an art or a history lover then this is definitely worth a visit as your can spend the entire day there to see everything.
Afterwards we went to Champs Élysées known as “the world’s most beautiful avenue” where it stretches from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. The avenue is filled lined with lots of restaurants, designer stores and flagship stores (shopping heaven for all shopaholics!). We did some shopping and eating before strolling along to the Arc de Triomphe. We climbed all the way to the top (284 steps) where we had an amazing view of Paris. From here you can see the iconic Eiffel Tower.
Things did not go to plan on the second day unfortunately as there were a couple of things we didn’t get to go and see. We got ready in the early morning and made our way to the ParisCatacombs. These are ossuaries that have the remains of six million people! It is known as “The World’s Largest Grave” (I know this may not appeal to everyone, but this was one of the main reasons why I wanted to go to Paris!) When we had arrived the queue was super long and worked out if we queued up and eventually got to go inside, the whole thing would take up most of our day which we didn’t want as we had other places to go and see. We decided that we would come back the following day and made our way to see the Notre-Dame Cathedral. When we arrived there was a big queue but it was moving quite quickly. Inside was stunning, the architecture is really beautiful (if you are into architecture that it). We really wanted to do the climb but the queue for that was so long and it wasn’t really moving. It was such a sunny day we would have baked in the sunshine whilst lining up! So we decided to give it a miss.
A good friend of mine recommended a famous bookstore called Shakespeare & Company, so if you are a bookworm like me then you’ll love this! It is just around the corner from the Notre-Dame and isn’t difficult to find. I really like the quirkiness of it and when you go inside, there are lots of tiny rooms filled with crooked bookshelves, old mirrors and type-writers, and old fraying chairs. After a while I decided to get the classic “Moby Dick or The Whale book”, and I was excited to get my book stamped. At this bookstore when you buy a book, they ask you if you would like it inscribed with the official Shakespeare and Company stamp – I said yes of course! So that every time I open the book, it reminds me of Paris.
We took the underground back to Marais as we hadn’t checked out what was right outside our doorstep yet. Across the road there are three stores called Fleux’ (fleux.com) which sells these really cool and quirky items for your home, you could even use some of them as props for blogging! It really is a fun place to look around even if you don’t actually end up buying anything as some of the things are not cheap.
We stumbled across a Vietnemese-Asian food just down the road from us called Hanoi. It’s not an overly big restaurant and looks tiny when you go in, but don’t be fooled – there are more seating downstairs. I had some king prawn summer rolls and some friend noodles, Danny wanted to try their beef pho noodles. The service was very good and the food was tasty, but I don’t think it was the best we’ve had.
We had to quickly make our way to the Eiffel Tower as we had pre-booked tickets in advance to go get the lift to the top, and included a two hour tour. We took the underground to go to our meet-up point with the group but for some reason it wasn’t the right one and when we asked at the Information Centre. We got misdirected lost, ended up being late and didn’t make it. We were so disappointed as we were really looking forward to admiring the views across the city. Eventually we made our own way to the Eiffel Tower and admired it from the ground instead, we didn’t stay around for too long as were no longer in the mood after what had happened. If we hadn’t had the tickets we would have probably climbed up to the first level which is apparently 704 steps and from here, and then you have an option to buy a ticket for the lift to go to level three.
On our last day we wanted to head back out to the Catacombs, until we were told that it is closed on Mondays (!). I was gutted and was really annoyed at myself for not checking the opening days and times. As we had to get leave for the airport in the afternoon, there was only one place left. Chanel.
Chanel, 31 Rue Cambon is named after Coco Chanel’s apartment that is above the boutique. There are four floors, the Chanel store being street level, dressing rooms on the second floor, her apartment on the third and her workshop on the fourth. We saw the famous flight of mirrored staircases and a member of staff told us that back in the day, when there was a new collection, Chanel watched them being modelled from those stairs during the show she would sit perched on the 5th step down from her apartment in front of a wall of mirrors. She looks down to see the models and audience reaction to the clothes without anyone seeing her.
When we walked into the boutique, every single member of staff were so lovely and friendly. The interior was beautiful and elegant, very spacious with lots of couches to rest on. I don’t know why but I felt really shy and daren’t look at what was on display but eventually came out of my shell and had a look at a couple of things…and ended up walking out with a small purchase, but I shall talk about that in another post(!)
This is the only boutique that provides white box and white shopping boxes. Other Chanel boutique in Paris and other countries all use black boxes and black shopping bags. If you love Chanel then this is definitely worth a visit and it’s a lovely experience, a must see for any fashionista.
Overall we really loved spending the weekend in this picturesque city and would 100% go back as there is so much more I want to see. The service at the hotel was excellent, Juliette and Serge were so helpful and they made us feel so welcome. Breakfast time felt personal and private with only a few tables for the guests. We were served continental breakfast – fresh fruit served with a pot of yoghurt, a selection of cold meats and cheese, and a basket full of pastries and bread to choose from. The only downside is that you don’t get to choose what you want to eat for breakfast, and there was no option for any hot food or anything vegetarian.
Based on our experiences here are a few tips if you are planning to go to Paris:
1/ Consider using the underground for the transfer to hotel. Plan and prepare to see if there is a met/underground near to where you are staying as this could save you money on a taxi. Bear in mind the distance you’ll be walking, as you will also be carrying your luggage(s) and this may be the last thing you want to do if you’re tired from the flight. In hindsight this is what we should have done as there was an underground stop five minutes away from our hotel!
2/ Make sure you wear comfy shoes for walking because places are not as close to each other as it seems! On the map they looked close, but we didn’t realise how far away places actually were and had to rush at times. I didn’t even bother taking any heels with me on this trip as I knew I would be walking for miles.
3/ Try and pre-book tourist attractions online to Fast Track/Skip Queue otherwise you could be queuing for hours, not good if you’re there only for a few days and time is short. Make sure you plan your route thoroughly and know exactly where you need to go and know your meet-up points are. Give yourself plenty of time to get there!
I hope you guys enjoyed this blog, I am going to New York next weekend and was I thinking of doing a vlog (as well as a post-trip blog) – let me know what you guys think? Also, you can follow me on Twitter @ HeatherLee888 and on Instagram @ leelalee888.
Love Heather x
Musée de Louvre
Me on point at the Louvre
Me enjoying the scenery at Notre-Dame
Me and Danny at the Notre-Dame
The beautiful Notre-Dame
The view at top of Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe
Champs Élysées avenue
This retro sink in the bedroom
Breakfast area at 1er Etage
Chanel, 31 Rue Cambon
Me looking happy at Chanel, 31 Rue Cambon and the famous staircase
Me at Champs Élyées wanting some macarons from the famous Ladurée
The Shakespeare & Company bookstore
Cool pineapple lights at Fleux’