So, back in August, I got to go to Paris.
Le sigh. I don't care if it's a cliche: I love Paris.
That's me, loving Paris. See the love?
You can actually lock your love in Paris:
Thousands of padlocks line the bridges over the Seine, with lovers' initials written on them, to lock their love in Paris forever. Le sigh.
OK, so although Paris is all about romance, I actually went with my sister. It wasn't that kind of trip! We've been talking about it since at least Christmas, how we've both been before for long weekends and seen all the tourist attractions (although I don't think I could ever get tired of looking around the Notre Dame cathedral), but that there was so much cool stuff to do in Paris, and you just can't drag your boyfriend around flea markets and vintage shops and stop for tea and crêpes and croissants every hour, pretty much on the hour...OK, before you start, I know there are a lot of good men out there who do enjoy these activities (mine included) but in mine and my sister's experiences, particularly with our current respective partners, there is only so much they can take. They just can't keep up with the two of us, and it's mean to make them try. So we left them at home.
Seriously, do boys appreciate the necessity of Ladurée macaroons?
Yeah, I'm in front of the Louvre. But it's not about the Louvre. It's about the Ladurée macaroon.
That should give you an idea of the kind of week we had planned!
My sister lives about 10 minutes away from St Pancras station, so we caught the Eurostar at 7am and were in Paris two hours later, with a minimum of fuss. I friggin' love the Eurostar. You can even buy your Metro tickets on the train, so you don't have to queue at Gare du Nord, you can just stroll straight through like a local. Once we'd located our hotel (I may have boldly directed us to the wrong rue Jean-Jaurès) we headed into town to get our bearings and pay our obligatory respects to the appropriate towers, arches, and cathedrals, then spent the rest of the afternoon (and indeed, most of the rest of the week) just walking around, seeing what we would stumble across.
Well, we stumbled across a heavenly biscuit shop. I'm still amazed that any of those biscuits made it all the way home to Blighty to share with my boyfriend!
We marvelled at Paris' penchant for extra large doors:
See? Small sister, large door:
We each picked out our favourite wing of the palace. Here is mine:
And we swooned over every blue door number and every shuttered window of every Paris apartment:
Of course, you bloggers may remember that Sarah Strawberry Fields was in Paris a couple of months ago, and upon her recommendation we headed to Le Petit Zinc for our first evening meal. It did not disappoint:
It's an art nouveau dream come true: the interior looked like the inside of the Titanic:
Booth seating, original tiled pictures of flowing-haired fairies in diaphanous dresses, and my oh my the biggest escargot either of us had ever seen! The snails were amazing, then my sister had a coquelet and I had the lamb, and we both nearly died of happiness. Promise me, next time you're in Paris, you will eat there. It's at 11 Rue Saint-Benoît, which is near Saint-Germain-des-Prés Metro station.
One other restaurant I simply must mention is Le Café Marguerite, which we discovered completely by accident at 3 Rue Rougemont, just behind Grands Boulevard Metro station. The two old guys who own the place were like a comedy double-act straight out of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie, and we ate like kings for about €12 each.
Between blogs, guide books, friends' recommendations and just the good old internet, we had each compiled a list of shops, cafes, and such that we wanted to visit. The night before we left we pooled our resources and picked out two or three areas which had the most hits on our list, and so our general plan each day was to head to an area, try and find the places we'd looked up in advance, but otherwise just wander and soak up the atmosphere. We spent a lot of time around Saint-Germain-des-Prés, found some brilliant shops in the Marais district, and of course, headed up to Montmarte. Amelie's very own stomping ground, and home to the gorgeous but aggressively touristy Sacre Coeur, it is a maze of picturesque streets filled with vintage shops and cute boutiques. You come out at Abbesses Metro station, which is one of the few with its original wrought iron entrance...
...and then you spend the rest of the day winding your way down the hill taking pictures of every cute shop front and wishing you lived in every apartment block:
It has always been an artists' district, and there is evidence of their continued presence everywhere:
On our last day we had a few hours to play with after we'd dropped our bags off at the Gare du Nord and headed to rue Montorgueil (Les Halles Metro station, really central) which I'd heard was a good foodie market street.
If, like us, most of the souvenir gifts you plan on bringing back from Paris are edible, then I would definitely recommend you head down there on your last day, too! There are two or three main streets lined with butchers, boulangeries, charcuteries, fromageries, wine merchants, grocers, and every other kind of food shop you could hope to find! We'd bought all our gifts within about half an hour, which left us plenty of time for a delicious lazy lunch and a good old snoop around, and absolutely no need to rush to catch our train home.
We packed a lot into our four days. We ate a lot, we did a lot of walking, and of course, we did a lot of talking, too. My sister and I have never been on holiday together before, and I think we both agreed that it was a roaring success.
Le sigh. Can we go back next week, please?