Travel Journal: Four Day Trip to Paris, October 2016

Saturday, 20 May 2017

I've always wanted to go to Paris but every time there was a school trip, it'd always be cancelled because no one was willing to pay. But said to myself one day that I need to travel more and Paris was the destination I was desperate to visit and eventually I managed to go!

I travelled to Paris back in October of last year. I was actually planning to go on my own, which would have ben a pretty bad idea but its annoying to have to ask people to go with you. I was going home from work one day, got on the bus and went upstairs to find a seat and then suddenly someone grabbed my arm, which really startled me. But it turned out to be my 6th Form friend. I was happy to see her because we lost contact. We talked, had a very short catch up and I was saying I'd really like to go to Paris and she spontaneously said we can go together!

We were absolutely drained and knackered from getting to Paris and to our BnB (disaster followed suit, just when I thought missing the flight was the worst thing to have happened), that we decided to call it a day, sleep it off and said we'll explore more sights tomorrow.

Second day, we got to see so much more and the day was certainly better (thank god). The first thing we visited was the Eiffel Tower has got to be the most magnificent monument I have ever seen (not exaggerating). It was so huge and kind of surreal at the same time. It's one thing seeing all the Eiffel Tower pictures online on tumblr and it's another thing getting to see the real thing in person. We saw a really stunning horse carousel and we witnessed a marriage! (I probably looked like a total creep when I took that photo). My friend and I was just walking along the Seine river taking photos and I was like oh my god, I think they're getting married! It is true what they say - Paris is a romantic city. A man walking by who asked in French (didn't know what he was saying as my French is very limited) whether we wanted him to take a photo of us, which was so nice! You don't get that in London. The photo of the carousel and the couple getting married were definitely one of the favourite shots from this trip.

Petit Palais

You can't exactly see me but that's me there standing in front of the entrance to the Petit Palais:

We visited some museums - two of which were the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. I know next to nothing about French history, it was was really interesting to see the paintings and the historic antique pieces such as the pocket watches which I loved. I see so much of London in Paris! There's all these attractions that remind me of London that seems like I never left, weirdly. Paris is like a more sophisticated London with their sophisticated language and well-dressed Parisians. This water foundation reminds me of Trafalgar Square:

I downloaded this app of the Paris map, which I was so dependant on! It was a life saver but the only bad thing I can say is that iPhone battery life is not going to last. The good thing about Paris is that most places are within walking distance (almost anyway) and the metro is so cheap, it's just €1.90 for every journey no matter what zone you're travelling, which makes the London Underground a rip off. We walked quite a long way to get to the Louvre. Unfortunately the day we wanted to see it, it was closed. But the pyramid glass architecture itself looked really spectacular. It's a iconic tourist attraction. 

From the Louvre, we walked through the beautiful Tuileres Gardens which had this very HUGE water foundation with little ducks, where we sat down to rest for a bit and to admire how nice the day was - felt very much like spring. When we walked up the High Street to get to our final tourist destination - the Arc De Triomphe and it just reminded me of Oxford Street! It was very busy and we saw some of the typical High Street stores that I'd see in London such as Gap and Zara. We had a browse through the shopping centres in the Galerie Elysee and came across these amazing sculptures of a penguin and bulldog, including a golden Winnie The Pooh! 
After seeing the Arc De Triomphe, it was getting dark and decided to call it a night.

On day three, we went on a cruise by Bateaux Parisiens to see the sights, which lasted an hour. We saw some really amazing historic buildings and some fantastic architecture. It was really interesting to learn a bit about the history of France, especially the execution of King Louis XVI at the Place De La Concorde. The only thing with cruises is that it is extremely windy and cold.

After the cruise, we walked quite a long way to get to the Notre Dame Cathedral as its a must-visit whilst visiting Paris. It was probably the the biggest cathedral I've ever seen and no surprise it was surrounded with so many tourists. It has a very French Gothic Architecture appeal to it. The rose window stain glass looked really stunning. 
Outside the cathedral, I noticed this pretty Asian girl wearing a beautiful wedding dress. A lot of people were loitering around, staring. The only funny thing was that it was really windy, so it kept blowing her dress and the photographer was trying so hard to take a picture. 

We were pretty much famished after all the sightseeing, so after the cathedral we went to have some lunch at a restaurant nearby and there were plenty to choose from. All I need is that I wanted burger and chips, as its one of my favourite foods ever. This isn't as good as TGI Fridays or Honest Burgers but it'll do as I was starving!

I did my research beforehand and I was literally dying to go to a bookshop since I missed the opportunity the day before and had no time to go back because it was a far walk. Checking the map on my phone, I noticed the Shakespeare & Company bookshop was not far off! My friend was busy on her phone, so I said to her 'I'm going to a bookshop. You stay here, okay?'  And there I was off to go to a bookshop, excitedly. It was quite a small shop but it looked like a books heaven dream inside! There were books everywhere, like in a clutter, the shelves reached the ceilings and books on the staircases. It's more of a touristy bookshop, so it only sells English books. A must-visit for any book lover. Also I noticed that the cashiers must be from the UK, as they were conversing in English! After browsing for about 15minutes or so, I brought Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Puffin Chalk edition and a tote bag. The only thing I will say is that the prices in are pretty expensive, they cost more than UK paperbacks at mostly €13 and hardbacks are about €20-24. 

So this is where yet another mishap happened... I walked back to the benches near the cathedral and my friend was not there. I literally panicked! Losing your friend whilst in a different country is not practical and ideal, especially when your phone does not work. Knowing me, I jumped into so many conclusions - she got bored of waiting and walked off or she went back to the bnb. I was walking back and forth thinking where could she have possibly got to! It was a rather terrifying moment when I was standing outside the cathedral because there was just so many people. Luckily, I found her on the other side of the pavement waving and I was like thank god for that (panic over). It turns out, she just wanted to visit a pastry shop. She was saying, I can't go back to the bnb I don't have the key! I was thinking oh yes! Silly me jumping into conclusions as always.

She took me to the gorgeous pastry shop called Bertrand's. Paris is really known for their patisserie. They are truly a work of art, love all that attention to detail. You just want to eat everything! I'm afraid to say that I didn't eat as many pastry as I should have.

Later on after Bertrand's, we came across this adorable homeware and giftware shop called Mathilde M, such a beautiful little shop. The products were like a Parisian whimsical dream, so dainty, pretty and very instagram worthy!

Some more breads and pastries:

We were heading towards the Pompidou Centre, which was our second to last stop when we unexpectedly came across the Hotel de Ville Museum. I did so much research on top places to see in Paris and this museum came up on my radar but didn't think we'd have time to fit it in. Again, a very stunning and gothic-esque building, love the exterior and architecture. Most museums you have to pay for entry in Paris but fortunately, this one was free.

Some of the pieces I liked from the museum:

We got to the Pompidou Centre but didn't stay for very long as we were running out of time! You had to pay for tickets anyway, so we decided to give it a miss and off we went to Montmartre. We took the metro as it was not within walking distance. We had to get to this specific line, I don't remember the name was exactly but it took an extraordinary long walk to actually get there! It was kind of ridiculous. And just when I thought it takes ages to get to the Piccadilly Line, this line whatever name it was took way longer. Anywho, by the time we got there, it was already getting dark. We visited the ever so famous landmark Sacre-Coeur, which is a Roman Catholic church that is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Again, Paris has not disappointed me with its amazing architecture. 

Here is my mini-haul. I didn't buy a lot of souvenirs, which I was slightly disappointed by because I thought I'd go overboard since its my first holiday in almost a decade. A lot of the souvenirs were pretty generic and didn't appeal to me, so I only brought things which I really liked. Macaroons and a little Eiffel Tower are a must-buy!

Fourth day we got ready to go home and that was basically it! Despite the walking disaster travelling to Paris, I felt like we almost saw everything within a short space of time. Wished we could have been to the Picasso Museum, some flea markets and the gardens such as the Versailles and Luxembourg. I often hear that French people are rude and I was anticipating for the rudeness but when we went, they were nothing but nice! When we were in a supermarket looking for cheese, a French woman spoke to us in English and showed where it was. The text I highlighted in bold are places that are a must-visit.My Tips would be:- Always be three hours early before your flight departs!- Whilst I believe it's great to be spontaneous about your travels and have no idea where you'll end up. In hindsight, it is a very good idea to have a plan on where you want to go. I did a lot of research on the top places to visit and planned an itinerary. - I think most Parisians do speak English but study the language a little. A Parisian would be more willing to help you if you attempt to speak their language.  - I feel like the key to travelling is packing little as possible if you can! I brought clothes I didn't wear and you don't want to carry too much when you travel. Make sure you leave room for souvenirs. - Normally people don't walk up to a tourist to ask them something. I noticed these girls with clipboards asking for 'so called' donations for charity, yet they don't explain what the charity is about, they just want your money. It's not a donation, it is basically a way to scam tourists. First thing they'll ask you is if you speak English and of course you'll think 'Of course I do! How can I help?' You must avoid them like a plague.- And lastly, eat all the pastries! :)Thanks for reading!x  

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