Last Friday, Queenie and I made our way to the Eurostar to spend a few days in belle Paris. I couldn’t travel to my favourite city in the world without grabbing my camera (I’m currently testing the lightweight Sony A5000) and documenting everything we did!
So, grab yourself a bevvie and some biscuits, because this might take a while.
First, a tour of Paris
I think the epitome of cinematic perfection is the opening scene of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. It starts with a montage of classic Parisian sights – from the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge to cobblestone streets and al fresco diners sitting beneath red umbrellas – all set to a rather gorgeous sax-laden overture from Sidney Bechet.
So, if you want the Allen-esque Parisian experience for the duration of this blog post, listen to this rather lovely piece of jazz while you read on. Not a jazz fan? Never mind…
We started our first morning with a tour of Paris, which I’d seriously recommend if you’re a newbie to the city like Queenie. It’s a brilliant way to see a lot of Paris quickly.
In the space of two hours, we ticked off the Eiffel Tower (cue tourist-y snaps), the Arc De Triomphe, Hôtel des Invalides, the Grand Palais, the Seine and the Notre-Dame. All before driving down the legendary Champs-Élysées.
It also helps you choose which areas you want to explore later. Although Paris is relatively small, there’s plenty to do. But the next thing on our to-do list was slightly outside the city…
The Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles was our next destination. For those of you not familiar, Versailles was home to the French royals for over 100 years (before, y’know, they got deposed and guillotined) and it’s just half an hour from the centre of Paris.
We didn’t actually go inside the palace as the queues were huge, but I’d love to go back during a less busy season and pretend to be a royal for a bit. Colossal palace aside, the gardens are simply stunning. Their vastness and perfection is unmatched anywhere else.
Our three hours there were nowhere near enough to cover the two square miles they possess in what seems to be a never-ending maze of perfectly pruned greenery, intricate sculptures and scenic lakes. Oh, and the hedges play opera. It’s all very atmospheric.
Queenie and I wandered around for an hour or so before settling down in front a particularly beautiful boating lake (the Grand Canal) to eat our lunches. After we’d finished stuffing our faces and people watching, we went on a quest for ice-cream (after spotting a car with parasols serving sorbet – picture evidence below). There’s a cute little ice-cream stall through a maze of trees which serves a delicious glace au chocolate, FYI.
Exploring Paris by night
After Versailles, we headed back towards our hotel and looked around Alésia/Montparnasse. We found a little bistro to grab some dinner, which was fine but turned out to be our least impressive meal in Paris, and then headed out to explore the city by night.
If you thought Paris looked beautiful by day, you’re in for a real treat. After dark, the city is transformed. After all, that’s how it earned the title ‘City of Light’. Everything is illuminated, from the well-lit landmarks to the twinkling lights of the busy bistros. And the streets are still full of happy couples, families and groups of friends, which leaves you feeling completely safe and at ease. Pretty unusual for a city at night, huh?
And one thing you must see is this: once it’s dark, every hour, on the hour, the Eiffel Tower has a sparkling 10-minute light display. Don’t miss it. Trust me.
By the end of day one, my feet felt pretty tired. and I’m sure you see why! Day two is coming very soon – and look out for my Paris vlog! x