The Eiffel Tower; from top, Louvre, Moulin Rouge, Laduree
I MADE a promise to myself a while ago that I would see Paris before I turned 30, and last month I made it with days to spare for a no kids allowed escape, writes Camilla.
We booked a hotel minutes from the Eiffel Tower(though our room's view was of a beautiful avenue) and spent a weekend sucking up all that is gorgeous and wonderful about Paris.
We set off from London on an early Eurostar on Friday morning, arriving around lunch time. After a whizz around on the metro to get to our hotel, we started off with a visit to the Eiffel Tower. It's size just blew me away. I knew it was big, but wow! And the crowds? Wow.
We left the Tower in our wake, strolled across the Champs du Mars and bought ice creams outside the Le musée de l'Armée, distinctive due to its roof. Next up on our walking tour was crossing the Seine, into the Tuileries and from there to the Louvre, which was, of course, amazing. We made sure to visit Mona Lisa (she looks better in situ) and Venus di Milo and walked all over visiting the Egyptian exhibitions and Renaissance paintings. If you've ever watched The Da Vinci Code you could be excused for thinking that the small pyramid that meets the inverted pyramid in one particular scene is part of the museum. It's not. It's in the middle of a little shopping centre and totally devoid of ambience though the light refracted prettily from the glass.
Tea was taken in a outdoor cafe in the Tuileries as it started to turn chilly, followed by dinner at a great little pizzeria in the Marais district where a white cat mingled with diners and we saw the Notre Dame by night.
Champs-Élysées with Arc de Triomphe in the distance, pretty flowers, fountain at Place de la Concorde
Saturday was even more hiking! We visited the Eiffel Tower again then walked towards the Arc de Triomphe, admiring the beautiful buildings with their balconies and shutters and the beautiful carved wooden entrance doors. The Champs Elysee was a must and we made sure to visit Laduree for some macaroons (I confess I have been holding out on the macaroon craze so I could eat my first one in Paris) in delicious flavours and picked up gifts in pretty boxes.
From here we peeked into the Grand Palais and then walked to Musee d'Orsay where we browsed the scultpures for hours and had lunch (smoked salmon salad) in the most ornate tea room ever. The evening was spent dawdling around the Latin quarter, eating nutella and coconut crepes bought from street vendors. Yum.
Sacré Cœur by day, Eiffel Tower by night
All too soon it was Sunday and we had enough time to visit the Sacre Coeur and pick up some presents – a little Eiffel Tower snow globe for my daughter, a flashing yoyo for oldest son and a wooden train with letters carved into my youngest's name, which he just loves. Then it was back on the Eurostar (via Paul's for sandwichs and chocolate macaroons) and home.
Things we have learned:
+Paris is way more expensive than London. Most of our museums are free, most of Paris' are pay entry.
+Parisienne cyclists are tres chic. Heels and jaunty scarfs anyone?
+Don't buy drinks from street stalls (3Euros for a coke!). Bring your own.
+One of the metro lines has double decker trains. Cool.
+We'll definately go back – with kids!