I’m usually an over-planner. I like to know the best kept secrets of the places I’m going so that I can make the most of my trip but I’m trying to go with the flow a little more this year and not stress myself out too much. When it came to Paris though this wasn’t such a great idea!
To start with my mobile failed me (apparently you need to activate this with Three before you go abroad which I never had to do when I was with O2) so upon arriving in Gare du Nord we had to find a map and try to figure out which direction we should head in to make it to the Louvre area as we’d planned. Unfortunately our map reading skills apparently aren’t great and instead, after twenty minutes meandering through some Parisian side streets, we stumbled upon the Sacré-Cœur – not the worst mistake in the world!
This monument wasn’t even on my to-see list (I had decided I wanted to see more of the real Paris and avoid as much of the touristy areas as much as possible – as you’ll discover we basically did the exact opposite ha!) but I am so glad that we saw it.
The architecture of this building (and indeed throughout Paris) was positively stunning and the attention to detail insane. We climbed to the top of the hill, avoiding the rather persistent street sellers and intimidating scam artists, where out of breath we admired a glorious view of Paris.
I can imagine it’s even more spectacular when the sun is shining and the skies are blue.
Having not eaten since we’d boarded the train before 8am we regained our bearings and headed towards our original destination keeping our eyes peeled for somewhere to eat along the way. We happened across a small French-Italian restaurant which had free WiFi; Abradavio.
Being with one of the planets fussiest of eaters (I mean really, who doesn’t eat neither cheese nor bacon) eating out was always going to be a challenge but we definitely found a little gem with this place. The staff were wonderful; recognising the British accents immediately and addressing us in English which immediately put us at ease (neither of us have a flair for other languages!). The menu was in French but came with English translations which was welcome (and isn’t as common in Paris as you may expect in Europe so we found) and the prices were very sensible.
Matt went for the chicken which came cooked perfectly seasoned on a plate loaded with green beans and potatoes making me wish I’d gone for the same thing!
Instead I went for one of the plats du jour which was a four cheese fussili pasta dish which couldn’t have been more loaded with cheese if it tried. As such it was very rich and I could barely eat half of it. Including drinks and a tip the whole meal came to just €40, very reasonable.
3 Rue de Maubeuge
Refuelled we went back on our way towards our original destination and this time we were successful! A celebration selfie was in order.
I knew we wouldn’t have time to visit inside the Louvre itself but, being a huge Dan Brown fan, it was lovely to see the glass pyramids in person. Thankfully there were no murders nor mysteries to be solved during our visit but far too many pictures were taken of this magnificent building.
It’s truly stunning and I’d love to return again just to spend a day lost in the depths of the museum.
Guarded by the Arc de Triomphe du carousel the museum leads out on to the vast Tuileries Garden.
A 17th century space brimming with so many statues (mainly of naked women) I could have spent hours photographing them all but sadly time was not on our side and there was still so much more we wanted to see!
After flirting with the idea of a trip on the Paris Eye, Matt hates heights so the chance was slim to none, we doubled back on ourselves following the river so we could visit the famous love lock bridges of Paris.
It was a long walk and I hate to say it but I was not impressed by the Seine one bit. Perhaps I’m just a little spoiled by the lovely walks along the Thames but the river was dirty (I know the Thames is too this just seemed worse) and unappealing.
Luckily the walk takes you passed some stunning landmarks like the Canal Académie which just happens to be right next to Pont des Arts.
The just a little further up the river still we found Notre Dame Cathedral – another striking example of Paris engineering.
By this point it was starting to get dark. We’d been walking on and off for six hours and our feet were starting to hurt so we hopped on the metro (easier said than done!) to find out hotel and relax for the evening. On the walk from the metro station we spotted this little gem all lit up for the evening but more on that next time!