Paris, Paree, the city of lights. One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Paris grabbed my heartstrings on a rainy, winters day over a decade ago and never detached. This architectural city with hardly any advertising, a plus when you are in the business, restored historical monuments and immaculately maintained gardens has a perfect instagram opportunity on every corner.A couple of weeks ago I returned to Paris after a four year hiatus. A springtime trip, timed to miss the major tourist influx and take advantage of the new bloom across the city. Travelling with my mum, who was on a world trip, we arrived with no agenda, no preplanning or research and went where we fancied each day. Relaxed, we woke each morning to enjoy our continental breakfast, eating too many croissants, before heading into the sunshine. These are the three things we did that we would recommend.
Have lunch up the Eiffel Tower at 58TE. It was over a decade since I climbed the stairs of Le Eiffel Tower (16euros) and despite having been to the site a number of times my mother had never gone up. Our first days activity was locked in!
This time, a bit older, wiser and unsure if I could climb 704 steps we paid for the lift access (25euros)! The queues were quite short and after two security checks we were heading up to the top taking in breath-taking, magnificent views. I hadn’t realised that Paris has a section of modern, skyscraper architecture which is clearly visible from the top. Dotted around the platforms are fabulous, original (?), telescopes to use that also look great in photographs. As we made our way back to the 2nd floor I noticed there was a 1st floor with restaurant 58TE, a function room, potential wedding venue?!, an incredibly large souvenir shop and green screen space to capture photos of you hanging off the tower!
It was 2pm when we entered through the doors of 58TE and were greeted by our lovely waiter. After a quick scan of the room we waited a few minutes for a table to be reset that was positioned right next to the windows! The menu at 58TE is typically French and encourages a choice of 2 or 3 courses. Mum and I both had the duck which was delicious and shared a chocolate moose and pistachio dessert. The atmosphere is fun and casual for lunch, a waiter will come around and ask if you want your picture taken, we declined, and I read you can also have a fancy dinner at night timed for when the lights sparkle.
Wander the foodie streets of Les Halle. I originally learnt of this area and it’s history with food on a Paris walk and now every time I return to Paris I spend some time in this taste bud tempting location. Walk towards Passage du Grand Cerf heading up and down the adjoining streets for lots of delicious treats. A good mix of traditional boulangeries and patisseries exist alongside new Chinese restaurants like Cheztoye and hipster French take on donuts but with bouche, Papa Boun. Try an Éclair from L’Eclair, they are mouth watering fresh and small so you can sample lots of flavours. If you are looking for typical French food to eat try Le Boui Boui or go to their neighbour G Detou for French food and ingredients to take home. Go into my favourite haberdashery shop La Droguerie for beautiful fabrics and a multitude of wool, threads and charms.
See the sites via a boat on the River Seine. After a couple of days of walking through Paris clocking up 13kms+, our last day required a more gentle pace before our late afternoon Eurostar to London. Having seen touristy boats the previous two days we chose to do this and came across the hop on, hop off version. River life is a much more gentle pace and it was fun seeing everything from a different viewpoint. Halfway, we disembarked at the Louvre to wander through the Tuileries Gardens where we came upon a local dog meet up. Twenty or so dogs had come together to play, some without their owners! After patiently waiting on the sides I made a pug friend, Chantelle, who made me so happy. She adored being patted! We jumped back on the boat to complete our trip post enjoying gluten free crepes in the garden café. If you are wandering Paris near the main attraction areas consider purchasing a hop on, hop off boat ticket to get around rather then being underground on the metro.
Enjoy your trip to Paris and let me know what you see. PF xo