Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A Weekend in Paris...


Bonjour!

And so to Paris….such a perfect winter getaway city and home to a romantic atmosphere that simply can’t be found anywhere else. There are so many reasons to visit Paris- the sightseeing, the food, the shopping, the atmosphere… we love it for all these reasons...BUT at Christmas there is just an extra je ne sais quoi!

We arrived in Paris at 10am Friday after an 8am flight from London Heathrow on Air France (gotta love the leg room you get on those planes). Upon arrival we were held in the baggage area for half an hour by a scary security man with a gun due to a security alert, but the time was used productively as we found a map of Paris and planned our afternoon.

Once free from the gun-wielding French police (why do all the French police carry guns? (Overcompensating?)) we went straight to the train/metro ticket office and got an €18 return ticket to the city and a book of 10 metro tickets. Within 10 minutes we were onboard a rather chilly train heading towards a moody looking Paris. A couple of train changes and a metro ride later we alighted at Dupliex and found our hotel. As we exited Dupliex station, both of us, in a rather tired and dazed state, began to think the area looked vaguely familiar, and on arrival at the hotel we realised why……this was the hotel we stayed at 2 years ago, the Eiffel Capitol Hotel! What are the chances, right? A sense of relief hit us and then excitement (much to the receptionist's amusement ('If you are happy, I am happy,' she said) – Laura even jumped for joy- it is a very nice hotel! Tiny, as most hotel rooms in Paris are, but très bien for the cost!
We love Paris!
 First stop was, of course, food! Thankfully just across from our hotel was a restaurant called the Amalfi – yep, screw French food, bring on the Italian!- the food was delicious! As with every good restaurant in France the food was plentiful, the waiter won us over with his cheeky charm (we even got nicknames -  Sarah was 'Princess' and Laura was 'Baby' - it may have been the slightest bit creepy, in retrospect) and the food itself was…delicious!!

After a 2 hour cat nap in our cosy room we showered, dressed and hit the streets of Paris. The gloomy day had melted away and left us with a crisp and fresh early evening so the first stop had to be the Eiffel Tower only a few streets away (how amazing is it to stay 5 mins walk away from the Eiffel Tower!). It doesn’t matter how many times you see this sight, in day or night, in summer or winter, it never fails to make your heart skip a beat. At Christmas, the light show that happens every hour just adds to the magic! As we strolled hand-in-hand to the foot of the tower, the full moon shone so bright - it was a magical evening. We posed, we took other people's photos for them, we stood back and admired, and after an hour or so of Eiffel Tower-gazing, we continued our walk.
Next stop was the Arc de Triumph – actually Sarah’s favourite viewing spot of Paris! It’s a lot cheaper than the entrance fee to the Eiffel Tower (Laura's girlfriend, always on the hunt for good deals haha!) and the view from the top is spectacular – with the Champs de Elysee stretching below and all the streets meeting and circling the base you feel like you are on top of the world – and the best bit is you still get photos with the Eiffel in the background! Once again we maximised the photo ops before taking on the Champs-Elysées. From end to end the stroll takes almost an hour – for us it took almost 3 – for one very important reason- le CHRISTMAS MARKET! OK so sure, we can head to Hyde Park every lunch time for a Christmas market but the Champs-Elysées Christmas Market is something completely different! Perhaps because it’s French, maybe it’s because the night was perfect and so romantic or maybe it was just that feeling you get when you don’t want to be anywhere else…whatever the reason WE LOVE THE CHAMPS-ELYSEES CHRISTMAS MARKET!


The final part of our Friday night saunter around Paris took us over the Alexandre III bridge and across the Seine. The streets were so quiet (except for a brief moment when 10’s of police cars flew by) and we stopped and admired every building (Laura photographed, Sarah stood and stared). It was just such a nice night to be out and in Paris it couldn’t have been better.
To finish the evening we strolled back towards the Eiffel Tower and home and found signs for a market taking place in the morning – perfect – Day 2 organised!

Breakfast was served (by Sarah) in bed at a leisurely 11am – croissants & jam (now, we aren’t tightasses but breakfast our way costs all of €5 total for three days - the hotel breakfast was €11 each per day! – and ours was fresh from the bakers!!!!). As we headed out to a beautiful sunny day our sense of direction seemed to guide us the right way and before we knew it we were mid-market and surrounded with antiques and delicious-smelling French food! – yummy! After wandering aimlessly, we decided to go and visit the passages in Monmarte - the 'often missed' shopping area of old Paris.
We metro'd to the area and strolled the streets until we came across the passages - so easy to miss, but so worth going to. You enter an arched walkway with shops either side containing all kinds of assortments including an autographed photo store! Walking the length of the passages we came out a few streets away from the Galeries Lafayette - identified by the incredible number of lights covering the facade. Who knew that inside the Galeries was just about every person in Paris! Apparently over 100,000 people visit per day. No kidding, we had to 'queue' our way round the store to get the centre and ooooh and ahhhh at the AMAZING Christmas tree!

After working up an appetite, we didn't get far before coming across a restaurant for dinner, Chez Clement. It started off well enough, but lets say we met the Parisian French stereotype in the waiter - rude, un-attentive, arrogant and not at all interested in making our dinner pleasurable. In fact, we had big bins being wheeled passed us, doors held open to change these bins, letting the cold air in no less than FOUR times and mopping done around our feet - Laura had to move her purse so someone could mop, while we were eating our mains! To top it all off, after Laura got her dessert, we had to wait half an hour (and remind them twice) for Sarah's ice cream to turn up....and no-one in the restaurant cared! In fact we were told 'this is usual' by the manager, who was incredibly rude, and walked away while we were talking to him - then slagged us off in French to a nearby couple (Laura's translation skills meant he didn't get away with it!). So disappointing as the food was very good, but if you come across Chez Clement in Paris, we recommend wholeheartedly you do NOT eat there!
Why was our DC served with SPOONS?
Anyway, back to the positives....after dinner we headed back to the place guaranteed to put a smile back on our faces -  the Champs-Elysées - and we showed up just in time to see Santa and the reindeers fly! Really! It doesn't matter how old you are, Santa flying never gets old! Especially with a glass of vin chaud in hand!
video
For our final day in Paris, there was one sight Sarah had yet to see without scaffolding - the Notre Dame! The weather was freezing - and that meant never leaving each other's side for fear of becoming a block of ice! After a photo session and admiring the art stalls we took shelter in the most Christmassy looking restaurant we could find -  after all anywhere that makes an effort for Christmas has to be a good place....and it was! For our final meal en Paris, at Le Depart Saint-Michel, Laura got beef bourguignon (and decided it is now her favourite dish), Sarah opted for carbonara and we shared a side of French Fries (when in France, after all) - the meal was delicious! We definitely ate well!

And for those of you who have read our previous blog you'll be pleased to know that this time we made it back ON TIME and without any drama or extra costs! In fact we had time to peruse the shops at the airport and spend almost an hour in the macaroon store picking our first flavours to try.....see the reactions below!

We loved romantic Paris!


More photos will follow tomorrow on our Tumblr Account!!

Please comment, follow our blog, and follow us on Twitter!

Lots of love always, Laura & Sarah xo

6 comments:

  1. It looks like you girls had a lovely time - can't wait to see all the photos! Love you! Mum xxxx

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  3. Great post ladies love it!! Fantastic pics, my fav is the first pic of the eiffel tower & your kissing photos <3 Did you ask strangers to take those for you? Brave! hehe. Also Laura your accent is adorable!

    & I love the fact your mum reads this & comments (our mothers dont like that we have a blog)

    M x

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  4. p.s your tumblr link doesnt work use this http://sprezzaturalns.tumblr.com/

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  5. Oh thank you Meg I'll change the link! And hey, I don't have an accent! ;)

    I'm actually a master of the self-timed photo, all of the kissing photos were self timed! The Eiffel one was on a fence, and the Triumph one was on a tree support thing! It takes a few tries to get it perfect, but it works!

    Yeah my Mum is the absolute best- she has been so supportive throughout everything, she loves to read what we are up to, and Sarah and I are so lucky to have her!

    I wonder why your mums don't want you to have a blog - it's such a great one!

    Laura xo

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  6. Hello girls !

    I’m French and I came across your blog by chance!
    I must confess that I find it very interesting and successful!
    And French that I am, I of course read your posts on Paris :)

    Next time you both go to Paris, I suggest you do some riverboat! Walk on the Seine and discover Paris from a different perspective, especially when night falls, is very friendly and quite romantic :)

    I wish you the best.

    PS: je m’excuse pour mon anglais, j’ai encore des progrès à faire :)

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