I spend most of my time right now saying ‘I can’t believe it’s already…’ Fill in the blanks as it suits: Sunday night (after an amazing and full weekend), spring (after all, Christmas was, like, last month), my one year wedding anniversary (wait, what?!) That’s right, it’s already been a year since Andrew and I got married in York. After many months teasing me that we would be spending our first anniversary in a run-down beach town on the north east coast, he surprised me with tickets to Paris for a long weekend. Let me tell you, the relief was palpable, and it was one of the best weekends of my life!
One of the great things about living in London is that you can settle in on the Eurostar with a mini bottle of champagne, some orange juice and the loudest hen party you’ve ever heard (all wearing striped boater shirts and berets, even one girl with a chain of garlic round her neck) and be in Paris in just over two hours. It’s brilliant!
The Etoile Park Hotel is located on Avenue Mac Mahon, one of the streets radiating out from the Arc de Triomphe, which you could see from our balcony, and it was a great stay. The staff were friendly, the room was clean and the bathroom was big with a huge tub, although there wasn’t a proper door on the tub so that when taking a shower/bath the entire floor would be flooded. Silly French.
Our first afternoon was spent eating croque monsieurs at Café Klèber [4 Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, 75116 Paris, France], taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower and wandering around the streets of the 7th and 8th arrondissements. We’ve both been up the Eiffel Tower before, but that doesn’t diminish how impressive the view is from the top, and this was our first time up together, which was really special in that gooey way it is for couples in Paris for a special event. We loved it.
The rain came and we holed up for dinner in Café Victoria [64 Rue Pierre Charron 75008 Paris, France] – a beautiful and charming café, with delicious cocktails and friendly staff. My attempts at ordering in French resulted in the main course and wine coming at the same time as the starter and with our cocktails still at the first few sips, but we laughed it off, ate the fish before the French onion soup and thoroughly enjoyed it all.
We had a lie in on Sunday and then breakfast in the sun at a sidewalk café called Brioche Doree [144 Avenue des Champs Élysées, 75008 Paris, France]. That was followed by a river cruise on the Seine with Bateaux Mouches. It was so relaxing and so beautiful, watching Paris glide by as we made our way from Pont de l’Alma past Notre Dame and back up to the Eiffel Tower. Paris is breathtaking in the sun. We metroed to the Marais and wandered the winding streets until we found Camille’s [24 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 Paris, France] for lunch. We were sat between two older ladies dining alone – proper old school Parisienne on one side and American in Paris for decades on the other. This really is the best city for people watching. It was a great environment and the food was quite good. When we go to Paris again, we’d like to stay in the Marais – it’s just so cool. We proceeded to walk the length of the city back to the Arc de Triomphe, passing amazing monuments and important buildings along the way.
After a short rest and quick change, we headed back to the Ile de la Cite, and the evening was perfect – warm and breezy, the sun lingering to hear the final bird song. We strolled around Notre Dame and through Shakespeare & Company, before making our way to Le Reminet, where we had dinner reservations. It was the most adorable restaurant, long and narrow, dark with ornate mirrors, candles on every table and little chandeliers. A staff of three and a kitchen team of five did an amazing job of keeping things intimate and preparing delicious meals. Champagne, starters, mains, cheese and coffee – we went all out. We’ve had some incredibly meal experiences together, but this easily made our top five.
Monday we had another lie in – I know you don’t go to Paris to sleep, but it just felt so good not to have to rush off to work – and headed to Montmartre. We grabbed coffee and a crepe and walked up the stairs to the breathtaking Sacre Coeur. We sprung for tickets and headed up into the dome – 355 steps up the claustrophobic, winding staircase – and the view was worth a bit of vertigo. Please, everyone, make the effort next time you’re in Paris. You’ll love it! We spent the next couple of hours walking around Montmartre with an ice cream, around the side streets where we found the Moulin de la Galette – scene of Renoir’s famous Bal du moulin de la Galette – and then back to the Arc de Triomphe.
The weekend was long and luxurious, but still too short; we could have stayed for weeks. The beauty, the romance, the history of Paris – it’s been a siren song for so long. and now, luckily, we’re only a train ride away.