Paris - Part Un
This might be my first ever solely travel themed post... I may even have to consider adding a new category to the blog for such a momentous occasion, oo-er!
Last week I was lucky enough to be invited (by my parents) to spend a week with them in Paris. This trip has been several months in the making, originally pencilled in as a post-30th birthday family excursion, it was postponed until this year to allow my brother to complete his formal police training, but we finally got to head off to the city of lights a week ago on Saturday.
As any self-respecting fashion blogger/girl would, I spent much of the week before the trip planning my wardrobe. Keen not to over pack (as per usual) and therefore be the target of the various ‘everything bar the kitchen sink’ type jibes from my family (as per usual), I ensured that I only took the bare minimum... two pairs of boots, three handbags and seven separate outfits... Ok, so perhaps I failed on the travelling light front, but I did work out an ingenious way of saving space in the suitcase, two words, vacuum packing.
We headed off to Paris on a sunny Saturday morning, meeting my Mum and Dad on the train at Reading and then catching up with my brother and sister-in-law at St Pancras. We had timed our arrival perfectly (i.e. we cut it fine) so that we went straight through security and boarded the Eurostar ready for departure at 12:30pm. With the exception of my Dad, it was the first Eurostar experience for all of us and made for a relaxing journey and an ideal start for our week away.
On arrival at the Gare de Nord we swiftly made our way out of the station, past the sea of pickpocketers (more on that later) and walked towards our apartment. Being the anorak that I am, I had of course Google Street View’ed the entire route and therefore knew it off by heart, which helped to make the journey a little less fraught than it may have been otherwise.
The apartment that we had rented (we = Mum and Dad) was a beautiful airy abode with three double bedrooms located about 10 minutes from the Gare de Nord. The outside entrance was exceedingly grand and the interior of the building did not disappoint either, the ornate staircase that led up to our first floor apartment would have taken up most of the ground floor back in our house in the UK. The apartment itself was a strange mix of contemporary and classic design, the archetypal fireplace and mirror took centre stage in the light and spacious lounge, in direct contrast to the bathroom which featured an innovative granite sink and shower! Design quirks aside the apartment made the perfect base for our week’s trip and provided us with a social space to chat, play games and watch movies that a standard hotel room simply wouldn't offer.
We eased into our stay in the French capital with a quiet evening in the apartment before a late dinner at a local restaurant that I’d come across on TripAdvisor. The food came highly recommended, the prices were reasonable and most importantly... the menu was also translated into English. Having learnt German at school I struggle with even the basics of French, but thankfully both my brother and sister-in-law both had a reasonable grasp of the language and were able to pass along some tips.
We awoke on Sunday morning to our first full day in Paris, the sun was shining and the city was welcoming, the perfect start to our week long adventure. We set off to the Luxembourg Gardens where we wandered for half-an-hour observing the joggers, artists and those sailing their remote-control boats on the pond. The plan was to meet up with one of my childhood friends, who now lives in Lyon with her significant other and their adorable daughter, they were coming up to Paris for the day just to see us. I hadn't seen Sarah since my brother’s wedding in 2011, so it was wonderful to spend the day with her and meet her beautiful daughter, who I’d only ever seen via Skype up until that point. When we’d found each other and after plenty of hugs, we set off to meander through the park, stopping at the sand pit to allow Felicity to burn off some energy and allowing us a chance to take in the view.
Once we’d finished in the gardens we headed back towards the Northern part of the city to the famous Montmartre district. I managed to navigate the Paris Metro system with the help of my trusty Google route map notes (see: anorak), however, my limited French let me down upon arrival at the nearest station to the Sacré Cœur. I managed to miss all the signs for the lifts and instead led our group up numerous flights of stairs, this was then further compounded by the additional steps we had to climb to get to the top of the hill to see the actual church. Much as though I’d like to use my pregnancy as an excuse for resembling a beetroot upon arrival at the top, realistically I’d have struggled with this epic climb pregnant or not! I was, however, suitably motived by the thought of a delicious Italian feast awaiting us upon arrival at the top, another TripAdvisor find, Babalou was located just off the main tourist throughway and the food was much the better for it.
Stuffed full of pizza and tiramisu (that famous French cuisine...) we headed back towards the church and explored the touristy shops, small streets and artists that make up much of the character of Montmartre.
Later in the evening, after waving goodbye to Sarah and co we finished our first day relaxing in the apartment, playing various board games and planning activities for the following Monday.