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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Paris Minibreak!

With no Canadian visa in sight, I'm going to continue writing about our recent trips around Europe!

In December 2011 we got the urge to get away again. We didn't want to spend much or go for too long, but we needed to get away, so on the spur of the moment we booked a weekend in Paris, using the Eurostar. I must say I was impressed, the system was pretty efficient and cheaper than I'd imagined, and meant that we didn't even need to take time of work.

The number of trains and the times they left London were really convenient for us, we met in London and got the Eurostar straight after work on a Friday evening (slight panic that my delayed train to Kings Cross was going to ruin all our plans!) Getting the tickets was easy, as was going through security, it was quick and painless, and in no time at all we were ushered from the waiting area to the train. The journey was simplicity itself, I couldn't believe how quickly it went, it was much like taking an ordinary trian. You couldn't see much outside due to the darkness, so we just relaxed and rested, before our wander across the city!

We arrived around 11pm, and clutching my map printout (with my very efficient notations, for which I am now notorious) we emerged into Paris. Arriving so late and at the end of a long work week meant that all we did was find our hotel and crash. On a side note, our hotel was a Holiday Inn and I wasn't expecting it to be amazing, but the room we were given was actually lovely, we had a huge bathtub and a dainty balcony overlooking the front of the Gare de L'est. (Which might not sound brilliant, but it was actually quite a pretty view!)

The next day it was on with the sightseeing! First, we had to do what every tourist should do on a first trip to Paris. The Eiffel Tower!

It was a wet day, but we decided to brave the weather and went anyway. Being the money savvy couple that we are, we opted to walk (what!?!?) up the tower instead of paying extra to take the lifts, and I'm not going to lie, it was bloody hard work. But it was most definitely worth it, there's a sense of accomplishment when you do finally get to the top and get your breath back. After much climbing, walking round and admiring we deserved a break in the cafe! I loved the tower, it's definitely one of those attractions I could do again and still enjoy it as much as the first time.

In the afternoon we took the Metro to Montmartre, which we had been informed was a must, and had a jolly old time wandering its beautiful streets, and taking in the sights and sounds, and millions of photos. We whiled away the rest of the day here ducking between streets and into cafes, and as it was getting close Christmas there was a small Christmas market to have a peek at too. It was picturesque! 

That night we had dinner at a restaurant close to our hotel. For some reason travel makes me adventurous when it comes to food, so here I attempted a ridiculously large plate of Steak Tartare (yes, I'm one of those weird people who eats raw beef, and yes I did enjoy it!) I've cooked this dish before in my old job, and had always wanted to try this, the only complaint I had was that the portion was so big! I also had my first taste of French Onion Soup and loved it, I'm going to have to try making this at home.

The lovely Louvre
Sunday was spent trying to cram in as much sightseeing as possible. We got the Metro, and ticked off the Notre Dame, the Fontaine Saint-Michel (and an awesome man blowing massive bubbles!) lots of walking by the river and finally the Louvre, which we had intended to visit properly and see some art work. We hadn't anticipated the monstrous queue to get in though, (it turns out we'd come on one of the two days a month that the Louvre is free to get into) so we unfortunately had to skip it. One day I will have to go, visiting the Louvre is one of those things I would love to do, it's on the To Do List, so will make sure I get up early that day! We spent more time wandering, then hopped back up to Montmartre, our unquestionably favourite part of the city for a warm drink before we had to dash back to the Eurostar at the Gare Du Nord and head back to the UK.

The journey back was as smooth and ideal as the outward one. I really love the Eurostar's ease, and the fact that it feels much more laid back than travel by air. It's all so civil, calm and stress free! So much so that a mere 2 months later we were at it again, this time on the way to Bruges! (Blog Post imminent!) And that was that, our whistle stop tour of Paris! While we packed out the weekend, I will have to revisit as there is just so much to see and do, we barely scratched the surface. Next time I'll make it a longer trip, maybe 4-5 days, so we can take it at a slower pace and make sure we get to do more.

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