The first time I went to Paris was by plane for work, and I barely had the chance to leave the airport. I did have the opportunity to fly Air France on their Dreamliner product which is easily my favourite aircraft.
However for this journey I took the Eurostar train from St Pancras station in London to Gare du Nord in Paris. I took my window seat on the packed train for my 8.30pm departure. It was still light when we departed but most of the journey before the Channel tunnel was spent going through many other tunnels. I fell asleep half way through the journey and remember waking up to darkness beyond my window, and 30 minutes later we had arrived at our final destination right on 11pm.
Google Maps and station wifi helped me find my way to my hostel. The area seemed a little dodgy to me, walking down quiet streets late on a Monday night, but that could’ve been a grumpy, sleepy me just wanting to find my bed.
The young French gentleman at check in upgraded me from a 4 bunk room to a 2 bed room. The first bed was already occupied by a nice yet not very talkative Swedish girl. I was really looking forward to a shower however the delicate pressure in the shower head left me very disappointed. Only 1 power socket worked in the room and my roomy had occupied it with her laptop and phone. I decided to wait until morning to charge my phone however after I had just started drifting off to sleep my roomy offered the socket to me.
I fell into a deep sleep shortly after. Around 6am I heard her wake, pack up and leave. Ahhh, a whole room to myself!! This is such a luxury, those who have stayed in hostels will hear me on that one. I rolled over for a few more hours of blissful sleep.
I strolled downstairs to the cafe for a coffee and croissant, I know, how very French. My hostel wasn’t too far from the Sacre Coeur church. I climbed approximately 200 stairs (and heard a lot of American accents) to get from the street up to the church. I had a quick wander around and headed back down the stairs I had just climbed. On the way down I encountered 2 incidents I had been given the heads up on by friends. The first was a group of women trying to get tourist signatures for what looked like a deaf community group, once the tourist signature was on the page it was then a hustle for donations. The second incident was a group of young men trying to sell souvenirs, however becoming quite aggressive when tourists declined to make a purchase. I decided to keep my head down and avoid eye contact until I reached the bottom of the stair case. It was by no means a comfortable situation to be in, and one I would’ve hated to be stuck in. I’m so glad I avoided it.
I headed back to Gare du Nord station to purchase a ticket for the hop on hop off bus. With only 1 full day to experience Paris and many landmarks to see I figured this was going to be the best way. Given my limited time I made a decision to only stop at the most famous sites. First up was the Louvre museum and Arc de Triomphe. The Louvre Pyramid was a lot smaller than I imagined it to be and the lines weren’t as long as I expected, but still I didn’t enter the museum. Europe on a shoestring. I walked right round the pyramid while watching many tourists take that picture (you know the one, where their finger rests on the point of the pyramid).
I hopped back on the bus this time passing the famous love bridge and then hopping off at the Notre Dame Cathedral. I had every intention of going up to the gargoyles but the line was way too long for my time budget, so back on the bus I went bound for the Eiffel Tower. I got back off again and grabbed a tuna roll and can of coke to level up the blood sugars, and sat down in the Jardins du Trocadero park across the river from the Eiffel Tower. There was a couple having a professional photo shoot done in front of the Tower. I’ve never been a fan of poised pictures, I don’t get it.
I got back onto the bus for my final stop. The Moulin Rouge. The movie is one of my favourite musicals and this stop was a must. I noticed a lot of adult shops in the area and once I got a glimpse of that windmill my heart skipped a few beats. It looks a lot smaller than the movie and there was no giant elephant, damn your magic Baz! I was still thrilled to see the Moulin Rouge. The sight of this establishment solely made my trip worthwhile. I stood around for a few minutes before I allowed myself to head back to Gare du Nord.
I took the same route back to the hostel as the previous night, only this time it didn’t seem as dodgy as the previous night. I was glad to find I was still alone in my room but being a hostel it meant someone could turn up at anytime. I went back out for a walk in search of dinner and wine. I couldn’t leave Paris without having wine. I came to a bustling restaurant on a street corner and picked a table inside. Gorgeous thin women and men sat outside smoking and enjoying bottle of wine in the Europe summer, sounding sexy in their Parisian accents.Whatever, I’m not jealous.
I ordered a large bowl of chicken breast marinated in lemon seasoning and grilled to perfection and washed it down with a crispy glass of rose. I had he night alone in my hostel room for a good rest in time for my onward train to Brussels early next morning.