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A weekend in Paris

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 19 November 2012 | Views [1019]

OK, so I wasn't quite Belle from Beauty and the Beast opening my Parisian windows and singing "good morning" to the village.... but I did open my Parisian window one crispy Autumn morning and I called out "Gaston"  to whoever was around (thankfully Paris doesn't wake up very early on a Saturday morning).

It had been a dream of mine to spend a weekend in Paris, so when a business trip to London allowed a free weekend to explore, Paris was calling me. A French friend living in London had agreed to be my personal guide for the weekend, thankfully saving me a few painful hours of learning the basics. 
We left London on Friday night after a few glasses of rosé, and landed 45minutes later in Charles De Gaulle. A 20minute taxi ride saw us safely in a very funky little hotel in Bastille which had been pre-booked last minute through www.agoda.com - The BLC Design hotel was designer white, and designer funky, very spacious and such a quirky start to our Paris weekend. 
The choice to sleep was forgotten quickly as we ventured down to the Le Polichinelle, a sweet little corner bar close by where the local police were having their monthly drinks. Forget the rumours that the French are rude to tourists - we were warmly welcomed into the group for a few hours of drinking a local drink "kir" while practicing my French on their English. The next bar on Rue De Lappe didn't have the same friendliness, in its place was a bar full of sleaze - a quick exit back the hotel for a few hours sleep before exploring. 
Without wasting any precious minutes, we woke fairly early (this is where my window scene comes in) and ventured out. Heavy heads were no excuse not to get out and Le Bastille Cafe provided a much needed cafe au lait, orange juice and croissant for our revival. And then we walked......
Marais was amazing - gorgeous boutiques, galleries and little restaurants to partake in amazing French cheeses and champagnes. The Dome cafe in Marais was stunning, a sweet little atrium style courtyard where we dined on amazing French cheese and champagne for lunch (which I'm sure Belle did this too).  
Then onto the Metro where 10 rides cost 12Euros, a much cheaper and easier option than flagging down a taxi or walking everywhere when you're feeling a little fragile from the night before. My friend and I parted ways for the afternoon; I headed off to the much anticipated Galleries Lafayette for some shopping. I know I will have daggers thrown at me for saying this, but I just wasn't in awe as I thought I would be. Maybe it was the hangover, maybe it was the million other tourists shopping in a confined space with me - or maybe it was the overwhelming choices on offer under one beautiful glass dome roof. But Galleries Lafayette just did nothing for me. 
What did excite me were the buskers outside the Opera, a quirky little band dressed in Pink and playing Bulgarian wedding music. 
A dusky afternoon of Champs Elysee where I watched the sun set over L'Arc de Triomphe, shopped my little hear out in Sephora (cheap and fantastic cosmetic store) and dined in the most amazing restaurant - Ladurée. The night was topped by one of their famous macaroon. (you all know that I had more than one macaroon at Ladurée...)
On Sunday morning I resisted the urge to throw open my balcony windows again and sing my love of Paris. Instead we started on another day of touristy activities - walking all over Paris. The Metro saw us starting at Montmartre with a stunning blue sky over Sacre Coeur and my very first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. My heart sang, it was undoubtedly the moment I fell in love with Paris. 
We wound our way down the hill to tiny sweet and pastry shops, and then onto Champs Elysee again where we walked to the Eiffel Tower. Another round of fabulous food overlooking this beautiful icon before walking across Ponte Alexandre III to the Louvre, and finally finding ourselves at Notre Dame.  
My lovely traveling friend was extremely gracious and taught me some sentences that I could practice on the locals - we laughed a lot as I asked strangers the time, and had no idea what the response was. My school girl French was not wasted though, I sang French nursery rhymes to my friend - we laughed a lot more!
Overall I rated Paris a 9.8 out of 10. It lost a fraction of a point for the sleazy man in the bar in Rue de Lappe, and another fraction for the shame of too many homeless people wandering the underground. And still I loved Paris, I loved my weekend away and I can't wait for another opportunity to explore it some more. 
Tips - try your schoolgirl French, eat a lot of cheese, take a very warm coat in Autumn and Winter, buy 10 metro tickets, fly and wear flat shoes with thick padded socks. Your feet will thank you for it. 

Tags: walking around paris



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