As Audrey Hepburn would say – “Paris is always a good idea! and that’s exactly where 12 friends and myself thought we’d spend our weekend!
We’re also all work colleagues too so it made it a lot easier to find a few days that all suited us and seeing as we’re all 6 days-a-week theatre workers we decided to make the most of our one day off a week and turn it into a minuscule mini break, which we managed to cram a surprising amount of Paris into.
Being in London was a major advantage for our travelling as we managed to catch the Eurostar from St Pancras to Paris in just under 2 and a half hours which was perfect after a Sunday matinee show as we were in Paris and in our accommodation by around 11pm! I’d been to Paris two or three times before this trip and had always stayed in boutique style hotels or B&B’s but we managed to catch a decent travel/accommodation deal this time around and stayed in a hostel – Le Village.
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become a bit more travel savvy in the last 10 years since visiting Paris or whether I’ve just lowered my accommodation standards but I absolutely LOVED staying at Le Village. It’s the first real experience I’ve had with staying in a proper hostel (bar all the summer camps I went to as a teenager) and it had a real backpacker feel about it. Obviously with me going away to Australia in a matter of weeks I’ve got the travel bug at the moment but this place just spurred it on even more! Arriving at Le Village closer to midnight on a Sunday night, I wasn’t sure if the place was going to feel a little deserted and quiet but as we lugged our luggage down the cobble streets and walked into a dark looking building we were greeted by a friendly French guy on reception who checked all of us in nice and quick. There were still people up and socialising in the communal area and the atmosphere of the place had a real “travelling” feel about it. Our rooms bedded 6 people and each room in the hostel has it’s own shower and toilet and our rooms happened to be on the terrace which was a bonus!
After freshening up and getting some sleep we started our day bright and early to make the most of our only full day to see the city. We travelled mainly by foot but used the metro too which is a pretty easy get around. We were proper tourists and headed straight to the Eiffel Tower and took some snaps in the sun until our last member of our party arrived from London. Going in August meant that the queue to get tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower was pretty damn long, they even stopped letting people into the area because it began getting so crowded so we decided against that idea! But the grounds are a lovely place to wander and sit so we were content :-)
After spending a few hours here we walked to the other ends of the grounds which led us to the River Seine and we jumped on a boat to travel down to Notre Dame. This cost around €12 but was so worth while, you have the chance to see some beautiful, real Parisian style buildings and pass The Luev and Notre Dame (which is just amazing to look at, there’s nothing else like it!) We jumped off at Notre Dame and wandered around the area for a while and ended up in Chatelét. This was a beautiful area and full of small, wonky looking buildings that line the streets – a real rustic feel.
Our trip leader/organiser (the wonderful Miss M’Poy!) decided to take us to Le Paradis Du Fruit for lunch, I can only describe the cuisine to be of a fusion of food. It’s a more healthy option than most restaurants that consists of grilled chicken and fish with fresh veggies, fruit juices to drink but also your treats like baked Camembert and farm house fries – it’s a great option for vegetarians looking for somewhere to eat in Paris. The price of everything on the menu was pretty reasonable, especially with the amazing service from the waiter we had – seeing as there was 13 hungry females we were expecting a while for the food to come out but it took a small 10-15 minutes for them to serve our food, voila!
In attempt to burn of some of our food babies we wandered around the area which is good for all kinds of shopping, there’s your usual branded, high street name shops and also a small area full of cute little vintage places with some treasures. We then headed back over to Montmatre (closer to where our hostel was) which is also known as the Artists District and has the famous Sacre-Coeur I really loved Montmatre because of its cobble streets and real Parisian feel, there’s a little square not far from the Sacre-Coeur that is filled with outside seated cafes and swarming with Artists and their work. The Sacre-Coeur is definitely worth visiting, even if you don’t go into the Church itself because it is at the highest point of the city (don’t worry, theres a tram that can take you up there if you don’t fancy the walk!) so you can enjoy an incredible view of Paris :)
After a couple of hours of wandering around the Artist District and a climb up to the Scare-Coeur to see the views (whilst burning off as much of our lunch as possible!) we headed to a restaurant that Melina (our amazing organiser!) had pre-booked, which is also the restaurant that she has always recommended to people visiting Paris, craved whilst back in London and just never failed to mention on her list of “Favourite All Time Restaurants!” – Naturally, we were looking forward to checking this place out with our high expectations! Le Piccolo which is also in the Montmartre area, is an Italian run restuarant that is definitely worth booking if you want to experience their food, its a very beautiful but very small place! The front of the restaurant opens up completely which adds to the candle lit ambience, the food was incredible and great value for money once again – I also understand that the owners actually own three Italian restaurants on this small street due to popular demand!
All in all, Paris is an amazing city. It has a beauty like no other city I’ve been too, the food is immense and there’s so much to see and do. Granted, it can be expensive but there are also plenty of ways to enjoy a mini break here on a budget. It’s worth speaking to Eurostar to find out about travel & accommodation deals, don’t completely rule out the hostel life either if you’ve never experienced before because it’s a great way to meet people and you save a hell of a lot more money that way! Paris is a must for your bucket list!