Its official, I am a city girl at heart.
I love cities. I love bustling crowds and forcing my way onto trains. I dont know why, open spaces and fields are pretty and all, but I feel much happier being amongst tall buildings and surrounded by people. Weird huh?
Because of this, all my holidays tend to be city breaks and each city has given me something new. New York made me want to sit in coffee shops people watching, Chicago made me want to explore, London makes me want to constantly keep moving and Paris, Paris made me want to write a novel in a little bistro surrounded by beautiful architecture and pastries.
Being a huge Fitzgerald fangirl, I have longed to wander along Parisian streets searching for the kind of inspiration which will help me write my Great Gatsby-esque masterpiece. While I have yet to pen such a work of art, I have finally, after years of reading about Scott and Zelda’s parties, of watching Midnight in Paris and trawling through A Moveable Feast, I have finally walked those streets, dear God did I walk them. Believe me when I say I walked A LOT OF THEM. Here is my run down of fun things that I did whilst in Paris.
So, my adventure pretty much started at Bristol airport where I discovered that Kinder Eggs have Marvel toys in them (I now have the Green Goblin and the Lizard, even though I have been praying for Spider Man or Loki.) and that somewhere in Bristol, there lives a guy that looks like Dan Howell.
But, enough about that, you don’t want to hear about the nonsense that occurred on the way, you want to know about Paris and I want to tell you about Paris because dear God, that city is so beautiful it makes angels cry.
My first full day in Paris consisted of walking the 35 minutes from the hotel to the Notre Dame, which is quite possibly the most gorgeously gothic building I have ever seen and admiring the view from the Seine.
Seriously, look at it:
(I’m a bit of a sucker for a pretty building.)
After admiring that for some time and gazing longingly at all the tremendous houses that line the Seine, we decided that we should probably track down Shakespeare and Company seeing as it is nearby and all, and, as I’ve already mentioned, my tiny little obsession with all things Fitzgerald.
I know from reading A Moveable Feast that the owners of Shakespeare and Company were lovely fellows that liked to give ex pats free or cheap books. Even if it wasn’t completely steeped in literary history, I think I still would have fallen in love with it, it is genuinely one of the most beautiful bookshops I have ever stepped foot in.
So, of course I bought a book (I know I already own it, but come on, you don’t see these classic covers in the UK very often!)
It also gave me an excuse to get my Instax camera out, which I’d never really used properly up until then. Anyway, after freaking out about the fact that I was at Shakespeare and Company and that they stamp your books with the Bard’s face and give you a lovely little gift bag, it was back on the road to find other landmarks such as Pont De Arts where lovers across the world come to padlock their names to the bridge, the Louvre, the Arc De Triumphe and the Eiffel Tower.
I think my favourite padlock was this one:
Harry Potter is my home boy too.
I spent a significant amount of time looking for fandom related padlocks, but I didn’t see any. I know a couple of people who have actually put their own padlock on the bridge, but I didn’t find theirs either.
After walking to the Notre Dame, the book shop, all along the Seine, the Pont de Arts and then to the Louvre, we debated getting the Batobus and getting off at our next stop, the Arc de Triumphe, but, as we could just and just see the building itself, we decided we might as well walk to it. I’ll be honest, if I go to Paris again, or if anyone asks me my opinion, I will not recommend that you walk to all the major landscapes. Yeah, they’re not too far apart, but honestly, it is a TREK to the bottom of the Champs Elysse and it is an even longer one to the top where the Arc actually is. But, you know, we did get to see actual Paris by travelling about on foot, so although I have regrets, blister shaped ones, it was a really lovely way to see the city. From the top of the Champs Elysse, we could see the Eiffel Tower glittering away in the distance and instead of listening to our burning feet and learning from our blister shaped mistakes, we decided it would be a really good idea to just walk over to that too.
But it also meant that I had to craft myself some kind of bandage from tissues and plasters when I finally collapsed onto my bed in the hotel with the French windows open so we wouldn’t have to deal with the stench of abused feet.
The views from the top were spectacular and well worth the hour long wait in a queue with multiple blisters (we cheated and paid the extra few euros to use the lift instead of the stairs). After climbing the Empire State and the Sears Tower in the states, I have to say that I prefered the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower. America, you are beautiful, but you can pretty much just see high rises, France has a much more interesting architecture and with the backdrop of the river and the wonderful cathedrals on the horizon it looked kind of incredible. I’d have loved to have climbed it again at night, but I was pretty much dead on my feet by the time I returned to the ground. Which is why I was on a water taxi when I passed Keira Knightly and therefore couldn’t demand that we be besties and she get me a career in film.
Day two wasn’t much kinder on my feet because we got the tube (France has double decker tubes, how freaking cool is that?!) to this little place:
I don’t really need to tell you too much about Disney. Everyone knows it’s magical right? Well, let me tell you, I am 25 years old and I was as giddy as an eight year old when I walked under that castle and sat on a Star Wars ride. Honestly, this place was the very definition of fun.
But coming back from Disney signified the start of the return trip, my final day was spent looking at more of beautiful Paris, this time from the Jardin de Luxembourg where there is a magnificent palace and a park that’s probably the size of Hyde Park but much fancier, filled with busts of famous aristocrats. That part of the city looks like the bits that you see in films like Midnight in Paris, it has the little balconys lining the apartments and the trees planted along the pavements and the cobbled streets.
Honestly, I kind of loved Paris, I want to go back. In fact, if it wasn’t such an expensive city I would love to return there as soon as possible. Next time, I want to explore Bastille and visit the Victor Hugo museum, as well as check out the Palace of Versaille, Moulin Rouge and maybe actually go in the Louvre (it was closed). Of course, I’d also like to see the Tower by night, so next time I’ll have to stay a little closer to it, that way I can see it all the time! Maybe next time, I’ll even be naughty and try a delicious French treat (I didn’t want to risk it seeing as dairy products tend to make me ill and my travel companion spoke much more French than I did, so I didn’t want her to leave me!). Next time I will try much harder to learn some French before I go, I adored the fact that English speakers were few and far between, it was a challenge and it made the whole experience feel much more like an adventure!
So, if you’re planning a trip to Paris, brush up on your French, take many Euros and essentially, make sure your shoes are like slippers because if you walk the city like I did, you will destroy your feet. Make sure you’re strong enough to leave too, because this quote from the Paris Wife, which I was reading during my trip is very, very true: