Saturday, 9 March 2013

A Parisian Birthday

THE Tower
Back in January, we booked a super cheap Eurostar deal to Paris for my birthday. It was only £59 return each, which was the cheapest I've ever seen it, and too good an opportunity to miss (although Eurostar are currently doing £69 return which is almost as good!). I was looking forward to this trip so much and this Wednesday it finally came! Being frugal as ever, we booked an early train on the Wednesday, and a late train coming back on Thursday so we could have two full days and only have to pay for one night in a hotel.
It was really nice of Eurostar to give his beard a free ticket
On day one, we walked everywhere, from Gare du Nord to the Arc du Triomphe, down the Champs Elysees, detouring to the Eiffel Tour (yup, walked up that too), back to the Champs Elysees and the Petit Palais (where there is free admission to the  permanent collections, stunning paintings by artists such as Nicholas de Largilliere, and amazing ceilings), along the Rue De Rivoli via the Louvre, to Le Marais and ending up at the Pompidou Centre before retiring to our hotel.
The Ceiling in the Petit Palais - breathtaking
One day two, we walked everywhere once again! Down from the hotel to Notre Dame, back up to the Rue de Rivola where we breakfasted at Angelina on their divine hot chocolate (basically: chocolate, melted) and a pastry (well, it was my birthday). Angelina is an infamous, gorgeous old tearoom, with queues out of the door at times and now we know why. We tried to get in on Wednesday afternoon but their was a long queue which the guidebook had warned us of. I am glad we went back to try our luck earlier on the second day as we walked straight in with no wait.
The signature Mont Blanc pastry
After that we walked to Montmartre to take in more stunning views of Paris from the Sacred Coeur before meandering back into central Paris with the sorest legs ever.
The Sacred Coeur
We ate some fantastic food, the crepes at Houblon & Sarrasin, near our hotel particularly stood out for me, alongside the delights of Angelina. Otherwise on the agenda, was plenty of beer, vin rouge and CHOCOLAT. Some of the goodies we took home were a meringue as big as my face and some Ovomaltine spread which we'd bought on a previously holiday to France and just had to have more of. We also bought some tea and coffee from the decadent Fauchon, which we were completely giddy over. Get this: salted caramel butter tea and noisette coffee. I know, right?! They both smell and taste amazing, best thirteen euros I've ever spent.
Giant Meringue and friends
We had booked Best Western Hotel Faubourg Saint Martin in the vicinity of Gare de L'Est, and it wasn't disappointing. While our room on the first floor was fairly small with a low ceiling, it was well decorated and clean, and came equipped with an iPod dock (not ideal for two Android users, but a nice touch nonetheless) and a Krups coffee machine. It wasn't noisy, despite being located near a fair few restaurants and bars, and was a perfect base for our one-night stay. The stay was £77.29, booked through Agoda, without breakfast.

The trip was great, two days was enough time to see everything, although it would be great to go back for longer and really take it all in. The Louvre is so very big that we didn't feel that we'd get our money's worth from the admission fee as we were so pushed for time so we spent some time admiring the scale of it, but didn't bother queuing and entering. Neither of us had been to Paris before in our adult lives, we'd been taken as children we were too young to remember. I'm looking forward to digging out the 1989 photo album the next time I visit my parents.

Nothing in Paris is particularly cheap, we managed spent about £250 in two days on eating and drinking, a few insignificant souvenirs, and the only thing we paid admission for was the Eiffel Tour. But it's such a charming city, with awe-inspiring architecture at every turn, and we really enjoyed scratching its surface.  My Lonely Planet Pocket Paris guide served us really well too, thanks LP, I know I can always count on you!

For shopping, we enjoyed exploring the stunningly decandent Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores, just look at this picture from inside the former.
Galeries Lafayette - Debenhams it ain't.
I also relished having a good oold squizzy in Sephora (all the while whinging that we don't have it in the UK anymore). The Bearded One treated me to some bits for my birthday, including a caramel candle, some oil blotting papers, some handbag breath spray (sexy) and an exfoliating disc for my face and they threw in some samples too, which I am looking forward to trying.
What do we want? Sephora UK! When do we want it? NOW
It would be lovely to go back for a good week with money being no object...maybe in a few years?