So recently myself and my good friend Fox braved the borders of this small Isle and travelled overseas to the capital of France- Paris! With bags packed, shades on and work left behind us for 4 days we set off to Manchester Airport.
The flight there...
We strapped in for our first flight since we were at high school and braced ourselves for the ascent. The excitement amix with our pre flight nerves woke up our butterflies in our tummies. We were treated to some crackers to snack on and we squashed our faces up to the plane windows agog at the beautiful views as we left the city behind us. The patchwork fields, the monoply sized houses and the ribbons of roads and rivers started to disappear as we floated above the cloud layer. A stunning way to start what would be one of my greatest adventures.
First sights of the Latin Quarter and our new home...
We emerged from the RER station to our first picturesque view of the Latin Quarter... The grand architectural marvel of The Notre Dame Cathedral. The tall rainbow glass windows, the sturdy wooden and wrought iron swirled doors, the gargoyles sat along the roof, guarding the buildings grand empowering stature. We wandered the streets along the River Sein towards the outskirts of town. We passed small wooden souvenier stalls set into the rivers walls and beautiful French locals. We then realised on looking at our map that we were headed in the complete wrong direction to our hotel...
1 hour later... we finally found our little French abode. We were exhausted and tired but thankfully the front desk attendee spoke perfect english. We trundled upstairs in a 2 person lift with our luggage and found the loveliest, quaint twin room ever. We unpacked, made a mess and absolutely ravenous from all our wandering we ventured out nervously armed with bad french language and euros that we didnt understand. So it was only rational thinking to enter a english speaking Kebab shop, get a takeaway doner feast and fries and sneak it back up to our hotel room to watch Aristocats on Netflix.
A rather touristy Day 1
The eiffel tower...
Once we found this beaut we were very excited. After walking past rabbits on a wall (dont ask) we stared up at the stunning architecture of this grand Parisian icon. The vastness of the sturdy tower legs made me feel so small almost as though I was a borrower. We hunted down the queue for our speedy flight to the top! Looking down on Paris from level 3 was rather emotional. The view although hugged in a layer of fog was outstanding. We saw a game of football from up above and tiny toy cars traveling routes that made sense to them. There were people, stopping occasionally as they went about their daily lives and were just being.
The lift clunked its way down and carried us from the dream land which was the top! We wandered the streets and had our first french crepes... Fox had cheese and ham and I opted for the sweetness of caramel sauce. Licking our lips and fingers we mooched towards the nearest metro station for part 2 of our day as tourists.
The louvre museum...
We wandered the court yard and admired the glass pyramids that rose out of the ground as though they had exploded from the underlying catacombs which held art of all eras. We queued in the midday heat for what seemed like a decade and finally made it through the largest pyramid doors. We went down into the heart of the gallery and then followed the dozens of signs towards the mona lisa. We proceeded to make friends with all the statues and took some rather humorous photos and a smattering of selfies with these marble figurines. I like to think that we would have made the artists of these pieces smile if they could have seen us appreciating their craft in our own way. There were people looking at the art, not smiling, staring intently at the little plaques paired with each piece but not enjoying the beauty that the louvre had to offer. I think we did it proud.
We braved the robust language barrier and went to dine at a beautiful cozy Italian restaurant on the corner nextdoor to wear we were staying. French pleasantries were exchanged with the French waiter and we sat in the lit window like mannequins in a shop display. The pizza we devoured after our long day on foot was exquisite and hit the spot it needed too. I ordered a martini spritzer followed by a full bodied red wine served in a small stone jug. I didnt leave a single drop and we talked well into the night.
Day 2- well it would be rude not to shop
So the plan was to visit the Paris flea markets which were allegedly world renowned... however on emerging from the metro station we found that the town in which they were in was not the most friendliest part of Paris. We were not reassured by the alarms that sounded through the thick smog or by the crashed car it appeared one of the stall holders was driving minus a door and front bumper. We vowed right there and then to do one lap of the stalls and if it wasnt living up to the expectations of vintage treasures and sifting through trinkets like magpies then we would get the first metro out of there. One lap was all it took for us to see we had made a dreadful mistake. The fluorescent tutu stall didnt make my heart flutter and the pvc lingerie a few stalls down certainly didnt fill me with the need to part with any euros...so we left and I am so glad we did. The moment we got on the metro I was awash with relief and happiness. I felt safe even on a metal carriage racing at 100mph under ground.
Chanel, Gucci, Prada...Can I live here?
We found the shopping centre in which dreams are fulfilled and wishes are granted. I must have spent the majority of my money in that one day because I was surrounded by more designers than I could count. I floated around on a cloud of chanel perfume and desire to own everything in the building. I purchased a eiffel tower pandora charm and my first Red Chanel lipstick which encompassed the satisfying click that all posh lipstick lids have. We admired the art of shoes and handbags and stood agog at the queues to get into prada and the operation of a one in one out procedure. The cream carpets in shops and chandeliers were enough to make a girl go dizzy and the glorious stained glass domed cieling almost pushed me over the edge.
The best hot chocolate in the world...ever!
Fox recommended that we paid a visit to Angelinas, a famous French cafe and provider of fine cakes and delicate food. We were seated and wisely ordered their famous hot chocolate which is apparently the best in the world. It came to the table in a bright white jug, with a square dish of cream, 2 cups and saucers and a vase of water and glasses. I dont usually remember tastes but I will never forget that hot chocolate. We spooned the soft cream into the bottom of our cups and lathered it with the hot liquid desire which bubbled and frothed. The hot chocolate was thick melted chocolate and warmed my soul. Every sip filled me until I could drink no more. The taste was so rich and luxurious and lingered on your tongue until you could reach nirvana at the end of a cup. Words cannot describe the taste alone...it has to be experienced.
A quiet night in...
Exhausted from shopping and armed with snacks, wine, our posh designer bags from all our shopping and beautiful rainbow macaroons from Laduree we went back to the hotel to chill. We ordered pizza to take away and ate it in bed. I ran myself a bath and was about to pour a glass of red wine only to realise that it was a corked bottle...with no corkscrew at hand I aimed to break into the bottle some how and tried a few items our hotel room had to offer...a fork, a pen and a key all to no avail. The frustration resorted in me digging away at the cork with a pair of Fox's first aid scissors, allowing bits of cork to hailstone across the duvet and sprinkle into the wine. But that didnt stop me filtering each glass through the thigh on a pair of tights to get rid of the invading bits. 1 bottle, some cold leftover pizza, a bubble bath and back to back episodes of Gossip Girl is one way to make the most of a hotel room.
Last day and a service at Notre Dame
All packed and ready to depart we stored our luggage at the hotel and set off to the International Sunday church service at Notre Dame Cathedral. Never have I had to queue to attend mass but anything goes in Paris. Once we were in I was astounded by the size of the building. The echos of whispered conversation travelled right to the rafters of that magnificent place. It was a place of calm awash with sacredness. The service was a privilege to attend and be part of and we looked round afterwards. The aged walls smelt of incense that is burned throughout service and the stainglass windows shone rainbows through their artistic patterns and imagery. The curvature of the columns and the arced ceiling embodied so much worth and so much faith. I will never forget how whole I felt in that place and how at peace I was with my own sense of being.
After Notre Dame we wandered the streets of the Latin Quarter until it was time to catch our train. We ate more crepes, made replies of bonjour to the locals, I bought a burgandy hat and we soaked in the culture of the beautiful city. Every street smelled glorious of international foods and decadent dishes. We even stood in the metro waiting our change over to the airport, not talking but breathing in the wonderful earthy diesel smell of the metro station. The warmth of the tiled underground platform as carriages raced past perfuming the space in which we waited.
Paris was and will always be the greatest journey of my life and this post only described a few snippets of this glorious, mind opening trip. If you have always wanted to go but not yet made that leap just do it... life is to short not to have such experiences and if you have been, go again... and make new memories and have new experiences. Life is about ceasing opportunities and making the most of every day and Paris although short was some of the best days I have lived. I want to be the grandparent who has so many tales to tell of the travels they have been on and the countries they have seen. I want to be that old interesting lady who has a story to share for every occasion. Paris was only the beginning to a life worth living... and I am sure it is only going to get better from here.
An aspiring traveller