I last went to Paris in 2010 so this visit was well overdue considering how much I enjoyed it then. That little trip was my first ever blog post on Her Cup of Tea so it has been interesting to see the differences between the two trips, nine years apart.
For my 30th birthday, my mum kindly treated me to three days in Paris, which started in the 1903 Lounge at Manchester Airport. I came to this lounge before my Dublin trip earlier this year and loved it — unlimited food and drink = lots of double gins and Baileys!
After a quick afternoon flight, we landed at Charles de Gaulle airport and caught the Roissybus to the Palais Garnier — an opera house in the 9th arrondissement. From here, Hotel Montholon is a 15-minute walk, but about 25 minutes with cases. The walk was a great opportunity to re-acquaint with Paris though and to admire the architecture (that beautiful Lutetian Limestone).
The room looked quite different from the pictures, but it was clean, had a good view of the hustle and bustle below and had everything we needed. As we were on the sixth floor, we used the lift to get up which was was no bigger than a dumbwaiter. It was a tight squeeze and I think if we had brought anything larger than hand luggage, we’d be sending it up in the lift alone. I definitely would not want to get stuck in there! Interestingly, I’ve since read that as this type of building wasn’t originally designed to have an elevator, one had to be later built into the stairwell to meet the expectation of visitors so they’ve just had to work with the space they have.
Fortunately, our hotel was super close to the Sacré-Cœur — a beautiful Roman Catholic church which sits at the second-highest point in the city (after the Eiffel Tower) — so it was the perfect place to spend our first evening. After some impulsive supermarché buys of wine, crackers and cheese, we headed there at sunset to picnic on the steps. Crowds gather here every night to sit so there’s a lovely communal feeling as everyone watches the view together with buskers entertaining in the background.
At the foot of the gardens is Rue de Steinkerque, a cobbled street full of Paris souvenir shops. I’ve read that it’s very busy during the day, but at twilight or after dark, it’s really quiet and pleasant. You can find absolutely anything and everything Paris related here — things you don’t even know you want until you see them! Did I know that I wanted a Paris penny purse? No, but I got one and it’s great. It’s also a lot cheaper to buy your gifts here compared to anywhere near the Eiffel tower. I also found some cute tea trays, a Christmas bauble and a couple of prints to frame — little reminders of this trip to have at home.
A nice touch at our hotel was the continental breakfast in the morning — simple croissants, yoghurt and fruit, but it’s stress-free and it sets you up for the day ahead. On our first proper day, we headed back to Palais Garnier to pick up the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour tickets and headed to the Eiffel Tower. As this tour bus takes you on a circle route of the city, it can take a while to get there (especially if there’s traffic) but I enjoyed the live commentary. It was great to hear a few local stories as we drove past significant places — many we’d probably have missed if we took the tube. It’s great value for money and I really recommend it if you’re new to Paris. If you were in there for longer, you could easily spend a half-day at every stop in the loop and see plenty more.
On arrival at the Eiffel Tower, we were a little early for our big climb, so after a brief wander, we stopped in at a road-side cafe for a light lunch. To be fair, there was good service and it was a tasty salad, but due to how close we were to the tower and it being the height of summer season, it was SO expensive. 40 Euros for two salads and two bottles of water (rookie error not asking for tap). That’s $64!! Crazy.
Nevertheless, it fuelled us to climb all 674 steps to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. I’m not as fit as I was at 21! You can stop halfway at level one though for refreshing ice cream and a gentle breeze before tackling round two. Of course, there’s a stunning view at the top, but you can’t help but think how much better it would be with the Eiffel Tower in your eye line 😄 Coming down is much easier, but my legs did feel like jelly afterwards. The following day my legs were on the sore side. By day two, they felt like I’d strained something and by day three I could barely walk (no exaggeration — we were home at this point and I struggled to move around my flat). No idea why it affected me so much but I’ll have to assume it was my shoes not providing enough support.
The following day, we were able to see the city’s finest monuments by water. With our hop-on-hop-off bus tour ticket, we chose the deluxe option which comes with a voucher to cruise along the Seine River with Bateaux Parisiens so it was a lovely way to view Paris a different way.
That afternoon, we had previously planned to do the Paris Signature Sweet Tooth Tour so we spent two hours discovering an upscale Parisian neighbourhood while munching on its sweetest treats. Lucky for us, we were the only booking so we got a private tour with the founder and host Lynne, who is also a patisserie chef so she had a wealth of information. Throughout the tour, we saw macarons, croissants, tarts, crêpes, éclairs, gateaux, canelésand madeleines, and we particularly enjoyed it being in a regular non-tourist suburb of Paris.
To end the final day, we headed to the Champ de Mars — a large public park in front of the Eiffel Tower. Here you can enjoy a picnic in front of the icon itself, and there are even people walking around selling bottles of beer and wine so you’re sorted if you arrive unprepared.
Even though there is so much more to see and do in Paris and France, I do feel some sense of closure after this visit as my last trip there nine years ago was so rushed and on the cheap as a student. Perhaps I’ll have to come again in 2028 for round three!