Paris, city of lights, city of love. I’ve always wanted to go, It’s been a dream of mine to go to Paris ever since I was little and to explore what a magical place it was for myself.
As a send off to uni, I booked a trip to come to the city of lights with my two best friends, Wes and Kirst, for a five day trip staying in the centre of Paris and travelling via Eurostar.
We arrived on a Sunday Afternoon and spent the majority of our day on the metros of Paris trying to make our own way to our hotel rather than pay extortionate taxi fares for a quick journey, we opted for the cheaper option, a ticket, called a T+Ticket costing €5.70 for the three of us to get to our destination. We arrived at our hotel ‘ibis Paris Brancion Parc des Expositions’ which felt like a trek with our suitcases, it was located in an adorable little suburb in the centre of Paris with a large park opposite the hotel with a theatre just beside it and a local bakery named La Petrie on the corner of our street. We arrived at the hotel to a lovely receptionist named Andre who made us feel right at home, he even grabbed a metro map for us and circled the places to go for the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and recommended the perfect photo spots and other places to explore whilst on our travels. We settled quickly into our huge room overlooking the theatre and the park opposite, unpacked our things and quickly got dressed up and explored the area so we could find some food. We found a Restaurant located a couple of blocks away bustling with Parisians and sat down for a late dinner, we wined, dined and people watched before going back to the hotel and getting some sleep preparing for the next day.
Our first full day of exploring Paris, so we HAD to tick off the obvious touristy things to do in Paris. We headed straight to the Eiffel Tower, getting off at a metro stop called Trocadero, according to Andre the best spot to see the Eiffel Tower. He wasn’t kidding. The view was absolutely breathtaking and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of excitement as we gazed upon the famous Iron Lady from the Trocadero. It was truly a picture perfect view. We took quite a bit of time taking it all in, grabbing a baguette each and settling down for a spot of lunch as we overlooked the sheer beauty of it, we decided not to climb the 700 or so stairs today and to leave it for another day so we didn’t run out of things to do. After lunch we headed back to the Trocadero for a photo shoot and decided our next place to go.
Our next stop was the Arc De Triomphe, a 20 minute stroll away from the Eiffel Tower, once we got there we took a while finding how to get to it, obviously we could see it, but it was situated on it’s own little island, being blocked off by Parisian drivers, dashing around it at high speeds. We finally found our way in, through an underground tunnel, we queued up to purchase tickets, but were then greeted with the happy news that 18-25 year olds get to go free with a valid ID, oh happy days, more money for shopping! Everything in Paris seemed to be truly gorgeous so far and the Arc De Triomphe did not disappoint, we climbed a round staircase to the top of it. No need for the Eiffel Tower, this was possibly the best view of Paris you could get, 360 degrees of Paris in all its glory. It was worth the walk up the hundreds of stairs in knee high boots and worth the blisters. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful. I fell in love with Paris there and then.
With the Champs Elysees being a short walk away from the Arc De Triomphe, we decided to stop and grab some food again after our voyage. We found a cafe called George V, which is famous on Paris bucket lists for its afternoon tea, we were greeted by friendly waiters and an expensive menu, we all opted for a dessert, I decided to tick something off my Paris bucket list and eat a French crepe, I ordered the one with Nutella and Banana and a helping of Ice Cream of my choice on the side, I opted for Vanilla. Full of sweet treats, we continued our journey down the Champs Elysees, hunting for Sephora, we finally found it and we spent HOURS in there, whilst talking to a beautiful woman who worked at the store, she told us how it was the biggest in the world, I can’t say I was surprised, I’ve never seen a shop so big in my life! When we finally finished, we decided to get some more food and headed over to the five guys on the other side of the road, we ate and then went to go watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle, which it does every hour on the hour after the sun has set for five minutes. It was remarkable to watch.
The Notre Dame is again free for anyone to go in, it was a site to see and the architecture of it was absolutely unbelievable, the stained glass windows were absolutely beautiful. The whole place really was beautiful. After wondering around the cathedral, we found a quaint little cafe, where we brought more baguettes and sat outside, Kirsty brought a huge vanilla mereignue and inspired me to buy a bubblegum one, my eyes were certainly bigger than my belly! We stayed until the cafe closed, then took an evening stroll along the Seine and came across a salsa class taking place in a little amphitheatre, we stopped and watched for a bit then ended up joining in, it was pretty magical, dancing until the sun set with the gorgeous parisian backdrop, there were three amphitheatres next to each other all with different classes in them, the third one was the most beautiful as you watched couples slow dancing with the starry backdrop.
We woke up bright and early for our Disney Day, through the hotel app (AccorHotels) you could buy tickets for various things to do while in the city and they had Disneyland tickets available for a day of your choice and access to one park for £38 each. If you wanted to do 2 parks the cost went up to £50 or more. I did go to Disneyland before when I was younger but didn’t really remember the experience so I felt like a child going off to Disneyland for the first time ever! Wes had never been before so we were in the same boat, well kind of.
Kirsty on the other hand had been to Disneyland loads so knew EVERYTHING, so was basically a walking talking guide of Disneyland, she might as well of worked there. We arrived about 11am and got through the gates straight away with our tickets, Kirsty the Disney expert took us straight to the Castle and showed us a semi secret spot of the dragon’s lair underneath the castle where Sleeping Beauty’s dragon slept and occasionally woke up to scare the shit out of people! We went on some small rides first as the queue times were relatively small (I’ll never get CASEY JR IS ON THE WAAAAAY for as long as I live) and we then queued up to meet Peter Pan, spoiler, we knew the actor playing him, hence why we queued up an hour to see him. But due to Disney regulations and all that, I can’t reveal his true identity, but I’ll leave you all with a picture of me overly happy to see him after a year of being apart!
After we saw Peter and Wendy, we grabbed some food then headed over to Hyperspace Mountain which was an absolutely incredible ride. We wondered around the park, going on more rides, the Indiana Jones ride also being brilliant. We then went off to go and see the Disney parade which started at 5:30, it featured all of the biggest Disney characters, Mickey and Co but also Nemo, Dory, All of the Princesses, my favourite parade float was the sleeping beauty one, which had a large metal dragon who breathes fire. It was absolutely wonderful and I won’t get the parade song out of my head for the rest of my life. Afterwards, we met up with Peter and our other friend who plays the Mad Hatter, we went on a couple of rides including Hyperspace Mountain again where they told us to go on as single riders as the queue would be a hell of a lot shorter and believe me we were all done and dusted within 5 minutes! We also went on a star wars tour ride which was like a simulator and it was incredible, we then went and had a catchup over drinks and some food. Soon after, me and the girls headed home, way too exhausted to stay till 11 to watch the fireworks that evening, but we’ve vowed to go back to disneyland one day and spend a couple of days there as we didn’t feel like we managed to do everything we would have liked to. It was an entirely magical day.
It was Thursday, meaning our last full day in this beautiful city, to be honest all of us were pretty exhausted so we decided to just stroll around Paris and see what we could find as well as doing one of the activities on my bucket list which was to go and have a Hot Chocolate at Angelina, apparently it’s one of the best hot chocolates in the world and I had to have it before we left. We began our day in the normal fashion, we grabbed our croissants and sat in the park before heading off for the day. We decided to go and look at the Eiffel Tower one last time, we went to our favourite spot at the Trocadero and just admired the beautiful city we were in for the millionth time this trip, feeling thankful for our wonderful trip and having the greatest people with me, I wouldn’t have wanted to share it with anyone else.
We stayed there for ages, sitting on the grass by the fountains just in front of the iron lady bathing in the sun, it suddenly struck us that we hadn’t actually been up the Eiffel Tower the whole time we’d been there, we stood in a queue for half an hour due to security and when we were finally through, we realised that was just the queue to go underneath! The queues to go up were a hell of a lot bigger… and we thought, nah, maybe next time, top tip, if you want to go up the Eiffel Tower, probably best to prebook your tickets unless you want to spend the majority of your day queuing up! There was also a gorgeous restaurant on the first floor which I’d love to go to one day, apparently they do a fabulous little afternoon tea! We admired the details of the iron work and then got really hungry (all this site seeing tends to do that to a person!) and went hunting for food, on our travels, we must have seen the Eiffel Tower at all angles a person could see it! We eventually found a little restaurant on a posh street and settled for lunch, we also had a beautiful flirty french waiter which made life 10x better for our last day!
After a filling lunch, it was time to head over to Angelina and go and try this world famous hot chocolate, we walked along the seine to get there and found the Pont Alexandre III which fact is in the 1997 animated film Anastasia, one of my favorite animated films of all time and the bridge is damaged by Rasputin in an attempt to kill Anastasia, who in real life was the granddaughter of Alexander III of Russia. Cool huh? Anyway, after a long walk we got to Angelina which is really close to the Louvre and there was a small queue of people outside waiting to go in, it must really be that good. It’s important to note that Angelina is that good that it has 6 different locations in Paris, but we visited the Original Angelina. The original Angelina patisserie and tearoom, designed in the luxurious Belle Époque style, is located at 226 Rue de Rivoli, across from the Tuileries Gardens in the 1st arrondissement. The famous hot chocolate, known as L’Africain, is made from a luscious blend of four different cocoa beans from Africa. Sweet, thick and rich, and served with fresh whipped cream on the side, it is a taste not to be missed. We felt like absolute queens, we were at the height of Parisian luxury, even the toilets were top to bottom fabulous realness.
After an hour or two and a photoshoot in the Angelina toilets, we walked through the Tuileries Gardens and decided to head to the Louvre as it was so close and we hadn’t been while on the trip. The gardens were absolutely stunning and you could see everything from there, the Eiffel Tower in the distance and the Arc De Triomphe too. It even had a gorgeous old carousel which we had some trouble with earlier on in the day when Kirsty was posing for photos and then the ride suddenly started… awkward, we didn’t think it was on because it was practically deserted!! We got to the Louvre quite late so it was closed, but pretty much deserted by all tourists, so we sat and watched the sun set, it was the ultimate photo opportunity and we couldn’t believe our dreamy parisian trip was nearly over. After staying for a good amount of time, we decided to start heading back to the hotel by walking along the Seine for the last time.
We caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower on our walk and decided to stop to watch it sparkle again, it may have only been 5 minutes but it felt like forever and I was so glad I came on this trip. If anything could have been more needed at that point in my life it was a trip to Paris with my favorite people. In the wise words of Blair Waldorf, if you’re going to be sad, you might as well be sad in Paris. Though that’s seemingly impossible to be sad in such a beautiful city. It was the most wonderful trip and there’s so much left that I want to do there. I’m not quite done with Paris yet and have no doubt I’ll be making a return to the city of lights again.
“Paris exists to remind you that your dreams are real.”