Paris weekend

Sarah Bolton on 13 October 2012
It was recently my friend’s birthday and, as she had never been to Paris, she decided that she just had to visit the French capital before she hit the big 40! We decided to go for two nights and make it a long weekend. The Eurostar train service makes these sorts of trips very easy and manageable, with comfortable trains running frequently.

We stayed at the lovely boutique hotel, Hotel Littre, located south of the river near Montparnasse. We'd opted for a superior room, and really appreciated the extra space it gave us, with a small hallway, large bedroom with sitting area and large bathroom - well worth the extra we paid. The location turned out to be superb, with access to the metro close by (with many lines going through our nearest station), as well as regular buses and the Hop-on Hop-off bus going past the top of the street. There are many bars and restaurants, many of which stay open well into the wee small hours, enabling us to toast in the birthday with a bottle of bubbly, sitting al fresco (albeit under an outdoor heater lamp!) and watching the world go by.

The first evening we went to the Moulin Rouge, which we felt was one of those "must do once in your life" experiences, and turned out to be very entertaining. The male dancers were as "camp as Christmas" (as my friend put it) and had us in stitches. I hadn't realised that there are other acts in the show apart from the singers/dancers, but in fact some of these turned out to be the highlights - as well as the famous Can-Can of course. Although we didn't opt to have dinner with the show, the food looked to be of a good standard and was certainly very efficiently served. If you do have dinner, you get the better seats in the middle of the floor, whereas we were round the edges. It was still a good view though.

The next day we started using our Hop-on Hop-off Bus tickets, which in hindsight we probably wouldn't have got had we known that there were 3 lines, each of them taking quite a long time to complete, and only crossing over in a couple of places. It’s fine if you have several days in Paris and want to take up a whole day or two just doing these routes. In the end we bought a carnet of tickets for the Metro and ended up using this method of transport the most in order to get to the places we really wanted to see such as Sacre Coeur and Eiffel Tower.

We had booked to go on the Bateaux Parisiens for lunch. Unfortunately the weather was particularly unkind, and most of the day was spent huddled in raincoats and under umbrellas. Even a travel agent can't foresee all events though - and we got caught up in the 20k run, which left us stranded on one side of the road that the runners were pouring down, when we had to get to the boat on the other side. Thank goodness we'd allowed plenty of time. There were several options you could book and we'd gone for the Premier Service, which gave us a glass of champagne on arrival, wine with the a la carte meal and a table for two at the front of the glass covered boat. It was a lovely lunch, and a great way to celebrate a special occasion.

On our final day, before the return train in the evening, we headed up to the Sacre Coeur and went exploring around Montmartre. We wandered through the side streets with guide book and map in hand, but mainly took in the artisan feel of the place.

Really two nights and three days is not enough to "do" Paris - we felt we'd only scratched the surface, and there was so much more to see and do that remained untouched. I definitely need to return to explore more of what Paris has to offer.