Weekend Break to Paris

Tracy Hendricks on 27 July 2018
We were late arriving into Charles De Gaulle airport so it was a bit of a sprint to the train station but we caught the last train of the evening into Paris. With just secondary school French grammar we found the staff & passengers in the metro to be really friendly & helpful. We were grateful that our hotel had a metro station right beside the entrance. The journey took around 45 minutes & cost €7.50 each.

On the Boulevard Montmartre the Hotel Paris Opera is under the umbrella of Melia. It is not your typical chain hotel, it is actually a small renovated eighteenth century building run by a Spanish family concern. The hotel is bright & clean, and the staff were friendly and helpful. We had a street facing room but if you prefer peace & quiet a back room would be better as the Irish Bar next door is a little lively. As always, I am pretty much led by my stomach & I can confirm the hotel offered a fantastic continental breakfast that set us up for the day.

Ideally located our Hotel was approximately 15 minutes’ walk from Le Garnier Opera, Louvre, Place Vendome & only 30 minutes from Notre Dame and the shopping mecca that is Galeries Lafayette Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. Almost every major fashion brand is housed under it's majestic Art Nouveau steel and glass Couple which rises to the height of 43 meters. In normal times you can catch the weekly fashion show held at 3pm every Friday on the 4th floor. For those needing a break from retail therapy there is a stunning rooftop terrace (yes, its free) where you can take in beautiful panoramic views of Paris including The Garnier Opera House, The Eiffel Tower, Sacré Cœur, Notre Dame and more.

We purchased a two day BigBus pass with a River Cruise which was around €40 each but discounted when purchased in UK . It was great you can hop on and off the bus whenever & wherever you like. With map in hand we got our bearings. The Big Bus has two routes & amazingly there was a stop opposite our hotel in front of Musee Grevin. There is so much to see & do in Paris this gave us the opportunity to get our bearings, enjoy the sights & the sunshine & decide where we wanted to visit..

Shopping Top Tips Whether you are window shopping, wanting high end brand names, souvenirs or quirky presents Paris has it all. Le Royal Village is a small designer outlet near Madeleine with fabulous bronze sculptures. Galeries Lafayette Haussmann High End Fashion & Designer Brands plus small French designers offering fantastic value Passage Jouffrey – 10 Boulevard Montmartre unique arcade with lots of small shops selling, paper products, antique books, pastries & those missing home has an M & S. Obviously, no trip to Paris would be complete without a stroll down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to people watch and shop those big fashion brands.

Food For a big foodie fans Paris can be done on a budget, most supermarkets have their own bakeries & a traditional pronounced (trah-di-ee-on) baguette is far better than quality and larger than your standard baguette. Alexine bakery in Montmartre offers a vast array of sweet and savoury delights coming 4th in the Best Baguette competition. The prices are reasonable too. If you like French croissants you won’t want to go back to the UK supermarket variety after these. Fresh fruit is large & flavoursome and seasonal fruit is reasonably priced any other fruit is expensive in comparison to the UK. If you are looking for a fast fix, Yummy & Guiltfree on Montmartre offer amazing waffles starting at €4. They even offer a gluten free range. Mian Fan offer a quick fast Chinese lunch although they were very popular and were very busy at lunchtime. Moules MaMarinière can be picked up in most cafes eat like Parisian at the roadside tables or sit inside for a little peace & quiet.

Places we Visited The Pont des Arts known as the love lock bridge near the Palais du Louvre is no longer adorned by lovers padlocks these were removed as the weight had started to buckle the iron bridge that crosses the Seine. There are railings nearby where you can leave your love lock padlock.

Arc de Triomphe which was built on the orders of Napoleon to honour the victories of his Grande Armée offers a unique view of the Champs-Elysees from its rooftop. The Magnificent building houses a museum inside which offers a break from the stairs. Entry is around €9. Why not visit in the evening to see the flame lit on the tomb of the Unknown solider from the Great War. Always use the underground walkway to reach the Arc de Triomphe the traffic in a little mad!

Eiffel Tower – If you want to ascend the tower, I recommend purchasing tickets in advance as queues on all levels can be long (once purchased these can’t be changed).

Louvre Museum The impressive entrance to the Louvre sits proudly surrounded by what was the Louvre castle built in the late 12th Century. Home to the famous Mona Lisa, even if you are not an art lover the museum will leave you in awe and you could easily spend all day here. Avoid the crowds by obtaining a ticket online.

Notre Dame We visited before the devastating fire, taking a free walking tour and visiting the Crypt it really was a sight to behold. The plaza in front of the Cathedral has now reopened and restoration is scheduled to be finished by 2024.

Seine River Cruise This is a must do and gives you a different perspective of the city. If you go early morning you can avoid the crowds and enjoy a more sedate trip, this was included in our hop on hop off bus tickets.

Moulin rouge If you have the energy take in a meal and a cabaret style show it will truly be an experience you won’t forget.

Public Toilets are not always open we found most of the public toilets to be out of order around the Eifel Tower. Why not use it as a reason to people watch, take in a coffee and a cake and use the facilities. Most department stores offer free facilities.

If you want a laugh or shock visit the underground toilets at Notre Dam, the wall art is fantastic & will make you laugh €1 entry (Plus a customary tip of 20-50c).

There is so much to see & do in Paris I think we need to plan another trip.