Oh hey there Internet Peoples! As I write this, it’s coming up on midnight, and I’m cosied up in bed, suckling delicious rhubarb and custard sweeties, whilst my wee fingers tap away noisily on the keyboard. I should probably be sleeping, but meh, I already had a nap today.
So as many of you will already know, I lived in France, near Paris. And I was kind of “done” with France- I was so happy to be home, and I had no desire in my heart to go back. However, I’d already organised a little trip to Paris with a couple of the cute girlies I work with, and so just over a month after my emotional “Goodbye, Paris!” speech to the Facebook world, I was, yet again, on cheeky wee Easyjet flight on my way back…
Here I am, once again, sharing my French adventures with you. It feels a little like déjà vu, don’t you think?
It has to be said here at the beginning that when we left Northern Ireland, the weather was INSANELY beautiful. Like, 25 degrees, sun splitting the stones, pale Irish people melting like whippy ice cream kind of heat. And we abandoned that heat to head to a very, VERY flooded Paris.
Thursday 2nd June: We left an unusually sunny Belfast and, after a quick lunch of paninis and cocktails, we were off on yet another #TourGuidesOnTour adventure- this time, a little further afield than Portrush…
As we landed in Charles de Gaulle, the woman sitting next to us on the plane warned us that the flooding was getting so bad in central Paris, the RER C was going to be shut down. I think we were just so excited to be in Paris, we didn’t even care about the rising level of the Seine, nor did we understand just how bad the flooding was at that stage!
We made our way through the functioning metro lines to get into the Montmartre area where we were staying. Our hostel, the Regent, was incredibly well located, and rather cosy. We opted for a three-person private dorm, and I’m so glad we did- we had the most fantastic view of the Sacré Coeur, my favourite church in all the world! Better yet, it was lit up every night, and you could see it watching over the city through the hazy, tattered blinds.
The first night was really awash- we were sleepy from travelling, and so we needed food, any food, as quickly as possible. A few club sandwiches and a croque monsieur later, we had just about enough energy to visit the Champs Elysees, which is best seen at night. The humid metro and the faint smell of pee was bringing it all back to me; ah, Paris, how I had missed you!
We managed to do a little bit of damage in Sephora; face masks were purchased, seeing as it was a girly holiday, as were a few other bits and bobs. After an hour of parousing the aisles, it was almost half 11, and so we headed off back to the hostel, but not before we took some gorgeous pictures of the Arc de Triomphe in all it’s splendour.
Friday 3rd June: WE HAD BREAKFAST IN THE AMELIE CAFE! Croissants, pain au chocolat, coffee and orange juice galore! Afterwards, we had a mission on our hands. A mission to get to the Galeries Lafayette, where we spent an hour absorbing the absolute magic and splendour of it all. That is one lovely flipping roof, let me tell you that. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- it should be one of your first stops in Paris. That view from the top, when you see the Eiffel Tower for the first time, takes your breath away. They also had a really cool billboard on display, so we may have had a little photo shoot…
I can’t begin to describe how lovely it was to be a tourist. Like, I was there for over seven months, but I became one of them, a non-French Parisienne, and so I couldn’t be seen to be taking pictures of absolutely everything, nor could I wear a garish Paris jumper. But that was all about to change!
We did a little tour of the Opera house, which was something I’d always wanted to do, but never had the time. It was beautiful- golden, shiny and lush. The costumes on display were oh so stunning. Afterwards, we mozied around the area, before agreeing that we should go to the place we’d all been DYING to visit- the Ladurée Royale cafe. Things didn’t really go as well as we’d hoped, however, as the staff were SO NASTY and rude, all over a little misunderstanding about us wanting a dessert, not lunch. We’d been so so excited, and they made us feel very small and awkward. My Paris pro tip is to AVOID that particular cafe, and opt for the one on the Champs Elysees instead, where they’re absolutely lovely.
That being said, they make a really good mille-feuille…
After our disappointing* trip to Laduree, we went on the “Paris Eye”, which was decorated for the Euros. Each cabin was adorned with an image of someone’s face, and each face had been painted with a flag representing the different countries which were playing. In our chit chat with the guy letting people on and off the carriages, he found out we were from N.I., and he almost lost his mind with excitement when we actually ended up getting the Irish carriage. Every time we did a loop and drove past him, he punched the air and shouted “IRLANDE!” Absolute bae.
A short walk up towards the closed Louvre (closed because of the flooding), we then made our way towards the Seine. It was only at this stage, when we realised just how bad the flooding was. The water level had risen up so much, there was only enough room for the tiny police boats to get under the bridge. Parisians had lined the river in their thousands to watch the water swish past, and as someone who knows Paris well, I completely understood. The horrific novelty of it was mesmerising.
We pulled ourselves away, and headed off to Shakespeare and Co. I LOVE that place; it does my purse no good, but my soul very well. We did a little bit of shopping, before popping into their super cute cafe, which I would recommend highly! Afterwards, we were on a mission to find the “Rue des Irlandais”, basically, the “Irish street”. A 20 minute wander and a lovely Frenchman later, we found it, and had our perfect photo op. We wandered through an area I didn’t know, which was the most magical thing- there really is nothing like being a “flaneuse” 😉
That night, we had apricot jam crepes for dinner, and chatted into the wee hours. Oh, I do love girly sleepovers!
Saturday 4th June: We had originally planned for this to be our “Versailles” day, but we learned that because of the RER being down, and various other trains being down, there was no way to get there. So, we had another day of just revisiting places, wandering and strolling and making the most of the dry weather. We spent some time shopping in a metro station mall, before heading back to the Champs Elysees. Whilst wandering around Sephora (we just love make up, okay?!) a woman approached us, and asked if we’d like to be part of a free make up tutorial. A make up class? On one of the fanciest streets in Paris? Yes please! It was with Make Up Revolution, and they basically gave us the advice, and we applied the make up. Personally, I really like it- I do love a good spot of strobing! I even walked away with a little highlighter, which is just the most BEAUTIFUL colour ever. (I also bought an UD Eyeliner called “whiskey”, PERFECT for a tour guide like me!)
After lunch, we went back to the Montmartre area, where we found the “Je t’aime” wall. I had wanted to go there for aaaaaaaaaaages, and I was SO EXCITED to have finally found it! It was as cute and lovely as I’d hoped, and we spent a few minute identifying the English, French, other languages…
This was quickly followed by a trip up several thousand steps to the Sacre Coeur. It was as peaceful and beautiful as I’d remembered, and we all spent about twenty minutes in the pews, reflecting, absorbing.
That night, we had planned to go out, all glammed up, but we were all exhausted. Sooooooo instead, we got a cheap bottle of champagne, a McDonalds take out, got into our jammies, and had our last Paris meal on the floor of our hostel. It was one of the cutest things we’ve ever done!
Sunday 5th June: Our last day! We had fresh croissants and coffee in the morning, followed by a trip to Père Lachaise, the famous cemetery. We saw the graves of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, which was a fabulous experience. If you’re planning on going here, take a good few hours out of your day, and more importantly, take a map! it is HUGE.
That is about it, folks! Going back to Paris made me happy. Ever since I came home from my Year Abroad, I’d had this kind of sick feeling in my stomach every time I thought of France; I kept associating it with my anxiety which got so out of control while I was living there. But now, thankfully, I have all of these great new memories with my girls to look back on, and Paris is a good memory again!
Thank you for reading, as always, you lovely humans.