Paris, the city of love…however if you’re like me, it’s also great for us single people! I remember going to Disneyland when I was younger and recall all of the great experiences I had there which made me want to explore more so getting to actually go and explore the city was an experience I couldn’t wait to have mainly because of the difference in lifestyle and it’s laid back approach to life unlike here in England.
I imagined it to be quite a chilled and calm city, which in some respects it is (that’s if you avoid rush hour traffic, overcrowded tourist sights and swarming cafes in the city centre like you would find in pretty much any of the world’s capitals). But, unlike other places, it’s relatively slow paced and everyone seems to be so polite and approachable. One thing I learnt is, if you’re polite to the locals and even just greet staff in cafes with a “Bonjour” and a smile on your face they will treat you like one of their own. By doing this I discovered that, in said cafe’s, they tend to charge some tourists double the price for their coffee! If you go in acting like an ignorant foreigner they will treat you like one! Having said this, it’s one of the things you must do while in Paris (go to a coffee shop that is). You should try out some of the incredible homemade pastries as the fresh out of the bakery buns are the best ones you’ll find! My favourites are the croissants (find me a person who doesn’t enjoy one of these beauties) and also the beignets, particularly the chocolate filled ones, these are to die for! Some french specialities should be on your stomach’s radar as well (no matter how unappetising they may sound, believe me you will be pleasantly surprised).
The most popular has to be frog’s legs and snails which I’m sure if you’re anything like me will make you want to gag at the thought of them but let me tell you, I can only describe them as tasting like garlic mushrooms and chicken. Seriously, don’t knock it until you try it as they say! But, what’s a trip to France without a little wine, bread and cheese… the best place to have a feast is by taking it in a picnic basket like we did and sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower for a stunning atmosphere.
When it comes to the touristy stuff like seeing all the sites on your bucket list, there are many ways to do it effectively to make the most out of the time that you have there. One way I would highly recommend is a bike tour; not only do you get to see everything Paris has to offer, but you also get the history and the stories behind each hidden gem as well as the comedic local guide pointing out all of the off the beaten track spots. If you ask me, this is a much better choice than a mental cab driver screaming in a language you don’t understand or a hot, sweaty, frustrating Metro ride (both of which are still an option if that really takes your fancy).
Moving on to the more upper scale variety of transport, one of the most incredible excursions you should consider taking is a Seine River cruise, particularly at night when the city is lit up like a Christmas tree. This not only gives you the chance to snap the most incredible pictures, but also to see all of the main monuments and a lesson into their history as well as a nice, chilled out boat ride with a drink in hand, a perfect end to the day! (I would recommend doing this during the summer months because the cold weather would probably be unpleasant and make it less enjoyable in the winter).
If you’re planning to take a trip up the Eiffel Tower you should book your place way in advance as tickets get snapped up pretty quickly and the queue is constantly miles long (ok, maybe that might be a slight exaggeration but it’s never a reasonable waiting time). I can see why so many people choose this as the location for their honeymoon and particularly marriage proposals; the top of the tower gives you a spectacular view of the city and the surrounding garden landscape just makes it so beautiful and picturesque.
Although it’s certainly not my kind of thing, if you were looking to get a traditional French experience you should head to a cabaret show. I must say after hearing about it and seeing photos from my friends who gave it a shot, it did look like, well, let’s say a night to remember… I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. But, the theatres themselves are an architectural work of art!
Now, for all you arty folk that are dying to see one very famous painting known as the Mona Lisa, you’ve come to the right place. However, I would suggest giving it a miss because it will be everything other than what you expect it to be. I am glad I gave myself the chance to see The Louvre because seriously the building in itself is a work of art, but when you see the length of the queue and work out exactly how long it will take you to get in let alone navigate your way through this fortress the size of a small town to see this masterpiece, you ask yourself is it really worth it? I’m glad I decided against it because my fellow travellers answered this dilemma for me by showing me the result of their day in line…
In all fairness it is one of the most well known paintings in the world and given a lot longer in town (and a lot more patience) I may have brought myself to get in there and if you are big into art it has to be seen with your own eyes but I won’t lie, when I saw the photos of how it was displayed I was truly shocked by not only how small it was (it literally couldn’t have been any bigger then an A2 size piece of paper) but also how non visible it was due to the security and the amount of people crowding around it. It would have ruined the experience. You’d be much better off just heading to google images and photo-shopping a picture of yourself in front of it if you wanted a souvenir shot.
If you’re planning a girly weekend away or even just fancy treating yourself by splashing a bit of cash then head to the Champs Elysee, the most famous mall street in the city. Take a stroll down this modern boulevard and pop in to all of the high end stores, take a seat outside one of the patisseries and indulge on a pastry or two with a coffee and then why not head to the end of the road for the ideal spot to get a new profile picture in front of the Arc De Triumph at sunset (that’s if you can find a spot without any traffic or a guy in a red apron with a cart selling hotdogs in the background). Say Cheese! Before heading off don’t forget to stack up on some of the best macarons you’ll ever have the pleasure of trying from the most well known shop in the country, Ladurée. Yes, they are expensive, but the cost and the time you’ll spend queuing for them are definitely worth it! Trust me!
Of course, if you’re planning a family holiday or even just feel like being a big kid like me, you can’t miss out on a trip to Disneyland! It’s not just for youngsters you know and day tickets are available without robbing your life savings if you’re wanting to experience a little magic to top your trip off a little differently and let’s be honest, who can resist a picture with Mickey Mouse!
Paris is a good shout for any kind of freedom you may be wanting from your day to day life as it is so rich in culture and transports you to a whole new way of life so is great for adding a bit of sparkle and glamour and will easily put a smile on your face. So, I shall leave you with this, something I overheard two locals discussing whilst I was there: “Apres la pluie le beau temps”…