What is the best present to get for your 21st birthday? Well not to brag but I like to think it’s a trip to Paris! My boyfriend surprised me with this trip, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. What’s more romantic than Paris?
We arrived at Gare du Nord station and just strolled right out onto the French streets to our hotel. After dropping our bags, I was determined to make the most of our two days in Paris and see everything we could. Thanks to the (wrong) weather report I’d listened to, I was convinced we had two hours before it rained, so we legged it to the Sacre Coeur. I needed clear skies for that view!
Luckily, the weathermen were wrong again and we had perfect blue skies for our whole trip. Paris in June is nice and warm, and I didn’t need a jacket the entire time. Coming from cloudy London, this was brilliant.
The Sacre Coeur is an attraction that I for one, think is under-rated. It was possible my favourite sight! Although it isn’t in the best part of town, once you’ve walked uphill to it, the Sacre Coeur is beautiful. Made of white stone, the domes of the cathedral look vaguely influenced by the Taj Mahal, and there are fountains and steps in front to make the whole thing perfect. Being situated on a hill, the view over Paris is amazing. And you should definitely take a trip inside the cathedral, and have a look at the ornate work in there, although photos aren’t allowed. Lot of websites I looked on didn’t even list the Sacre Coeur as an attraction, which is why I think it’s under-rated.
Next on the planned-to-the-last-minute itinerary was dinner. Having been to Paris before years and years ago, I knew the Champs Elysees had a load of good restaurant, so off we went on the metro. The underground system in Paris is easy enough to understand, and served us well on the trip. If you’re in a hurry, this is the way to go, although if you’re in Paris for a long time, walk and soak up the city. Happily, the trip to Champs Elysees (a very very very long road. But tree lined with loads of shops and restaurant. This road was my boyfriend’s favourite part of Paris) coincided with seeing the Arc de Triomphe! A majestic structure with beautifully carvings, in the middle of the busiest crossing I ever saw.
Next on the list (after a delicious dinner) was to see the iconic Eiffel Tower at night. One of the highlights of our trip!. The Eiffel Tower dominates the skyline of Paris, and at night glows from the top down. It’s magical. We went right to the base of the Eiffel Tower and stood around, looking up at it (classic tourists). It’s one of the most romantic things to see in Paris!
Although the Eiffel Tower at night was a sight to behold, during the day it was even better – because we went up it! A word of warning, we took the cheap way out because we were students, and climbed the stairs. Big mistake. There are so many! Unless you’re a professional athlete, pay for the lift. My legs will never forgive me! But when we got to the top, (or midway should I say. The stairs beat us) it was breath-taking. The views are fabulous even from mid-way. A great view of Parliament an the Seine, Notre Dame further away, and in the distance, my beloved Sacre Coeur! When you get to ground level again, go to the centre of the Eiffel Tower and look up. The height is dizzying. You also get some great photos at the base of the Eiffel Tower looking up.
After the most iconic structure in Paris, we crossed the river in search of food. I put my French skills to the test and asked for a croque monsieur. Oh the pride! In Paris, pavement cafes are the best option for lunch. There are plenty to choose from, and when in Paris do as the Parisians do! On a sunny day, it’s a lovely atmosphere. I found it amazing how peaceful it can seem in the middle of a busy capital city. Being opposite the river on a tree lined street, we felt totally relaxed.
Crossing the river again, we walked to Notre Dame, on the lookout for Quasimodo! Walking along the Seine is a great way to experience Paris, if you have the time. When we came across Notre Dame, I was stunned by the beautiful architecture. So intricate and ornate, with gargoyles all along the top and carvings on the front, it is a beautiful cathedral. There’s a nice area in front of it with some benches, so you can sit, relax and look at Notre Dame. It’s much bigger than I expected!
With joy de vivre (French for joy of life) in our hearts, we made out way back to the Eurostar, sad to leave Paris but full of happy memories.