24th October 2019

An idiots guide to Paris: my first time in the city

Paris is famed for being the city of love and this weekend I definitely found out why.. Dan whisked me off to the French capital for a weekend of relaxation, sightseeing and to reconnect as a couple.

As this was my first time visiting, I had no idea what an earth I was doing nor what sites I actually wanted to see – so in honour of my stupidity and let’s be honest.. ignorance.. I’ve put together a little idiot’s guide so let’s dive right in..

day one | friday

We took the Eurostar to Paris via Kings Cross St Pancreas in London on Friday morning. I’ve never taken the Eurostar before and neither has Dan so it was a bit of an experience for both of us. It’s a bit like an airport but a lot quicker (!) while there is still passport control, check in is a lot easier as this can be done by scanning your ticket (or e-ticket for you savvy people who can work out iPhone’s passport app) at the gate.

We grabbed breakfast – a croissant – and a coffee to get into the Parisian spirit and boarded our train. It was totally worth it because we had such a comfortable stress-free journey. Both of us were able to connect to the on-board WIFI and we were able to snuggle up watching movies in our four-seater pod.

Besides making it clear the first thing I wanted to do was drop everything off at the hotel, I didn’t make any concrete plans for our first day because I honestly wasn’t sure how tired or hungry we’d be. Everyone I spoke with told me we should hit the ground running and power through the first day, so that’s just what we did!

After checking in (and me finally going for a wee after a 2 hour train journey and 45 minute taxi ride) we took a short walk up to the Eiffel Tower to get our first taste of all Paris had to offer. We were hoping to hitch a ride to the first platform of the tower but the queue was very large and after realising neither of us actually like heights we decided to sit underneath, enjoy a(nother) coffee and embrace the atmosphere.

Side note: you can pay for tickets at the gate however I’d definitely recommend booking them in advance – the queues were HUGE!

By the time we had wandered around the Eiffel Tower and Champ de Mars, we found a little boutique restaurant to unwind and grab a bite of traditional French cuisine at a steak house – I know, it doesn’t sound very French – but trust me the food was amazing. Dan ordered red wine with his duck confit and I ordered a beautiful beef bourguignon.

day two | saturday

Dan and I aren’t massive art lovers nor are we that enamoured by galleries but we wanted to enjoy as much of the culture as we possibly could. Our hotel concierge suggested the best way to do this was through the hop-on-hop-off bus.

For any reader who is booking a trip to Paris or has one planned this would be my number one top tip. We wouldn’t have survived without it.

The route started at the Eiffel Tower – as we explored the area on day one we quickly hopped on and started our tour – next stop, the Opera house. Phantom of the Opera is one of my most beloved movies and knowing the novel takes place in Palais Garnier was a dream.

From here, we made our way toward the Lourve, finally stopping off at Notre Dame. It’s one of the most iconic churches in the world, and even though it’s undergoing restoration.. it’s still beautiful. We stopped off at a little cafe for some tea and macaroons which overlooked the River Seine.

Next on the list was the Arc De Triomphe. A spectacular arc in the centre of the street. It gives a breathtaking view of the Avenue des the Champs-Élysées. To be able to get up to the Arc, we took the underground passage to explore around it and climbed up the 284 steps to the top – it was by far one of my most memorable moments (and I think Dan’s too).

Included with our bus tickets was a night river cruise where we were taken down the River Seine to see each and every wonder lit up. Afterwards we’d worked up quite an appetite and ended up crashing in a little tex-mex restaurant to eat some home comforts – yes fajitas are my life! – then headed straight to bed.

day three | sunday

This was our last day and tiredness definitely started to kill so we decided we would have a little bit of a lie-in (and by that I meant 9am wake-up call). After a bit of research Dan and I realised the Gare du Nord station was one of the stops on our bus tour ticket..

It was lucky because it had just started to rain and I was far from impressed.

So we packed up, checked out the hotel and headed out to see where this new route would take us. We were told by our concierge that it wouldn’t be a Parisian trip unless we had visited Angelina’s to grab one of their famous hot chocolates.

It was created by the confectioner Anton Rumpelmayer in 1903 and has long since been one of the cities hotspots for experiencing a French tearoom.

The queue to get a seat for brunch lasted around 30 minutes but it was totally worth it! If you’re going to take a trip to Paris this should most definitely be on your to-do list.

what I wish I knew before visiting Paris for the first time

Many attractions are closed on certain days.. for example the Louvre is closed on a Tuesday meaning the weekends and Mondays are always busier so make sure you pre-book to avoid the queues.

The language barrier was also a tough one for Dan and I – for some reason everyone assumed we could speak French! Unlike other western European countries where almost everyone also speaks fluent English, there are many people in France who don’t. That being said, we managed to scramble what little French we knew between us and get by.

what I would do if I came back

There is so much to see and do, you really can’t go wrong. But as we only stayed for two days, we definitely rushed around trying to fit in as much as we possibly could. We missed out on exploring Versailles or Montmartre and Sacre Coeur. Since we came in the colder months, I think it would be a lot different in Spring/Summer.

Let me know your faveourite spots below.. and if you have any suggestions on our next location – give this post a comment!

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