It was spring time. It was cloudy. It was drizzling. But I did not care. It was the first time that I was taking my mother and my child to Paris. Three generations travelling together for the first time.
Those of you who follow me on Instagram and Twitter know that in the spring, I decided to show my appreciation of the EU by visiting some major European cities before returning to work from maternity leave. If you have not caught up on Instagram and Twitter then read my previous posts here and here on some of the cities that I went to.
We used the Eurostar and arrived in Gare du Nord station in less than 2 hours. The time flew as my mother and I indulged in some champagne before departing and on the train. We were staying in a hotel right next to Eiffel Tower so we managed to use the metro without any problems. The best station stop for the Eiffel Tower is Bar Hakeim, using metro 6 because of the incredible views of the old city facades. Watch the video below.
We were staying on the other side of the Seine river and it was a bit of a long walk from the tower to the our hotel but I wanted my mother to see Eiffel Tower up close. This was my mother’s first time in Paris. Her first impressions reminded me of my very first time in Paris - dirty, smelly and too touristy. Yes, it is true and many people will tell you how unimpressive and underwhelming Paris is but bear with me and I will show you why I continue to visit and why JAY-Z and Kanye rapped about this city.
Once we settled into the hotel and freshened up, we headed out to an early dinner and drinks. The one thing that you must do in Paris is eat. Eat, eat and eat some more!
If you are looking to visit the highlights of the city, such as Eiffel Tower, Le Louvre, Notre Dame (side note: due to the fire 2 weeks before our visit in Paris, you can no longer go inside or near Notre Dame but merely view it from the other side of the river. It is still worth the stop), then take a boat, not the metro. All the tourist highlights sit along the river side. Do not bother with the metro as it will take you longer to see all the attractions. Head to the Eiffel Tower and by the river, near Pont d’lena bridge is a hop-on/hop-off boat service called Batobus, which runs every 15 minutes.
Paris has been photographed in so many ways and you will have seen so many photographs that all look the same. I suggest finding unusual corners, hidden alleyways, even an upside-down perspective just to get a photograph that looks different.
Avoid the tourist crowds by starting your tour at dawn. Le Louvre has a queue from 9am so it is inevitable if you want to go in and see the Mona Lisa during the day. But if you visit at 8pm, there is hardly anyone there. Check the website for when it is open late as this is not an everyday occasion. I was also informed that you can now book to sleep in one of the glass pyramids at the Louvre. If you have the money to experience this, do it!
The best place and time to photograph the Eiffel Tower, from the north of the river, is Place du Trocadero at sunrise. Another great place, from the south of the river, where there will be absolutely no one around is Rue de l’Université in the mornings. Trust me on that tip - put on your tutu skirt and ask your man to take a photo of you from the ground perspective. Also do not forget to congratulate the newly engaged couple or the bride that you will inevitably come across.
My mother really enjoyed the sparkling lights at the Eiffel Tower every night night so much so that she took a bottle of champagne and walked to Place du Trocadero on her own, to sip and view, at 9pm whilst I was trying to settle my baby.
On our final day, we spent the day in the Montmartre area where I bought some art pieces. There are a lot of artists selling paintings in this area, although the art is not always a one-off. This area feels very French village with the stone pavements and cafes with outdoor seating. We also took the opportunity to visit Sacré Cœur, which has a carousel for kids. You will notice a lot of carousels in Paris, especially at tourist locations.
We ate. We drank. We were amazed by French architecture, but the one thing we all loved was sharing the moments together. My mum changed her mind about Paris. I realised that there is something about Paris. Yes, you can’t escape the smell of the Seine river but you get used to it. Yes, it is dirty and messy but you end up looking up at the architecture in awe. Yes, the electric skater boards are dumped anywhere but this is mostly in the tourist attractions. Yes, the French can be rude and proud people but if you show them that you are attempting to speak in French, watch how their attitude changes.
Visit. Eat. Drink. Shop! Nobody does luxe like the French.
If you have visited Paris, tell us what you thought of it.