“Britt! Paris will only be a two hour train ride away…” Trev murmered his first thought, enthusiasm and excitement plastered across his face, when we’d officially made the decision to move to London. He’d been dying to visit Paris ever since our first trip to Europe.
Now that we were quite literally a 2 hour (plus short-enough tube ride to St Pancras) train journey away, Trev’s 31st birthday weekend seemed the perfect opportunity to make our first trip over.
Knowing that we would have the (very fortunate) opportunity to visit Paris as often as we’d like (esp with Trev now also temporarily managing the Paris team), we decided to make this first trip a relaxing one; to take the opportunity to get to know the city and try living a bit like a Parisian. Or so, this was the original “plan”.
Prior to our departure, we booked 3 things, and decided these would be the only 3 planned items on our 4 day adventure.
1. Our Airbnb apartment – This has become our preferred method of hotel arrangement as it allows us to stay in an actual residents apartment, and gain an idea of the actual lifestyle of living in the given area.
2. Tour of the Eifel with Seine River boat Cruise – a must for Trev (not that I took much convincing).
3. Late night show tickets to the Moulin Rouge. 😉
First moments in Paris: Where are we? Sooo many buildings. 11pm…so hungry. Is this place open? Do they serve food? I wish I spoke French…
Since we’d chosen to stay in an Airbnb, our first moments in the city were a bit difficult to navigate, as it was late out…but we were determined to soak in our first bit of Parisian culture anyway. We soon found ourselves sipping cocktails and befriending a lovely waitress at a cafe a few streets down. Just as our experience has been in most of Europe, most Parisians speak English as a second language, and speak it fairly well. God bless ’em.
We spent the morning perusing Sacre-Coeur, where we visited the beautiful Basilique and climbed to the top of the dome for breathtaking city views.
Our afternoon was pre-booked (Viatour.com whoop woop!) for relaxing cruise down the Seine River, ending with a tour of Eiffel herself. The weather was perfect for the boat cruise, and we were able to view many icons of the city in a short timeframe, as much of central Paris is built along the river.
Our Eiffel tour was timed well, as we made our descent and exited under its glorious structure right in time for the hourly light show! Truly a stunning site and worth timing your visit to see the display of lights!
My thoughtful husband let me steal the show on his birthday Eve, or rather, allowed me to book us into a show I’ve been dying to see for a decade: The Moulin Rouge! I was childishly excited as we stood in (a verryyy long) line waiting to enter, under the iconic windmill from the movie. Overall, our experience at Moulin was pretty good. The costumes were grand, the music on point, the ladies beautiful, the dancing…just so-so. I was a bit disappointed in the level/skill of the dancers, but all-in-all it was a very entertaining night out. We weren’t allowed to take photos in the venue, but of course had to purchase the overly priced image they took at the start of the show. 😉
Our last full day of our first weekend in Paris, we decided to take some time to walk the city and soak it all in. We walked along the river, bought a baguette and cheese from local street vendors and people-watched from a stone-wall along the river while we ate. Along our stroll we came upon Notre Dame Cathedral (yes… These kind of things happen in Paris…you just seem to stumble across landmarks you’ve only read about in Jr. High history class…or in this case through Disney Film :P). We spent a good couple of hours walking the long side paths through the church, admiring dozens of paintings, catacomb headstones and relics from hundreds of years back. For us, Notre Dame was a uniquely spiritual place rich with history and adventure.
What I would come to consider a turn of luck, I had originally booked in a private dinner with a well-known chef as a gift to Trev, and to my horror discovered that there had been a mixup in the dates and he was not available…and not even in town. Trev swooped in to save the day and quickly booked us in at a restaurant 1 mile away online. Crushed as we made the walk to dinner, our moods uplifted quickly as we arrived at our new destination; Le Bistro Mericourt. To this day, (as I’m documenting this trip much later than I’d have liked) we still remember this as one of the best evenings together we’ve experienced. Quaint and cozy, this little gem could have been easly unassuming to passerbys; those completely unaware of the straight fire the chefs we’re bringing in the kitchen. On our arrival, we had one choice to make: the 5 course menu with, or without the wine pairings. I’ll let you assume which we took. 😉 From that moment on, it was a culinary explosion of dish after dish, served, eaten and only THEN explained what we’d just consumed. Escargot and pigeon were two of a few items I blindly tried for the first time and blisfully enjoyed.
Our last morning, we made a stop, via peddle-cab, by the Arc du Triumph to admire and pay our respects to this amazing architectural and historical icon. It’s location, alone in the middle of a massive roundabout, adds to the greatness and power you feel exuding from its presence.
All in all, as we always do, we probably packed too many activities into our first weekend in Paris. We’d had the idea to try and lay low, but just got too darn excited. On our train ride home, we knew we’d be back. Sooner than later. 🙂