I turned 21 back in March (I know it’s terrible I have only just got around to writing this post!). For my birthday myself, some of my family and my best friend Elliott decided to head to Paris for a relaxing weekend of sightseeing. This wasn’t my first time visiting this beautiful city but the rest of my family hadn’t visited before. We only had a limited amount of time (2 days and one evening) making Paris the perfect location with easy and quick links back to London *this was definitely not the case on this trip*.
Our trip began on Friday 15th March 2019 with an eventful morning getting the cats to the cattery for their allotted time and last minute packing. For this trip, I decided not to take a suitcase and to live out of my backpack which was the best decision I made this entire trip I believe. Using a backpack made navigating the metro and getting around the city so much easier. The short amount of time, though living minimalisticly, meant I could fit everything I needed for the weekend into a regular backpack.
From the off everything on this trip was a challenge. Trains for us to get to the Eurostar were cancelled last minute alongside massive delays which didn’t help with us finding an alternative route. We ended up taking a slow train on a longer route which fortunately got us to the Eurostar just in the nick of time. Once on the Eurostar we took a nice relaxing journey into Paris.
It wasn’t until we arrived in Gare Du Nord that we noticed the sheer amount of people queuing attempting to get out of Paris. This became something that loomed over us the entire trip.
When we arrived, as it was fairly late in the day our Air BnB was ready for us to check into. What a lovely Air BnB this ended up being! Very instagramable and cheap sleeping up to six people!
Once settled with the kitchen area inspected to see which utensils were available (something I do no matter which Air BnB I’m staying in) for us to use we headed to the local supermarket. If you are a regular to my blog you will know often when going away and staying in an AirBnB to save money and to easily feed everyone’s dietary needs we cook and eat within our accommodation.
Our first evening there wasn’t much time to explore the city after we’d eaten. We decided to call a taxi to the Eiffel Tower giving the opportunity to see it lit up at night.
Did you know that the Eiffel Tower sparkles every hour during sunset and evening light? It is, however, illegal to film/photograph it whilst it’s sparkling so if visiting make sure not to be caught out.
We ended up staying and admiring the Eiffel Tower from Place du Trocadéro. This was the first time I visited this viewpoint even though I have previously been to Paris. I would definitely recommend visiting this viewpoint if you visit. You can get some lovely photos whether visiting at day or night. We stayed here for two hours admiring the view and taking photos. Do be aware when visiting though, as you will see in many tourist locations, multiple people were attempting to sell goods. This is in fact, illegal for them to be doing and often these items aren’t safe for use! Gone midnight we started to make our way back to our apartment for a well-earnt sleep in preparation for the second day of our trip.
Saturday 16th March was by far the most eventful day of our trip! We set out in the morning sticking to the schedule. We visited many beautiful spots including The Moulin Rouge, Sacré-Cœur Basilica and the Wall of Love before heading over towards the Arc De Triomphe.
Many of you probably have heard about the ‘yellow vest protests’ happening in Paris recently. Unfortunately for us the weekend we decided to visit protesters decided to protest surrounding the Arc De Triomphe. After trying to escape the metro at a stop close by but failing it was clear something wasn’t quite right. We got off at the nearest stop we could. Once we reach the surface it was clear that something was going on. By this point, we were all very hungry. It was time to stop for lunch. As we were unable to move any closer to any landmarks on our list we found a salad bar serving colourful salad bowls on a street adjacent to The Arc De Triomphe. As we sat inside we lost count of the number of police cars and ambulances that past us all attempting to reach the scene. Whilst eating we knew that we needed to leave the area so planned out an alternative schedule for the remainder of the day.
We left the salad bar and headed back to the metro station. Fortunately, this was close by as by this point the tear gas being used at the protest had spread to the street that we were on. Feeling the effects of tear gas even in a small quantity is something I definitely don’t want to experience again.
We hopped onto the metro and made it over to the Opera House. Again we found ourselves caught up in another protest, this time a peaceful one. We’d walked straight into the Youth Climate Change protest. Although this was an inconvenience and wasn’t something we planned on getting caught up in I am grateful for experiencing this protest. Thousands of young people coming together to grow awareness of such an important issue created such an amazing atmosphere. We did find ourselves squeezing past loads of people to continue our route towards The Lourve.
We walked from the Opera House to The Louvre. At this point, the weather completely changed for the better. We had blue skies, the sun came out and it was surprisingly warm for March. This made the remainder of the walk extremely pleasant taking in the wonderful Parisian architecture and is a fond memory from our trip. When we arrived at The Louvre with the sun still shining we sat and admired the view. We took photos and relaxed for a long time in this location before heading onto the Notre Dame.
We were extremely lucky to be able to visit the Notre Dame before the recent tragic fire that took hold. Again we admired the view of this stunning building taking a moment to enjoy the sunshine before making our way back to the apartment for a rest and dinner.
That evening Courtney, Elliott and I decided to attempt to make a boat ride which we had pre-booked however we didn’t make it as the metro stop we needed was still closed. Instead, we ended up taking a walk to the Eiffel Tower and decided to take a trip up. As someone who has already been up the Eiffel Tower, I definitely believe its worth doing it day and night. No matter when you go you can see an amazing view of the city but there is definitely something magical about going up there at night compared to the amazing detail visible during the day. After this, we made our way back to the apartment.
Sunday (supposedly the final day of our trip). This had the potential of being the most stressful day of our trip. This was the day we were meant to be taking the Eurostar back home to London. However, due to massive delays at Gare Du Nord, we had a decision to make. We had been informed people were waiting in the station attempting to get on trains for 8 hours. Either we scrapped the rest of our plans and headed to the station to join them, risk arriving 2 hours before our train as suggested by Eurostar without any guarantee we’d get on the train or we try to find an alternative route home. As it was a Sunday there was a lack of travel and due to all of the delays, other transportation methods massively bumped their prices up. Elliott and I spent ages on the Sunday morning before checking out of our Air BnB looking for an alternative route home. It quickly became evident that we weren’t going to be able to get home on that day without being massively out of pocket. We cancelled our Eurostar booked for that day (which Eurostar were very helpful with) and started looking for a way home on Monday.
This wasn’t ideal at all as we had the cats in the cattery only booked till the Monday morning. Fortunately, they were also very understanding and were able to accommodate them for a further night.
We found an Air BnB in Paris which was cheap and gave us somewhere to sleep that night. Fortunately for us, we also managed to find a Eurostar back home for the Monday evening for only a fraction more money than the one we previously had booked. The only catch was it wasn’t going from Gare Du Nord but from Disneyland. At this point, I was given a choice. As that Monday was my 21st Birthday I got a choice of what I would like to do with that day. We looked at the Disneyland website to find they were doing a great deal where adults only paid the child’s price. Of course, I took the opportunity to go to Disney (blog post coming soon). We pre-booked our tickets and left our Air BnB.
Now was the point of the trip I always find a bit tricky. We had three hours between check out of our first Air BnB and check in for our second. Being Sunday a lot of places (especially shops) were closed. We made our way closer to where our new Air BnB was and found a restaurant to have Lunch in to pass some time.
After spending over an hour in the Restuarant we continued the journey to our next Air Bnb. This one was located in a much busier location and on the doorstep of a huge shopping centre! All of us wanted to take a look in Sephora and also had a look in a few other shops before it was time to check into our Air Bnb.
When we arrived we took a moment to rest. I always believe taking moments to relax and rest is super important when on a city break. You can find yourself walking 20,000+ steps a day which is exhausting! Always listen to your body.
Once rested we again made our way to the Eiffel Tower. Mum and Hannah were still yet to go up. We got there just before sunset and got to watch the sunset over Paris which was magical. Even though unplanned this is one of my favourite memories of the trip. It was so cold and windy and we did get battered with rain at times but the sunset was incredible and we even managed to see a rainbow up there. Some members of our group bought macaroons which were pricy but apparently worth every penny. We then took the lift back down to the ground.
We took a slow stroll back to the metro and hopped on a train back to the apartment.
This is where I’m going to leave this post. There will be another one purely focusing on my 21st Birthday and the day at Disneyland (I wish I could go back)!
Have you had any challenging travel experiences? Let me know in the comments below!