Planning Paris

Bonjour Monsoir/Mademoiselle,

The Discoverer
The time has come for this young (yeah right, who am I kidding?) blogger to reach for the sky again and do some more international exploration. I’d love to think that had this been the 1500’s I’d be the guy setting sail and steering one of those humongous trans-continental ships belonging to some great ancient empire. I’d point in any given direction and give the orders to “set sail“, whilst quaffing champagne and rum cocktails indulging in the world’s finest delicacies; drunk on life. I’d be the writer of an international best selling diary that would last through the ages and I’d go down in history alongside the title ‘discoverer of great things‘. Instead, I’m struggling to pay absurd London rents, writing a half-arsed blog with limited readership and only getting by using budget airlines, cleverly planned itineraries and cutting every corner where I can (does cereal really need milk??). Ah, the life of a millennial.

This weekend we’re off to Paris; the City of Love. Now this wasn’t in my upcoming 2017 plans, but it was firmly in my travel diary. You see, this was a secret escape – a birthday present planned last year and hidden from the wife until she hit the big 3-0 (sorry Wifey, now the whole world knows)…
How ‘n’ Where? 
After clicking several click-baity eurostar adverts and never finding a deal anywhere near the advertised price, I instead opted to take to the skies. These £35 one-way train tickets are absolute bullshit prices and by the time you add a return and pick a sensible time of day the prices have quadrupled. I’m sure there are deals to be had if you’re on the train midweek at midday but c’mon, with Paris being so close to the UK surely you want to do it on a weekend? It’s relative distance makes it a convenient weekend break. That’s the whole deal. Anyhow, economy is economy, demand versus supply, Carl Versus Life, yada yada yada; I get it.
Lucky for us‘, we’re a stones throw from the roaring flight paths of Heathrow, making the whole journey actually more convenient than traipsing into central London and making the several changes needed to get to St Pancras International. A 20 minute bus journey, 1 hour before take off and we’re good to go. I plumped for Air France (makes sense, right?) over BA and counted my lucky stars after reading about BA staff taking yet more strike action over this weekend- this is really going to affect my future flight plans with BA- they really need to get their shit together. All in, two returns came to a reasonable price, somewhere like half the eurostar costs when you consider the cost of 2 train fairs into town etc. Plus the 1 hour flight trumps the 2.5 hour train. Win win.
Deciding where to stay in Paris seems to be a challenge. The city is huge. Like London, it has several districts, known as arrondissements (or Disaronnos as I’ve ignorantly been calling them), which offer different vibes derived from the different cultures and historic roots within. You can plan where to stay using this guide to the arrondissements, or you can plump for somewhere near the tourists sites. Getting around on the metro system seems fairly easy and I don’t have a problem using uber whilst on travels if necessary.

I started my search using my ol faithfuls; booking.com and TripAdvisor. I was immediately torn between two choices. The Saint Raphael a traditional, palacian, Renaissance era, parisian boudoir or the modern,  art-deco, 60s inspired Hotel Ekta. The reviews of Ekta are outstanding and for this special occasion I think my wife deserves outstanding. This hotel is in the 8th Disaronno, near the Champs Elysee which is a perfect location for the reason I have chosen to visit Paris…

The Audrey Hepburn Walking Tour

My Wifey is a big fan of Audrey Hepburn. She idolises this 1950s icon. I’m pretty sure it’s her girl-crush. So, I thought it’d be a lovely idea to take my Mrs to Paris and do a self-guided walking tour of some of the many film locations and sites frequented by the starlet. As my research got going I soon learned that, although Audrey never lived here, she spent so much of her time in the 8th arrondissement with her good friend Hubert Givenchy as well as filming no less than 4 films in the capital (as well as frequenting the haute couture district regularly). Our hotel in nearby the starting point of this tour which will see us taking in locations from the films: Funnyface, Sabrina, Paris When it Sizzles and How to Steal a Million, as well as visiting a few hot spots that she once frequented.

This was made possible, in part, by a fantastic app called VoiceMap which allows you to purchase and download all kinds of walking tours, submitted by users from all across the globe. There was one Audrey Hepburn tour that I found, listened to, and completely copied onto paper. I then added a few sights from movie-locations.com and ended up with a final, complete tour. Tres magnifique.
What We’re Doing… 
We are due to arrive in Paris midday on Friday and depart Sunday evening. The Wife has visited Paris before, some 15 years ago, but it will be my first time. We’re looking to take in the classic, tourist-tick-box-tour. Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre etc etc. We’d love to visit Versailles one day but we’re not sure if we’d have the time and are likely to take a slower paced, relaxed approach to this weekend break.
On Friday we’re hitting the road and immediately cracking on with our Audrey Hepburn walking tour. This will be followed by dinner at the Eiffel Tower. It is so expensive to climb the tower, we thought we’d combine a visit with dinner and (hopefully) a spectacular sunset. After a fancy meal we will be heading towards cocktails and late night shenanigans, I’m sure.
Saturday we’ll explore a bit more. Arc de Triumphe, Notre Dam, louvre… You know the drill. We’re also booked onto a tour to explore the catacombs, something I’m very excited to see. Which sounds a bit twisted… Dinner tonight is, again, combined with a tour as we dine on a cruise of the River Seine. Pre-booking these tours is, I think, a great way to save money. We’re taking limited spending money and booking everything up front.

We’ll finish up on Sunday with a bus tour and enjoying a bit of down time, soaking up all the Parisian atmosphere we can.

Late Night Shows

We’ve got a fair bit of time to spare and haven’t over- planned. I’d love to experience a cabaret but find the prices astronomical; I know that the performances would never reach my expectations for the price point. I think the wife will have to settle for a drunken Carl singing Lady Marmalade whilst vigorously thrusting the air in the privacy of our own hotel room. Perhaps that’s the real reason why its called the city of love.

I’ll update y’all when I’m home. Catch me next week, how bow dat?!

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Is there anything you recommend as a must do? A must visit? Is there anything that we’re missing out? I’ve heard montmaire is pretty… Let me know your thoughts in that empty box below… 
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7 thoughts on “Planning Paris

  1. When corner cutting enables you to travel more/ for less, it’s definitely justifiable (I’m guilty of it myself). I found Paris much cheaper than I had expected it to be, but I suspect that was mostly due to taking advantage of the -26 discounts/free entry options and walking a lot! Since you’re visiting this coming weekend, you might want to check out the attractions which offer free entry to everyone on the first Sunday of the month – the Louvre is definitely included, and other spots like the Arc de Triomphe may well be too. The attractions will be busier, but if you want to save a few euros it might be worth it. The Catacombs are awesome – hope you both enjoy your trip there as much as I did! Morbid though they may be to some, they are really intriguing. Île Saint-Louis (the other island in the Seine, just follow the street behind Notre-Dame to get there) is pretty if you decide not to head out to Montmartre. Have a great trip & look forward to reading about it in due course 🙂

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  2. This is such a thoughtful present for the big 30! Happy birthday Mrs Carl for whenever that day is/was – hope you both have an amazing time! No recommendations from me (having never set foot in France in my life) but I would just like to take this opportunity to express just how jealous I am of you living so close to Heathrow. SO jealous.

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    1. Pros and cons really. There’s not 5 minutes that goes by without a plane passing (though the flight paths do change and we don’t really notice them anyways). It can’t be healthy. However, I’m all for expansion…And Heathrow is expensive to fly from! Wow. I’d rather Gatwick prices or be nearby an easyJet.

      I used to work at a bar at Heathrow (whilst at Uni and immediately after) and listening to people excited about their holidays day-in day-out probably helped shape my thoughts on travel today.

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