I may not have mentioned this before, but as someone born in March, I haven’t been able to celebrate my birthday for the past two years.
I turned 23 in my New York apartment while quarantined, so was delivered a birthday cake to my front door and had a corridor party with the mister and two friends. Not quite what I had in mind when I moved to New York six months prior, but it was definitely one to remember, that’s for sure.
And then fast forward 12 months and I was back living in Liverpool and the UK was going through another lockdown which meant no visitors, nowhere open, and a party for two in my flat, once again.
So you can absolutely bet your ass that I was going all out this year for my 25th since I had lost the previous two years. Himself purchased Eurostar tickets to Paris and took me off for the weekend to celebrate my halfway to 50 in style.
If you’d like to skip this blog post and watch my YouTube video instead, please find below x
Getting to Paris
As I said, we took the Eurostar to Paris from London St. Pancreas (my first time on the Eurostar and my first time in Paris) which took around 2 hours, getting into Gar du Norde station in Paris.
I wouldn’t usually say I’m a nervous flyer, but I do always wish my time in the sky away until I’m back on solid ground and flinch at any strange noise or feeling when in the air. So when it came to getting the train, I thought I may be a better traveller. But then I started to think about the train being in a tunnel underwater and I didn’t like it. I think it’s only all of 20 minutes but the thought of the roof of the tunnel giving way was in the back of my mind the entire time.
We arrived at St. Pancreas around 12.30pm, two hours before our train and queued for quite a while. There did seem to be a lot of missed trains, long queues, and delays. On the plus side, they were very lenient with luggage and how much you took on the train with you.
Traveling wise, I think I would prefer the airport experience over the train.
Where we stayed
Our hotel was the Hôtel Le Relais Saint Charles near the Eiffel Tower and our room had a view of the top of the Eiffel Tower, which was very nice at night time. It was just across the street from the Metro, so couldn’t have been in a better location.
We walked to the Eiffel Tower area both mornings and made our way around the city from there, but it was always an easy place to get back to because of the Metro.
The hotel was small and basic, but the staff were great and it had everything you needed. We were able to leave our luggage there all day on the Sunday as our train wasn’t until 9pm on Sunday night.
When we arrived in Paris around 6.30pm, we headed to the hotel to check in and then walked to the Eiffel Tower to see it up close for the very first time.
We then walked to Girafe, which is a famous restaurant with a plaza overlooking the Eiffel Tower, in the hopes they might have a reservation but it turned out their plaza was closed for renovations, so it would have been a very expensive meal with no view.
We headed to a restaurant called Les Philosophes near Le Marais which was highly recommended. It was really tasty and the service was amazing. Of course there was an Irish couple at the table next to us as you can’t go anywhere at all without bumping into other Irish people. But otherwise, the restaurant was full of locals.
After a glass of wine or two and some steak frites, it was back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep for the full day ahead on Saturday.
First thing on the agenda on Saturday morning was locating a French pastry. Luckily there was a bakery directly opposite our hotel, so this ended up being our first port of call on Saturday and Sunday morning.
I grabbed a pain au raisin while himself opted for a pain au chocolat (French accent recommended). We then walked the quiet streets around the Eiffel Tower before getting up and close to the huge structure itself. It was eerily quiet around this area for 10am on a Saturday morning.
The Eiffel Tower area itself was also quite quiet, but we luckily had amazing weather for a weekend in March.
We had a chilled approach to exploring the city and grabbed a cappucino from a street vendor and walked everywhere.
We headed to Café du Trocadéro for another coffee and croissant, which is next to the famous Carette that serves the hot chocolate that you may have seen on Molly Mae’s Instagram lately as she was there just a day before we were.
After some people watching we headed to the Arc de Triomphe, then walked down the Champs-Élysées, calling into Ladurée to purchase too many macarons of every flavour they had. We sampled these whilst walking along the Seine and please tell me a more idyllic Saturday afternoon, I will wait.
Being a Ladurée connoisseur and having sampled the selection from the store on the Upper East Side of New York, I can confirm that the Paris selection was a lot better, so would recommend if you’re visiting!
We walked some more Parisian streets, coming upon Café de Flore which is an Instagram hot spot, very very pretty and had around an hour’s queue to get in, so we kept on walking. We headed instead to the Monnaie area which was bustling with people and outdoor eating and drinking – perfect for us. We stopped off at Cafe Atlas and enjoyed some oysters and steak frites whilst baking in the sun and watching the incredible fashion of the Parisian people.
We then traipsed to Shakespeare & Company, a famous English bookstore in the city (recommended by YouTube’s favourite book reviewer, Jack Edwards) and queued for around 10 minutes to get into the store. Of course I made the wait worthwhile and purchased a tote bag (as pictured below) and a copy of Luster by Raven Leilani (the review and rating of which you can find in my March book reviews blog post).
After some book shopping, we headed across the street to see the Notre Dame up close where someone was playing a beautiful piano melody that set the scene perfectly.
After walking all 50,000 steps it was time to stop off at an Irish bar (that wasn’t very Irish) and have a drink while people watching, before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the evening.
In the night we were off to the Moulin Rouge! We had tickets to the 11.30pm showing and got all dressed up to sip some champagne and take in the evening’s entertainment. I would highly, highly recommend going to the Moulin Rouge if you can.
If you’ve seen the West End/Broadway show, you should know it’s nothing like this but more of a variety performance. An incredibly enjoyable evening that I would very much recommend.
A great spot to turn 25!
Our final day in Paris, we thankfully booked a 9pm train back to London which meant we had another full day to explore more of the city. We were able to leave our luggage at the hotel while we wandered and explored.
We headed across the street again to have another pastry (pain au raisin for moi) and grabbed a coffee before walking around the cute streets in the area. Again, it was incredibly quiet for 10am on a Sunday morning. I’m not sure if we were in a quiet area or if Paris generally likes to sleep in late on the weekends…
We headed to Montmarte on the Metro to see the sights around there. It was full of tourists and an incredibly busy area – so different from the Paris we left behind around the Eiffel Tower. The Wall of Love was nearby the Metro stop, so we had a look at this through the throngs of tourists, and then headed towards Sacré-Cœur, a cathedral that sits at the top of a huge hill overlooking the entire city.
There are many steps leading up to the cathedral, so be warned, on a hot day like it was, it may take a few stops along the way. The area was heaving with people sunbathing, picnicking and just enjoying the views – definitely a recommendation to go here if you’re in Paris!
You’ll also find La Maison Rose in this area, the Instagram-famous pink restaurant that you will probably have seen before.
Other than this, there are some very cute cobbled streets, an Irish bar (of course) and market stalls, as well as French boutiques and restaurants, so definitely a place to visit during your weekend in Paris.
After this, it was back into the city to source a jambon sandwich and walk around the streets chewing a ham baguette. Once we had that walked off, we headed to a famous restaurant to sample some frogs legs and snails.
I kid you not.
We dined at L’Escargot Montorgueil and ordered snails with spices and frogs legs that were drowning in garlic. I will say that I would opt for the frogs legs again (even though there is very minimal meat on those legs) and probably swerve the snails as I just couldn’t get the image of a slimy snail out of my head when I was popping it in my mouth.
But when in Paris, right?
After this lovely meal, we headed to the Louvre Museusm to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. I think we paid €15 per ticket to get into the museum, but we headed straight for the Mona Lisa as we’re not huge museum/gallery people.
When you get to the room with the Mona Lisa, you’ll probably start questioning human existence as you’ll feel like you’re at a music concert as everyone has their phones in the air trying to capture the best photo/video that they can.
I’m not sure if anyone actually stood and took in the painting with their own eyes or if it was through the camera lens on their phone, but what I would give to bring back the ‘no photos’ rule in museums and galleries.
As we obviously hadn’t done enough walking already, we headed to the mini Statue of Liberty which wasn’t too far from our hotel. From here we walked under the trees next to the Seine and as it was such a gorgeous day, it was a beautiful way to spend a Sunday evening, watching the boats along the water, getting tangled with the dog walkers and breathing in the French air.
It was then time to head back to our hotel, grab our luggage and head to the Eurostar to get our train back to London.