I saw that National Express was having a seat sale; £25 return ticket to Paris. I barely thought twice about it. I bought the tickets right then and there. A few days later, a friend of mine from back home, who is working at the moment in Germany, messaged me saying that he would be in France around the same time as me, so he decided to meet me the weekend I was in Paris!
I took the 8am bus from London to Paris; this time instead of boarding the ferry in Dover, the bus boarded a train and we took the unwater tunnel across the Channel. On the way there, I made friends with my seat mate who was South African and travelling Europe for the next three months. We arrived in Paris around 6pm, we said our goodbyes and I navigated my way to my hostel in Montmartre. I honestly don’t know what I would do without Citymapper; it made navigating the city so easy! As I was supposed to meet Stephen at the Louvre around 7:30pm, I rushed to check-in and drop off my bags.
*A little tip for those visiting Paris, the Louvre has free entry on Fridays after 6pm for anyone under 26.
After some confusion about our meeting spot (who knew there was more than one glass triangle inside!?), we spent the evening exploring the museum. The nice thing too was that the museum was practically empty; we got right up to the front row to see the Mona Lisa! After the museum, we took a walk to see the light show that happens every hour at the Eiffel Tour. Both of us were starving and the only thing that seemed to be open was the fool stall at the Eiffel Tower, so we paid for our overpriced hot dogs in a baguette and happily watched the light show in the drizzling rain. Paris is beautiful at night; I can definitely see why it’s called the City of Love. The only thing that drove me nuts, were the guys that kept coming up to sell tacky souvenirs.
The next morning, Stephen and I met up again to visit the Catacombs. This was the one thing I was looking most forward to in Paris and it didn’t disappoint! After lunch, we went to the Musée L’Orangerie to see one of my favorite artists and series, Monet’s “Water Lilies” and then wandered around the city up to the Sacré-Coeur. The view from the top was exquisite! While up there, we met an American travelling on his own, whom we invited to have dinner with us and explore the rest of the city at night. This is where the trip gets interesting, we tried to find the Moulin Rouge but ended up going the opposite way and ended up in this really dodgy area. Now, I’ve heard of a tent city before, but had never actually seen one in real life. Lined up and down the sidewalks and smelling like pee, tents were set up and the homeless and gypsies were just hanging out. We figured we should probably turn around and after two hours of wandering, we finally found Moulin Rouge, literally ten minutes the other way past the Sacré-Coeur – don’t ask me how we got that lost!
Stephen went home on Sunday morning, so I spent my last afternoon in Paris on my own. Back home in Ottawa, my former coworkers always talked about this place called Angelina’s in Paris and that they had the best hot chocolate! So I checked out of my hostel and made my way there for a proper French breakfast (they weren’t lying, the hot chocolate is REALLY good). After breakfast, and although my feet were killing from the night before, I went up to Notre Dame cathedral and Luxembourg Gardens. In the park, I called my mum and told her how much I loved Paris and how she would love it here! Remembering another thing that I wanted to see in Paris, I went to find the “Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation”, a memorial created in 1962 to commemorate the 200,000 people who were deported from Vichy, France to the Nazi Concentration Camps during WWII, before making my way to the bus station back to London.
My trip to Paris was short and sweet but packed to the brim with adventure! All I heard before going was how dirty the city was; but aside from the many scam artists and the tent city we wandered into, Paris was amazing!