After our 4 night stay in Budapest, we flew straight to Paris and I found out something about myself: I am unashamedly and utterly in love with Paris. This comes as no surprise as I’m already a self-confessed Francophile.
We stayed at ‘Louvre Youth Hostel’, which was literally 2 minutes from the Louvre, in the 1st arrondissement. You really couldn’t get more central if you tried, which was pretty amazing. The actual hostel wasn’t quite so amazing, the staff were very grumpy and unhelpful, the breakfast was extremely average, (letting down your reputation there, France) the showers awful and the rooms were… strange.
We had the highest room in the building (it was a very high building) and it felt like we’d been shoved in the attic. I can imagine it being quite cold in winter, the floor was tiled and the windows not very effective. You had to climb up metal ladders to get into the second half of the room and the bunk beds had no steps. We had to vault into our top bunks. Vault. However, it is the oldest hostel in Paris and the location really made up for its downsides. We weren’t planning on spending all that much time inside anyway.
As soon as we arrived in the city, we were determined to hire bikes to ride along the river. This is pretty easy in Paris as they have Vélib bike stations located all around where you can take out a bike, ride it across the city and then take it back elsewhere. As long as you return it within half an hour this is completely free, other than a deposit of $150 each that is returned to you. (More on this later… stupid damn deposit). We actually found it quite hard to work the Vélib system but it was lovely to cycle around Paris once we’d figured it out. For a full guide on Paris by bike check out this amazing and super comprehensive article.
You might not have heard about this little attraction called the Eiffel Tower, but I heartily recommend it. We decided to visit the tower the night we arrived and walked from our hostel along the river in the dark. When we turned the corner and saw it, illuminated in all its glory, all three of us screamed- it’s so much bigger than it seems in pictures. I was pretty starstruck by it after seeing it everywhere growing up. It’s a simple structure but beautiful. Buy a selfie stick – or bring one if you have one- and take a million photos in front of the tower or there’s really no point in going to Paris.
Arc de Triomphe
We reached the Arc de Triomphe by the metro as it was only a few stops from where we were by the Louvre. The Paris metro was really impressive, so much smoother and more modern than the underground in London! On arriving it took us a while to figure out that we had to go through an underground walkway to reach the Arc de Triomphe rather than attempting to cross Place Charles de Gaulle, a large junction of 12 roads (yes, 12). If you are under 25 and have a European passport, definitely bring this around with you in Paris, we got free access to this and many other sites around the city because of it, which was amazing! However, keep in mind that even if you aren’t under 25 or European, there’s so many free things to do in Paris. We climbed the gazillion and one steps to the top (again, Lyd “nearly died”) and it was spectacular, with 360 views around the whole of Paris. Definitely recommend, even if you have to pay I’d say it’s worth it.
Sacré Coeur is more in the suburbs of Paris and it took a little longer to get to from our hostel. It’s a such a beautiful church and is featured in the last scene of one of my favourite films, Amélie so I really enjoyed visiting. It’s situated at the top of Montmatre hill, which is the highest point in Paris so again, exquisite views from here. We were really lucky with the weather on our trip as well so the hill made a top-notch sunbathing spot for a few hours relaxing with a picnic.
If you’ve seen the movie Moulin Rouge, then you’ll probably want to visit here just for a look. It’s only a five minute walk from Sacré Coeur so you might as well if you’re in the area. We only really looked at it from outside because you have to fork out your life savings to watch a show and really it was a bit underwhelming. It’s also among the largest collection of sex-shops I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing in my life. Every single shop down the road. You can imagine how inventive some of the shop names had to get by the end of the street.
Paris is such an iconic and beautiful city: there’s so much to see and do in summer. Paris in Winter also has a special ambiance that only exists there. You must visit Paris at least once in you’re life. To read about the rest of my stay, check out the second instalment of my Paris series.
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Much love <3