At the time of typing this it had been exactly a week since I had finished my long, physically taxing day out in Paris by myself and was warmly greeted by the British weather with heavy rain, with my mum picking me up from Stratford station 🙁
What a depressing and bitter end to a refreshing and fulfilling day.
Anyway rewind back to September 27th 09:30 am also the time at which I touched down at Paris after a two and a half hour journey on the Eurostar from St Pancreas International. Coming out of the busiest train station in mainland Europe in Paris Gare du Nord, I was brimming and pacing myself with nerves with the realisation that I was alone in a foreign city for the first time in my life and not comprehending everything that was going on around me.
Seeing French national soldiers patrolling populated areas such as the inside of the train station did not settle my nerves one bit. Ironically they should bring safety and security to you but in a city that’s been a victim of terrorism in recent years it takes you out of your bubble and can make you think that danger is possibly close by.
But no way was I turning back to the comfort that was London just yet. I reminded myself of why I was in Paris in the first place and it was all positive vibes and intrigue from then on. Like with future travel trips I reviewed this trip based on ratings given for key categories that defines a city and country (e.g. transport system, food and drink, attractions, culture, citizens etc.)
Transport WatchThe transport system in Paris is very similar to London: not hard to find nor long wait for a bus or train (or metro in France), interchanges at metro stations with different metro/tube lines. For example M1, M2, M3, M4 etc. You can find your Victoria line equivalent, your District line equivalent or your Central line one. The maps were user-friendly much like London, you could easily work out where you needed to get to and the interchanges you needed to go through without much issue. Uber cabs were always available close by also.
Generally-speaking I was relieved to see an inspiration of the London Underground and grateful to be a Londoner in that sense rather than just taking the knowledge for granted. Whilst all my public transport journeys ran smoothly it’s important to be aware that it could have been a different story in terms of how smoothly the services ran.
Attraction watchIt wouldn’t have been possible to have a good trip to Paris without getting a snapshot or two of the iconic Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees, the long stretch down to there is literally breathtaking and rivals that of The Mall in London. There are none to few words to describe my first reaction to seeing it in person, even though it was a gloomy morning when I visited it. I actually bumped into a newly wed couple taking pictures of themselves whilst on a ledge and Eiffel Tower in the background (my followers on snapchat would’ve caught my snap on it). As us English or British would say: what an absolute ledge he and she are! Hopefully they are enjoying their honeymoon 😉 My biggest regret however was not getting to the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees at night. I was kicking myself at how much time I had wasted trying to get dinner after a long day without food, because I’m certain it would’ve been one of the most if not most spectacular sights I’d witnessed in my life thus far.
Attractions included a few visits to museums. The first museum visited was Musee de L’Orangerie, which was free for me to enter as all individuals under 25 with valid ID were granted free entry. It’s an eye-catching place for casual art gallery visitors and very satisfying in general if you’re strongly into art. Currently there is a painting collection dedicated to French art dealer Paul Guillaume, who worked with famous painters and artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse in distributing and selling their paintings. It was amazing how words can be used to bring art to life and it served as a refresher for me as I have had nothing to do with art since my early years of secondary school.
After Musee de L’Orangerie I passed through the Jardin des Tulleries and as you can see in the picture below it says a thousand words and one of them: stunning.
I followed it up with a visit to the Lourve museum; honestly I had no idea it existed until a friend of mine told me about it, not to mention that it’s one of the largest museums in the world with 800 years of French history and tradition represented, stretching all the way back to the year 1200. It’s a very cost-effective time filler as it’s size means you can spend the whole day being engaged with French history and the country’s passion for art was clear to see as art classes were being held in the museum and visitors were also around sketching the sculptures in front of them using flipbooks and pencils.
The amount of sculptures were enough to give me a burning headache so go at your own risk ladies and gents.
Food watchThe travel connoisseur becomes Youtube’s chicken connoisseur – until he returns of course!
Food wasn’t really on the top of my agenda with all the places and sites I was so desperate to check. However I had a small breakfast and dinner, the breakfast was a cheese and chicken crepes. I had ironically fallen in love with crepes since my Uni’s korfball tour in Amsterdam (a story for another blog post :D) rather than in its country of origin which is France. Knowing that it’s not surprising that the quality of the crepes was not disappointing, it felt like I was enjoying a filling chicken baguette and for a cheap price of approximately 4 euros. There are a lot of dessert and crepe stalls around Paris that can do you a good crepe for as low as 1.5 euros.
For prices I was very annoyed by how expensive popular food outlets were, for example the McDonalds next the Lourve museum charged over 8 euros for a McChicken sandwich. In the UK I’m not being charged over £3 (3.4 euros) for one – and that’s the price of a Mcflurry in Paris! In all fairness It’s a theme for food prices to be inflated all over Europe from what I gather from my family and their holiday experiences in some European countries.
For dinner I wine and dined at Le Thermidor, which was a 5 minute walk from Lourve. It was somewhat okay but my value for money and the speed of the service was too slow for a restaurant that was not busy at the time of eating. I had snails for the starter with a small glass of French rose wine to remove whatever yuck in my mouth from eating them, the taste turned out to be decent given what it was. The main course was chicken fillet with French fries and salad; the meal was slightly underwhelming with the small portion sizes however the chicken itself had good taste and texture to it, enhanced by the condimental touch of gravy which was well-spreaded. All the food was well-cooked, with the fries having a slight amount of oil on them but not enough to ruin my enjoyment.
The bill came up to 25 euros, once tax was added 🙁 I didn’t mind on this occasion but it’s not going to be a common theme going forward personally #touristrobbed
Apart from the d*** who tossed my bag away like garbage to get their own when checking into St Pancreas International the French citizens were not stereotypically rude. Comfortable sharing seats and space on train journeys, helpful and aware of tourist around the area. It also helped that I spoke a bit of French and practised it en route to Paris along with experience communicating with foreigners so it was an easier time understanding them and allowed me to mostly overcome the language barrier, plus English is the international language so most French understood at least a bit of English.
Any crepe stall as it is one of the country’s national food. For reasons stated above as well. Best options to go for are nutella-flavoured or banana-flavoured from personal experience.
Final Ratings – 7.5/10
All in all it’s nice to start my travelling adventure on not so unfamiliar ground. The people and services were mostly helpful and easy to understand although Paris is a bit of unfinished business on the attraction front.
But for now – Au Revoir Paris, a plus tard (see you later)