Stop 6: Paris
I’ve waited to visit Paris since I was a little girl. With our trusty tour guide Hannah to guide us through the best stops, our final Interrailing spot made my dreams come true.
Arriving in Paris when interrailing isn’t as easy as you’d think… In order to avoid a high reservation fee, we first had to travel from Bruges to Kortrijk (about 40 minutes) to Froyennes (about 20 mins) to Lille and from here board a TVG (my first high-speed train trip) to Paris Nord. There was one reservation (from Lille to Paris) and this cost us €10 each, pre bookes on sncf.com.
We Airbnb’d in the perfect apartment which was in a nice area and within walking distance to supermarkets and public transport. This was the cheapest way to see authentic Paris and also allowed us a free base to explore the real city life of the French capital.
Food and Drink
A little strapped for cash, we mostly made use of our closest Carrefour and Franprix for dinner and snacks. Airbnbing meant we had the option to cook which was a huge help for us!
THE TO-DO LIST
As a huge Disney freak, leaving Paris without visiting the European hub of all things Mickey and Minnie was a huge no! I’ll write a full blog on making the most of a day trip to meet the big mouse soon!
Sacre Coure / Monmarte
Walking along the climbing streets of Monmarte, I couldn’t help but hum Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams to myself; here lies gritty, beautiful, chaotic, authentic and artistic Paris. Stay away from the draws of the tourist traps (which line street after street) and try not to get mugged by professional tourist scammers as you ascend the vibe-filled streets towards Sacre Coure; a beautiful Roman Catholic Basilica that offers some of the bests views in the French capital!
Captivated by what you saw from a height, take in the plentitude of street art as you descend. Pop into a local bakery, see the Moulin Rouge (hidden in plain sight) and see a local art show or two!
I wonder how many travel blogs about Paris have made reference to the Hunchback of Notre Damn in describing this Cathedral’s splendor. Our first attempt at visiting this Parisian must was thrown into dismay as the city fell victim to a terrorist threat (that later turned out to be a stabbing in front of the very Cathedral we were approaching. I’ve never seen so many Police and Army folk in one place! When we eventually made our way through the quick moving ques the day after, it was very much worth the wait if not for the beautiful stained glass alone. Notre Dame is a beautiful piece of history and if like me, you have a thing for beautifully designed places of worship (Amen, Catholic School!) it’s a must visit!
Lunch in the Luxembourg Gardens.
We’re picnic-ers, my friends and I; the sun comes out and we bask in the bright obelisk we seem to miss so regularly in Ireland. This being said, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a rose-mantic picnic in the park. Pack a lunch, grab a seat in the sun and take a break from Paris’ hustle and bustle in the beautiful garden surrounds!
Take a Cliché Eiffel Tower Shot
Did you even visit Paris is you don’t get at least one cringy shot in front of the Tour D’Eiffel? Stand in the grass on the Champs De Mars for the perfect front shot, get up close and personal from underneath the tower itself or cross the bridge to the Trocadero for a more romantic shot of the famous monument.
Get Funky at the Center Pompidou
Sometimes hailed as one of Paris’ biggest eyesores (have you see the Eiffel Tower’s ground zero?), the Center Pompidou is difficult to describe unless you’ve actually seen it. Modern art meets pipe-cleaner chic, the center is now home to a number of amenities including the Museum of Modern Art. The surrounding area is also a great place to spot some super street art.
Others of note:
- BHV Shopping Centre for the ceiling!
- Shakespeare and Co. Bookshop just to say you’ve followed in the footsteps of literary giants (but watch out…. it’s expensive!)
- Stroll through Tuileries Garden
- Fall in love in the Louvre
- Forum Des Halles for all your shopping needs
- Take a Les Miserables tour (if you’re a musical theater geek like me)