What a pretty city Paris is. Our 4 day trip there over Easter was years in the waiting for some of our group and, for me, it didn’t disappoint.
Arriving on a Saturday evening, we headed straight to a bar called Le Fanfaron. The little bar was quirky, interesting and refreshingly different, with great music played on vinyl and posters of music and film stars adorning the walls. We had some wonderful conversations with local Parisians about the expenses of living in a capital city and other things. Everyone was exceptionally friendly – much more so than I have ever experienced in London.
I highly recommend Le Fanfaron if you’re into music by Gainsbourg, Bowie, Jagger and the like. As with most bars, the weekends can be very busy, and the weekdays very quiet. It depends what kind of night out you want to have, but we found both visits to be interesting experiences.
Speaking of Bowie – on Tuesday we visited “David Bowie Is…” an awe inspiring exhibition about Bowie’s life and work. I ended up with a copy of “Life on Mars?” at the end.
Which, later that day, lead to more frivolous record buying and an impromptu start to my record collection. (More on that in another blog post.)
Looking for somewhere cheap to stay in Paris? Our hostel was called St. Christopher’s Inn Paris Canal, a student-affordable and cheerful place not far on the Metro to places of interest in Paris. The helpful desk staff gave us tips on how to avoid some of the larger queues at attractions.The only inconvenience was that the lift occasionally broke down! You had to keep a bit of a close eye on your belongings when in the public downstairs bar area, but that’s just good sense.
Although the Metro stations were close by, we sometimes travelled by taxi. Taxis were not cheap!! Our group of 5 meant we had to order taxis rather than flag them down. One taxi driver also took us in a few circles which bumped up the cost – keep an eye out for this.
Sunday was a morbid day: visiting the Catacombs and Montparnasse cemetery. The winding Catacombs were sombre and dark. It drove home some strong ideas about mortality, seeing the 6 million skeletons that lie there.
As for Montparnasse: a member amongst our group loves Serge Gainsbourg (read his mind-blowing post about the great man here.) Gainsbourg’s grave in Montparnasse was understandably overflowing with flowers and Metro stubs. We later sought out his house, where the walls were graffiti’d with outpourings of affection. Both exemplified in a touching way what an effect his music and work still has on countless people.
Amongst the other graves at the extensive Montparnasse cemetery are that of Charles Baudelaire and Simone De Beauvoir. Montparnasse is beautifully maintained. If you are interested in any of these late visionaries, it is well worth a visit. A full list of interments at Montparnasse is available on Wikipedia.
Seeing the Eiffel Tower was a must! We didn’t go up it (because
I’m a chicken the queues were incredibly long.) I was content with a decent photo but may pluck up the courage next time:
A warning: people here will try and get money from you by tricking you r.e. the gold ring scam, making bracelets and so on. A friend and I shamefully got caught out by one of these, but at least we have learned our lesson for next time (and 5 Euros later!)
The Musée du Louvre was kept until the last day of the trip. There are some absolutely beautiful masterpieces there, from gorgeous Renaissance paintings to traditional African sculpture, (and of course the “Mona Lisa”) whether you’re really into art or not. The “Mona Lisa” was expectedly crowded; you are able to see it but have to queue for quite a while to walk right up to it. Here I am looking tired but impressed in the main corridor:
Our trip ended with an unintentionally romantic meal for my friend and I at a lovely Parisian restaurant called La Poule au Pot. At some point we must have accidentally confirmed we were on a date, as her pudding was presented with two spoons, and was rather saucy:
Despite the confusion, how fantastic is that for customer service?! The staff were warm and friendly, and the service fast but not like they were trying to rush you. The interior was well decorated and had a good atmosphere. The food – C’est délicieux! Plenty of vegetarian options. My friend said her salmon was the best she’s ever tasted.
We managed to pack a lot into only 4 days, but I would love to re-visit Paris and see more that the beautiful city clearly has to offer.