Picture the scene:
You’ve just ran home from work, in the torrential rain, to finish packing in a freakishly, frantic manner. Next, you jump into a taxi and head for the airport – or rather, head for rush-hour motorway mayhem. After check-in you wait and enjoy a cup of tea, before spilling it all over your boarding card and passport. Once on board the flight, drinks and snacks begin to be served. You order a mini bottle of wine, twist and pop open the bottle, before hearing “Cabin Crew, prepare for landing” at which point you finish the entire bottle in record time. Fifteen minutes later, you’re still on the flight and have dozed off.
Finally you’re off the plane, with your suitcase in tow. You walk through the arrivals gate and there you spot your best friend, smiling from ear-to-ear, with a bottle of France’s finest 3 euro rose wine, a cork screw and two plastic cups. Welcome to Paris – possibly the best way to start a frankly incredible weekend.
After numerous hugs and “I can’t believe I’m/you’re in Paris!’ exclaims from Natalie and I, we jumped on the train back to the metro station.
Having already consumed a fair amount of wine, we ended up buying another 3 euro bottle – admittedly, not the best decision we’ve ever had. Once we reached Natalie’s apartment, we realised we only had 10 minutes to make the last metro of the night. I flung on a new top and heels, grabbed my purse whilst stuffing it with necessities and we headed out.
Finally we reached the metro station and after that point? In all honesty, it was a bit of a blur. I could try to blame it on the Parisian atmosphere but in reality, we all know it was the wine. After posing for a few photos outside of the town hall, we ended up in the Latin Quarter for a brief, yet eventful, stop and soon we ended up back home.
Now, I’ll be honest – the next morning neither of us were feeling too peachy. After a big cup of coffee along with some toast and jam, we said goodbye to our hangover and BONJOUR TO PARIS.
The first thing that struck me about the Eiffel Tower was how big it is. The lawns by the Tower are beautiful and they just roll across the site with people enjoying drinks, food and a whole load of selfies. We didn’t get a chance to visit the Tower at night, but I certainly plan to do so when I next return. After visiting the Tower, we found a bistro and decided to enjoy an al fresco lunch – not the traditional French food you may expect, rather pizza and fries (our go-to-hangover food).
At this point we had started to feel a little more human and set off on our next adventure, an exploration of the Parisian streets. Soon enough we discovered lots of charming and stunning architecture. I’ve always been interested in architecture ever since I studied it in my art classes, but the French style is really something else.
We spent our afternoon walking through the 7th and 16th arrondissements, stumbling by traditional French cafes and patisseries, before heading home for a nap. I guess our antics from the night before did have a slight affect on our first day – but it was just so lovely to experience the streets of Paris. I’ve seen so many photographs and read lots of articles of the city, so seeing it in its true form and in the dazzling sunshine, was wonderful.
By the time we reached home, we were ready to relax and so we curled up in bed and watched Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Passport to Paris – or at least, I did… Natalie soon dozed off! A couple of hours later, feeling refreshed and revived, we put on our glad-rags and headed to Bastille.
As soon as I arrived, I knew this was going to be one of my favourite parts of Paris. The streets were buzzing with people drinking and dining outside, crowds of friends were getting excited to party – while Natalie and I were hunting down a restaurant for dinner. It didn’t take us long before we found our kind of restaurant and by that I mean, it was playing our favourite music and selling our favourite type of food – Spanish.
The restaurant was called ‘La Pirada‘ and we ordered an assortment of tapas. The tapas was good, but I thought it would be a bigger and from seeing what the other tables had ordered, I wish we had chosen the paella. However, one of the best things about the restaurant was the music. When the lights started to dim and the disco-ball started to spin, we knew we couldn’t leave.
We made our way to the front of the restaurant which at this point, had turned into a bar/club. It took a while for people to fill up the dance floor, but we were just so happy to sit back, relax and watch people dance. There were some rather interesting dance moves and we soon found our favourite dancers as they were just busting their moves and simply going with the music. From old school rap classics to the latest Spanish hits, the playlist was so cool and it really was the highlight of our evening. By the time the early hours hit, we headed home and walked through the streets of Bastille in search of the night-bus.
The next day, we woke up to a city soaked in rain. Despite the rain, we decided to visit Montmartre and the Basilica of the Sacré–Cœur. As soon as we arrived in Montmartre, the streets were full with tourists and there was an abundance of thrift-shops and souvenirs. After ducking and diving through the mass of umbrellas and people, we soon reached the steps which would lead us to the Sacré–Cœur.
Taking a slight de-tour through the cobbled streets and steps, we reached the bay of the Sacré–Cœur and what a view it was…
The Sacré–Cœur is one of the most beautiful and humbling cathedrals I have ever been in. The sacred paintings, gold details and statues were incredibly impressive. Groups of people lit candles whilst having moments of reflection and prayer. If you are visiting Paris, I would definitely recommend visiting either to walk around or attend mass as it is one thing in Paris which should not be missed.
As we walked out from the Sacré–Cœur, it seems the heavens once again opened and the weather almost blew us away. We huddled under my umbrella and made our way to the nearby town which was full with cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops. At this point my umbrella was practically inside out and so we began a mission to find ourselves a red poncho with ‘I ♥ Paris’ written on it. Out of all of the shops, our red poncho could not be found and so we commiserated over a feast which included hotdogs, crepes and tea.
After enjoying a honey and lemon crepe which was truly delicious – the sky was clear and so we continued to explore. Before kick starting our second adventure of the day, we popped into an art shop and there were some amazing paintings of Paris which were so vibrant and alive with colour.
Now, the area near the Sacré–Cœur is extremely popular with tourists, but we soon found ourselves ‘off the beaten track’. After walking to a certain part, we took some photos and started to discuss the days when I used to belly-dance. Of course, our discussion soon turned into a dance lesson and there, on some random street in Paris, Natalie and I were shaking our bellies and bottoms. But, we didn’t just stop there. After walking down to the main street which was home to a few other cafes, we started to salsa dance. Yes, you read that right. Salsa dancing, in broad daylight on the streets – with no music (or men), just us. Ole!
After that dancing episode (which was practice for our night ahead – but more on that later), we soon ended up in the thick of the action in the 18th arrondissement. Neither of us really knew where we were at this point, but this area reminded me of Rusholme. There were plenty of fast-food takeaways, Middle Eastern and Indian restaurants and shop signs which were written in Arabic. We were heading to the Moulin Rouge and took this de-tour which felt a million miles away from the traditional Parisian streets. It was a real eye-opener and great to see so many communities mixing together like I see in Manchester.
As we headed back to Montmartre, our feet were really starting to hurt and so we ended up grabbing a smoothie. Towards the Moulin Rouge, it felt a little like the red-light district of Amsterdam as there were lots of adult shops and shows. There was an element of juxtaposition as there were family shops and Middle Eastern restaurants mixed with the ‘red light’ businesses just down one road. But as the French would say “c’est la vie!”. Soon enough we arrived at the Moulin Rouge – you can book to enjoy shows and I think I may look into going to one next time I’m in the city.
Soon after, we hopped on the metro and began our journey back to Natalie’s apartment. At this point, we felt really tired and were dreaming of a mezze dinner with a fresh baguette. On our way home, I decided to take a ‘hipster-style’ Instagram photo of the posters the metro station posters. I don’t know how this happened, but I realised my photo had a little surprise on it – take a look and see…
We stopped at a local supermarket and stocked up on salad, feta cheese, olives and ham – plus our Malibu for the evening. You know how much I love to cook and for some reason I just love French supermarkets. I don’t know why, but I just do! Natalie lives right next door to a patisserie and before heading up to her apartment, we joined the queue for a fresh baguette – how French could you get?! Armed with our baguette, groceries and Malibu we started our evening celebrations.
We feasted on an amazing Mediterranean mezze whilst watching The Voice finale – it felt just like old times with Natalie and it was absolutely perfect. Time soon ran away from us and before we knew it – it was 1am and time to start another memorable night partying in Paris…