Bluebell the motorhome is safely tucked up at home having a rest, whilst Keith and I have been celebrating our recent marriage with a cheeky little “mini moon” sans Bluebell, courtesy of the Eurostar and lastminute.com
We’ve had a fab 3 days and crammed so much in, our feet have barely touched the ground! We departed London St Pancras on Monday morning and enjoyed a stress free journey, starting as we meant to go on, with some vin rouge and saucisson!
Three hours later we were checking into our hotel, Amarante Champs Élysées, a “top secret” choice off last minute, handily located a minutes walk from The Arc de Triumph- and right in the heart of the VERY designer Champs Élysées area. Great location for exploring; not so great for grabbing a morning coffee- we had to walk almost an hour to find a coffee for less than €10 each (no pastries included in that!) on our first morning. Motorhome 1 : Parisian Hotel 0
Bags dropped, we hit the streets- our first port of call, the most famous landmark in Paris- The Eiffel Tower.
We’d been advised to take our trip up the tower at dusk into nightfall, so that’s what we did, and my word- it was absolutely breathtaking. We joined the (shorter than daytime but still v. long!) queue at 20:30 and got down at about 23:30- so the attraction took 3 hours in total. There was A LOT of waiting around, and to be honest the whole system seemed a bit chaotic; you queued for a ticket (but only to get to floor 2) then again for the lift, then again on floor 2 for the ticket to the top, then again for the lift to the top- you get my drift. Having said that- it was absolutely AWESOME and actually at €15.50 each (with today’s exchange rate that’s around £12) we thought it was remarkable value for money. And just look at the views…
It was really good to ‘get it out of the way’ in the nicest possible way, as often when you arrive somewhere on holiday, the first day can be a write off. If we had waited to one of our 2 full days we would have had to sacrifice another attraction.
Tuesday dawned and we were up and about early. We’d got lots to do- it started with a hours walk to the Musee D’Orsay- we could have made it easier by getting the metro however we like to walk round new cities! Plus, we were after a coffee! We arrived at the Musee D’Orsay and another long (but at least moving) queue. I got our place, whilst Keith set about sorting some caffeine out, and actually the queue didn’t seem too bad. I think we waited for about 40 mins in the end.
The Musee D’Orsay is a fabulous art gallery set in an old railway station on the banks of the Seine. It’s home to lots of works by Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Dagas, Picasso plus lots of sculptures. It was a wonderful place to explore- our personal favourites being Dagas’ “L’orchestre de l’opera” and Monet’s “Plage d’Etretat”- particularly of interest having visited there last year. An absolute highlight of the Musee D’Orsay is being able to stand inside the clock face. Absolutely wonderful, and another bargain- the museum cost €11 each (£7 something)
I really enjoyed visiting this gallery, and would highly recommend it. Keith’s done the Louve before (I haven’t) and he said he enjoyed Musee D’Orsay far more.
From here we walked along the Seine to Il De la Cite- home to Notre Dame cathedral, our next stop.
After a quick refuel at Cafe Esmarelda opposite the cathedral, we joined the shorter queue and avoided the Quasimodo con men- trying to crash our selfies and then get us to pay them! Notre Dame Cathedral is wonderful. It’s a very special place for our family- Keith’s stepdad, Steve, and his (Keith’s) best friend, Andy, wrote a musical called Quasimodo- based on the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, which of course is set within The cathedral. Sadly Keith’s stepdad passed away 2.5 years ago, and Andy’s father passed away only a couple of weeks ago- it was an incredibly moving visit. The rose windows in the cathedral were stunning and we lit a candle for both right beneath.
Next stop was Sainte Chapelle– with the most impressive stained glass windows we’ve ever seen! It’s nestled right in the heart of the Palais de la citie, and although with it, came another hour and a half queue, it was well worth the wait, and probably one of our favourite places we visited.
By now, it was most certainly beer o clock – all this sightseeing was thirsty work! We crossed the bridge back over into the Latin Quarter, and soon found ourselves in the hustle and bustle of the lively area packed with bars and restaurants.
The Latin quarter is home to restaurants from every part of the world- we opted for dinner in an Italian restaurant, and it was delicious and very reasonable on price. We fancied a last drink before we returned back to the hotel- we’d been out since 09:30 and walked over 10 miles! We popped into The Piano Bar for a swift cocktail whilst Happy Hour was on- 3 hours/ €70 later we emerged having had the most wonderful evening we’ve ever had on holiday. There was a live pianist and singer cabaret act, and we absolutely loved watching them- they were top class performers – Dominque, the singer, worked the room, had an amazing voice and a warm personality. They were fab.
By now we’d been out for 14 hours in the same clothes, were midly tipsy, had blisters on both feet but ever so happy! We walked across Il De la Cite, past Notre Dame, and admired her all lit up, before getting on the metro back to our hotel. We couldn’t believe how much we’d fitted into our first day and a half in Paris!!