Monday, 22 October 2012

Paris, Je T'aime.

  
"Paris is not a city, it's a world."
King François I 

I never really understood the fuss about Paris when I was younger, but as I got older and my love for all things fashion, culture and lifestyle grew, so did my desire to go there. This summer, I fulfilled that wish and spent a magical week with my beautiful mother in the French capital - oh, what a week it was!

So in my very first post on the subject of travel, I'm going to show you the wonders that this gorgeous city has to offer, and offer a few handy hints to those of you that are thinking of venturing there soon!


The Eiffel Tower



You simply cannot go to Paris without visiting and ascending this iconic landmark! The views from the uppermost balcony are breathtaking, and on a clear day, you can see for miles - book online before your visit to save yourself waiting in line for (what could be) hours.
If you decide to take the elevator to the top (this the slightly pricier option, the cheaper being the option of climbing 1,652 stairs... yeah, didn't think so!) keep an eye on your personal possessions while you're inside, as well as out on the balconies. Pickpockets are everywhere in Paris, not just at the Eiffel Tower, so stay alert at all times.


Regarding clothing - under no circumstances should you even consider wearing a skirt. You might want to embrace Parisian chic like I did, but take it from me - it is ridiculously windy up there, and having spent most of my time on each balcony with my back pressed firmly against a wall to preserve my modesty, I can tell you it just isn't worth it- stick with trousers!


Make sure you go back to the Eiffel Tower once it gets dark to see the light show, which happens on the hour, every hour.

Ladurée


Another must: the world famous patisserie Ladurée on the Champs-Élysées. Sadly it was closed for renovation when I went (with an express store set up just outside), but has just re-opened. So pop along and indulge in a few of their world famous macaroons - sure, they're a little pricey (around 16 for 8), but you're only there once, so live a little and have a naughty splurge - you won't regret it!


If you'd like to take some macaroons back home with you, there's a couple of Ladurée shops inside Charles de Gaulle airport, so wait and buy a fresh batch (I highly recommend getting a couple of the caramel and salted butter flavour) just before you board your flight home - carry in your hand-luggage to save your macaroons and the oh-so-pretty packaging from getting crushed.

Notre-Dame


The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was my favourite Disney film as a child (I think Esmerelda just may have been my first girl crush..!) so this was a must for me! We walked along the roads running the length of the Seine (stick to pavements and avoid the riverbanks) to get there - it's a pretty lengthy stroll so consider getting the metro if you're lazy or not so fortunate with the weather.


There is a wonderful chap outside the cathedral who provides a great little photo opportunity - for a small fee, he gives you some food so you get swarmed with cute little birdies (you might be able to spot one on my hand if you look closely!).


Notre-Dame's interior is equally breathtaking as its exterior - I resisted the temptation to burst into a rendition of God Help the Outcasts when I saw this beautiful stained glass window (Disney-lovers will know exactly what I'm talking about here!).

Le Lido


A Parisian institution, Le Lido is located on the Champs-Élysées, and home to the most wonderful cabaret and burlesque show, which I was lucky enough to go and see. Now, you might be thinking this must have been very inappropriate for a young lady, but actually it's all incredibly tasteful. The female dancers are topless in most of the routines but there's so much else happening on the stage that you honestly don't even notice.


The tickets are expensive: a basic ticket costs €90, ranging up to €300 for a 3 course meal with champagne. Mummy and I plumped for the ticket where champagne (but not food - the menu is not very vegetarian-friendly!) was included (€105 each) and were treated like royalty all night!
I do think it sounds like it is horribly expensive, but when you see the time (the show is two hours long), energy and money that has been put into each costume, set and routine along with the sheer number of dancers (hundreds!), you quickly realise that it's worth every single penny. 


The ticket states that guests are to 'dress to impress,' you'd look and feel a little silly if you didn't obey this. Flash photography is not allowed during the performance, but you can take photos before the show begins. If you have a little money to spare, this is something you must take the time to go and see whilst in Paris. For more information about show-times, ticket prices and for booking enquiries, click here.
 
Sacré Coeur

Located in Montmartre, Sacré Couer ("Sacred Heart") is a beautiful church sat at the top of a hill overlooking the city. It's really easy to get to (the metro in Paris is wonderfully simple to navigate!) and well worth a visit. The interior of the church is stunning, but you're not allowed to take photographs inside, so you'll just have to take my word for it! If you're feeling energetic, you can ascend hundreds of stairs for an even more widespread view of Paris - it's not really worth doing this if the sky is cloudy and overcast (which it was when I went), as you won't see all that much.

This vintage carousel is located in the grounds - I got to relive my youth and take a little ride!

A word of caution: there are men stood on the steps leading up to the church who attempt to grab your wrist and braid a friendship bracelet to it - don't let them, as they demand money once they've finished and won't let you go until you cough up. I realise I'm making Paris sound a little scary - it really isn't. These guys aren't troublesome or violent, but can come across a little intimidating; a firm 'no' will keep them at bay.
There is a lovely boutique called Nina Kendosa on Rue des Abbesses that sells fashionable, cheap clothing (I picked up two rather lovely dresses here) - so take a little detour on your way back down to the metro station!
Montmartre is the red-light district of Paris, so unless you're travelling in a group, or with a male, I'd suggest you keep well-away from the area when it starts to get dark.

 Galeries Lafayette


Spread across three buildings and innummerable floors, Galeries Lafayette is Paris' premier department store. I couldn't afford the majority of things in here, but it's well worth a nosey if you'd like a sneak-peek into the lives of some very wealthy individuals - the jewellery counters, in particular, make for excellent people-watching; I saw someone spend tens of thousands of Euros at the Tiffany & Co. concession!

The women's beauty, fragrance and jewellery floor

I stayed in this hotel, which was a stone's throw away from the majority of tourist attractions, as well as being right by a metro station. My lovely mother had called ahead to get us a room with a balcony view of the Eiffel Tower which was amazing to wake up to every morning!
Paris is a city best explored on foot - we only caught the metro once to Montmartre. There are many more things to do in this city, I've just given a very small selection of what's on offer!

Are any of you planning on visiting Paris soon? Or maybe you've already been... what are your must-sees in the French capital?

4 comments

  1. Thanks for the great post! I like the fact that you included great budget friendly tips! You're doing such a great job so far I hope you keep up the good work. So glad you included your link in an LC post.

    Love from Trinidad & Tobago

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    1. Your kind words have absolutely made my day! So glad you've found my blog and that you enjoy reading, please keep doing so! You can also like the Facebook page for updates about new posts as soon as they're published.

      Ambi xx

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  2. Hey Ambi,
    That is some rundown on Paris. I just loved the exhaustive research that went into it. Whenever I go to Paris, these tips will be very helpful. Love

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