15 March 2012

Aventures Parisiennes

Finally, here's my recap of my wonderful time in Paris! I could write you a step by step of my time away, but that probably wouldn't be too exciting for you so i'll give you an overall summary of what went on, when i was in Paris Thursday 1st - Sunday 4th March 2012.

Our Hotel (Hotel Mercure, La Defense, Paris) | Carousel | Business District | Eiffel Tower | Risotto | Louvre | Louvre Pyramid | Eiffel Tower viewed from Jardin De Tuilleries | Banana & Nutella Crepe | Jardin De Tuilleries | Place De La Concorde | Pigeons on the Champs Elysees | Even the French love M&S! | I'm Lovin' It! | Metro | Trying to make a man look like he's peeing | The Mona Lisa | Louvre from the Inside | Soaking Our Feet after a Long Day | Notre Dame | Paris Shop Signs | Pompidou Centre | Desserts | Chicken Dinner | How Cute We Are! (Left for our Waiter!) | Thomas from Made In Chelsea busking with his band on the Metro

Now, frankly, i did not know what i was getting myself in for with all this Eurotunnel business, i didn't know what t expect and for someone who's a bit of a claustrophobic it wasn't the best situation to be in - especially being on a double decker coach, on the top deck. Close to the roof. Making it feel like there's no space. Gulp. However, we were able to shimmy down the side of the coach and sit in the cubicle on the train, which was great because it got like a sauna on that coach! I also have to say that 10-12 hours is a long time to spend sitting in the same position. It was pretty boring, and we spent a lot of the sleeping - on the way there and back, because trust me when you've been sat on a coach for 3 hours from Southampton to Folkstone and then another 4 hours from Calais to Paris, with a half an hour trip on the Eurotunnel in between, you're gonna get a little stir crazy!

However, when we got there the hotel was lovely. It was in the middle of the business district, about 10 minutes outside of Paris but there was a Metro station near by so we had easy access into the centre of the city. The beds were super, super comfortable - you could literally sink into them - and they gave you complimentary Evian (they love themselves some Evian, in Paris!) and a lovely marble bathroom, so nothing much to complain about - apart from an Ipad and an Ipod being stolen from two different rooms from two people who were on the trip too, but i don't know what happened so cannot comment but to me, the hotel was lovely.

Our first evening was spent hanging around the business district, waiting for one of lecturers to get us our metro tickets - he had to pick up over 200, so it was easier for him to get them all at once than for all of us to queue up ourselves - and for our female lecturer to hobble up to us as she fell over in the middle of the road! I felt insanely sorry for her, as we'd only been there a matter of hours, and she was the one who had lived in Paris for two years, we joked we were relying on her and she'd already toppled! It took a long time for our lecturers to come back to us (about an hour) but once the wait in the chilly Paris air was over, off we totted to the metro and went directly to the Eiffel tower to see it in all it's lit up glory, and glory it was. It's such a spectacular sight that it doesn't matter how many times you've seen it it never gets old, it really is quite something, breathtaking. Once we'd taken some snaps we headed off to find some dinner, but all the restaurants closest to the tower were pretty pricey, so we took ourselves down one of the streets coming off the square and stumbled across "Cuisine Italienne" which is pretty self explanatory - i should make the point now, that they love Italian food in Paris and we found it incredibly difficult to find anything other than, so i'm yet to try anything traditionally french! It was reasonably priced and the waiters were lovely, helped us with our french and were polite and speedy. I had the most amazing risotto that evening, followed by a limoncello sorbet - shared with Izzi - that had a definite kick!

All of our evenings, and into early mornings(!), were spent chatting in our PJs together about everything, and nothing. This trip was the most amazing bonding experience and i can now say that i truly love the girls i spent my time with, every last one.

Friday was spent the three other girls i spent most of my daytime with - Nicole, Abbie & Izzi - as we stayed behind with Izzi, as she wasn't feeling well after breakfast. We stayed about an hour behind everyone else, and went into the city via metro, instead of the coach like the rest of the group. After a failed meet up with the rest of the remainder of the trip, later on at the Louvre, we decided to spend our day shmoosing up the Jardin De Tuilleries, Place De La Concorde & the Champs Elysees - right up to the Arc De Triomphe, and back down again. We stopped off at all the regulars, like Zara and H&M, into Mcdonalds to rest our acheing feet and Laduree for me to pick up my macaroons(!) - and their beautiful box.

When we finally met up with the group, at around six, we headed into the Louvre to see the infamous Mona Lisa - which isn't as spectacular as we all had hoped - but didn't spend too long as we were all bursting for the toilet, and incredibly hungry. So trotted off back to the hotel to freshen up and then head out to dinner, same as most nights.

Saturday was, again, spent with the same girls as we decided not to go up the Eiffel Tower as the lecturers had planned - because we didn't want to pay to get to the top and see nothing (it was heavy fog, and was for the majority of the trip) - so, instead, headed down to the Louvre as a starting point and walked down the river Seine to the beautiful Lock bridge - as seen in Tanya & Jim's vlogs - and then down to the sightseeing boat tours, and took one of those all the way up past the Eiffel Tower, back again, and up to Notre Dame. We saw everything! They're a great way to really see Paris, as they were ever so thoughtful to build everything super close to the river!

After a busy day we headed back to the hotel earlier than usual as we were well and truly pooped. So lazed around and took a nap when we got back, decided not to join the Paris by Night bus trip (and 5:30pm, when it's not dark yet) that the lecturers had planned. However, our plans quickly changed when we then heard that Amber, our female lecturer, had organised a dinner at a converted train station - which was supposed to be amazing - so we quickly changed out of our pyjamas and into something more decent, before heading off on the bus to the Sacre Coeur to proceed to climb the 25o + stairs to the top. Unfortunately, these seemed to do me no good as almost as soon as i got to the top, i began to feel ill so persuaded Abbie to go back down the stairs with me so i could go for a wee - i'd needed one for a while - but alas, this made me feel no better but in fact worse. So, using Abbie as a crutch (just in case i fainted), we hobbled off to catch up with the group walking to the train station restaurant. We soon realised this was not going to be a quick trip, but after an hour of walking we finally landed where we were supposed to be - luckily all this walking made the icky feeling go away and just made me hungry - but as soon as we got there, after lots of grumbling and complaining we were faced with a 45 minute wait to even get in to the restaurant. This was too much for us and we decided to eat somewhere else, finding a lovely little place across the road where the waiters were super lovely.

After a seriously long evening we headed back to the hotel, moaning about having to change twice - but our luck must have kicked back in when we realised we had stumbled across a really cool jazz band busking on the other side of the metro. Oh, but it wasn't just any jazz band - oh no - but none other than Thomas', star of Channel 4's Made in Chelsea, jazz band - the Under Wolves - so we spent our evening chatting to them and bopping along to their music. Needless to say, this made our night.

Sunday saw another long journey spent on the coach, nothing eventful there, and my stomach saw a Dominos pizza upon my return which was gratefully received.

So, there it is. Paris in a nutshell! I hope you enjoyed my summary of Paris, and do let me know if any of you are going/have been - i'd love to hear!


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