So, I’ve been waiting for MONTHS to find out where we are going for my surprise birthday trip. I’ve been pestering and pestering, trying to guess and even force the information out of a certain someone, but to no avail. I know it has to be somewhere in Europe… I’ve narrowed it down to two Cities: Rome and Paris. The week prior, I was 100% sure it was Rome but then it suddenly dawned on me that someone might want me to think it was Rome, when in fact it was absolutely not Rome. Or am I second guessing myself? Maybe it is Rome. Nah, I’m being bold and I’m punting for Paris now. Probably. Almost 100% likely.
Today is the day. It’s all a big secret and I’m still not allowed to know where we are going. I head home from work, get my stuff together (including all the emergency ASOS purchases) and we head to the train station. On the train we jump, but only after having waited an extra 30 minutes due to delays, of course. We are heading up to London – will it be to the airport or to the Eurostar? Drumroll please… to the Eurostar! We’re going to Paris!!!!! How exciting! [insert grinning emoji here].
We seat ourselves on the Eurostar and I am presented with a picnic for the journey – sparkling wine and everything, which I proceed to consume without a glass, straight from the bottle (classy, aren’t I) but if you don’t have a glass, what are you to do? By the time we arrive in Paris I’m feeling rather merry, which makes the walk from the station to the hotel all the more fun. We are staying at the Maison Souquet hotel, which is just around the corner from the Moulin Rouge, it also used to be a brothel, so I’m expecting great things… I was not disappointed! There was plenty of brocade, velvet, deep colours and more tassels than you could shake a nipple at – perfection. I even had a birthday card from the hotel!
It was pretty late by this point, so it was straight to bed for us, to ready ourselves for the next day’s sightseeing and exploring. Not going to lie, I was beyond excited and feeling like the luckiest person alive by this point. I would have been quite happy to spend the next few days shut in our hotel room and I still would have had the best time.
It won’t surprise you, that the first stop we made on our trip, was to a boulangerie, namely Du Pain et des Idées, billed as one of the best bakeries in Paris. We turned up outside and there was a queue out the door, which is always a good sign. So we waited our turn, deciding what we were going to have, taking the opportunity to inhale the baked wonderfulness. I settle on a croissant and a pain au choc, whilst my companion keeps it simple with deux croissant (check me out). Ooh la la.
Needless to say, the bakery did not fail us. Hands down, the best croissant I have ever had in my life, and I have had a fair few. The buttery goodness was next level. Flaky, soft and buttery, all at once. I don’t know how they do it, but they certainly do do it. After we were done swooning over croissants, we head off for some sight-seeing.
We wander down to the Canal Saint-Martin, then over to the town hall, where I was asked to take a photo of someone for the first time on this trip. I have an unrivalled knack at getting chosen by other tourists to take photos of them, I think it is because I look completely non-threatening and they know that if I try to run off with their phone, they will definitely be able to catch me. Stupid approachable face. After that we head to Tour Saint-Jacques, where we sat in the grounds for a bit of a rest, seeing as it was above 30 degrees at this point and we’d been walking for a while. As per, a slightly dishevelled man sat much too close to use on the bench we were sitting on and soon we departed to Sainte-Chapelle, which has some rather wonderful stained-glass windows (as well as a man recording said stained-glass windows on camcorder, which was a bit of a throwback).
After that we popped along to see the Notre Dame in its scaffold-clad state. I’m fairly sure there were more people there taking photos of it scaffolded up than there would be on a normal day. Then, our tummies called, and we treated ourselves to a scrummy baguette, took it down to the river, and sat on the bank with our legs hanging over the edge to eat. There is no better way to eat a sandwich, in my opinion. This was to be swiftly followed by an ice cream from Berthillon. I opted for a scoop of peach and a scoop of blackcurrant (because I love that tang). Again, there was a queue out the door and we were not disappointed.
We wandered along to a place called 59 Rivoli which is an artist exhibition space. If you like weird art and climbing up a crap tonne of stairs, then this is the place for you. I’d have liked to have a proper look around here, but I seemed to be on the verge of death. I was sweating like absolute madness and I didn’t seem to be able to cool down or take a good lungful of air, no matter how hard I tried, so we ended up having to exit. But not before inadvertently wandering into a room filled with cotton-wool-stuffed tights (weird).
After replenishing myself with liquid in a nearby café, we mooched along to Palais Royal, where we sat and did a bit of people watching and had a bit of a smooch on a bench, in true Parisian fashion. We were about done in by that point, so it was back to the hotel for a rest and shower, before heading out for the evening to see a cabaret. I’d been to Paris previously and to the Moulin Rouge, so we decided to go to Le Lido instead, for something a bit different.
Before, dinner time! And much to my companions dismay I had decided to take charge of proceedings and choose a restaurant. Which in my book, means going out, wandering the streets and walking in somewhere and hoping it’s good. This method has never failed me yet; however, it does make my companion rather uncomfortable, which makes it even more enjoyable for me. We walk past a few places and nothing is jumping out at me, until we stumble across a tiny pizza place called Magna (which is well worth the visit, if you’re in the area). This place serves ‘folded pizza’, which essentially means they make a pizza, fold it in four and place it in a cardboard cone, for ease of eating on the go. This pizza was incred. And obviously I was super smug about this, as is my right.
We had a bit of time before our show at Le Lido, so we thought it would be nice to walk along the Champs Elysees. However, it turned out it was not nice to walk along the Champs Elysees as it was TIPPING it down with rain. Needless to say, we got soaked to the skin and ended up seeking shelter in a restaurant.
Whilst waiting outside Le Lido to get in, we spot a Kim Jong Un impersonator striding about, trying to persuade tourists to have a photo with him for the princely sum of €5. He had a surprising number of takers. He was also unexpectedly convincing, apart from the bit where we heard him speak, as he sounded rather more like an east-end market stall holder, than he did a North Korean dictator.
We take up position in Le Lido. I have to say, I was slightly disappointed by the show at Le Lido, I was expecting something similar to Moulin Rouge, where they have a whole load of drama and danger, but Le Lido was entirely dancing. It was good in its own way, but if you are interested in more than boobs bouncing up and down and little knickers, then I’d recommend Moulin Rouge, which also has boobs bouncing up and down and little knickers.
What will tomorrow bring?