SO! We just had a fab weekend in Paris – although if you watched the news, you might think otherwise -Paris has had 9 weekends of protests and thousands of extra police have been brought in.
So, to get that all out of the way before I tell you all about our little trip I’ll say this –
We saw a fair few yellow vests – and a good deal more police! The sirens seemed endless and the police van presence was HEAVY – like HUNDREDs of vans – but all of that made us feel safer and we definitely didn’t feel vulnerable or in any danger. The Champs Elysees was closed during the day as most of the trouble seemed to be centred by The Arc De Triomphe. Apart from that we could pretty much go where we wanted and the Champs Elysees was nicer by night anyway as Paris still has its Christmas lights up and it looks STUNNING!
We awoke to the news that there had been an explosion by a bakery – which turned out to be a gas leak rather then an attack of any kind – which was awful, of course, but a relief to know it was an accident if you see what I mean!
We took a lunch time flight from Gatwick to Charles De Gaulle (super quick – just under an hour – quicker than getting in to London on a slow day!) and then caught a train in to Paris. The trains were ok to navigate but I would advise looking at a map and really sussing out your route before you set off. The Metro was a bit confusing but I guess no worse than learning the ropes on any city underground system. And the staff are really helpful.
The tickets you get are TINY – imagine the train tickets you get here, and slice it in to about 8. That’s about the size of it! Don’t let it out of your sight! You can buy Metro tickets from the machines, in single tickets or in books of ten. We bought a couple of books.
The trains are really cool and some are double decker!
We took the Metro to ‘Invalides’ and then Google Mapped the 5 min walk to the hotel. (The station is under the Air France building – another thing they do to fox you – I’d never guess it was there unless I knew! It clearly says Air France …. (insert shrugging emoji!)
There are so many hotels to choose from so we set a budget of no more that £130 a night and filtered our search by location – we fancied being near the Eiffel Tower on the south of the river – based on zero info, just a whim to be near it.
We struck gold with our little hotel, it really is a hidden gem – with a modern facade its actually a typical old French buidling, with rooms around a sweet little internal courtyard, which I would imagine is a blessed relief from the heat and hustle in the Summer.
They had a lovely Christmas tree there and it looked so pretty (The French seem to leave their decorations up, certainly until February and in some cases, until Easter! We were delighted – it was an unexpected treat to see it all!) (How much do I wish I had straightened that chair on the left though. Clue – VERY much haha)
Location wise – for us, it was FABULOUS!!!
Here’s the view from directly out front
And here is the view as you walk from the station
Pretty cool huh!
We chose a Courtyard Room, which was on the second floor and was courtyard facing and had ZERO views (unless you count a roof as a view) But having said that, it was absolutely silent at night and we slept like logs. The other option was a Street View Room. Either way, remember you are in an old building in the centre of Paris and its not all about the view in this hotel. (Apart from this view obvs!)
Our room was lovely – compact but lovely. Accessed by a sweet staircase
This is from their website as I totally forgot to take my own pic! The bed was super comfy and the pillows were perfect – we slept so well – even through the alarm clock!
The bathroom was spotlessly clean – but made us fall about laughing because its so tiny they put the loo in the shower – I didn’t notice at first haha! But don’t panic – the loo roll doesn’t get wet and nor did the loo – but I’d recommend using the hotel slippers or you’ll get wet socks.
The toiletries were NUXE – and smelled lovely, the towel rail was toasty warm and the towels properly fluffy.
I promised I’d rate places we visited in Paris using the Heels Scale of Loo Excellence – rating on cleanliness and likelihood of actually sitting on said loo – this ranges from full on sitting and settling in for a bit, through one buttock perching, to getting as far away as possible and squatting, right to the worst of all – holding on and fleeing the facility as its so awful.
I was trained to never sit directly on a public convenience and to make a loo paper seat, like fancy origami draped on to the seat, should I get caught short and need a public toilet. However, in recent years I have rebelled and I must admit I haven’t fashioned a loo paper seat for ages. And I am STILL ALIVE! So based on the bathroom facilities this hotel is 10 out of 10. In the old days I’d have taken the Argos catalogue in and stayed until someone asked me to get a move on! (And yep, I can hear my Nan warning me I’d get piles – I think I spent most of the 1980s in fear! haha!!)
So – LOO EXCELLENCE RATING 10 out of 10. Yass.
You can get breakfast at the hotel and they charge extra for it, but there is a PEACH of a boulangerie right next door where you can get a coffee and a croissant for 2 Euros. They sell cakes, pastries, filled baguettes and it is the nicest coffee shop I have ever been to.
And it was here we discovered GALETTE!!!
It’s free to try – those canny bakers – they are like Galette pimps – once you try you are ADDICTED and have to buy a full sized one immediately …
Don’t be put off by the fact that they bear an uncanny resemblence to a steak and kidney pie! lol – Galette is the sweetest most perfect thing ever invented. I can’t believe the French kept it to themselves and that Sainsbury’s don’t sell it (gasp! maybe they do!! although I think its more of a Waitrose style import..must investigate or consider importing to become local pimp)
That evening we wondered down the Rue St Dominique towards the Eiffel Tower (15 mins walk) there are heaps of paces to eat – we even found two Michelin Star restaurants if you have deep pockets and fancy a treat.
We ate here and it was fabulous – warm, welcoming and the food was scrummy – Here is a link to some IG images as there doesn’t seem to be a website. The waiters were really friendly and the wine was delicious! La Campanella is a short stroll from the hotel down towards the Eiffel Tower
(LOO EXCELLENCE RATING – a one buttock perch – nice and clean but not 10 out of 10 – I’d give it a 7 (10 for the food and location)
We’d booked a late show at The Moulin Rouge (the 11pm one) so jumped in a taxi to get there in plenty of time as we’d heard the queues could get really long. So after a quick admire of the Eiffel Tower doing its sparkly thing, we were off! (The Eiffel Tower sparkles on the hour every hour from dusk to 1am, it sparkles for 5 minutes and it is BEAUTIFUL)
We booked tickets that included champagne – I didn’t see anyone eating during our show, but I know you can book dinner for the earlier show.
I’d say, get there early – we got there at about 10.20 and people were already queueing to get in. After a quick bag check we were in out of the cold and filed in to a long queue that snaked up the stairs and in to a… what I can only describe as a ‘holding bay’ – it was about the size of an old village hall, with an old stage and high ceilings – and we waited there for what felt like ages, before we then got ushered out, back down the stairs we had just come up (only on the other side and we passed all the people STILL queuing to get to the holding bay bit) So it was all a bit odd, but I guess it got us out of the cold!
Once you are in, you realise why they say to get there early – you are ushered to your little table on a first come first served basis, and we got a fab spot right at the front. The Champagne was on ice and the glasses were ready.
Now, there is a strict ‘no photo’ rule once the show starts – and what a show! It was non stop, 2 hours with no intermission and it felt like we had been transported in to another realm ! The costumes were fabulous, the dancers – amazing! I will say, be prepared for lots of boobs! We were right at the front and I wasn’t quite sure where to look! I spent half the time stressing it would be rude to look directly and the rest of the time just admiring their pertness – especially during the Can-Can !
The shocker was when the stage lifted up to reveal a swimming pool and one of the dancers dived in and danced with the snakes that were in there. YEP SNAKES. It was brilliant and bizarre all at once!!
I’d highly recommend going – and whilst I can’t rate it on the loos because I forgot to investigate – I am giving it 10 out of 10! Pure escapism and entertainment! (LOO EXCELLENCE USER FAIL)
It was a very late night and we fell in to bed around 2am – The mini bar in the hotel contains non alcoholic drinks which are all free, and we were so glad of it.
(There is a brilliant little health food supermarket just over the road from the hotel and you can squeeze your own fresh oranges – well worth stashing one in the fridge)
On Saturday, we planned to get up and out early as we had a whole day of sightseeing planned – but we all slept through our alarms! That is how quiet and comfy the rooms are!
First stop , breakfast next door then off we went – I would highly recommend wearing trainers – I KNOW. Trainers. But we walked 15km and unless you have boots or shoes you’d be comfy in for that distance, trainers it is. I was laughing cos if I knew we would walk that far, I’d have TRAINED! lol
You know the Boris Bikes in London? Well Paris has scooters! Before you go, download the LIME app and put all your details in, then you are good to go. They cost a euro ( I think!) to unlock and 5C per 5 minutes and to unlock them you use the QR code and press RIDE.
They were all over the place so would be really easy to find if you want to scoot. We just walked though.
We used google maps and The Metro to get around and took in so many sights – We visited The Louvre – which is HUGE and trying to find The Mona Lisa was like finding a needle in a haystack! She was worth finding though – its a bucket list thing isn’t it. We also found the Venus De Milo and LOTS of other stuff – I know, I am a heathen -but Museums make me tired – happens every time, all that old/dead stuff – I am sorry I know that’s awful isn’t it!! Anyway it was well worth the 16 Euros to see The Mona Lisa hah! Get ready to jostle your way to the front though!
LOUVRES LOO EXCELLENCE – 0/10. The queue for the loo was MILES long so we didn’t bother!
We went to Notre Dame and as much as I get all tired in museums, I LOVE a decent church/cathedral. I love that the moment you walk in, its calm and cool, and the candle light flickers and everything is just … gentle. I love that. We always light a candle. And spend a while just quietly taking it all in. It’s very grounding. I like that.
We stumbled across the Pompidou Centre which is another museum – modern art this time – we didn’t go in, but we admired the outside – its really cool!
After all that it was time for a refuel
One of the first things I ever learnt to cook was a quiche loraine, so I really fancied ordering a French one! OMG it was so fabulous it made what I make, look like a rubbish pizza! Although on reflection and only after looking at the pic – I spy a soggy bottom!
We ate here – its just around the corner from The Louvres – they have heaters under the awning so it was a toasty warm spot to eat and people watch. I think it was the best quiche I have ever eaten and the Croc Monsieur was absolutely delicious according to our friends.
CAFE DE LA COMEDIE LOO EXCELLENCE 6/10 – a one cheek perch at most. (The food was lovely and the location brilliant, but is was quite pricy)
We hopped in the Metro and travelled over to the Sacre Coeur – to get you up all 220+ steps there is a little cable car – it takes a train ticket to go up and the ticket is only one way. But if you want to walk all the Galette off, use the steps!
It’s lovely once you are up there – the view is fab. There are street sellers selling heart shaped padlocks for you to add your padlock to the fence if you want to. There are also street sellers selling Eiffel Towers. SOOOOO many street sellers selling Eiffel Towers – they are everywhere.
It was beautiful inside. SO calm and lovely.
Equally beautiful outside – it was getting dark by the time we left. Which cast a lovely light for this pic. It was also FREEZING – wrap up warm!
That evening we didn’t stray far from the hotel – there are so many little restaurants that its easy to find somewhere – we ended up right next to the anchor (the Eiffel Tower) in a lovely place with fab staff – and had another gorgeous meal –
LOO EXCELLENCE 8/10- v clean and worthy of a full sit down, but not for long. No need to take any unnecessary risks lol
(pic taken from google)
Seeing as the Champs Elysees was closed in the day – and we really wanted to see it – & even though it was almost midnight, we jumped in a cab and asked him to drop us at the Arc De Triomphe – we were so tired but there was no way we were going to miss seeing it!
The Champs Elysees was beautiful – all the tree were lit up with bright, christmassy red lights- but its so hard to get a proper pic – so I didn’t try and put it in my memory bank instead.
There were a few signs that the day had been a tough one …
The Bank was boarded up – and this roughly translates to ‘The injustice of the powerful & the elected, the revolt of the oppressed’ & ‘No justice, no social peace’
And once again we fell in to bed at around 2am!
We booked tickets from the UK to visit the Eiffel Tower at 11am.
After considering our breakfast options – we ended up back in the comfort zone in the boulangerie next to the hotel. (Yes that does say 26 Euros !!) It was pretty though and I bet it had 10/10 loos.
We didn’t realise that the summit of the Eiffel Tower is closed for a few weeks between January and February, for maintenance. So we booked to go to the 2nd floor and to be fair, it was high enough! We had a fabulous view and because we had walked all over Paris the day before, we could work out what was where and it was really good. Otherwise, unless you earwig in on a tour, you might not know what you are looking at!
It was windy and cold but FABULOUS!
We took the lift up, and then took the stairs down to the first floor – Gav isn’t great with heights (we almost got divorced going up The Shard – ungrateful I thought- it was his birthday treat after all…lol) But he was fine this time! Or at least he covered it well!
There is also a coffee shop with cable car pods to sit in and a restaurant that has good reviews.
There is a glass floor on the first level – slightly disappointing as it was like bathroom glass and you couldn’t see though it properly – I do love a glass floor !
And I am sure you are dying to know… the loos?
10/10 – no window like the Shard, but I doubt Goustave Eiffel planned a loo with a view in 1889.
I took a pic for you all
Not what I was expecting either!
The hand wash area just about managed a view though.
Shame about the joist 😉
ANYWAY! After all that we loitered around for a bit just taking it in
And that was that! Our flight was 4.40 out of Paris Charles De Gaulle (silly fact – we landed before we took off as the flight was 40 mins and the time diff is 60 mins)
We had a brilliant weekend – hope the info is helpful if you are planning a trip –
I’ll leave you with a few pics of Paris (& one more loo review if you scroll down)
Thanks so much for stopping by
Thank goodness for good friends to laugh with, to lark about with, and who ‘get you’
And our flight home?
Can report that the French airport loos were 10/10 Although the turnover was high and I’d already risked life and limb by throwing caution to the wind and sitting on many foreign loos so.. it was a hover #staysafe #stayclassy Au Revoir mon petite filous! xxx