J’adore Paris. I first visited the city on a school trip when I was 15, and I’ve been back three times since. There are a few reasons for this: 1) Shopping. 2) Food. 3) The accent. Yep, I took French at A Level in a bid to try and nail the accent (and an excuse to watch Amelie every week). That failed. Accent or no accent, it’s my favourite European city so if you haven’t been, here’s everything you need to know to have the trip of a lifetime:
Where to stay
Radisson Blu, Le Metropolitan. It’s located in the 16th district (that probably won’t mean anything to you), but what will is that it’s a stone’s throw away from the Eiffel Tower. A stone’s throw as in the hotel plays host to a suite with an Eiffel Tower view that puts paid to all other Eiffel Tower views. We originally booked to stay in the standard room, but were upgraded to the executive suite (a tier down from the Eiffel Tower suite), and we were speechless. The room comes complete with four-poster bed, lounge area, flat-screen TV, the lot. Then came the bathroom. Not only is it bigger than my room at home, it’s all marble- including free-standing bath and a shower big enough to choreograph your own Britney routine (who me????). Rooms start from £200 for the night including breakfast, while the hotel also has its very own swimming pool*.
*Tip: go late- we had the whole pool to ourselves at around 8pm while most people would be having dinner.
How to get there
Eurostar. Sometimes the hassle of checking in and airport security is all too much, which is why the Eurostar is basically a godsend. The site is currently offering return trips for £58 from London St Pancras, while it only takes 2 hours 15 minutes direct. Standard Premiere class will get you some swanky food and service on board the train, while Business Premiere also includes early check in and your very own lounge to wait for the train arrival. Obvs this comes at a cost, with Standard at £168 for return and Business £460. The food that comes with Standard Premiere is definitely worth it, while I’d recommend arriving early to take full advantage of the lounge if you’re going to splurge on Business class.
What to do
1. Visit the Eiffel Tower.
There’s a crepe stall just below that sells the best- and I mean, the best- crepes you’ll ever taste. You can pay around €11 per adult to go to the top (via steps or lift), and it’s well worth it. There’s even a see-through floor. Gotta get that gram…
2. Shop on the Champs-Élysées
There’s everything from Zara and Nike to Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Whenever I visit, I spend hours in the designer stores drooling over what I can’t afford, and I have the best time ever. Then I snap back to reality and two minutes later, I’m in a store I can actually buy bits from. Convenience is everything, right? There’s a Christmas market at the bottom every year too- go hungry, you’ll want to eat everything.
3. Eat at Laduree*
*Eat everything at Laduree. I won’t lie, it’s not cheap (this chocolate tart cost €11- see the full menu here), but every thing I’ve ever eaten at Laduree has been outstanding. The macaroons, the chocolate cake, even the sandwiches. You’ll need to book around two months ahead if you’re thinking of going- they reserve a certain amount of tables for walk-in, but the queue tends to run out of the door. Location: Champs-Élysées.
4. See the Mona Lisa in Le Louvre
I’m not usually one for art, but the Mona Lisa takes my breath away every time. You’re not allowed to take photos, but they don’t do it justice anyway. It’s located in the Louvre Museum, to which entry costs €9 per adult and besides the Mona Lisa, there’s plenty of free exhibitions to visit throughout the year. You can also pay €12 for a guided tour. I haven’t done this personally but for an extra three euros, I’d definitely give it a go.
Tip: Save this one for a rainy day if you’re visiting outside summer.
5. Visit the Arc de Triomphe
Again, I’m not one for history, but the Arc de Triomphe is a landmark you absolutely must see. It’s situated in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, on the western end of the Champs-Élysées, so you can tie this in with your shopping trip nicely. Beware: the area can be super busy- try and visit late evening when it’ll also be lit up and the shops will be emptier, too.
I’d usually include a few restaurant recommendations too, but I’ve always eaten in the restaurants of the hotels I’ve stayed in come dinnertime. If you’re looking to branch out, here’s a few I intend on visiting next time:
Hope that helps! Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know!