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From London to Paris by eurostar - Paris weekend break

When I first met my boyfriend after I arrived in London he asked me where I really wanted to go above all else. I didn't even have to think about it of course the answer was Paris. My life long dream was to see the Eiffel Tower and when I had told my friends I was packing up my life to live in London and they asked why I told them it was only a two hour train trip to Paris and will spend most of my weekends there.

I imagined myself surrounded by rich gardens, croissants, wine and cheese. A sea of people would always be lining the streets wearing their barrets and black and white striped tops. They'd be sipping coffee and whispering sweet nothings to each other while an accordionist played in the background.

Well, my boyfriend decides we should go to Paris and books it straight away, well the two tickets on the Euro star anyway.

With not much notice we have to find a hostel or hotel to stay. It's the middle of spring, the busiest time (and the most romantic) to be in Paris. We go online to try and book a place to stay though both our credit cards are maxed out and we can't afford to pay upfront. The only hotel that would take an online booking with no deposit was a charming looking little three story hotel in Place de Cliché.


So everything was organised. 'How many Euros do you think I will need?' I ask him, he has actually been before by the way - a couple of years back.


'I reckon about a hundred will do ya,' he replies.


I was working in retail, I was paid less than 40 quid a day so I was pretty skint as you can imagine so I could only afford the very bare minimum. My boyfriend was recovering from an earlier holiday and it was close to another pay day so we were both going to struggle a little bit - this was going to be a budget holiday.


The Euro star was amazingly comfortable. Having recently spent 25 hours non-stop in an aeroplane sitting in the same small cramped aisle seat I was dreading going through the same on a train. But the Euro star was ever so comfortable and very quick. On board was a bar - too early for booze though as it was about 6am that we left London Waterloo so we started our French affair off with croissants and coffee.

I stared out the window the whole time and for some reason was expecting to see rolling green fields and lavender plantations. Actually all that was out there was some semi green fields and a lot of black (when we were in the Chunnel).

The best thing about the Euro star was that when we arrived in Paris we were literally in the town centre and at a metro station - all we had to do was decipher the French map using some of my high school French (high school never seemed like it had been so long ago)!

It was mind boggling and I did start to panic a little bit realising that I was in a foreign country and how the hell was I going to communicate? I had a lonely planet phrase book in one hand and a map in the other. My boyfriend was studying the hotel reservation form trying to work out the directions they had sent us.


We decide to 'wing it' and jump on a train - luckily it was the right one and we were only actually a few stops from our hotel - well the station near it anyway as it would be another couple of hours before we manage to find the actually street that we need!


At last we arrive at the hotel and I sigh with relief. We cart our stuff inside and are greeted by management (in not such a friendly way).


'Can I help you?'


'Ah yes we have a reservation.'


He mumbles something in French and announces, 'Non. We have no rooms available.' I give my boyfriend 'the' look and he hands over our email confirmation, 'Ah!' He says, 'No rooms. We full.'


Was it worth arguing with a rude Frenchman in English? I think not, so my boyfriend steps up, 'Is there anywhere else we could go?'


So he points us over the road to Hotel Camellia where they were more than happy to give us a room at the same rate. That was lucky and this place did look considerably nicer than the other - but then we saw our room. The room was on a slight angle, well actually the room looked like it was going to slide off the edge of the wall. Red carpet, pink wall paper and a bathroom the size of my closet - it was somewhere to sleep, at least.


I couldn't wait to get out in the streets and walk around Paris. We headed off to grab some lunch - fresh turkey baguettes and coffee eaten in a pristine city park complete with a water fall and many many fresh blooming flowers.


As we strolled through the park we made our way towards the centre of town to see the main sights. After only getting lost three times we stumbled upon the Arc de Triumph and pay our money to walk up a million stairs to the top where I saw the Eiffel Tower for the very first time. While up there we also saw a car accident on the round about which was fascinating, some guy tried to cross five lanes to exit and was swearing his head off when he was actually hit. A street cop stood and watched the whole episode.    



So after the semi birds eye view we walked towards the Eiffel Tower to conquer that too. We stood in line for a while and made our way up in a crowded lift. It was truly amazing and I now have about a hundred photos at every angle imaginable to revisit the memory. From above, Paris is truly a 'pretty' city. It's beautifully coloured and manicured, and it just and smells and feels like spring. It is the type of city you can walk around in and not feel like you are in a rush. The type of city where you can sit on the same cup of coffee for a couple of hours because you are so relaxed. It was such a contrast to the hustle and bustle of London.  



What really took my breath away and surprised me was Notre Dame. It took a while to find but when we did it was well worth the journey. Pope John Paul had just passed and the cathedral was full of mourners and lit candles. Sad, god like music hummed and everyone stood in awe and silence. Being there made me think of all the things that took place there over the years of French history and it sent shivers down my spine. Notre Dame was definitely more than just a cathedral - it was a masterpiece and an advocate of French history and architecture.


On our second day in Paris we strolled along the Seine coming across Concorde and the Lourve. Unfortunately the Lourve was closed so we could only walk around it. Most of that day we spent just walking and stumbling upon Parisian life. Galleries, street performers and mime artists, cafes and parks. We took it easy as that night we had planned a Fat Bike Tour around the illuminated city.



We took off from the Eiffel Tower on these huge red bikes dressed in plastic rain coats. It had started to lightly rain but it didn't make much of a difference - at first. The first part of the tour we were yelled and screamed at by numerous French cab drivers and splashed by puddles for vehicles intently zooming past us. We made it to Notre Dame to eat ice cream and we still quiet dry but when we got back on to venture around the Lourve it had started to pour down. I thought it was pretty cool to be cycling around the Lourve at sunset in the pouring rain in Paris but when we stopped to take a river cruise up the Seine the feeling had passed on to, 'I'm freezing and wet.' Still, it was a small price to pay and some of me was dry thanks to the raincoat I had purchased. On the cruise we had red wine and watched the light of Paris as we sailed by.


By the time we made it back to the Eiffel Tower at midnight we were wet, hungry and a little tipsy. This explains why I was almost hit by a screaming scooter on the road, (well that and there crazy drivers) and why were kicked out of a little convenience shop trying to buy cheese. It wasn't our fault that we had not much money and there were no prices on anything so we had to keep bring stuff to the counter than putting it back. We ended up with nothing but a crazy French man yelling at us in French as we walked away from the shop and down the street.


The next day went kind of smoothly if you di-sinclude the fact we made our train back to London by about 2 minutes. We didn't leave enough time to find the station, to actually travel to that station and cart our luggage around. It was a mad dash (sprint actually) to the station and what seemed like a million steps but we made it to the platform with about two minutes to spare only to find we had been delayed and would have to wait a half hour. We were quiet tired by the time we made it back onto the Euro star as earlier that day we had walked up to Mon Matre   and had had nothing to eat except for a few chocolates we picked up at a chocolatier with the last couple of Euros we had.

  So after three days in Paris we had not eaten, stayed in a 'slanty shanty', had sore feet from walking absolutely everywhere, been swore at by mad Frenchman and now had forming colds - however, it was probably the best three days I could have hoped for. Certainly an experience.
 

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