3rd-10th August 2013
03.08.2013 - 10.08.2013
So here is my latest entry for my Summer trip to Paris, solo for one week. I stayed at MIJE Faucounnier Hostel in a private room which was very nice, clean and comfortable. Very centrally located, just off the main street of Rivoli. Weather throughout the trip was sunny and generally quite hot. I also did a day trip to Provins which was beautiful. The report is presented in the original day-by-day format I posted on TripAdvisor.
Day One: Saturday 3rd August 2013:
Arrived in Paris at 8:45am after a long, tiring journey on the overnight coach via Eurolines, I chose this option as it was considerably cheap, and it gave me a different experience of entering a country other than plane, the journey wouldn't of been so bad if it was in the day time when your not tired, but I couldn't get comfortable towards the end and got slightly irritable. I was the only person who had two seats to myself, so was lucky in that respect. I got a National Express coach to London from Nottingham and then had a three hour wait before getting on the Eurolines to Paris. We took the ferry from Dover and then I slept the majority of the way to Paris Gallieni. I got the bus from the coach station and got off at Saint-Paul on Rue De Rivoli, I was supposed to be staying at MIJE Fourcy hostel on Rue De Fourcy (just off Rivoli) but it turned out they'd booked me into a different branch of theirs (Fourconnier) on Rue Fourconnier, just of Rue de Fourcy) which was no big deal as it was pretty much the same location and it does state on their site that you could be placed at any three of theie hostels. I chose with this trip to pay a little extra for a single room which was definitely worth it, bright, spacious, bathroom and wardrobe with coat hangers and free breakfast, more like a hotel than a standard hostel, super clean, fresh sheets everyday and beautiful French windows opening onto the street below.
So I left my bags in the luggage room as check in wasn't until 3pm and got the metro to Opera where I went to The Paris Story, and excellent way to start a trip to Paris, it is a small cinema type attraction which shows a film about Paris and it's history, it made me fall in love with the city before I'd even stepped barely a foot in it! There was also a miniature model of Paris with all the attractions set in the correct place and interactive quizzes ect. The film didn't last too long, which was good as I did want to start exploring.
After here I caught the metro to Tuileries and bought my first ever Crepe-Ham & Cheese-YUM! The Tuileries is a beautiful garden/park and has a small fair type amusement bit which is good for families ect. It was in the Tuileries that I first encounted the 'petition girls' asking if I spoke English, I knew who they were straight away from the descriptions given on TripAdvisor (scammers), I just said 'No' and they left me to it. I encounted quite a lot of these girls on my trip but just say 'No' and they won't pester you. So I walked through Tuileries up to Concorde, so beautiful and a major monument in Paris. I then headed towards the river and walked along the side up to Pont Alexandre III which is so much more beautiful in real life, it was from here I caught my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower which looked quite small at that particular angle. So I walked across the bridge and up the side of the river round to the Eiffel Tower, which just took me by surprise as it was GIGANTIC, one minute you couldn't see it for all the trees and tall buildings, the next it was right there looking over you! I took some photos and found the line for the lift entrance-LONG, there was no way I was prepared to stand in that after having little sleep for 32 hours so I found the line for the steps entrance which was short and I was climbing the steps in less than 10 minutes! The views was fantastic, especially of Montmartre which looked so beautiful sat amongst the city. I only made it to the second floor as the top was 'temporarily closed', maybe because it was too busy? I don't know but I climbed back down and walked across the river and up to Avenue Kleber where I walked down to the Arc De Triomphe, which again was astounding in real life, so huge yet so elegant. I found the subway entrance and as I'm under 26 it was free, the lines moved fast and the views were pretty, especially as these ones had the Eiffel Tower in them. I then had a look at the ever burning flame which was quite moving before heading down the Champs-Elysees, which was quite atmospheric knowing your on one of the most known boulevards in the world as they say. I had a look in the car showrooms and bought an amazing ice cream, like I've never tasted before!
I walked all the way back down to Concorde and caught the metro to the Georges-Pompidou centre, which was interesting to look at and I did intend to look around the modern art gallery but I was just so tired, I planned to come back sometime during the week (never actually got the chance), so instead sat outside and watched some amazing street performers, some had really amazing talent! I ate at a little street restaurant/café near the Georges-Pompidou which was really nice before walking around the Fontaine Stravinsky which was interesting and different before walking back to my hostel to check-in, unpack and get a good nights sleep!
The weather was very hot on this day and due to my sun cream being in my suitcase, I got quite burnt and blistered on my shoulders and neck area.
Day Two: Sunday 4th August 2013:
So I left the hostel around 9:30am and walked down Saint Antoinette to where the Bastille Monument stands and up to the market, very vibrant with a mix of stalls. I bought some really nice clothes from here and browsed the colourful fruit stalls. I continued up the same road to the metro where I took it to the Grevin Museum at Grands-Boulevards, fun and interesting with wax models associated with history and modern day celebrities ect, I found the light and music show a little unrelated and not so great, but the rest of the museum was fun and entertaining, this would be good as a stop off for families with children to entertain ect.
Afterwards I hopped on the metro to Saint-Michel where I walked down the boulevard stopping at Brioche Doree, where I got a baguette, fruit and Pain-Au-Chocolat and walked across to the magnificently beautiful Jardin Du Luxembourg, where flowers were bright against a brilliant blue sky, children having fun sailing boats in the fountains and many people sun bathing and picnicking, it was just a wonderful sight of summer and fun. I found a nice shaded spot on the grass where I ate lunch. I then intended to go on the Paris Walks tour about the resistance and WWII ect, except I walked the wrong way down the boulevard Raspail and ended up near the Catacombs instead of at the intersection at Sevres-Babylon and by the time I got there, I was 15 minutes too late which was disappointing, anyway by this time the heat was beginning to get to me and I had acquired quite bad sunburn to my head which was making me feel a little off, so decided to escape the heat and head back to the hostel for a quick nap before heading back to the Eiffel Tower in the evening to get some photos ect, I also browsed the street stalls which were quite nice and got a bag, there was also some good performers and street artists ect. I also noticed a lot of guys selling mini Eiffel keyrings and Eiffel Tower sculptures for next to nothing, 5 for 1 euro but would suddenly run away if they seen Gendarmerie or heard sirens which I thought was weird? But all in all the atmosphere was great at the Eiffel Tower, I also bought sausage and chips which I ate on the grass in front of the tower whilst listening to some people perform Bob Marley songs which was really relaxing and had a great feel of summer around. I then attempted to make it back to the Georges-Pompidou for the last admission at 8pm but sadly arrived just after five past, so instead headed back to my hostel for an early night.
Another great day in Paris, weather was really hot and muggy.
Day Three: Monday 5th August 2013:
So this morning I left the hostel a little after 9:30am and walked up by the river to the beautiful building known as the Conciergerie an old Palace and prison where the Queen Marie-Antoinette was held and stood trial. The building itself is beautiful and stands out vividly against the river. It was free for me as I am under 26 and an EU citizen. You enter into a grand hall with vaulted ceilings, a spiralling staircase and numerous fire places, you can only imagine what great things took place here. You then continue through the book shop into the old prison part where there is an information room and room set-ups on how each room would have looked, like the preparation room ect. The security man here tried it on with me and made me feel slightly uncomfortable as he grabbed me by my arm as I tried to leave but I still thoroughly enjoyed the visit. You then go upstairs to another exhibition room which is primarily in French but has the blade from an original guillotine believed to have been used to execute a famous serial killer. You then enter the chapel and leave through the women's courtyard back through the main hall. It was very interesting and I would really recommend visiting here.
Afterwards I doubled back towards my hostel to the 'Memorial De La Shoah' a museum and memorial dedicated to the French victims of the holocaust. It was very moving, some information was just in French but there was enough in English that if you were to read it all you would have been there all day. There is a wall of names outside which is just unreal in quantity. The memorial downstairs is very moving and there is apparently ash of victims buried here in the walls, in soil bought from Israel. It is an ever burning flame and very peaceful. I bought a book and two candles to light at home from here.
I then walked along the Rue De Rivoli and did a bit of shopping before feeling quite unwell and like I was going to collapse (I put this down to the heat and probably doing too much before my body had got into a routine) So I went back to the hostel and had around an hour sleep before leaving for a river cruise I had booked at 6pm. The river cruise was an hour long and very pleasant with a nice breeze, taking you under 22 bridges it was very scenic and did the main stretch in Paris. There was also a free audio guide telling you what buildings and particular bridges were and the history behind them which was interesting. Also included in the booking was a three course dinner at the Bistro boat situated on the river right next to the cruise boat. I am quite a fussy eater and don't generally like going out my comfort zone with food and although it was very nice I was a little unsure and wasn't something I would normally go for, but it was nice food. I had Tomato, Mozzarella and Gazpacho for starter, the tomato was a sort of soup/sauce and was delicious and mozzarella is one of my favourite things, it was the gazpacho that put me off, although not bad tasting, the look and texture of it was not really that appetising. Main course I had Pork Belly served with French Style Ratatouille, pork being one of my favourite foods too, it was very nice except it was served with a brown, lumpy sauce that tasted of meaty fat. The ratatouille was nice, something I have never tried before. Dessert was Summer Tart which was delicious. The overall evening was very good, relaxing and atmospheric, the staff pleasant and food portions generous. Afterwards it was around 8:30pm so I walked down the river and across to Concorde where I caught the metro back to my hostel for another early night.
Yet again another wonderful day apart from feeling ill in the afternoon, weather was hot and muggy with a 5 minute thunderstorm whilst I was asleep that dried up within minutes.