Fellow Jazhans conspirator Hannah and I booked a long weekend in Paris. The goal was to explore as much art as possible, whilst making the most of French cuisine and going up tall buildings. In those things we were successful, with some thoughts for a second trip in the future.
Eurostar and Hotel
I’ll get the boring bit out of the way. The Eurostar is the Eurostar, it was fine. Comfy. Same price as a flight (just book as early as you can, look out for deals etc).
We stayed in the Holiday Inn by the Gare de l’Est, and I thought it was fine. The staff were friendly, the beds were comfortable and the bathroom was clean. They have bag storage which is a major bonus as we got there at 11am and left at 7pm, both times way outside of check in/out.
Sacré Coeur and Montmartre
We walked through Montmartre to visit the Sacré Coeur. I can imagine Mad Eye Moody shouting “CONSTANT VIGILANCE” here as the street salesman and other unfriendlies are a nightmare. This was the worst place we discovered for it. Just say no, say it loud, say it proud. Do not let them sell you anything.
The Sacré Coeur itself is beautiful, and the view of Paris is stunning. You are not allowed to take photographs inside, but as you can imagine it’s quite something to behold.
That same day (Friday) we took the Metro over to the Eiffel Tower. Two things to learn from this:
One, the metro is super easy and works pretty much exactly like the London underground, just be aware some lines split. You can buy a pack of ten single tickets from the machines, this is much cheaper than buying one at a time and they don’t go out of date.
Two, pre-booking things is advisable. I have never spent so much time in queues. It wasn’t a huge issue, and we would have had less freedom with booking, but I think if I went again I would book.
The Tower itself is gorgeous, I don’t understand how they ever thought it was ugly. Unfortunately the top closed while we were in the queue! But the second floor still affords brilliant views of Paris.
Failed Attempt at Giverny
We were going to go to Giverny to see Monet’s garden, but some confusion with train/bus tickets/times and some indecisive weather put pay to it. Would possibly save up and get a tour to save all confusion on another visit.
I wish we’d had more time here. So much brilliant art! Everything you’d expect, plus more. They had a plaster of Rodin’s Gates of Hell that was impressive, some colourful Van Goghs and an amazing Gustave Doré exhibition. I could have stayed in there for days.
Luckily they allow you to take photographs inside Notre Dame, because it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Paris and its architecture is something to behold. The intricate detail on the outside of the building leaves so many staring open mouthed.
Sunday started with the Louvre, which is an amazing trove of art. There is so much to see, the building alone is worth the visit.
However, it didn’t have the culture which Hannah and I are used to. There seemed to be little respect for the art, and was full of people who were just there because they thought they should be. I don’t have a problem with that, but the hours upon hours of quiet sketching whilst soaking up the art we had in mind soon evaporated.
The rain-shower filled afternoon was spent in Rodin’s beautiful gardens. The quiet respect we’d expected at the Louvre was found here, and if the weather had been better we would have spent a lot longer with the sculptures. Finally seeing the Gates of Hell was a big highlight for me, the detail is exquisite.
Musée de l’Orangerie
Another quiet place, filled with beautiful things. I was pleased to see some more work by Henri Rousseau. He was an interesting artist, talented in a different way to what we are perhaps used to.
Monet designed two oval rooms to be a centre of “peace for Paris” after World War I, and I would say he was successful. The large water lily paintings are toned in such a way that it lulls you into relaxation without you noticing. Leaving is difficult, and we revisited those rooms on the way out as well.
Champs Elysée, l’Arc du Triomphe and Others
One word. Ladurée. If you have some money left at the end of your visit and want to treat yourself, Ladurée is the place. The best hot chocolate I have ever had, and the best meal we had the whole time we were there. Pricey, yes, but worth it.
Otherwise this was an insanely rainy day that didn’t lend itself to photographs, or hanging around!
We also popped to Amelie’s Cafe for a quiet drink. The Moulin Rouge is nearby for you to tick off. We also stopped in the Cimetière Saint-Vincent which is a peaceful walk, beautiful graves and tombs.
There were a few things we would have done differently and a few places I’d definitely want to revisit, but all in all it was a great weekend with plenty of art to get the juices flowing!
PS: We did a silly photo project featuring Monster High’s Rochelle Goyle.