Doing Paris properly

Paris is art, food, culture, striped shirts, bicycles and baguettes. You’re going to go to the Louvre, you’re going down the Seine whilst pretending to be in a music video for ABBA’s Our Last Summer. Because that’s what everybody does. Right?

When I moved to London, I promised myself that I would take advantage of how easy it is to get to Paris, and visit at least once a year. Six years later and I’ve kept up that promise.

So, rather than bore you with another list of things that you’re already going to do, here are some of my favourite places and some of my best (and worse) memories from the city of lights.

Go under the sea and be in Paris in less time than it would take to get from London to Sheffield.

The Eurostar still blows my mind. I do not understand it. How can I be on a train going through Kent and then suddenly I’m under the sea, and a few minutes later, I’m in France? The future really is now.

It’s quick and when booked in advance, it’s cheap. Keep an eye on out for Eurostar Snap deals. You select your day, and choose whether you’d rather go morning or afternoon, book and then closer to the time, Eurostar will confirm your train. I’ve done it twice and it was great both times. I’ll definitely be doing it again. Who can argue with a return to Paris for £50?

For a friend’s birthday a few years ago, I even got the first Eurostar to Paris in the morning and the last Eurostar back in the evening. That was pretty exciting.

A major perk of Eurostar over flying is that you can bring back as much wine and cheese as your backpack can handle! I don’t really understand why they don’t just put that on every single one of their adverts.

Discover Paris on a SANDEMAN’s NEW Paris Walking tour

If you have never been to Paris before, I’d highly recommend starting your adventure with a walking tour. It’s such a beautiful city, with so much culture and so much history, it’s difficult to know where to start – so let a local show you their city. You can then go back later and spend more time in the places that piqued your interest.

I’ve done the SANDEMAN’s NEW Paris Tour four times now and whenever I am planning a trip to a new city, I always check to to see whether there’s a SANDEMAN’s walking tour I can do there. So far I’ve done Paris, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Copenhagen, New York and London with them. I promise I’ve not been paid to write this – I just love them.

This two and a half hour walking tour will introduce you to some of Paris’s most iconic spots, including Notre Dame de Paris, the Louvre, Pont Neuf, and the Latin Quarter. Make sure you have a lot of space in your camera roll because every step is an Instagram post waiting to happen.

The walking tour is ‘pay what you think it was worth’. Because of this, and because of their genuine love of their city, the guides are guaranteed to put in the effort to make sure that you get the most from your tour.

Have an almond croissant at Maison Kayser

There are a few Maison Kayer’s around Paris, but I always head to the one a few minutes from the Louvre for an almond croissant. It doesn’t matter what time of day – you’re on holiday.

I once got in trouble for describing it as the Greggs of Paris but I absolutely stand by it. Sadly, there was no l’steak bake in sight. There are thousands of independent bakeries throughout the city, obviously you should visit those too.

I hope if you take one thing away from this blog, is that you should EAT. ABSOLUTELY. EVERYTHING.

I just googled Eric Kayser and found out that he began in Japan and returned to France to begin revolutionising the way that bread is made.

Paris has been the sight of many revolutions in its day, but a bread revolution is the kind of revolution that could get me taking to the streets singing ‘Do You Hear The People Sing?’.

Pimp my Eiffel Tower

Parisians hate the light show at the Eiffel Tower. Many tourists hate the light show at the Eiffel Tower. I love the light show at the Eiffel Tower.

I really enjoy thinking about the planning meeting;

Team leader: “OK, how do we take this really iconic but garish monument and make it more iconic and garish?”
Intern: “How about we cover it with flashing lights and make it sparkle on the hour, every hour?”
Team leader: “Oui!”

Be sure to plan your view. The illuminations start on the hour, and last five minutes. It is tacky. It is ridiculous. It is brilliant. Non, je ne regrette rien.

Carrie on at Kong

Remember when Carrie went to Paris and it was so chic and fashion and then we all dreamed of being Carrie in Paris. Minus the abusive Russian and crippling loneliness.

Well, Paris gives your plenty of chances to live out your Sex dans l’City fantasies. Top of that list should be lunch and cocktails at Kong –  the very place where Carrie met The Russian’s wife for the very first time (as captured in this documentary footage).

Located on the 5th floor of a Haussmann building, Kong has a very ‘spaceship meets 90s Japanese Saturday morning music show for teenagers’ aesthetic, which I am obviously obsessed with. The floor to ceiling windows, gives you views of Pont Neuf, the Sein, and Louis Vuitton’s headquarters. That’s right – the office Rachel was going to go and work in before Ross emotionally blackmailed her into giving up her dreams. Again.

The food is as brilliant and as bonkers as the setting. Paris meets Tokyo. Fusion, if you will. There is even a Kong lunch deal – 35 euros for a starter and main, or 45 euros for a starter, main and dessert. It’s worth it.

Eating at Kong is an experience. It is not a place to drop in, scoff and leave. Make sure if you are visiting, you have allowed yourself enough time to relax, soak in the atmosphere and do Paris like the chicest of Parisians.

I’m also reliably informed that Paris’s young, rich and beautiful frequent Kong of an evening to dance to some of the city’s coolest DJs. As I am not young, rich, or beautiful, I’ve never quite made it there for an evening… maybe next time.

Hot Chocolate at Angelina’s

Paris is romance, elegance, glamour, over-the-top opulence and Angelina’s is Paris in a tearoom. Opened on Rue de Rivoli in 1903, Proust and CoCo Chanel are amongst its most noted patrons.

There is nothing on the patisserie menu that is less than c’est super, but whatever you do, get the hot chocolate. They take the richest, most luxurious chocolate you can imagine, melt it, and stick a straw in it. That’s it. And it is as incredible as it sounds.

Pull up at a tiny bar, drink red wine and dance to 90s hip-hop

One of the things that surprised me about Paris was how much people love hip-hop.

One of my happiest life moments was visiting Paris for my 30th birthday, wandering the streets after dinner, finding a tiny bar, drinking lots of red wine and dancing to Dre, Snoop and 2Pac all night long.

I later told my Parisian friend about this special moment, they just laughed in my face and told me that what all the cool kids in Paris do, every night.

Anyway, if this sounds like your idea of fun, head to Le Dépanneur Terrasse on rue de Douai.

My quest for a croque monsieur

Tissues at the ready. I’m about to tell you the saddest story you’ll ever hear.

For context: a croque monsieur is one of the greatest sandwiches on earth; it’s basically a ham and cheese butty, but even more delicious.

On my first trip to Paris, I picked one up in Montmartre that was so good that I still dream about it six years later. I was in a rush when I bought it so I never really thought about where I was getting it from. Then I ate it and my life changed.

On every visit since, I’ve tried to find the place but have never been able to. Last year, I took my boyfriend to Paris for the first time. It was early in the relationship and I still had to be on my best behaviour. Then we walked down a street and I got a flashback. I could sense it – I was near my sandwich. I lost my cool. I spent the next 45 minutes running around the streets of Montmartre, sensing I was edging closer to the melted cheesy goodness.

We actually missed our dinner reservations because I was now on a mission. It was when my boyfriend didn’t moan or shout, but joined in, urging me to find this sandwich, that I realised I loved him and that I should probably be with him forever.

Eventually, we turned the corner and I saw it. That blue sign from my dreams. Success!

However, as I got closer, I realised that it wasn’t open. Makes sense, it was about 11pm by this point. “It’s OK, we’ll just come back tomorrow”, I told myself.

So now that we knew the name, my boyfriend googled the opening times. His face dropped, “it’s not open at the weekend. We won’t be able to have one.” I thought he was joking. He had to be joking. This could only be a joke. IT WAS NO JOKE. So how did I, a grown up man in my 30s, respond to this news?

I cried. That is how I responded. Not a stoic little tear down one cheek. No, I am talking full-on, blubbering. Uncontrollable floods.

I still well up just thinking about that moment and the lost sandwich.

Weirdly, he didn’t dump me after I cried over a sandwich… I know! I’m surprised too.

But next time I go to Paris, first thing on my list is that bloody sandwich. I just need to make sure that I go on a weekday!

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s