Four weeks ago today I was exploring Paris. I’ve loved the city since the first time I visited with my family over 10 years ago. That time, we’d actually gone to stay in Disney Land Paris just before Christmas and spent one wet, chilly evening taking the metro into the capital to see the Eifel Tower. It was the first and last time I’d ever eaten croque monsieur. I went back some years later with friends for a uni excursion and we’d spent the day in coffee shops between visiting a Patrick Demarchelier exhibition held at Le Petit Palais. This time however, it was a whirlwind stay with Puppy Daddy.
A belated Valentine’s Day trip, we flew from Gatwick Airport early on Tuesday morning. Fuelled by a quick Jamie Oliver’s breakfast in the airport terminal, we boarded a short flight into Charles De Gaulle before catching the train into Le Gard Du Nord. It was drizzling and grey as we walked out of the station but not to be deterred, we walked to our hotel. Confession: We did actually try to catch a cab but the man laughed us out when we told him where we were staying…apparently it was only two minutes down the road. I say apparently because after 35 minutes of walking (quite speedily, I hasten to add) we finally spotted our hotel.
We stayed at the amazing Le Banke. An old, converted – you guessed it – bank, with the most beautiful entrance and even lovelier staff. As we walked up the steps and into the grand foyer, we were both drenched, slightly weary from our 3.30am start and looked totally out of place against the opulent surroundings, but they were so welcoming and showed us to our room even though we were hours early. Le Bank is a boutique 5* hotel on Rue La Fayette. It’s got this amazing ornate glass cupula in the heart of the lobby and has trinkets from all around the world on display around the large circular foyer, which is filled with the heady aroma of incense.
Our room was amazing. Decorated in purple and cream our room had views over the Rue La Fayette, a plush deep green bathroom and the comfiest bed. After dropping off our bags, we tore ourselves away from the sanctuary of Le Banke and made our way out into the cold and along the wind-swept streets to the Louvre – stopping, of course, for pastries and coffee.
Without a map (thank god for iphones) we managed to navigate the 30 minute walk to Le Louvre before finding out (to Puppy Daddy’s relief and my disappointment) it was closed. But even though we couldn’t get inside, taking in the incredible architecture was worth the walk. It’s massive in its stature, dwarfing the tourists outside who had also braved the weather. After lingering a while, we walked through the Jardin Des Tuileries and towards the Eifel Tower.
I love walking through a city. Whether London, New York, Barcelona or Paris, it’s the best way to experience a place. Even in the rain, I love the hubbub of a city. There were patisseries filled with macaroons and puffed pastry, bakeries filled with fresh baguettes and chocolatiers displaying row after row of exquisite truffles. We stopped for lunch – minute steak, salad and frites – then headed on to the wrought iron tower peeking up from behind busy streets.
Once there, we couldn’t believe how big it felt. We decided not to go up as we’d have a hard time seeing anything through the persistent drizzle and accompanying mist, but it was amazing just to walk round and see the landmark that so epitomises Paris.
On our way back we walked along the river Seine and crossed at the Pont des Arts ‘love lock’ bridge. Last year, nearly 1 million locks were removed as part of the railings had collapsed under the weight of them, but we saw people had returned with their initialised locks to continue the tradition.
Love locks were also fastened around the chains of the nearby Flame of Liberty statue at the Place de l’Alma. Reading the locks was really moving – it made me wonder who wrote these initially and where they are now. Unfortunately, Puppy Daddy and I didn’t have a lock, but it’s given me an excuse to go back next time…
After stopping at a little crêperie, we headed back to the hotel. For dinner, we went to this lovely Moroccan restaurant. Puppy Daddy isn’t a fan of French food so we ended up eating Tagines and Moroccan kebabs in La Marais. After asking the waiter for a ‘large beer’ and being bought back a large bowl, we laughed all night. Later at the hotel, we were pleasantly surprised at the Lolabar when we learned it specialised in Gin. With over 100 varieties of gin on offer, essences of all kinds and vials full of herbs we finally settled on an apple martini for Puppy Daddy and a Porn Star Martini for me…Now i hear you – not the chicest choice on my part – but it was amazing.
The next day, we wondered to a café and ate a traditional French breakfast; coffee, toast, jam, omelettes and orange juice. It was so delicious and I loved the leisurely atmosphere of it all. Plus, it was the perfect people watching spot.
Later, we wondered around the Opera District window shopping, drinking coffee and exploring. I have a weird obsession with bowls and found this tiny independent store filled with all sorts of cutlery, serve ware and of course, bowls. I couldn’t not take one home…
All too soon we were at the airport and catching our flight home. With no delay, we headed straight to my mums to pick up Leni. We missed her so much and she went crazy when we walked through the door – although I have a sneaking suspicion she quite enjoyed her overnight stay as she was spoilt rotten with walks and cuddles. I made my mum these pecan pie cupcakes to say thank you!
So I have to apologise; there’s no pics of Leni at the Eifel Tower or enjoying a baguette around Paris. But I’ll make sure the next post has a double dose of Leni to make up for it! I hope you enjoyed my travel diary.