Last week I was lucky enough to visit Paris with my Moma, and seen as it’s International Women’d Day today, there’s no better day to publish this post to to share how much of a great time I had travelling with the most wonderful woman I know.
Paris is one of the places that I feel everyone wants to, or has visited at one time. There is something for everyone as there are plenty of museums and tourist sites, chic shopping boulevards and some hidden gems amongst some of the quirkier quartiers. My usual disclaimer applies, so here are just some of the things we did and saw in Paris that are worth considering when planning your trip.
The Moulin Rouge – The Féerie Show
As I danced as a young girl, attending the show at The Red Windmill was a must see for us. Courtesy of Moma, we went the whole hog and booked in advance the three course meal with a bottle of champagne and transfers to take us back to our hotel. Logistically, I advise booking well in advance through a trusted travel agent or over the phone and look into how you will get there and back as it is situated in a mini red light district.
This show is definitely not for everyone as the troupe of 60 dancers, mostly topless throughout, swayed from side to side draped in beads, sequins or feathers. I’m a lover of anything that includes a shimmy and a shake but it felt as though that was the extent of a large portion of the dancing. The jury is out on raving about it to everyone, but it was a spectacle of numerous costume changes, elaborately themed backdrops and acts including a roller blading stunt duo and an acrobatic duo. Was it what we expected? No. Did we have a great entertaining night? Yes. For a world renowned show, personally I expected a little more but I’m certainly not disappointed that we went.
Arc de Triumph and the Champs-Élysées
There are many monuments worth visiting in Paris if only to admire their splendour, and the Arc de Triumph is amongst one of the most worthy of appreciation in my opinion. It may be an image you have seen time and time again and indeed you can see it clearly from a distance along the Champs-Élysées, however for a mere 10 Euros you can enter to read the history of it’s purpose and climb the winding stairs inside to experience a 360 view of Paris. Of course the Eiffel Tower provides that too, but you will be missing a key part of the Parisian sky line and there are bigger crowds to contend with. Although a little easier to manage if you struggle with vertigo, climbing the stairs are no mean feat, I suggest going shortly after a espresso to help you along the way.
We walked away from the Arc de Triumph along the iconic Champs-Élysées. The boulevard was as grand as I expected, vast and full of super sized stores. You could take the Metro from one place to another at every chance as it is easy to navigate but, if you have the time, I suggest walking as much as you can to really notice the change in the ambiance from each part of the city.
La Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmartre
We hopped off the Metro at Anvers stop at 10.30am and were lucky enough to be able to bask in the sunlight walking up the stairs up to the Basilica built at the highest point of Paris in Montmartre.
I assume due to the time of year, the area was not too overcrowded with tourists. We got to fully appreciate the Montmartre area including the artist square behind the Basilica and the apartment buildings with ornate wrought iron balcony railings towering over steep stairs lined with lamp posts. The Sacre Coeur itself is one of the most magnificent cathedrals I have ever seen, inside and out. Although I am not a fan of going inside religious buildings we stayed inside to witness the 11.15am Mass, when the hairs on my arms stood on end, as the intimate congregation sang and onlookers stayed respectfully quiet. It’s true that some of the best things you can experience in life are free.
Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen – Flea Market
Open on Saturday, Sunday and Mondays, although the area seemed a little bit sketchy at first, this was a great way to lose track of time while I awaited my mum’s arrival in Paris. There are antique items galore, vintage everything you could ever imagine, books, clothes, stamps, cameras, furniture and more. This rabbit warren was an endless maze of alleys with both jewels and junk. If you are set on seeing every part then you can take a tour of the entire area, although I wandered around on my own, I stumbled on one part and then another and another until I felt like I had seen enough.
Bateaux Mouches – Seine Boat Tour
This tour was another great way to see many of the beautiful buildings of Paris. Leaving from the same side of The Seine as Metro stop Alma Monceau, this guided tour lasted just over an hour and provided panoramic views for the bargain price of 13.50 Euros.I didn’t take very many pictures from the water but of course I took the obligatory Eiffel Tower selfie. We saw most of the sights we had already seen including the Hotel de Ville and the beautiful Pont Alexandre III.
My final point of interest to stress was a wonderful gluten free restaurant and epicerie tucked away under one of the many covered passages and galleries named Passages des Panoramas. Don’t make the same mistake we did and get so excited to have found it and order your lunch in the take away epicerie which has little/no seating, rather than looking across to the nice sit down restaurant which is almost adjacent. The sandwich of the day, with cake and drink of your choice, may seem unspectacular but my mum, who never strays from the coeliac diet, declared it was the best meal she had eaten on the trip!
We visited other sites including The Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle and walked through the Jardin de L’Orangerie, Place de Concorde and more but I’ve highlighted a selection of the things that we enjoyed the most and I couldn’t do every single one justice. The best parts of this trip however were the moments of laughter, deep discussions or silence that my mum and I shared over a simple wine or coffee as we recharged between each place we saw. Glasgow or Paris, it wouldn’t matter where we were time spent with this woman is always a pleasure.