Paris was the first official stop on our interrailing journey across Europe, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Despite both my friend and I having already been to Paris, it felt only right to make the city of lights the first place on our trip. Having also just finished A-Level French it felt right to be able to put my language skills to good use.
First Night in Paris/ Where to Eat and Sleep
We arrived at the Gare du Nord late on Saturday night, and made what felt like the monstrous trip to the 14th Arrondisement. We stayed at FIAP Jean Monnet. Transport in Paris is easy with decent metro links and bus links. From the Gard du Nord we bought a Carnet of 10 metro tickets which cost 14,95 each. In hindsight it probably would have been easier to one between us. These tickets allow you on all of the transport in Paris. We spent our first night in Paris at an Italian restaurant, eating giant pizzas and relaxing. One thing to keep in mind is that the French eat incredibly late. Normal dinner time for me is 7/8pm but in France add at least another 2 if not 3 hours . That meant that when we headed out for something to eat at 11pm, so did all of Paris.
The next morning we woke up relatively early to 37 degree heat! We put on our best Parisian dresses and headed down to a breakfast of french pastries and hot drinks. We then headed for the Notre Dame with was just two tube stops away. It was heartbreaking to see the condition it is in. But at the end of the day it is a building and thankfully these things can be mended. As it was a Sunday morning, Paris was pretty quiet as most people were enjoying a lie in or at church. We did try to see one church but unfortunately they said they we weren’t dressed appropriately.
From there we headed for a walk along the Seine, at this time of the morning you honestly wouldn’t believe that it is a capital city as it was so quiet. The perks of visiting on a Sunday I guess. We wanted to walk to the Eiffel Tour which was an hour away but it was honestly just too hot. Along our way we genuinely stumbled across the Louvre. So of course we had to check it out. Thankfully with our UK ID access into the museum is free. This is the same for anyone living in an EU Country.
So we perused the art for a little while and of course made a bee line for the Mona Lisa or as the French call it, La Jaconde. The Mona Lisa is apparently one of the most underwhelming tourist attraction. I was in all honesty quite impressed. It is very British of me to complain of the lack of queuing to get a photo, but the system (if you can call it that) is not particularly useful. Be prepared to wait ages to get to the front of the crowd. You will also impatiently wait for tourists taking hundreds of selfies, to snap that coveted shot. We enjoyed views from the roof top cafe, where we split a biscuit because the prices certainly weren’t budget friendly.
After that we checked out a fun fair that had popped up in Paris and boasted some cool rides. As we had no time for EuroDisney, this was a great alternative! We went on the chairs and enjoyed fantastic views over Paris, including a shot of the Eiffel Tower. The rides are just situated in front of the Tuileries Garden. After we had nearly thrown up our lunch in the amusement park, we took the opportunity to relax in the gardens. At this point in the day, the heat was stifling. We indulged in a little bit of “influencer watching”, where we watched everyone try and get that perfect instagram shot (I am guilty of this). The Gardens also have a brilliant view of the Eiffel Tower. If you are after some tourist free shots then head here. I managed to get a cheeky selfie with the quintessentially Parisian monument.
We then decided to head for a walk along the Champs-Elysees, and much to our surprise we were met with a huge South American/Latin American festival. This made the mile walk along Paris’ most famous shopping street much easier. After our long walk along the street, we were greeted by the Arc de Triomphe. You really have to be there to understand the complexity and beauty of this monument. The city was bustling at this point in the day which was a huge contrast to when we first left. Watching the Bastille Day celebrations being organised was fun, even though we knew we wouldn’t be there to see it.
The Sacre-Coeur and Montmartre
From there we used the metro, as our legs were tired and we headed towards Sacre-Coeur. Although this was my 3rd or 4th time in Paris, this was one thing I was yet to see. The stairs all the way up are intense and particularly so during a European heatwave. Sweaty and out of breath, we made it to the top and enjoyed the views over Paris and Montmartre. After an exhausting walk up to the top, we decided to get the cable car back down. Thankfully the car uses the same tickets as the metro, so we were able to hop on using one ticket from our carnet. After that we wandered through the streets of Montmartre and enjoyed how cute every house looked before settling down for a well deserved crepe. There is also plenty of street artists in this area to watch and buy from.
Moulin Rouge/ The Eiffel Tower
On our way back to the hostel we checked out the Moulin Rouge, which was certainly interesting. We ultimately decided to head back and freshen up and grab a bite to eat before attempting to see the Eiffel Tower by night. At around 9pm we headed back out to visit the tower and due to metro and bus delays it took us until almost 10pm to reach the tower. By this time we were both incredibly tired and were less bothered about going up and instead decided to admire the view and get to bed.
Our full day in Paris was jam packed but a fabulous start to our trip nonetheless. As for logistics, Paris was definitely one of the most expensive stops on our route. Due to french hostel laws, unaccompanied minors are not permitted to stay in dorm rooms whatsoever, which meant we had to book a double room. I had stayed at this hostel before and knew that it was of a good standard, so happily booked again. Food prices in Paris are high, as is to be expected for the French capital city but I would say that on the whole portion sizes were decent and the food was incredible.