La Ville De L'amour
Have you ever had the realisation that you might be living in what could be the best moment of your life so far?
Well, with tears in my eyes and the sound of Red Hot Chili Peppers vibrating straight through my heart in an arena full of about 18,000 other people all whilst being in the City of Love, I couldn’t help but think that it just doesn’t get much better.
In hindsight; four pints of beer could probably have had a similar impact even if I was down the local boozer. However, I am genuinely adamant that it was one of the most euphoric and memorable experiences of my life that was not only a ton of fun, but in all a short trip that has filled me with so much stoke about life that I felt had disappeared for a little while.
So, why do you travel? I feel like the immediate answer would be to see new places, naturally. However, there is another fundamentally important quality to travel that not only opens your eyes, but awakens your soul. Culture, food, coffee, language, people - it all stirs something within us that can be hard to find in our everyday lives; not impossible, but not quite as apparent as when you find yourself as an anonymous being in a new environment. You return, or perhaps awaken the next day, with a new perspective about things you didn’t even realise you needed to gain perspective on. For me, Paris was the eye and heart opener that I didn’t even realise I needed, and oh man, I feel so alive.
As an iconic destination, I feel that just the simple thought of Paris evokes an imagination full of dreamy and romantic scenes radiating with art and literature. The only words I can find to sum it up since arriving back is that ‘Paris exists to remind you that your dreams are real.’ Whether you find yourself sipping small glasses of the most palatable local red wine in the early hours, or chatting about the acclaimed Shakespeare & Co bookshop over cups of strong black coffee, the Parisian dream is very much alive.
I strongly feel that a city trip, and most travel really, is defined by walking further than you physically realised was capable for your poor legs and getting yourself lost in the same area over and over again and for some reason not really minding that much. There are a few recommendations that I’d love to share with you from my meandering that you might like to check out, should you find yourself strolling through the streets of Paris.
This is more of a pre-trip pointer. It’s not often that you get to wake up in an old-beamed loft room on the 6th floor of a creaking building to a wide-open window, revealing the picturesque Parisian rooftops. Airbnb has to be one of the simplest and most innovating ideas of using technology to improve travel that doesn’t only often work out cheaper for more prime positions, but also gives you an insight into experiencing life like a local whilst exploring new places. Nestled amongst many bustling cafes and restaurants in Le Marais, our Parisian abode certainly wasn’t a let down. You can check it out here.
Le Marais / The Jewish Quarter
If it hadn’t have been for the location of our Airbnb, I’m not sure we would have stumbled into this area, which we found required dedicating a portion of each day to exploring. Whilst it might not be primarily traditional Parisian food (which for a vegetarian, isn’t exactly ideal anyway), you can expect to find an eclectic array of the best bagels and falafels that you might ever eat. Combine this with endlessly charming architecture, countless independent retailers and a melting pot of side-of-pavement cafes offering up treats as indulgent as the next, you could spend hours (or days) walking through these authentically Parisian feeling side streets.
Le Peleton Cafe
Sometimes, a girl’s just gotta get a flat white and the breakfast bar stools in Le Peloton provide the perfect perch to plan out a day's exploration in the city. If you’re looking for an incredible cup o’ joe and want to be greeted by friendly baristas willing to give you insights into exploring the city and also what they’re currently brewing, this joint should be on your list. Not just a coffee shop but also an office for the biking enthusiast owners’ tour company, you can expect to find a simple (yet spot on) offering of hot drinks and pastries in this yellow-clad space.
Looking for a place to wind down after a long day’s walk around the city? Well you can hear the sound of laughter and the clinking of glasses from the next street when in the vicinity of Stolly's. Whilst on first appearance it might seem like a more classic ‘pub’, this establishment blasts out some heartening rock classics and seats a diverse mix of locals and tourists, all soaking up the Parisian dream (and probably quite a lot of alcohol too).
I know it’s a given, but we actually walked past the Eiffel Tower on our first day exploring the city after someone had told me that it’s not really worth the €17 price tag to the top, settling instead for some touristy photos from the distance. Now, I don’t know if it was a bit of red wine inspo, but we woke the next day ready to part ways with the cash and make our own minds up. I would agree that it is an expensive day out, but are you going to regret not doing this when you get home? If so, bite the bullet and get up that tower. It cost us €17 each in entry fees, a whole lot of queueing and then €13 a piece for a glass of champagne (because, if you’re committing to the experience then you may as well go the whole way). The views are mind-blowing and it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Shakespeare and Company
You don’t need to just love books to fall in love with Shakespeare and Company. Evoking every small detail of the Parisian utopia of art and literature, the stacked up shelves seemingly fall over one another with endless streams of books which induce day-dreaming echoes of aspiring artists and writers past and present. If you are looking for an inexpensive but ultimately priceless souvenir from your trip, devote some time to wandering through the treasures this gem has to offer and buy yourself a book; this will be stamped with the ‘Shakespeare & Company’ logo on the first page. There is a conveniently positioned coffee shop next door which serves up a pretty decent (although quite pricey) coffee, where you can mull away even more hours over your purchase, soaking up the infectiously inspiring buzz of aspiring creatives.
Are there any places in Paris that particularly sung to your heart? I haven't been able to shake off my excitement since arriving home and already can't wait to go back one day.