Ah Paris. What’s not to say about this city that I haven’t already said? It’s one of my favourite cities in the world, and I went there several times while I was living in London. One of the things I miss most about living in London is that “popping down to Paris for the weekend” is neither the quick nor cheap options as it once was for me.
By this stage, I had already seen Paris in the winter an autumn, so it was interesting to see the city in the summer. I must say, despite the fact that Paris was as beautiful as ever, I would highly recommend that if you do intend to visit Paris, that you do not go during August. The French have their national holidays in August, and the whole of France goes on holiday. At first when I read about this, I thought that perhaps things were a bit exaggerated. Exaggerated though things were not. A lot of boutiques and food places – from obscure independent stores to world famous Michelin starred restaurants are closed for the entire month!
Additionally, the city is absolutely overrun with tourists, and a lot of the places that stay open are the places that cater to tourists. It was as if I was playing “spot the Parisian”, and the whole vibe of the city was very different. While still an amazing city, Paris in August just wasn’t quite right – it certainly loses some of its charm and seems somewhat tacky with the only Parisians remaining being the ones who are there to make money from the tourist season.
I was there again in September, and can confirm that once the tourists had left and the Parisians had returned to daily life, normality was restored.
Most of the time that I’ve gone to Paris I’ve stayed in a great little hotel called Grand Hotel Nouvel Opéra. The rooms are shoebox sized, and it’s a touch away from the main spots that one would tend to visit on a holiday (no more than a 15 minute Metro trip away though), however it is cheap (for Paris), the staff are friendly, it’s got free Wi-Fi and there are lots of local food gems to be found that cater to locals, rather than tourists that are also very well priced.
When staying there, Voltaire was my local Metro station.
First meal of the trip was a fresh seafood lunch at Le Bistrot du Dôme. Simple, fresh, exquisite.
As I’ve stated before, the Jardin du Luxembourg, or the Luxembourg Gardens, is one of my favourite parks in the world. I never fail to visit and chill out in these beautiful gardens when in Paris.
This was quite humorous People are not allowed to sit on this grass, and there are police/guards strolling about the gardens to keep an eye on things. Clearly the penalties for ignoring the rules are not too serious as you’d see many people relaxing on the grass. A guard would come past, and tell everyone to get off and slowly, everyone would move away until nobody was on the grass. The guard would walk away, and within a few minutes it was full of people again. A little while later a guard would come past and… you get the picture!
Wandering around Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of my favourite parts of Paris, full of great places to eat (like most of the city admittedly) and little boutiques and the like. The whole area has a really great vibe about it.
Avoiding the huge queues of tourists at the Musée du Louvre, which I had already been to last year, and instead choosing the option of chilling out in the sun in the gardens.
Laduree. Famous for inventing the macaron and for its amazing cakes and desserts. While absolutely amazing, don’t get me wrong, I think that the past macarons in Paris are to be had at one of Pierre Herme’s boutiques.