By the time we got to our hotel we were feeling pretty tired from a long day of travelling and very warm from the unexpected 30 degree heat we arrived to. After changing into cooler clothes (in my case, both temperate-wise and aesthetically) we couldn’t face much more than a walk around Porte de St. Cloud to find a nice little place for dinner – or should I say le dîner?
This felt like the perfect excuse to don my new Broderie Anglaise dress and white sandals (Primark and River Island, respectively). After a quick walk, we found a little restaurant called La Fontaine, which had open air seating (much needed), classically French decor (I felt like Amelie!) and a very smiley waiter. I ordered a rather delicious melt-in-your-mouth bacon cheese burger, which arrived with a mountain of crispy golden fries. Am I dribbling?
After a quick walk around the local area, we headed back to the hotel room to grab some beauty sleep – we had a very busy day awaiting!
The Morning Tour
After a continental breakfast (better than expected), we headed out for a two hour tour of Paris. I’d highly recommend taking a guided tour of the city, as it’s a great opportunity to learn some interesting facts about the history of Paris you wouldn’t otherwise get to know! Did you know, Paris was originally inhabited by a group of Celts called the Parisii who lived on an island in the river Seine – now home to Notre Dame! The Notre Dame itself is about 800 years old, which makes it one of the oldest buildings in the city. The city is relatively modern looking, having been systemically demolished and rebuilt between 1860 and 1910; taking it from a medieval, overcrowded, crime-ridden crib of disease to the Paris we see today – wide streets and awesome architecture that bring plenty of light and air into the beautiful city.
One thing I was surprised to see on my tour was the Statue of Liberty… seriously! I knew the real statue was built by the French as a “congrats on the independence” present to America, but the French actually have a smaller version that resides on an island in the river Seine! Eiffel (guess what he designed?) also engineered the interior skeletal support system that supports Lady Liberty, as they call her, which is basically very similar to the Eiffel Tower!
The morning tour was a great way to get an overview of Paris – which to my shame, I didn’t know much about. The grey weather didn’t show the city off to it’s fullest but never mind – the blue skies and bright sun started shining around midday!
We then took a thirty minute ride to the historic palace of Versailles. The queue to get into the palace was huge, so we elected to walk around the gardens instead. I cannot describe just how big the palace and gardens are, taking up a whopping 67km squared! It’s no wonder that it took us the entire three hours to wander round (we still didn’t see everything)…
I’m not a gardens sort of girl – general speaking, I find them incredibly dull. But Versailles is a far cry from your typical English heritage garden. English gardens are designed to mimic nature as closely as possible, but Versailles is a never ending maze of perfectly manicured greenery and flora, hundreds of exquisitely designed sculptures and handfuls of fancy fountains and lakes. Louis XIV, who was behind the big expansion at Versailles, was a bit of a character – as all Kings tend to be – and thought he was a God on earth – as all Kings of the time tended to do. To show how powerful he was, he engineered the gardens to be so unnaturally prim and preened that it showed he was more powerful than nature. I can’t help but wonder how many gardeners he had to employ. If you look around you’ll notice quite a few references to Apollo, the Greek/Roman God of the Sun. This was because King Louis modelled himself on Apollo having played him once in a play. Which sounds weird, if you think about it, is no weirder than fifteen year old girls modelling themselves on Kim Kardashian. But I digress.
Whilst gardens are’t my bag, I was very impressed with the vast greenery and superb beauty of Versailles – it might have been easier to wander around if it was just a few degrees cooler though! We got so hot we simply had to treat ourselves to two ice-creams to cool down – when on holiday, right?
After Versailles, we arrived back at the hotel and went straight out again to the Champs-Elysées! I was set on a pilgrimage to Sephora to find one very coveted item – their ‘Always Red’ cream lip stain. I was amazed to find it in their vast store and elated to find it was cheaper in store than online! Result! If you’ve noticed bright red lips in my other Paris pictures, that’s the one. We took a few photos by some beautifully decorated stores (the heavily flowered perfume shop looked amazing), as well as visiting beloved high store brands. My one regret is not getting to see Forever 21 as, not living near one in the UK, I’ve never been in before.
The Night Tour of Paris
This was perhaps my favourite part of the entire visit. Paris, the city of lights, is simply spectacular at night! If you visit at any point, you need to swing by the Eiffel Tower at night to watch the light show that happens on the hour. It’s very tourist-y, but you won’t regret it.
We got off the coach at Esplanade du Trocadéro to watch the Eiffel tower’s light show at 11pm, by which point the sky was finally properly dark. The bright lights looked amazing against the inky back drop of the night sky – you’ll see in the pictures and videos! We were given fifteen minutes to explore the area, watch the show and come back to the coach to continue the tour. A slight hiccup arose when we arrived back fifteen minutes later to find no tour guide, no fellow passengers and no bus to be seen… We waited five minutes before taking the Metro back to the hotel. It turns out the guide and passengers hadn’t realised we were missing and it took until their next stop before recounting and realising we were gone – panic reportedly set in and they came back to look for us. By that point we were probably walking back to our hotel! We were pretty much minor celebrities at breakfast the next morning – everyone wanted to hear our adventure (unfortunately it wasn’t that exciting).
Stay tuned for day two of my adventures!