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24 May 2018

how to do paris in a day

i've been to paris a few times myself - once, with rebekah for a few days when we'd both first moved to the uk and we were doing a little euro-tour before we got settled into jobs and life and debt, and once more with mum for a few night on one of her many visits over the years. what i had never done though, was a day-trip to the french capital, like many london travellers before me had. so, when i found out that chloe from work had *never* been to paris, it was decided by fran and i that a quick trip was in order, to at least eat eclairs in paris if nothing else. 

with semi-affordable eurostar tickets purchased and an overnight stay booked somewhere central, we set off nice and early a few saturdays ago, and this, dear reader, is just how we managed to see 30,000 steps worth of paris in just under nine hours. i've a handy map for you at the end too, if you fancy a go at it yourself..

walk up to sacre coeur

our first stop was what i consider to be my personally favourite thing about paris. sure, the eiffel tower is great and that, but i just really dig the architecture of the sacre coeur and the vibe of montmartre more. each time i've stayed, it's been in that area, so it's one i know pretty well. we walked from gard du nord, which took us about twenty minutes or so - potentially longer because it's mainly uphill. getting those booty gainz in right from the start! it was only about 10:30 as we made our way up, so thankfully not too hot. very warm though, i'll give you that. 

the line to get into the beautiful building was almost around its own perimeter, so we sadly had to put off the climb to the top - which we genuinely had planned in and were looking forward to. with only so many hours to see and do (and eat) as much as we'd wanted, there's no way that waiting in that line would have been helpful. so, maybe next time. at least we got that magnificent view!

wander around montmartre's back streets

from there, we wandered around the cobbled streets of montmarte in search of food. we'd not eaten yet, and it was well past breakfast. as well as our walking map, we'd added over 50 places we would choose from for food and drink along the way, but weirdly, nothing was in montmartre so instead we opted for a tradition street-side crepe to keep us going until we made it to our first proper food stop.

montmartre was heaving - probably because it was such a lovely morning, with families streaming out into the streets to indulge in the sunshine and the street foods, as well as probably the charm of this village's traditional store fronts and cafes. when i think of paris, i think of montmartre, so it was nice to be able to show the girls my favourite slice of france.

eat eclairs at l'eclair de genie

now, this *was* something that was on our map, and in fact, wasn't too far from montmarte but it was a different location of the patisserie we had plotted; what a lovely surprise! we took seats out the front of the vibrant and colourful little shop, and were waited on attentively by the three very handsome and friendly staff (who says the parisians aren't nice to foreigners?). we couldn't decided on which eclairs to order for ourselves, so we did the ultra clever thing and ordered three - to share.

each bite of each eclair took my actual breath away and i genuinely used the phrase "dancing on my tongue" in reference to the flavours that oozed from their pastry cases. we opted for a raspberry and lychee (i think my fave - much dancing occurred), a passionfruit and raspberry (so sweet and zesty!), and a salted caramel butter one, which was the mossssst salty, creamy, buttery thing i've ever had the fortune of having in my mouth. at 5.90 euro a pop, they weren't very "cheap", but my dear god i would pay that again for those insane flavours and creams to be in my mouth again.

wander down to the windmill at moulin rouge

obviously, while in the area you'd be foolish to not pop by the moulin rouge for a sing song and a can-can and a howdy-do, but realistically, the infamous dance establishment doesn't quite have the same allure during the daylight hours. by night it's this magical, tempting, and novelty of neon and burlesque and feathered boas, but by day it's simply.. delivery vans, staff coming and going, and tourists (us) taking photos of a windmill that doesn't even work any more.

the area it's in isn't wholly remarkable either (like, deffo not as seedy as any other red light district you can think of), so it's best to consider it as your pathway from a to b. as in, we had to actually go past it to get to our next stop, so it was really no skin off my nose, and at least clo got to see the wonderful windmill, eh?

stop at l'opera for a starbucks and macron at laduree

you might think i'm kidding, right, but actually i think we found the most glam starbucks in all the world. it's in this beautifully detailed and dramatic building, with gilded light fittings and ornate roof detailing, and omg it was probably the prettiest thing we'd seen so far that whole day. plus, it had coffee and plugs, and we were in dire need of both by that point. so, quick pit stop there to refuel, then off again in search of more landmarks.

not far from this startbucks is the original laduree store, and - bad blogger that i am - i had never been to or eaten a laduree macaron in my whole existence; so i had to stop in and buy one. obvs. i went for the salted caramel butter after the excellence of the eclair earlier, but i have to say that for almost three euros, i don't quite get the point of them. is it because they're small and pretty? i don't know. it would have rathered another eclair, i think.

stop for a filled baguette at eric kayser

here's where things get tricky, because this sandwich bar was recommended a lot on the internet, for having an amazing range of sweet and savoury baked goods. which, it did. it definitely did. what we didn't realise until it was too late though, was that it also has a reputation for having some terribly unfriendly and unaccommodating staff - which is maybe in-keeping with the more traditional idea of how parisians are with foreigners, but whatever the case, the staff were nothing short of rude with us as we ordered, consistently overcharging and short changing, and arguing when we questioned her (in english, obvs). as we sat down, we noted she did the same to other (american) tourists too, but this time muttering in french to her co-worker too, while rolling her eyes. so, it wasn't the greatest atmospthere..

but, the food was good. not great, but good. i mean, it was mozzarella and tomato in an olive baguette, which i don't really think is too complicated, but it was good and affordable, and what we needed at that exact moment. the interior was nothing special - especially when compared to the bloody starbys we were in earlier, so this was essentially a pit stop for refueling purposes rather than anything more ambitious.

walk through the garden and spot l'eiffel tower

we were quite close to the seinne at this point, so we wandered over through jardin des tuileries and tried to spot the eiffel tower from one side (which we did) and the louvre from the other (which proved a little complicated), before carrying on along the river at water level for a little respite. we knew we wouldn't be able to fit a trip right up to the tower in and so opted to see it from afar so we could fit more things in. i was pleased with this decision. 

wander from l'louvre along the river to notre dame

it'd been hot - so hot - most of the day, but we could feel the change coming in. it had predicted rain but we'd mostly avoided it - despite the dark clouds threatening otherwise! the walk along the river was nice and cool, and a lot calmer than at street level, so it was a lovely change after the business of everywhere else we'd been! (nb: small reminder here that this part of paris is mainly cobblestones, and if you are predisposed to clumsiness or plantar fasciitis then i would avoid this part of the walk. it's horrendous, really, and there's no other way to put it. with one more sight to see and not a lot of time left, i persevered for the good of the tour but had i been on my own, i would definitely have found a nice little brassiere to sit out the rest of the day in...)

notre dame never gets old, does it? first time i visited, we walked into mass on a sunday morning, completely in latin. the last time, we saw a gargoyle almost fall off and hit a small child. this time, there was an international bread fayre out the front, set up right in the spot you want to stand to take full length photos of yourself looking up at it. really, never a dull moment!

eat world's best gelato at o sorbet d'amour

okay, so that's not its official status, but in comparison to the actual ice cream place we planned to go to (which was something akin to extortion), this was a life saver. there were loads of flavours to choose from - as well as a range of cornetto options (the wafer cone bit), and so i naturally went with one covered in chocolate and hundreds and thousands, filled with - you guessed it, salted caramel gelato. it was genuinely a magical moment - especially as i was allowed a sit down with my ice cream, something i had been needing for a good couple of hours!

wait out the rain at l'etinelle

i'd never been in the 4th arrondissement before, so this was the perfect opportunity to explore the back roads and alleys of a new area, except.. that's the moment the heavens decided to open up and unleash the torrent of rain they'd been keeping at bay for the best part of the day. and, while i am forever grateful for that, i am a litttttle disappointed i missed out on a new explore! what it did mean, though, was that an inside-sit was in order, and you know what comes with an inside sit?

wine. this was probably the only time i'd been in france and not had a cheeky midday vino, so that's exactly what we did. we decided that rather than make the 40 min walk back to the train station in the rain, that we would spend that time staying dry and getting merry in a adorable little restaurant right near the gelato place, just on rue de rivoli. the staff were lovely, and the wine - although it wasn't, so much, it was nice to sit in paris, in the rain, glass in hand, with two amazing people. so, there's that.

head back to the eurostar, tired

mate, it was 6pm and we were absolutely shattered. we'd walked almst 30,000 steps, covered more than 20 kilometers, and had seen six sites and eaten six times, and  it was definitely time for a big sit and a nap on the train home. honestly though, i wouldn't have changed anything about it, because i had the very best time showing my pals around a city i love, and experiencing it all for the first time through her.

now, if you fancy having a go yourself, here's our walking map! we made a few detours here and there (for food), but ultimately it's bang on. if you do give it a try, let me know what your favourite part was! i'm already planning to head back so i can explore the 4th arr.. maybe i'll see you there?