WEEKENDER// A FEW DAYS OF PARIS
It’s fair to say that team ‘Life as a Vagabond’ are lovers of a good film or television show. We’ve constantly enjoyed reminiscing of great films and how we want to have a typical cultural experience. It’s fair to say that after our first day in Paris we felt like Hollywood got it all wrong and they failed to explore the dirty dangerous side of Paris that makes it tres magnificent.
We lugged our belongings to St Pancras Station and thought we’d give Eurostar the challenge of getting us to Paris in one piece. Safe to say they did a bang on job and we found it convenient, quick and hassle free.
As we arrived to Gare Du Nord Station we grabbed our bags as we were thrown into one of the most hustle bustle places in Paris. Kat had already been to Paris before so we had a tiny bit of street smarts to rely on however the feeling of suspicion, danger and fear swept over us. For those newbies who haven’t been to Paris let us tell you what the others might have forgotten. Paris is a fantastic place to become victim to pick pocketing and robbery from the many tough gypsies. As if it’s not embarrassing enough being stolen from, the matter only gets worse when you realise the sweet 10 year old girl you engaged conversation with was a cunning mastermind, able to hoodwink you and outsmart you of your prized possessions. (If you’d like to wise up check out our post ‘Surviving Paris’s undesirables’.
We opted for a taxi and had a polite and friendly driver who dropped us off at our digs, Hotel Batignolles. For those that care, we tipped a few euro to the taxi driver as he assisted us with our bags and shooed off a intense and persistent beggar girl.
From the outside Hotel Batignolles doesn’t look like much but inside it’s a cosy hotel with comfortable rooms, modern bathrooms and everything you’ll need. We booked a very reasonable price via Agoda and upon arrival we were upgraded to a room with it’s own huge patio that allowed us to watch the Parisian going ons down below. The best perk of the hotel was the fantastic breakfast included in the price. All the usual suspects like juice, tea, coffee, hot chocolate complimented with freshly warmed bakery baskets,(croissants, bread) a fridge full of fresh fruit and yogurt and other tasty cakes, cheeses and breads.
Lunch was spent across the road at a cafe that served everything from French to Italian, they had a great range. We had some amazing pasta which might not be authentically Italian but was a definite step up from the usual Western version. It wasn’t too badly priced either with fixed lunch menus around 22 euros.
Considering we arrived on a Friday evening we were stumped as to what to do as we had such limited time to see the sights. Perhaps the best sightseeing decision we’ve ever made was to visit the Louvre.
Arriving around 5 pm we were greeted with, wait for it…a 2 minute line up! For any sucker that’s been to the Louvrearound lunch and watched the line wrap all around the square and out onto the street you’ll be frothing at the mouth reading this. It’s a local secret that around 5pm when all the crowds leave you will be able to walk straight through and enjoy a very relaxed evening art watching. The mood is relaxing and very fitting and sure beats trying to push your way through hundreds of people.
Now for the most amazing part of it all, the Mona Lisa. We had to wait for about 5 people to take a photo before we took several, that was it. Considering the painting is rather small and perhaps a bit overrated, you might leave irritable if you came during regular hours and waited for 45 mins just to get a rushed photo that may or may not have half a Korean tour group in the frame. If you’re going to the Louvre on a short time frame then make sure you do it at night, it will free up a whole day for you to explore other parts of Paris, plus there is nothing more romantic and French than wasting lazy hours admiring beautiful art.
And then to finish off a perfect evening we did something very unfrench and had Mc Donalds for dinner. It was pretty unsophisticated but it was tres bien.