Here are my thoughts for those who want to escape the city. For all you first timers travelling to Paris and for those solo travelling. This trip was long ago, but when it comes to a new year I like to day dream I’m on holiday.
This was my first trip alone, made me see why they call Paris the most romantic city and didn’t stop me from having the best time by myself.
On September 2015, I just got back from a fun holiday in Barcelona with a friend; I felt slightly lost and uninspired. Having finished my placement year at University, I needed more adventure.
Watching my favourite series Gossip Girl, I would watch Blair and Serena live their fun summer in Paris and manage to run away from the drama of the city. Though I didn’t have the money they had, PARIS is what I felt I needed and just had to because it was my birthday month after all.
Accommodation and Flights.
It was very last minute when I booked this trip and needed a cheap flight or transfer out of London. I looked on the cheapest flight and manage to book a return trip on EasyJet with just a carry on bag for 5 days.
Looking at hotel deals, Paris was certainly expensive! I thought staying in a hostel would save me money. Now before you say hostels are creepy and unsafe, from my experience travelling around Barcelona, it was one the most fun things I experience! I felt very safe and it felt like a community or your very first week as a fresher at university.
I booked my stay at Generator Hostel.
If you are staying here, the nearest station is Colonel Fabien and was just across the road. I had to learn it the hard way and was walking round in circles from station Gare du Nord. The place looked more like a hotel and you could even book your own private room. However, to save money I booked myself a shared mixed room. I had my own bed and drawer underneath the bunk bed which I could lock to store my carry on bag.
This hostel is good for an older crowd like myself in their 20s. Feeling hungry? They do great burgers in their restaurant and have good places to chill. You forget you’re even staying at a hostel.
2. So many sights, such little time!
The first thing you should buy when you get to the airport is the Paris Pass. I manage to buy one from the Tourist Desk at Charles de Gaulle airport. Three options to choose from: 2 days, 3 days or 6 days.
It gives you access to so many museums and sights in Paris. Most importantly, queue jumps!
Paris is really easy to travel and following the maps. I bought this book, ‘AA Citypack guide to Paris‘ from Waterstones.
It comes with a foldable tube map that didn’t make me look like a full on lost tourist. I highly recommend buying this book and could fit in my cross body bag. This was my best friend on my trip, tips to eat and has pages of maps to follow when walking.
From Charles de Gaulle airport I bought a return train ticket from the tourist desk. My first struggle when arriving in Paris was how to work the ticket machines?! Easiest way is it to slot the train ticket. If in doubt, just follow what everyone else is doing or ask someone.
4. What sights to see?
I love art and wanted to witness everything. I think during this trip I packed so much that I didn’t mind the snoring of people in my hostel room. One of the worst parts of staying in a shared hostel.
Most of these places were included in my Paris Pass.
- Picasso museum. See a masterpiece of this true genius!
I had breakfast on the patio of the museum and was in a very quiet part of Paris. Compared to other museums and galleries, you don’t need to queue long and near empty in the morning.
- Arc de Triomphe. Again can’t praise enough about this Paris Pass, no long queue! Sadly the line was too long for the Eiffel Tower so this was a must. Witness beautiful views of Paris and the city go by. To get in the middle of the roundabout, it’s a pathway that goes under and took me ages to find it. But just ask, as you can’t run across the road to get to it from the station.
- Love bridge. I have to admit, Paris is not hard to navigate through. I was stumbling along and never knew I was walking along this famous bridge, until a seller approached me to buy a lock for myself. This was the first sign of Paris’ romance that sunk in.
- The Louvre. Paris pass wins again! You have to see the Mona Lisa after all and Venus de Milo. It is really busy and yes people has their selfie stick when next to the Mona Lisa.
- Tuileries Garden. After visiting the Louvre it is just next to the gardens. Romantic and picturesque. I had lunch by the lake and could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance. You won’t realise how small Big Ben is until you see the Eiffel Tower. There was a lake right in the middle; great to sit around, hold hands with a boyfriend, or in my case take a selfie.
- Sacré-Cœur. I believe it is the second highest point in Paris. I visited this church on my last day in Paris and I was leaving in the evening. A quick trip to look around if you don’t have time.
I came out of the station and bought myself a crepe with nutella and powered walked up this hill. I had to stop taking pictures and needed to sit on the steps for a man playing a harp. Listening to his music, made me think about the amazing sights I witnessed and why this is the city of love. Also, how he manage to carry this huge instrument to the top of this hill , beats me!
See a snippet of him playing on my Instagram @dannahdawn.
If you are planning a visit to the Sacré-Cœur, it is near the street of the where the Mouline Rouge is.
5. What I packed?
As I only manage to have carry ons, I packed everything in a Kipling bag and managed to fit lots Similar bags here. It is a great for when I had to catch a train to my hotel. Also, when travelling on Easyjet, I do not have to find space to store my luggage on top.
I had a bag that went across my body that fit my city guide, room key, camera, phone and money.
Not forgetting to pack my black fendora hat- to act Parisian of course! I purchased my black hat from H&M in store and is not that expensive. Similar fendora hats from ASOS here.
Or for my burgundy floppy hat, I bought mine from TopShop.
6. Last few words.
- Don’t forget a camera! There’s so many shots to take, that a phone won’t just do.
- Paris is a great city to do as your first trip solo travelling, you will never feel entirely lost and each attraction is within walking distance or a train ride.
- You have to eat macaroons and enjoy a good book. My choice was ‘Not that kind of Girl’ by Lena Dunham.
- Don’t be afraid to get lost. It was so easy to follow the map around the city.
- If you love art, you will love this place!