HOW TO SPEND 48HRS IN PARIS (PART I)

If you are trawling the Internet looking for posts about how to spend 48hrs in Paris (much like mum and I did before we went) you’ve found the holy grail. With the help of the wonderful Lou Lou in Paris and an embarrassingly old-school (but actually pretty great) guidebook mum bought a couple of days before we set off, we managed to plan and get to see everything we wanted to in just 48 (very busy) hours. If you are looking for a whistle stop tour of the world’s most romantic city, then you’re in the right place. Read on to find out how to best utilise your time – and squeeze in most of the sights – in under 48 hours.

We arrived in Paris at around 10.30am, and as soon as we hopped off the Eurostar, we headed north to Montmartre, as we were staying in Le Marais and knew we wouldn’t get the chance to head up there again. The area is most famous for the grandiose Sacre Coeur and, of course, the Moulin Rouge, but is now a haven for hipsters; sex shops selling toys in the shape of the Eiffel Tower (for those who love it more than others, I guess!) and enough graffiti to rival Shoreditch. Although we didn’t find any absinthe or spot Satine, it was nice to be hit in the face by two iconic buildings as soon as we arrived.

Mum’s friend had given her some newspaper clippings about Paris ahead of our trip, and within these, she found an article written by Florence Welch (mum’s ultimate woman crush) who recommended visiting Le Rue des Martyrs, an avenue close to Montmartre, so we just had to go. There are tons of gorgeous eateries to choose from along the route, as well as lots of really cool shops. We decided on a breakfast of coffee and warm breads with condiments at MARLETTE (would highly recommend) before heading to the Metro to check into our hotel, Le Chambre du Marais.

Once we had unpacked our things and put our feet up for half a second, we set out on our self-made walking tour of the city. Le Marais is quite a cool part of Paris and is quite close to the epic Centre Pompidou, so we walked via there, just so mum could see it. If you have time, definitely head up to Restaurant Cafe Georges at the top where you can enjoy a drink, a snack or some lunch while taking in impressive views of the whole of the city.

From the Pompidou, we simply followed The Seine and allowed it to guide us. It was a gorgeous day, so we just sort of wandered, trying to catch our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower en route and listening to the sounds of accordion players and watching the happy sunbathers relax along the banks of the Seine.

As mum’s a huge Dan Brown fan, she was really keen to get to The Louvre, so we stomped it to there. We stopped off for a gelato in the sun and spotted these chaps in front of a church. We thought they were quite a nice contrast to the romantic architecture of Paris, so I took a snap of them. Do make sure to constantly look around as you wander; Paris is beautiful and is filled with hidden highlights.

By the time we got to the museum, it was actually closed for the day and was also closed the following day (always closed on Tuesdays), so we didn’t manage to get inside at all, but would definitely suggest heading in if you can. It’s free (which I didn’t realise until I went in December). If you get time, definitely explore Jardin des Tuileries that are situated in front of the pyramid. On a summer’s day, it’s such a nice place to just hang out and soak up the busy atmosphere. Plus, this woman who you might have seen on my Instagram is #assgoals.

We wandered back towards our hotel from The Louvre, popping into shops and having a nosey along the way, laughing at how all coffee shops place their tables in such a way that customers can just sit and stare at passersby. We hopped across the river to try and peek into the Musee D’Orsay but the queues were huge and we were in need of a rest, so we walked on home. We did come across this street, the Rue St Sauveu, though, which was filled with really gorgeous bars, eateries, shops and intimate galleries and is definitely worth a mooch if you’re in the area.

Once we had chilled out, showered and changed back at the hotel, we headed out for dinner on the recommendation of the lovely Lou. She had given us the most amazing Google map of recommendations for places to eat and drink and we decided on Biglove Caffe, which you’ll find on Rue Debelleyme, just around the corner from our hotel. It serves fresh pasta dishes and doughy pizzas, as well as antipasti and a gorgeous selection of wines and I cannot recommend it enough – we had a really good time with food on this trip, thanks to Lou, so thank you, lady!

Of course, we had to walk off our carb-heavy dinner, so what better excuse than to head to the Eiffel Tower for the hourly nighttime light show the residents despise? I, of course, loved the flashing lights and mum enjoyed the novelty of it all as it was her first time in the city. We walked around the tower and along the banks of the river onto the other side, passing by the amazing Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Flamme de la Liberte before hopping onto the Metro for one of the most comfortable night’s sleep back at our hotel.

Stay tuned for what we got up to on day 2 of our 48 hours in Paris…

THE GALLERY

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I’m not an illustrator.

Nor do I paint or draw.

And I certainly don’t know much about art, except for knowing what I do and do not like. I’m drawn to portraits, neon strokes and photographs, mainly. I like pictures of faces, stories and things that hurt my eyes or make a statement. I like art both old and new, but mostly modern and colourful.

But the thing I love most about the art world? The place in which the pieces are housed.

Art galleries are a place of stillness, quiet and calm in cities normally abuzz with activity. They’re a place for opinions and unrushed time. They’re the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon. I particularly like the gift shops at the end. I always buy the postcards. The black and white ones. Always with faces in them.

But which are my favourites?

Although The Met mesmerised me, The Tate Modern will never be topped. Not only is it located in one of my favourite parts of London, but it was also one of my favourite first date spots shared with Ryan. I’d known him for no more than three weeks when we headed there one Saturday afternoon. After wandering the halls, we sat side by side on the floor of the Turbine Hall, just so we could chat some before we went our separate ways for the evening. We’d already had coffee, wandered along the river and walked as slowly as we possibly could, but we still had more to say to each other, so we sat awhile. You know what it’s like when you first meet someone: so little time, so much to say.

Although The Tate makes for the perfect date, The Saatchi in Sloane Square is dear to me, too. Filled with space, light from the large windows and deathly quiet at anytime of day, it’s a great way to clear the mind. Or just look at the pretty pictures, of course.

And The National Portrait. A classic I love for no other reason than because I like to look at paintings and drawings of people. Plus, the building itself is epic.

I know art galleries can seem intimidating and it can sometimes feel like you don’t belong if you don’t know your Pollock from your Hockney or you’re not wearing something other than a pair of jeans, but they’re free for a reason: art is universal and all are welcome.

What’s your favourite gallery in the world and why? I’d love to know.

THE RESOLUTIONS

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Each year, I make promises to myself.

To take steps to make this year a little bit better than the last. To enhance my life and move forward. And 2017 will be no different.

As I reflect on last year’s goals, I have come to realise that I have achieved 3/5 of them, which – for such a busy year – is pretty good going if you ask me. Carrying over my wish to actively help a chosen charity into this year, here’s what I will be focusing my energy on over the next twelve months…

Wear My Wardrobe

I have closets in Bristol and London. I have two chests of drawers, four shelves and umpteen boxes of shoes that reside in each available corner of my flat. Why then, do I seem to end up wearing the same five things to work each week and shoving on a pair of mom jeans and a jumper at the weekend? I’ve decided that, this year, as 2017 could potentially be our final year on earth before we implode from Trump’s bad decision-making and the fallout from Brexit, I am going to dress as if each day were my last. Dunagrees on a Monday? Sure. Stripes and spots? Why not?

If, by the end of January, there is anything I haven’t taken off its hanger or uncrumpled from its drawer, I am going to sell it on Depop or hand it over to charity for someone else to love. Watch this space.

Quit the Junk

I love trash TV. So much so I wrote about my adoration for it a few months back. However, as much as I worship it as a means to switch off, I have come to realise it does nothing for my creativity levels and that the more time spent watching things on catch up, the less I read and write. This year, I am going to unwind with books, notepads and pens rather than drifting off to the dulcet tones of Chigwell or Cheyne Walk crackling from my laptop.

Geek it Up

Last year, I said I wanted to learn how to code. I had a blast at it and decided that I simply couldn’t dedicate that much time to something that didn’t involve people (I hate hiding behind my screen for eight hours a day as it is) so put an end to that digital adventure.

I do still want to channel my desire to learn into something else, though.

I recently watched Caitlin Moran giving a talk to creatives about the best advice she had for them. My favourite piece of advice was to be as geeky and interested in what you love as possible. She said ‘you cannot be too obsessed with what it is you’re going to do for a career’. So, with this in mind, I am going to sign up for writing courses (that I can afford), watch YouTube videos on how to be a better wordsmith and work hard each night to get to where I want to be.

So, aside from aiming to drop two dress sizes by summer and swearing to exercise as hard as Kayla Itsines, those are the top three things I want to focus on this year. I pretty much want to wear clothes and work hard. Should be easy, right?

What are your resolutions for 2017? I’d love to know.