“We Were Stayin’ In Paris”

Call me weird, but my true love is a city.

I fell in love with Paris when Disney Pixar’s film, Ratatouille was released in 2007. I rarely go to the cinema because it’s expensive, but I did attend one of the viewings with my mum. Disney, Paris and food. What’s not to love?!

The two previous times I visited Paris were on school trips. The company was great; the trips were incredible, but travelling around Paris in a coach approximately 87% of the time was not too great. I’m not great at maths but I’d say that’s fairly accurate. Conversations shared on the coach rides were hilarious and are still to this day some of my best memories of the city.

It’s safe to say I was châteaued by the end of each trip… All we seemed to visit were châteaus (castles, for those of you not familiar with the word), churches and the beloved coach. So this time I was adamant that I wanted to explore Paris by foot rather than by vehicle.

Monday February 6th – “I’m going on an adventure“:

It was absolutely freezing in the morning! I’m not usually cold so it did come as a bit of a shock. Shivering, I waited for the bus. Arriving in town with plenty of time to get to the train station I headed over to McDonalds for a bacon roll and two hash browns to eat on the journey. The train was a little late departing Nottingham as the rear of the train took a while to arrive and connect to the front carriages. I naturally started stressing. Whilst on the train someone’s phone rang a few times, and I personally think they’re awesome due to their ringtone being Evanescence – Immortal. It’s such a good song!

We didn’t stop at too many stations but we ended up arriving at London, St Pancras station approximately 15 minutes late. Only having a small window of opportunity to go and check in to the Eurostar departure lounge, I missed it. Two hours later, and down £30, I checked in. Waiting in the departure lounge for quite a while made me wonder why I couldn’t have caught my original train as security and passport checks were really quick. At 12:24pm a very punctual Eurostar departed its London platform.

Arriving in the Gare du Nord station felt so surreal, striding out of the carriage it dawned on me: I was actually back in Paris. Upon stepping out of the station I immediately fell back in love with the city I’d missed so much. Five years on and Parisian architecture still takes my breath away.

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Outside Gare du Nord

Travelling down many unmarked roads in a taxi from outside the station, past the Place de la Concorde and the Eiffel Towel, the vehicle finally turned down a side street and pulled up at the Hôtel Auteuil Tour Eiffel. My home for the next few days.

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The Hotel Auteuil Tour Eiffel

By the time I’d thrown my pillow onto the bed next to my travelling companion (pictured below); placed my toiletries in the bathroom; transferred some valuables into the room’s safe and took in the view from my room, it was evening. The main thing I’d missed on my school trips was seeing Paris at night, particularly the Eiffel Tower, so I headed off out. It soon became visible as the hotel isn’t situated very far from it. That was one thing checked off my to-do list.

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My travel companion
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Reflections on the Seine
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Lady Liberty and the Eiffel Tower

Lunch had to be a pizza from a local takeaway as the restaurants nearby didn’t open up for their evening service until 7:30pm, by which point I would have been long past the point of hunger.

Tuesday February 7th – “These [shoes] were made for walking“:

And that is exactly what they did: approximately 25,000 steps around Paris actually. I walked all the way from my hotel to the Eiffel Tower, all the way to Notre-Dame and back.

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Notre-Dame Cathedral

But first, breakfast.

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Croissant, hot chocolate and orange juice

Wanting to go to a French restaurant so I could have escargots and crêpes I popped into a quaint little café near the Arc de Triomphe, Le Carré Elysée. The staff were really welcoming, the food was absolutely delicious and my waiter complimented my French, which made my day. The mango smoothie I ordered was honestly the best drink I have ever tasted!

 

I had a great day exploring the city; however, when I later had a shower I managed to injure my foot… All that walking and I was fine, a few hours after returning to the hotel and I stupidly damage myself!

Wednesday February 8th – DISNEYLAND PARIS:

Nothing was going to ruin my day at Disneyland, not even the foot I had bandaged up – my tiny First Aid kit I decided to buy came in handy! I got a taxi to l’Opéra where I caught my coach to the park, the only one I got on on this trip.

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On the coach outside l’Opera

When I got to Disneyland, which only took about 40-45 minutes, I went straight to the Studios part of the park as I hadn’t been there on either school trip. Also, they have recently added a Ratatouille section within the Studios park. I had to go! Unfortunately, the restaurant, Bistro Chez Remy was fully booked that day… All the more reason to go back to Disneyland Paris, so I can have dinner at what is basically the equivalent of Gusteau’s!

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Place de Remy, Disneyland Paris

Shortly after, I swapped parks and went to the main one where I ended up at Casey’s Corner on Main St eating chicken nuggets and chips. They were really good chicken nuggets!

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Casey’s Corner food

After doing some shopping, and by ‘some’ I mean going into every store on Main St, I decided to go and sit on the pavement and wait for the parade to start. Again, I was shivering it was that cold. I could have been Olaf: I’m short and I certainly felt Frozen standing there waiting for and watching the parade.

The return coach was set to arrive in the car park at 8:00pm which allowed more than enough time to see the castle and Main St all lit up.

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Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Disneyland Paris
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Main St., Disneyland Paris

I arrived back at l’Opéra, which surprisingly looks more magnificent and opulent in the dark. Catching a taxi back to the hotel I managed to glimpse the Place de la Concorde in the evening, and the Eiffel Tower lit up again; from afar it physically had the appearance that it was twinkling. Approaching closer however, it slightly loses that magical touch, appearing just lit up.

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L’Opera

Thursday February 9th – “There’s no place like home“:

In fairness, I could quite easily call Paris home. Unfortunately, my own bed was calling. The hotel bed was comfy enough but it just didn’t have all of my cushions that adorn my bed, or soft, cosy bed covers. A pet hate of mine is tags at the top of the duvet, and the hotel made that mistake. Luckily, the room was a generous temperature that didn’t require me to bundle myself up in the duvet provided – thankfully.

In the early hours of the morning I went to the bathroom, after almost collapsing. Although I’d bandaged my foot up for support at Disneyland and kept it on over night it had seized up a little. Regaining my balance I managed to hobble to and from the bathroom. Upon waking, I realised my foot was not going to be able to take the pressure of exploring the Jardin des Plantes attractions. Just another excuse to go back!

Therefore, when I checked out of the hotel at 11:30am Idecided to get a taxi to the Gare du Nord and spend the day at the station. Although I wasn’t due to leave until 8:00pm I was fine with hanging around. Fancying a drink and a muffin I went to the internal Starbucks. I chose to have a venti hot chocolate, which seemingly comes with the gratefully welcome addition of chocolate drizzle in France, and a raspberry cheesecake muffin: delicious! However, it became apparent that the French aren’t very accustomed to the name Shannon…

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The French equivalent of my name, according to the barista – I could honestly get used to it though

Eventually, I checked in and went through security to the Eurostar departure lounge and waited for the platform to open.

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Gare du Nord

Within a few hours, and a lot of British train stops later, I was back in Nottingham station. After a very long catch up with my mum when I got back home, and a slideshow of over 1,000 photographs, I was back in my own comfy bed – planning on returning to Paris soon.

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