Vital stats

  • BNE – ADH (Brisbane – Abu Dhabi) Ethiad Airways
  • ADH – CDG (Abu Dhabi – Paris) Ethiad Airways
  • Where I stayed: Hotel Saint Andre Des Arts
  • Rate: 250 Euro (approx $415 AUD)
  • Highlight: Day tour of Giverney
  • Lowlight: our room was on the 3rd floor and as almost always in Paris there was no elevator (almost 50 steps either way)

In light of the horrific attacks suffered in Paris last month I’ve finally finished my post on my travels to the city of lights back in September. I sat in my car that Saturday morning (Australian time) reading what had happened in my beloved Paris and cried for the innocents who lost their lives all in the name of terrorism. I know it is scary to travel with so much un-rest and the threat of terrorism but please, please make sure you visit Paris soon. Take in the wonder of the city and don’t let the fear and hate stop you from living.

I’ve been told Paris is a city you either love or you hate…. The lovers tell you; it’s beautiful, the gardens and city are so chic, the galleries are outstanding, the city oozes romance and seduction at every turn, and as long as you remember hello, goodbye, thank you in French they will be delighted! The haters tell you; the city is dirty, the residents are arrogant, and it’s expensive.

My love affair with Paris began over 8 years ago on my first ever overseas trip. My ex Harry Potter (he bore a striking resemblance to the actor Daniel Radcliffe) and I had 3 nights here. From the moment I spotted my first French balcony I was hooked. Then that first night we stumbled across Notre Dame and I swore to love Paris forever.

I last visited Paris on a whirlwind 4 years ago onboard a Topdeck bus tour. We arrived into the city late one evening and were given a tour of the city ending under that famous tower which sparkles through the night. We literally had 1 full day there and I spent it well visiting Versailles, the Musee D’Orsay, fitting in cream brûlée and wine at lunch, then a picnic style dinner under the Eiffel Tower, and finishing in style with a River Cruise on the Seine.

When planning this trip Paris wasn’t on my list. I was planning London and some UK, followed by Italy and Greece. Of course plans changed and when I saw a flight Brisbane to Paris I knew I had to take it. Picking a hotel wasn’t easy! Paris hotels are notoriously expensive especially in central arrondissements of the city. Having just 2 nights in the city I was determined to stay as close as possible to the city rather than waste time travelling back and forth on the metro. Also I figured my almost non-existent French would be tolerated in the city centre over the outer areas. After pouring over TripAdvisor reviews and trying to keep to a realistic budget I finally selected the Latin Quarter as the place to stay in the 5th and 6th arrondissements at Hotel Saint-Andre des Arts.

I’m not going to lie; if you want authentic Paris, then the Quarter is probably not the place to stay. It’s very touristy with oodles of shops selling umbrellas with “Paris” printed all over them (a must in the city which always seems to rain), lots of street vendors selling prints of Paris monuments, and restaurants offering the meal of the day as a hamburger with French fries. Despite this, and maybe because I’m a lame tourist, I liked the Quarter; I find the touristy shops charming, and if you ask for a menu at a restaurant you’re sure to find something other than a hamburger. Plus it’s helps that you’re a short walk to Notre Dame, the Seine, and the Louvre.

There’s all the hallmarks of Paris too – the beautiful balconies with wrought iron railings curling gracefully, cobblestone streets, cafes with hundreds of forward facing chairs to take in the city as it bustles around you, the beautiful gothic architecture of the buildings.

Arriving into Charles De Gaulle airport you could be asking yourself how is this Paris? For one of the most fashionable and chic cities in the world it has an ugly airport. I treated myself to a transfer from the airport to my hotel rather than battle the train. I knew I wouldn’t have the stamina after an almost 24 hour travel time to get here. Thanks to Viator I was able to pre-book this and it was a pretty smooth experience with English speaking drivers.

I arrived at the hotel and after making my way up the multitude of stairs (elevator, anyone?) I gave myself a nap to help recover. Then I was ready to explore. Europe in early Fall means long days – the sun doesn’t set until almost 9pm! I had a rough idea of where Notre Dame was and after about 10 minutes I spotted it. I snapped a few pics at Magic hour of this beautiful cathedral before heading over to a nearby café for a glass of champagne (thank you Adventurous Kate for the suggestion that when travelling alone a glass of champagne is always a good idea)! I must’ve looked the part as a Frenchman bid passing on the street bid me good evening before asking something in French. I smiled and offered back; “Desole monsiour, non parle Francois” (sorry sir, I don’t speak French). The wait staff were a little rude despite my smile and Bonsoiree as I walked up to claim a table. I simply gave them a raised eyebrow and ordered fromargie from the menu when they asked if I would like a hamburger for dinner.

The cheese platter was lovely and washed down with a glass of French red made it even better.  I love crème brulee so I had to have some for dessert….Unfortunately it wasn’t as good as I’ve had before. The wait staff and I became brief friends when I left as they almost forgot to add my glass of champagne to the bill – my honesty earned me a smile and Au Reviour Madame as I wandered back to the hotel…..

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To be continued….

Have you been to Paris? What did you think – love it or loathe it? Best experience you had there?

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