Friday, 1 May 2015

Paris is always a good idea

I have been to Paris on several occasions and can recommend lots of cool things to do. However, on our return from our honeymoon the hubby and I had a couple of spare days holiday and a little left over cash so decided to book a pre-Christmas mini moon at the very last minute. We decided on one night in Paris and a couple of nights in Disneyland!!!!!

We booked one night at the Golden Tulip Opera De Noailles mainly because it was the most reasonable last minute 4 star option we could find. This hotel is actually in a fantastic location, about a 15 mins walk to the Louvre, a very short stroll to the Opera Metro Station and about 1.5 miles from Notre Dame. It's also located very close to the Roissy Bus Station, which connects Paris to the airport quickly and cheaply (Gate / Door 11 at Terminal 2D - departs every 15 mins and costs 11.60 EUR each - takes one hour and buy a ticket on board).

The hotel was clean and functional and just what you would expect for a 4* hotel in Paris. The front of house staff are excellent, they speak brilliant English and were both helpful and friendly. The rooms are small but adequate and ours was on a high floor with a large terrace, which would be great in the summer. There was a small en suite shower room that was perfectly adequate for our stay. The hotel could do with investing in some larger, fluffier towels as the current ones aren't ideal. The wifi is good though and free as well. Breakfast was a bit of a mess, the staff were flustered and had to run to the supermarket nearby to stock up again, we kind of got fed up and left but it was a decent continental buffet, just maybe go at a less busy time.

All in all, if you are in Paris for a busy sightseeing holiday as opposed to a luxurious romantic hotel stay then I would say this would be a good reasonably priced option for you.

After dropping our bags at the hotel we ventured out into Paris and took a walk to the Louvre where we queued, albeit for only 10 mins to get through security and purchase tickets. Despite having been to Paris several times we had never been to see the famous Mona Lisa. So off we trekked with all the other tourists to hunt her down! She is much smaller in real life than you would expect and covered by a glass partition but I am pleased I have ticked her off the list, especially as we are big Da Vinci Code fans. Other pieces to note in the museum are the Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo and the Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I. Make sure you get a map as it will make it much easier to navigate your way around and also don't forget to check out the iconic glass pyramid.

Next up we wandered to Laduree, which is a must do whilst in Paris for a cheeky Club Champs-Elysees and Club Saumon (excellent tasty sandwiches) topped off with a portion of french fries. After lunching in the opulent dining room we couldn't resist a look around the shop and obviously left with a variety of flavored macaroons. My favorite are the pistachio and chocolate but the hubby is partial to a vanilla. After filling our tummies we took another wander down to the "lovelock" bridge. This is something we had never done before and it was fun to cement our marriage with a lock in Paris! Be warned though, this is not as picturesque as it once was, a lot of the bridge has been boarded up as the weight of the padlocks are causing some damage. Our final stop was Notre Dame. There was a short queue but the entry is free and it's so worth visiting the cathedral, just have a nosy around and marvel at the incredible stain glass windows. You can also head up to the top and see the views of Paris but our tired feet protested and we gave this a miss.

After a shower and relax at the hotel we took a walk to Montmartre and braved the several steps leading up to the Sacre Coeur, which is a beautiful, peaceful church that should not be missed. The area also has fantastic views over Paris and is a lovely place to see at nighttime.  I had done some research before heading to Paris as we couldn't really afford a super expensive top notch meal but still wanted some delicious grub and I was lucky enough to stumble upon and gain a reservation at the wonderful Seb'on.

The sittings are at 7pm and 9pm and you are encouraged to book in advance. The restaurant is small and maybe unable to accommodate you if you haven't reserved. There is only one waitress and one chef. The service is with a smile and the English is excellent so each dish can be explained in detail. The concept is a daily choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts presented on a blackboard to choose from. The menu changes all the time depending on availability of ingredients. We had the fois gras and the seared tuna to start and as a main a homemade pasta dish with tomatoes and Serrano ham as well as a BBQ chicken with rice and pineapple cooked in an Asian style. Unfortunately we were too full for dessert but everything we tried was well presented and full of flavor. The meal plus three glasses of wine and a bottle of water was just under 80 EUR, which for the quality provided and central Paris we thought was great value. We recommend everyone to try this place and we cannot wait to come back one day.

Opposite Seb'on was a great little wine bar where we had a post-dinner tipple before heading back to the hotel on a very dark and chilled night in Paris. After a good nights sleep to rest our weary feet we embarked on a day trip to the Palace of Versailles. We took the RER C Line (yellow line) with a return costing 8.20 EUR per person to Chateau Versailles. The Palace is a 5 mins walk from the station and the train takes between 30 - 40 mins. The Palace is open in December from 9am-5pm and costs 15 EUR each for entry including an audio guide. The audio guide really brings the Palace to life and the entire visit was amazing from start to finish. Do leave some time to also wander the extensive and beautifully maintained grounds or if you are tired hire a golf buggy and speed around the pathways instead.

This is obviously a very small snap shot of this incredible city, so go and take your own mini adventure and see what you can stumble across.

Happy Travels.

The Mona Lisa

Laduree macaroons!
LoveLock Bridge

Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

The Sacre Coeur

Notre Dame

View from The Sacre Coeur

The Winged Victory

Louvre Glass Pyramid